Countries that had the most and least to gain from WWI

deaf tuner

Ad Honoris
Oct 2013
14,533
Europix
. I don't buy the distinction between Belgian and the Congo Free State. I see it as a technicality and that's really what it was.
You really don't want to understand that Leopold, as King of Belgium was a constitutional monarch, at the end of the 19th c, with it's actual political power more than restricted by a Parliament and a government, while as "King" of Free State of Congo he was an absolute monarch, as in "good old days"?

And it's precisely because of that that the connection between Belgium as State with the Free State of Congo was as minimal as possible: Leopold didn't wanted a connection/b]! It would have put his Congo under a control outside of his grip, it could no longer do freely what he wanted.

And btw, the Congo wasn't given by US, UK, France, Germany to Leopold. It was given to what we call today an ONG. An "ONG" that had Leopold behind. Only later he manoeuvred into the proclamation of the Free state of Congo, that "proclaimed" him as chief of state.

Really, You don't have to buy anything from me, there's no need to trust me on anything: it's enough to read a couple of pages of official documents of the time (conference, resolution and the constitutions).

To the Belgian guy defending Belgian's role in Congo
I do not defend.

I'm signaling You that You start on a wrong premise. That can't give You a good or plausible analysis.

That's all.
 
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Likes: Futurist

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
13,980
Navan, Ireland
It can be addictive but I'll not answer this until after work tomorrow and or when I am allowed back on by the kids.

Because the Germans needed to invade Belgium more than the UK needed ot protect them. And you asked come up with another plan instead well what would your suggestion be? Again there's limited real estate to use the other part is where the French are going to go to take back the land they want..
They are the planners not me-- you can not be critical the British for defending Belgium and therefore causing a World war and not at the very least condemn Germany for invading in the first place. They had options -- infact the centre who were supposed to hold the French armies actually advanced.


The High Sea fleet had no chance in hell of dealing with the RN. None. But yes and the treaty was from 1839. And at the point the UK said they'd recognize it yeah it was pretty much over then and yes Germany was gambling but says a lot. Unlike Hitler in WWII, the Germans actually believed the British would not only declare war but come right away and they still did it. Tells you how many other options there were..
Or tells you how arrogant they were and confident of victory -- their real problem comes when the supposed plan (actually deeply flawed) fails to work. They gambled on starting a World War but finishing it early their failure isn't somehow a fault of the British.

Because the British are a reason gamble failed, the gamble failing got a lot of people killed and their reason for doing so(Belgian neutrality or 20th century of "WMD" regardless) is one they should be heavily critiqued for..
But they took the gamble, knowing the British would react-- its either Germanys fault for taking the gamble or their armies fault for failing to win.

By the logic you're using not only is god real but EVERY single god that's been widely believed in is as well..
Well that's not the logic at all and a rather unfortunate analogy --how do you know I am not a Christian/Muslim/other who might take offence at that? but to run with your analogy if enough people believe in a god doesn't it effectively become real?

But anyway that's not the point at all. I may argue that there was no way that Operation Sealion would work or that the threat of invasion was actually quite small but that is with 20:20 hindsight the people of the time did not know that and given what they believed their fears were justified. I knoew that no country in 1939 had a bomber fleet capable of destroying cities as had been prophesied as the 1920/30's that doesn't mean that the fears were unfounded or illogical.

I thought you brought up Washington(though I bring it up often in all sorts of contexts possible you were responding to me)..
No it was you.

But WE do and we're discussing it. Since when has the "they didn't have 20 20 hindsight" been a valid excuse for any other reckless decisions we've discussed here. I mean might have used it once it once or twice but don't expect it to change the reality that a mistake was a mistake..
But we can only judge people by the context of the time and what they knew at the time.

Do you want to have the "were pre dreadnoughts useful after Dreadnought" conversation. This could be another thread. But do you really believe that? Come on man. Things had four guns and were slow..
Sorry they only had 4 big guns and numerous smaller ones -- shore bombardment, convoy escort etc lots of tasks-- yes there were better ships that gradually replaced them.

