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Old January 3rd, 2018, 08:14 AM   #211

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Originally Posted by MasPuster View Post
So your point is that Britain was bound by a treaty 70 years old, but not by an agreement 2 years old that just made the French leave their coast unprotected? Was not a "assault upon the coast of France" mentioned as a casus belli for Britain in the cabinet somewhere?


Anyway, on August 1st the major damage was already done. France felt it had the backup of Britain - which certainly helped when decided to risk war an assured Russia of their support - and Germany still hoped that Britain would remain neutral (not knowing of this secret agreement) - which helped them make up their mind of going to war.

A clear public declaration of Britain one way or the other before the Russian mobilization would most likely have avoided the war.


EDIT:
Found this link here: First World War centenary: how the events of August 2 1914 unfolded - Telegraph

"August 2 - 2.20pm: A note was handed to French and German ambassadors in London explaining that the British government would not allow the passage of German ships through the English Channel or the North Sea in order to attack the coasts or shipping of France. Grey gave Cambon, the French ambassador a pledge: ‘If the German fleet comes into the Channel or through the North Sea to undertake hostile operations against the French coasts or shipping, the British Fleet will give all protection in its power’. "


Note that this pledge of protecting France with the British fleet was made BEFORE any German soldier crossed the Belgian border. .
None of which amounts to war-- close to it yes but still not war.

As the source you posted stated in the event of a violation of Belgium Neutrality there was still only a small majority in the cabinet in favour of war, if they hadn't invaded its possible that Britain would have stopped short of war.


[QUOTE=MasPuster;2880466In short: Britain was NOT in the war to defend Belgian neutrality. That was just an addon to sell the war to the public.[/QUOTE]

There ,as in all countries, mixed motives but the final factor that pushed Britain into war was the invasion of Belgium.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 09:12 AM   #212

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In short: The US stationed missiles near the Russian border and then almost went to war then Russia did the same.

In 1914 Russia was willing to go to war over the question of Austrian inspectors in Serbia.

What if Russia in 62 had not been willing to back down. In 1914 they did not back down when faced with the question of stop their mobilization or face war. What if they had continued to not only station missiles, but would mass their whole army at the border of the US?

Was the sheer buildup of forces on Cuba a sufficient reason to go to war?

The US certainly already started to violate the airspace over Cuba, and a blockade is usually already considered to be an act of war (even when painted as a "quarantine").

In 1914 BOTH sides were unable or unwilling to stop the war. In its core, Russia decided to back Serbias right to perpetrate terrorist acts (or to protect those responsible from a serious investigation), and France/Britain backed Russia in that decision. Was keeping Austrian investigators away from Serbia worth that war?
In terms of protecting what was perceived as one's sovereignty... yes, neither side in 1914 was super willing to concede much, but that marks the historical differences between the Trent Incident in 1862, where the Lincoln Administration backed down, and the Cuban Missile Crisis where Kennedy was willing to back down if the Soviets did the same. It illustrates my point that mobilization by itself is NOT the start of a conflict or war.

But in 1914 there was STILL the option that could have enabled the crisis settled peacefully, again as seen in the Serb reply. They close the reply that if there was ANYTHING the Austrians were dissatisfied with, they could take it to the international community for a major conference to settle any and all differences. It was something that was seen in Britain and in Germany with some favor... Britain in the idea that a conference could be arranged and in Germany because the reply itself was seen as an Austrian diplomatic victory.

Though... how such a conference would have worked out would be purely speculative.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 09:22 AM   #213

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The original text:"einzuwilligen, daß in Serbien Organe der k. und k. Regierung bei der Unterdrückung der gegen die territoriale In tegrität der Monarchie gerichteten subversiven Bewegung mitwirken"

"mitwirken" is translated to participate, not to control. Apart from the intention, the wording is clear. As they were free to also invite Russian or neutral officers they certainly could have control that the Austrians did not extend the meaning of the word "participate", if only participation is asked for.
But as the supposed "offended" party in the incident stemming from the assassination, it would make far more sense that Austria be allowed to control the investigation, not to simply be there. As simply being there under the idea of participating in the investigation could well mean that the Serbs could conduct an investigation that finds nothing of note or value, declare everyone innocent and send the Austrians home with nothing of real value that would be satisfactory to their government...

