Was World War I worth it?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
Um, about forty million casualties (both civilian and military), social instability sowing the seeds of authoritarianism (Fascism, Nazism, Communism), the spread of the Spanish Influenza (50 to 100 million deaths or 3-5% of the world's population), etc.

I don't want to jump to a hasty conclusion, but I would say, "No."


guy also known as gaius
Yeah, it's a close call (;)), but I'm going to have to agree with you about the "No" part.

So you admit you are justifying this Lebensraum-esque philosophy and expansionism? Do you not see any problem with this thinking?
TBH, I'm not 100% onboard with this because it could be a violation of national self-determination (though whether this was actually the case in regards to Texas and California is debatable given the Mexican neglect of these provinces), but I don't think that what the US did--with the exception of its brutal treatment towards Native Americans--is anywhere near as objectionable as what Nazi Germany did since the US a) only expanded into sparsely populated territories and b) didn't actually aim to exterminate an entire ethnic group. Had Nazi Germany not been genocidal (or anti-Semitic even without the genocide) and had it limited its territorial gains to sparsely populated territories such as the Baltic countries, then its actions would have certainly been less objectionable. This doesn't mean that they would have been completely morally spotless, of course, but in such a scenario they would be more comparable to what the US did or to what Russia did in Siberia, the Far East, and Central Asia.

For that matter, do you think that Russia's conquest of Siberia, the Far East, and Central Asia was immoral? I mean, Russia's role in the Circassian genocide was certainly immoral but that was in the Caucasus and I haven't heard of Russia being as brutal in Siberia, the Far East, and Central Asia.

I think it's rather nationalistic to say that the Mexican-American War was good and justified for all because the USA conquered 1/3rd of Mexico in the name of living space and settler colonialism. Good for the USA, but is it good for Mexico or the people who lived in that territory that were not settlers? Certainly not! To me this seems pretty one-sided and biased.
Whether this annexation was good for the Mexicans living in the Southwest is an open question. I mean, Mexicans did sometimes lose their land as a result of them failing to fully understand the US's land laws and they also experienced some discrimination (though they were historically considered White on the US Census)--both of which I certainly strongly condemn. On the other hand, though, the economy of the Southwest right now is certainly in much better shape than it would have been had Mexico kept this territory. In fact, the situation here is so good that a lot of Mexicans and other Hispanics from Latin America voluntarily moved here over the last century or so. Demographically speaking, the situation in the Southwest is gradually reverting back in the direction of what the Southwest looked like back in the 1840s. (I don't expect the Southwest to become 90% Hispanic again, but majority-Hispanic is certainly reasonable.) Of course, life here is so good that I haven't actually heard of any large-scale secessionist movements among Hispanics in the Southwest.

So, in other words, the US conquest of the Southwest was probably a mixed bag for Hispanics.

I think someone would be quick to say to say that it would be better if the USA never expanded in the first place,
Sure, the Native Americans would have been better off without US expansion across the continent--though perhaps not as much as one thinks since the US's expansion allowed them to live in a developed, First World country. I don't know if a hypothetical independent Native American state would have been anywhere near as prosperous as the US is.

I would claim that it would be the best if Britain kept the 13 colonies and the decolonisation of America didn't occur at all.
Gwern actually did make an argument along those lines here:

My Mistakes - Gwern.net

But this view is neither fair nor very ''liberal''.
Sure, having Britain hold onto the 13 Colonies against their will would have violated national self-determination. Of course, had Britain actually been able to successfully appease the colonists beforehand, then maybe they would have been more willing to remain under British rule.

I think the Mexican-American War was unjustified because the USA really didn't have a credible casus beli in my eyes, and to claim that settler colonialism and acquiring living space is a legitimate, clean casus beli does not sit well with me for a multitude of reasons.
Do you support the Mexicans in the Texas War of Independence as well?

Also, I am curious--how do you feel about Serbia's expansion into Kosovo and Macedonia during the Balkan Wars? I mean, unlike the US in the Southwest, Serbia was never able to significantly alter the demographic situation in either Kosovo or Macedonia.

A way for countries to not decolonise, or at least last longer would be something like the Imperial Federation advocated by Joseph Chamberlain.
Oh, certainly! The problem with colonization lasting longer, of course, is that Europeans might have become paranoid about the possibility of non-Europeans acquiring much more political power. This wouldn't be an issue for colonies where the population is predominantly of European descent (the 13 Colonies, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, et cetera), but it would be an issue for other colonies.
 
Jan 2018
417
Sturgeon Lake Mn.
When I lived in San Antonio I became aware of the dangers of illegal immigration--but in the case of Crockett, Travis, The New Orleans Greys and other Texian opportunists, freebooters and mercenaries who illegally entered Mexico from the United States.
 