Going to war over that is terrible. In similar situations today people recognize as such. The UK faulty intel got considerably more of their own soldiers killed(nm overall who knows with the buttefly effect), many many times over than the mistakes I'm referencing..
Again you simply fsil to grasp context.


The French were attacked against because the ally they the more enthusiastic partner with with had set the war in motion. France was going to attack, Germany beat them to it narrowly .
Thats open to debate
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,007
SoCal
You really don't want to understand that Leopold, as King of Belgium was a constitutional monarch, at the end of the 19th c, with it's actual political power more than restricted by a Parliament and a government, while as "King" of Free State of Congo he was an absolute monarch, as in "good old days"?

And it's precisely because of that that the connection between Belgium as State with the Free State of Congo was as minimal as possible: Leopold didn't wanted a connection/b]! It would have put his Congo under a control outside of his grip, it could no longer do freely what he wanted.

And btw, the Congo wasn't given by US, UK, France, Germany to Leopold. It was given to what we call today an ONG. An "ONG" that had Leopold behind. Only later he manoeuvred into the proclamation of the Free state of Congo, that "proclaimed" him as chief of state.

Really, You don't have to buy anything from me, there's no need to trust me on anything: it's enough to read a couple of pages of official documents of the time (conference, resolution and the constitutions).



I do not defend.

I'm signaling You that You start on a wrong premise. That can't give You a good or plausible analysis.

That's all.
What's an ONG?
 
Jul 2009
9,944
Yeah one widely overlooked thing is the US during this period rose to have the third largest fleet and sometime during the war took second place from Germany.

Wilson was right as it related to the UK. He forced the UK to give up their most cherished national security priority or lose the title of world's largest navy altogether. It's kind of sad how threatened the UK was by 50% then a few years later they begged a third country for 100% equality.

I'm pretty sure quite a few of Wilson ships were under construction and stopped during Washington though his whole vision might have been a bit delusional(think it was 50 new battleships or something insane like that). One was very close to completion, forgot which one exactly.....I think maybe the Washington If I remember right?
USS Washington was the fourth BB of the Colorado class. The first three were completed; Washington was about 75-80% complete when cancelled. With weapons never fitted, she was expended as a target to test armor.

The six South Dakota class BBs were all laid down but were cancelled. Material was used in other ships or broken up.

Six Lexington class CBs were all laid down, four were cancelled and broken up. The Lexington and Saratoga, as I am sure you are aware, were finished as aircraft carriers in the late 1920s.

Strategically, and for that matter, tactically, this fleet was meant to dominate in the Pacific. There was no other naval power other than Japan that concerned the US after WW I. Frankly some USN officers (article in USNI Proceedings IIRC) saw the USN and the RN as brothers in arms and essentially as a combination of naval power. Not all were of the same mind. In WW II, and before that, CNO Adm. Earnest J. King was a rabid Anglophobe who resented the RN and was not shy about it. Fortunately FDR and Adm. William Leahy (senior to King and FDR's personal CoS) knew how to handle that.

Where the USN was most deficient was in a scouting force. Before the 1920s the navy had only three obsolete light cruisers (all with different experimental power plants) and the new fleet provided for only ten light cruisers (Omaha class) which for the Pacific was ridiculous. The RN had about 100 cruisers.
 