Especially when one considers that so many other terms of the Austrian ultimatum would mean massive changes in Serbia's society, including education, so that nothing in Serbia could be produced that would be remotely considered offensive to Austria.

And if the justification for participation was on the basis that Austria didn't trust the Serb government to do the job fairly on their own... I'd find it likely that that same reasoning would then apply to who ran the investigation. If the Serbs still controlled the investigation, they could in theory give any and all Austrian investigators the runaround, which to Austria would be unsatisfactory. Having Austria control the investigation would be far more practical for Austria as it would assure them that those they felt were guilty already could be arrested and taken out of Serbia.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 09:30 AM   #214

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No. There was no formal alliance. All help and aid given by Russia to Serbia was on an ad hoc base.
Austria certainly did not expect Russia to back Serbia in this case - as is vividly demonstrated by their failure to mobilize on the Russian border in preparation of the conflict with Serbia.
It may not have been formal, it was still there, and a necessity for Russian planning... as much of their ambitions in the Balkans related to getting control of the Bosporus from Turkey with a history going back to a Byzantine princess fleeing to Russia after the Turks took Constantinople.

Now, I've seen some posters here make the comment that Bulgaria was originally that partner (though I can't remember who it was now...) but that after the Balkan Wars, relations between Russia and Bulgaria had soured and thus the arrangements made between Russia and Serbia, even if they were only informal.

And after being outwitted by the Austrians over Bosnia earlier on... I don't the Russians saw themselves in a position where they could afford to let an ally in the Balkans, even an informal one, be wiped off the map.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 10:14 AM   #215

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On waiting for mobilization...

Sorry, but again: no.
"Military wisdom" of this time was that a fully mobilized Russian army was too large to be fought in a two front war. It was also expected that this mobilization will take around 6 weeks, while the German and French mobilization takes around 2 weeks.
The options the German HQ and government believed to have where
a) wait for the mobilization and be at the mercy of Russia and France
b) beat France within four weeks and then concentrate on Russia.

Many of these assumptions were wrong, just as many assumptions on other capitals.
Or they could have played a defensive game in the West and let the French batter themselves, likely unsuccessfully as the French didn't have a major siege gun in 1914, against the German forts along the border and attack the Russians where they wouldn't have to go through a neutral country and essentially cripple the Russians before their steamroller could get rolling.

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Which was, by all honesty, not the plan. The idea was to bring the war to Germany. As I said above - many assumptions were wrong.
Admittedly a lot of this is more hindsight... but it does demonstrate the advantages the Germans had over the French in 1914.

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And yet - before the first German soldier crossed the border to Belgium - the British fleet had sailed out with the order to prevent the German fleet from crossing the channel to attack France - because the French fleet was in the Mediterran sea, protecting the shipment of colonial troops.

The violation of the Belgian neutrality was just sheer luck for the British government, that had already committed their nation to war. The only way out would have been a fall of the government and a diplomatic disaster.
They may have protected French ports... but that's not the same as imposing a blockade that the Germans couldn't beat and landing British troops to oppose the German army in the field with the promise of more to come. About all the Entente did was allow for Britain to come close to war, but it didn't require to actually jump in with both feet, and Britain's hawks in 1914 would have likely faced a major debate in Parliament without the invasion of Belgium.

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It always is a difficult situation. In the end it counts wether you uphold the rules or not. In war, you usually do what is necessary. If you can afford to uphold neutrality, you do, if not, bad luck.

Egypt? Taken control of.
Greece. Luckily their population did not resist.

The Allies do hold the higher ethical ground here, but more by circumstances then by decision.

In WW2 it was Iran or Iceland that got no real choice because they were too important to be neutral.
By 1914, Egypt was considered as a partner in the British Empire, particularly with regard to issues over the Suez Canal.

Greece ended up in something of a near civil war between the Pro-Allied PM and the Pro-German King.