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Anyway Germany is a stabilizing force because she wasn't things to stay the same after 1870. Like the British, they were happy with the way things are, part of why I label UK and German decisions dumb more easily than others is because there's much less to gain from war in their current situation. After the Franco-Russian alliance this isn't entirely true anymore of course but that situation was because Germany had failed as a stabilizing force mainly by choosing Austria over Russia. Per the Eastern expansion that was a consequence of WWI and of Russia being an enemy, it wasn't a deeply held desire of the Germans to expand eastward. The original goal was to keep Russia and Austria friends which of course cycles back to the original stupid decision which is always a constant theme in these sort of discussions.
Germany did not take their colonial empire seriously. After all they weren't unaware they were likely giving it up in it's entirety when they made that blank check if they thought there was even a little chance of war. Even if Germany won WWI and gets all that land in Brest Litovsk she loses her African and Asian empire(can't make the British and Japs give it back, navy's still trapped and once it isn't still nothing they can really do) to the UK and Japan. And that's why the size of the British and French empire is relevant to the Moroccon incident. Point was they were fierce rivals in Africa who'd spent decades threatening each other. The main threat from Germany was PR. Germany wasn't making a serious play in Africa. And like Jutland WWI showed how little of a naval threat Germany was, WWI also showed how little of a colonial threat Germany was. Even with their expensive 45-50% navy they couldn't leave and without reinforcements the UK conquered German Africa almost instantly. Any war with the UK was the end of German colonial Africa.

So, they failed as a ''stabilising force'' and made terrible diplomatic decisions, ultimately going to war themselves even if there wasn't much to gain, yet they are cleared of blame because their intentions were good? Alright.

Again, the Anglo-French rivalry doesn't really matter. Germany did have plans for expansion, even if they didn't pursue them ''seriously''.

2) You are correct on paper that unification could have been acheived without Alsace-Lorraine, heck it could have been achieved without the war after all German unification was really just an announcement and agreement it was about 2/3's of the former Germany and the current Germany is less than 40%.. And the reason neither thing happened was because of Wilhelm I. Also France had taken it from Germany once and Germany had clearly forgotten(HRE was technically Germany, get practically speaking Prussia never owned Alsace or Lorraine). It was ambiguous who the rightful owner was. But yeah Bismarck was against annexing it but the Kaiser wanted it and the Kaiser(King back then) was being dragged kicking and screaming towards becoming Kaiser and declaring a German empire he and his brother had both rejected the title in the past(at least he'd been opposed unsure if he formally declined), and he was honestly a sneeze away from changing his mind. And Bismarck wasn't going to give up his dream for a little sliver of land whose rightful owner was ambiguous.

Anyhow German incompetence unified France and Russia. Really had little to do with the UK. If I am remembering correctly the reason those negotiations ended is because the UK government doing them lost their election and the party that beat them had no interest. UK alliance with Germany made more sense than France and Russia in line with colonial goals as those were the main two threats to their empire, their official policy of having no allies was pretty logical too of course.
So, you admit that the German Unification could've been achieved and that the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine was unnecessary? To me that seems like fully Germany's fault for annexing it in the first place. Again, it shows German competence as a stabilising force when they managed to unite France and Russia against themselves, they failed as stabilising force and that failure is on them.

3)Well they had good reason to think Russia would submit. Also it was to most everyone not just them. The UK had been a large part of the first submission actually. Russia had wanted Constantinople forever so they could start calling themselves Rome and the rest of Europe and the UK and had been the fiercest opponents until with the Entente they didn't care anymore. Don't forget the recent embarrassment of their war with Japan. The international community thought Russia had potential but their stock was not very high. Again likely has to do with the blank check, Germany probably thought if Russia wants to fight they'll never be a better time.
Again, Germany misjudged the situation by thinking that Russia would submit, I don't see how it is Russia's fault for not doing what Germany wanted.

Post continues.
 
Post continued.

Well Russia proceeded despite the blank check. Russia also invaded Germany and did so very quickly, they weren't going to invade Russia, even the incredibly harsh Brest-Litovsk didn't touch actual Russia proper per say. The goal of the plan was to avoid fighting two enemies at once. The goal of the French and Russians was the opposite obviously. Anyhow the reason the alliance ended Germany as a stabilizing force was because how threatened they felt over the two front war where one of those fronts kept getting stronger(though I guess France technically kept getting weaker, it's like that would even out). And yeah that's why I call the Belgian resistance stupid, it was bloody because they resisted very fiercly. For example look at Serbia they resisted extremely fiercely despite not having a chance and while they technically were rewarded handsomely(with people that had no interest in being part of Yugoslavia) they took losses population wise equal to the Soviets in WWII to which I'd say there isn't a prize worth that cost. Compared to Austria who really wanted to hurt Serbia to some degree, Belgium was just a road, insulted as the King might have been by that concept allowing his country to be used as such would have made his countrymen's life much easier. The lives of the soldiers who died fiercely resisting soldiers using their country as a road is honestly objectively worth more IMO than being insulted.
Germany invaded Russia after beating the Russian offensive back, they did invade Russia and went considerably deep into Russian territory. Brest-Litovsk was one of their goals, to create a buffer zone of satellites with Russia. Also, the treaty took away a great chunk of Russia and a considerable amount of its European territory but because it didn't reach Russia proper it's alright? Hmmm....