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Seriously? That implies that any neutral without a treaty promising the inviolation of its borders if free game.
Meant more to illustrate the point that actually brought Britain into the war.

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No. But their imports were restricted to the volume they had before the war, which amounts to a blockade, usually considered an act of war - though wisely tuned. Their rights were violated, but not to a degree that would make the actually go to war. The Allies could afford that...
But one must then remember that there were considerations that had a certain amount of fear that trade between Holland and Germany would continue, and thus if shipments going into Holland remained at full force, and they thus had a surplus of goods might well go to Germany and thus better fuel the German war effort...

And to a degree that sort of thing DID happen... The Dutch didn't block Fokker's ability to go between Holland and Germany, and his work did give the Luftwaffe in WWI advantages the Allies wouldn't have with regard to the early air war.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 11:14 AM   #216

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1)The American people never found out about that though, and even today it's like commonly really known(found out in college). Cuban Missle Crisis was portrayed as Kennedy standing tall and the Soviets backing down. Don't want to tie this back in to the whole "Germany would never accept UK's navy not being disarmed" but the concessions countries make for peace don't need to be portrayed to the public really unless they are territory. You can give up some missiles in Turkey that almost no one knew about and save face.
But it illustrates my point that mobilization by itself does not equal war.

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2)There are arguments for Germany, Austria and Russia all having fault in that situation. That being said Germany had made an alliance with Austria in 1882 saying they'd give A-H a blank check more or less. Was that really dumb decision? Yes, yes it was, but they'd made that decades ago. Of course the Germans were the senior partners in the alliance and they had the ability to say no and this emboldened A-H, but this wasn't really the kind of conflict that was seen as high risk and Germany's blank check was more designed to stop Russia's intervention and allow A-H to fight a local war they could win(they didn't know the Serbians were willing to die at USSR WWII rates to defend their country).
The point on those alliances is more that they were beginning to reach points that they would make the overall situation more difficult to work with as it were...

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Based on Russia's actions in the previous crisis in 1908 this was a rational action by the Germans and even in 1914 if the Tsar didn't cave on continuing mobilization after he ordered his generals to stop the calculation that the Russians would back down would have been correct. Remember though that situation escalating into a world war can't happen without France's revenge quest.
But one must also remember that the French army was not in control of the French government, and by 1914, the French government was not quite such that they were quite on the same sort of desire for revenge that it was in the immediate aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. Which would have the real potential that if the situation cooled in 1914... there would be the potential that if the Austrian and German armies didn't move, Joffre wouldn't have much in the way of justification to try and force things.

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3)Austria was reckless, I'm not going to disagree with this. Germany choosing Austria as an ally was very dumb, the Austrians had issues with three of the other four great powers Germany's, basically an ally repellent. I will say again though that the Austrian thought they could get away with it based on 1908 though.
And that recklessness was a major part of the problem. Things change over time and should always be remembered. To act in a way that ignores that... is not beneficial to anyone.

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4)I can't prove this(or maybe some state papers can, I don't know), but it makes no sense for the UK to make the commitment they did over a neutrality treaty signed in 75 years before. If UK and Germany had patched things up over the naval issue and there was no Entente, there is just no way the UK intervenes on Belguim's behalf, this was an excuse to preemptively join their best chance to contain something they saw as a threat. Yeah Belgium was the official reason but a lot of country's do a lot of things citing false pretext.
Perhaps, but it's something that remains a very speculative point that would be difficult to put anything together one way or the other as there would be other factors that wouldn't change much.

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5)In terms of Germany not invading the Netherlands, it's because they didn't need to to achieve their goals. UK didn't need to either, just needed to stop the shipments. Germany needed to invade Belgium or at least get access to Belgium for their invasion. No one needed to cross the Netherlands
Britain didn't need to invade Holland, but the fact that Germany could still trade with Holland, and the fact that Fokker was Dutch would reflect that trade between Germany and Holland did continue to trade after the war began would be a point to consider.