On Belgium, they should've submitted because resistance was futile and should've just let Germany use them as a road because Germany wanted to just march hundreds of thousands of soldiers through them and occupy them and totally just leave them alone? To me the Peninsular War rings a bell, Napoleon just casually marched armies through Spain to get to Portugal and didn't make any official statement that he wanted to invade Spain yet when he was done with Portugal he turned on Spain and tried to overtake them, I would imagine Belgium would meet the same fate. Even still when a huge army wants to violate your neutrality and occupy your country you shouldn't blindly trust them no matter what. On the topic of the Peninsular War, I thought the Napoleonic part of the argument was still up to discussion?

5)Was talking about how Belgian getting the sympathy they did after what had happened relatively uncondemmed went unnoticed. I don't buy the distinction between Belgian and the Congo Free State. I see it as a technicality and that's really what it was. Given how European rulers traditionally held land for all practical purposes those two are one and the same. Otherwise what would stop other private individuals in the Gilded Age from getting a gigantic colony in Africa? Normal private individuals don't get ceded gigantic shares of a continent.

6)I mean by not invading Belgium Germany would be immediately surrendering. And the British governments obligation is to there people and service members getting a million soldiers killed in the name of not letting one country pass through another is horrid and irresponsible. I think France losing the soldiers did over their revenge quest for Alsace-Lorraine was horrid. Germany's plan to go through Belgium was prospectively quickest to end an unfortunate situation the French had created by recruiting the Russians. You can mock the logic behind that all you want. It's why I opposed the expansion of NATO if I'm legally obligated to end life on this planet to keep my word to Estonia or Latvia, sorry the promise is broken and I'm not going to lie and say otherwise in the name of maintaining a stupid poker face.
The Congo Free State and Belgium were 2 different entities, Leopold wanted to to keep them apart. In Belgium he was a constitutional monarch that had very limited powers, in Congo he was a dictator that didn't have to answer to the Belgian government and didn't have to abide by any Belgian laws or rules, there is a distinction between Belgium and the Congo Free State and a huge one at that. In the end when the Belgian government discovered what Leopold was doing they confiscated the Congo from him IIRC. Even still I don't see what right Germany has to ''punish'' Belgium over this or how was this a justification for invasion.

Again, I don't see the point in stating ''Germany wanted to end the war quickly so its the Entente's fault for not surrendering and letting Germany win.'' I can ask ''Why did Germany not concentrate it's army in Alsace-Lorraine and get destroyed by Plan 17 like the French wanted?'' This doesn't make any logical sense to me.
 
Likes: Gvelion
Mar 2014
37
Paris (France)
The French were attacked against because the ally they the more enthusiastic partner with with had set the war in motion. France was going to attack, Germany beat them to it narrowly.
Do you have any evidence about it ?
Because, as various sources (gouvernment order's to Joffre, memoirs, etc.) stated, it was forbidden to the French army to be closer than 10km of the franco-german border in order to avoid any provocation on the French part. Just in case you don't know, it was Germany that declare war on France on the 3rd of august 1914. Moreover, the German started their actions the day before the declaration of war, as you can see here : Skirmish at Joncherey - Wikipedia
It was Germany that brought war to France, not the reverse so please either provide sources or stop this non sense.
 
Jun 2017
2,908
Connecticut
Do you have any evidence about it ?
Because, as various sources (gouvernment order's to Joffre, memoirs, etc.) stated, it was forbidden to the French army to be closer than 10km of the franco-german border in order to avoid any provocation on the French part. Just in case you don't know, it was Germany that declare war on France on the 3rd of august 1914. Moreover, the German started their actions the day before the declaration of war, as you can see here : Skirmish at Joncherey - Wikipedia
It was Germany that brought war to France, not the reverse so please either provide sources or stop this non sense.
Yes I do know Germany declared war I was explaining why who declared war first was irrelevant. When you have alliances obligating party A to attack party B all who can be responsible are those who started the chain, and countries can't be blamed for not expecting things to go as the chain would suggest. This might be the main reason why France avoids conversations of culpability, the ones whose decisions set chains off were arguably Russia(technically started chain), Austria(unreasonable referendum on Serbia) and Germany(blank check). But France was critical in setting up the system where said chain exists. Pre France's ally hunt in the 1890s system where Germany was required to attack France to avoid a two front war existed, France wasn't just responsible for that state of affairs she pushed for it quite aggressively.

The literal declaration of war is misleading, Germany had no choice if she had waited France would declare war. Only choice Germany had was providing the blank check. Once Russia mobilized everyone was going to war. Italy and the UK were unique in their geographic isolation and the doubt they would join. The main four parties in those alliances entering was a certainty once the first one started the chain. France was technically the last of the four involved but she was the most aggressive in creating the alliance system that got her attacked. I am not debating what day of August what happened that is not the point.
 
Jun 2017
2,908
Connecticut
Post continued.



Germany invaded Russia after beating the Russian offensive back, they did invade Russia and went considerably deep into Russian territory. Brest-Litovsk was one of their goals, to create a buffer zone of satellites with Russia. Also, the treaty took away a great chunk of Russia and a considerable amount of its European territory but because it didn't reach Russia proper it's alright? Hmmm....

On Belgium, they should've submitted because resistance was futile and should've just let Germany use them as a road because Germany wanted to just march hundreds of thousands of soldiers through them and occupy them and totally just leave them alone? To me the Peninsular War rings a bell, Napoleon just casually marched armies through Spain to get to Portugal and didn't make any official statement that he wanted to invade Spain yet when he was done with Portugal he turned on Spain and tried to overtake them, I would imagine Belgium would meet the same fate. Even still when a huge army wants to violate your neutrality and occupy your country you shouldn't blindly trust them no matter what. On the topic of the Peninsular War, I thought the Napoleonic part of the argument was still up to discussion?



The Congo Free State and Belgium were 2 different entities, Leopold wanted to to keep them apart. In Belgium he was a constitutional monarch that had very limited powers, in Congo he was a dictator that didn't have to answer to the Belgian government and didn't have to abide by any Belgian laws or rules, there is a distinction between Belgium and the Congo Free State and a huge one at that. In the end when the Belgian government discovered what Leopold was doing they confiscated the Congo from him IIRC. Even still I don't see what right Germany has to ''punish'' Belgium over this or how was this a justification for invasion.

Again, I don't see the point in stating ''Germany wanted to end the war quickly so its the Entente's fault for not surrendering and letting Germany win.'' I can ask ''Why did Germany not concentrate it's army in Alsace-Lorraine and get destroyed by Plan 17 like the French wanted?'' This doesn't make any logical sense to me.
Keep in mind given how far west Russia was that Brest-Litovsk didn't even reach today's Russia proper. In European wars, areas conceded tended to be areas on the border settled by other groups that were swapped back and forth. Brest-Litovsk being as harsh as was, was a consequence of Russia stretching as far west as it did(borders that make the notion of it being expansionist today look like a joke by comparison) there were a lot of areas Russia ruled over that could be made satellites. Russia had kept winning general European war after general European war for centuries(Crimea was an exception not the rule) and by 1914 had built up quite a larger buffer area. To put in perspective, with today Germany's easternmost major acquisition was Riga which is not even in Russia today. And yeah it was harsh but it had the same intent the Versailles treaty had, make sure said opponent can't be a threat again and to justify what at that point had been a massive expenditure of lives and money(unlike in 1914). In the West almost no such land existed, Luxembourg was the only realistic German acquisition. Also I see more satellites and Austrian held territory arrving out of Brest-Litovsk. Futurist made an argument of maybe expanding awkward borders up the Baltic but hard to see Poland not going Austria(Germany annexing Catholic territory didn't work in that era for political reasons). Remember many of these peoples were Catholics or Protestants who did not want to be under Russian rule. After Brest-Litovsk was not enforced there were several wars in these regions between said peoples and the Soviets because of this.