And at the same time, the Germans didn't HAVE to go through Belgium. France and Belgium did share a direct border. They could have gone through the direct border or let the French attack into Alsace/Lorraine. They chose to attack first because of the fear of lost momentum and chose to go through Belgium for the fear that besieging the French forts around Verdun would consume too much time before the Russians mobilized fully...

The option the Germans had that would avoid violating the issue of Belgian neutrality and Russian mobilization would be to take a defensive stance in the west first and attack in the east first to defeat the Russians before they could mobilize and let the French hammer at Germany's forts first., which wasn't made until after the Schlieffen plan was defeated.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 03:22 PM   #217

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4)I can't prove this(or maybe some state papers can, I don't know), but it makes no sense for the UK to make the commitment they did over a neutrality treaty signed in 75 years before. If UK and Germany had patched things up over the naval issue and there was no Entente, there is just no way the UK intervenes on Belguim's behalf, this was an excuse to preemptively join their best chance to contain something they saw as a threat. Yeah Belgium was the official reason but a lot of country's do a lot of things citing false pretext.
There may have been other reasons, but Belgium wasn't a false pretext in itself, Belgium neutrality mattered to the British.
That's why in 1912 the British warned the French through their Chief Of Staff General Wilson against any first violation of Belgium neutrality, as this would bring Belgium into war with France, and bring calls for the British government to support Belgium and that this would make the chance of any British support for France impossible.

This is why French politicians told their generals that an attack on Germany through Belgium wasn't going to happen.

Last edited by redcoat; January 3rd, 2018 at 03:26 PM.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 08:27 PM   #218

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Intersting thread, normally on this board the French are responsible for the mess.
Really?

That is original interpretation of the many discussions about July-August of '14.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 08:30 PM   #219
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There may have been other reasons, but Belgium wasn't a false pretext in itself, Belgium neutrality mattered to the British.
I would never claim Belgium to be a "pretext". In fact Belgium put Germany on the lower moralic ground both for the invasion and for the conduct of warfare there in the first weeks.

Still - Belgium is NOT the reason why Britain entered the war. Britain had declared that it will - in the absence of the French fleet - defend the coasts of France against any German naval assault. This BEFORE a single German soldier had crossed the border.

If THAT is not participation in the war, then its hard to conceive what it takes. It may be that this procedure was against the British law, and would have brought down the British government when put under close inspection. Without a war going on Germany could have tried just that by sending a naval force and stopping its land army - but that would have meant to ignore all pre-war plans and estimations for a possible diplomatic success.

Britain went to war due to the Entente, especially to fullfill its secret 1912 agreement. The architects of that "agreement" led Britain into the war and put France in a position to risk war with a conceived British backup. It may be that this "agreement" had some nice legal escapist formulations that offered the British government a way to say: we did not commit ourself, but in fact the French trusted it enough to send their whole fleet into the Mediterran sea, while the British had withdrawn many forces from their to bolster the Homefleet. The diplomatic damage towards the escalation was done, and as seen by that declaration of August 2 Britain intended to keep their part.
Belgium was just a handy excuse. It probably would have been sufficient, too - but even if not a single German soldier would have touched Belgium I fail to see how Britain could have remained neutral after that declaration - or kept its government.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 08:50 PM   #220

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Now, I've seen some posters here make the comment that Bulgaria was originally that partner (though I can't remember who it was now...) but that after the Balkan Wars, relations between Russia and Bulgaria had soured and thus the arrangements made between Russia and Serbia, even if they were only informal.
Sazanov, the Russian FM that took the position in the wake of the Bosnia annexation, seems to have been surprised by Bulgaria's success in the 1912 war. Russia found itself in the unexpected position of preparing an intervention on the side of the Ottomans to prevent the possibility of the Bulgarians laying siege to Istanbul/Constantinople.

In the second Balkan war the Bulgarians had cause to feel betrayed by Sazanov's machinations that they felt contributed to defeat.

Although in the final analysis Serbia played its part in the Entente's encirclement of Austria, by maintaining their front until the Italians joined the Entente, Bulgaria had a stronger regular army than Serbia. Serbia had exceptional service from its very large militia.
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