I am on Napoleon's side in that regard(for the marching through Spain bit even though I think the Continental System is dumb) for the exact same reasons. But I think it's unfair to compare Napoleon taking over Spain and suggesting Germany would do the same. Spain had went back and forth between the Hapsburgs and Bourbons and thus France and Austria allegiance, huge wars had occurred after that shift, Spain didn't just happen to be next door there were political reasons in Spain why Napoleon took over. Nothing to suggest something similar happens with Belgium except they are both places countries used to access another.

Also per the Napoleonic part got a bit overwhelmed with messages on this thread and some I forgot about as a result. But most of the issues you had with my points on Trafalagar weren't ones I disagreed with. Such as the French outnumbering the Brits at Trafalagar not being representative of their naval sizes etc. Nor was I being literal when I said Napoleon conquered all of Europe. Was trying to prove the point that the British policy was in response to fear of invasion of sea and how this stemmed from Trafalagar. Dreadnought opens the book with talking about Trafalagar and I like to open my discussions of UK naval supremacy the same way. I did not disagree with any of your substantive points on the Napoleonic War. In that post at least, yes I disagree on the Peninsular War.

I mean technically Belgium and the Free State were separate and I understand your reasoning why Leopold pushed for that distinction. Him not being tied down in terms of governing didn't mean he wasn't going to involve Belgians or that Belgians weren't aware of what was going on and Kings with multiple realms would bring people from their home realm to help them rule their second. The fact he was a Constitutional monarch makes the fact they weren't able to stop his acts earlier look worse not better. Rules or not Leopold being King required Belgians to be knowledgeable and involved in Leopold running the state. While Hitler's genocide and the Armenian genocide might have dwarfed Congo's in size, Congo's genocide was the longest running major one. It took political pressure to get Belgium to stop the genocide, I am disputing the characterization no one had any idea, they found out and it stopped I find that characterization to be very naive. Also distinction or not the man will not be receiving a huge chunk of Africa if he was not the King of Belgium, private individuals who were not European aristocrats did not receive huge chunks of Africa or any part of the earth and in practice, Congo would be seen as a Belgian proxy(textbooks might be oversimplying but when they take Partition of Africa, they characterize it as Belgian. The technicality has meaning but it does not free Belgium of responsibility. If you have a constitutional monarch they are kept monitored and are not running around freely in this era. People a whole ton of them and their cooperation and loyalty would be necessary to keep the genocide a secret.

Guess I was thinking it hypocritical for Belgium to lie about human rights violations. And I'm not a neocon quite the opposite but in the US invading countries over human rights violations is much more commonplace argument that is much rarely disputed, at least on those grounds. In the contexts I'd normally be having this argument(US nationalists thinking the Belgians were facing genocide from the evil Kaiser) it'd hold some more sway especially when we're talking about walking through a country and not regime change. But yes Germany was in a situation where defeating France quickly as possible was vital, Belgium was in the way, ask but if Belgium says no go through anyway they are then being the bad guy as far as I'm concerned. You aren't trying to hurt them but they are trying to hurt you by not letting you go through and then shooting your soldiers when they try.

Well I think the war is the entente's fault for existing as an offensive alliance on the part of France and Russia(okay with Russia can think of a few meritorious reasons, feeling betrayed by Germany after being backstabbed, French money, helping their Allies against Austria) and to combat an imaginary threat on the part of the British. So I'd prefer that instead of them just surrendering, this situation shouldn't have been in the first place.