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Feb 2019
808
Serbia
TBH, I'm not 100% onboard with this because it could be a violation of national self-determination (though whether this was actually the case in regards to Texas and California is debatable given the Mexican neglect of these provinces), but I don't think that what the US did--with the exception of its brutal treatment towards Native Americans--is anywhere near as objectionable as what Nazi Germany did since the US a) only expanded into sparsely populated territories and b) didn't actually aim to exterminate an entire ethnic group. Had Nazi Germany not been genocidal (or anti-Semitic even without the genocide) and had it limited its territorial gains to sparsely populated territories such as the Baltic countries, then its actions would have certainly been less objectionable. This doesn't mean that they would have been completely morally spotless, of course, but in such a scenario they would be more comparable to what the US did or to what Russia did in Siberia, the Far East, and Central Asia.
And what gave them the right to these territories over Mexico? The territories also were not uninhabited, you yourself say that you object to the treatment of Native Americans. On the terms of self-determination: When you fill the territory with settlers, which will inevitably either displace or assimilate the local population of course the territory would want to be a part of you. As for sparse population: Imagine a man who has a small house and a family of 12, across the street his neighbour lives in a mansion with a family of 3, one day the man with a larger family breaks into his neighbours mansion, fills it with his family members and declares it his while the neighbour is either expelled or forced to shut up and accept the situation. Also, the very idea of Manifest Destiny seems very Lebensraum-esque to me.

For that matter, do you think that Russia's conquest of Siberia, the Far East, and Central Asia was immoral? I mean, Russia's role in the Circassian genocide was certainly immoral but that was in the Caucasus and I haven't heard of Russia being as brutal in Siberia, the Far East, and Central Asia.
I'm not sure as I don't know the details, however if Russia had the same justification of living space I don't support it. I'm not opposed to expansionism, however when the reason is something I see as vile such as living space or settler colonialism I can't support it.

Whether this annexation was good for the Mexicans living in the Southwest is an open question. I mean, Mexicans did sometimes lose their land as a result of them failing to fully understand the US's land laws and they also experienced some discrimination (though they were historically considered White on the US Census)--both of which I certainly strongly condemn. On the other hand, though, the economy of the Southwest right now is certainly in much better shape than it would have been had Mexico kept this territory. In fact, the situation here is so good that a lot of Mexicans and other Hispanics from Latin America voluntarily moved here over the last century or so. Demographically speaking, the situation in the Southwest is gradually reverting back in the direction of what the Southwest looked like back in the 1840s. (I don't expect the Southwest to become 90% Hispanic again, but majority-Hispanic is certainly reasonable.) Of course, life here is so good that I haven't actually heard of any large-scale secessionist movements among Hispanics in the Southwest.

So, in other words, the US conquest of the Southwest was probably a mixed bag for Hispanics.
What happens today is irrelevant, we need to look at what happened then. Even still, you claim that decolonisation was a good thing....well, would it be fair to say that Palestine or Rhodesia were better off under the British Empire? If so, why is it good when the US expands on strange justifications and this is justified because the population has a higher living standard than before, but decolonisation is good when similar logic is applied to colonialism?

Sure, the Native Americans would have been better off without US expansion across the continent--though perhaps not as much as one thinks since the US's expansion allowed them to live in a developed, First World country. I don't know if a hypothetical independent Native American state would have been anywhere near as prosperous as the US is.
More or less what has been said above. Why is colonialism bad if someone like the Sudanese could live in the developed British Empire but when US colonises and expands it's justified because the natives live in the developed US?

Do you support the Mexicans in the Texas War of Independence as well?
Considering how the settlers that rebelled against Mexico even got into Texas I am inclined to support Mexico.

Also, I am curious--how do you feel about Serbia's expansion into Kosovo and Macedonia during the Balkan Wars? I mean, unlike the US in the Southwest, Serbia was never able to significantly alter the demographic situation in either Kosovo or Macedonia.
They were claimed on historical grounds, not ethnic. I don't support the attempted settler colonialism in Kosovo and if the population was expelled I would certainly not support it. I would be alright with a non-violent assimilation program that doesn't displace the population but settler colonialism was not that.
 
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Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,412
Republika Srpska
Regarding Serbia and the Albanians, it is worth noting that in 1879 Principality of Serbia (albeit reluctantly and under foreign pressure) issued a proclamation which allowed Albanians that left during the 1876-78 war to return to their lands under the condition that they swear fealty to the Serbian Prince. Most of the Albanians, influenced by the Ottomans, refused.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
And what gave them the right to these territories over Mexico?
The right of conquest, of course.

The territories also were not uninhabited, you yourself say that you object to the treatment of Native Americans. On the terms of self-determination: When you fill the territory with settlers, which will inevitably either displace or assimilate the local population of course the territory would want to be a part of you. As for sparse population: Imagine a man who has a small house and a family of 12, across the street his neighbour lives in a mansion with a family of 3, one day the man with a larger family breaks into his neighbours mansion, fills it with his family members and declares it his while the neighbour is either expelled or forced to shut up and accept the situation. Also, the very idea of Manifest Destiny seems very Lebensraum-esque to me.
Yes, I certainly get all of that. However, my point here was that it's possible that the existing residents of the Mexican Cession in 1848 (other than perhaps the Native Americans there) might have preferred US rule over Mexican rule due to the fact that this region was historically neglected by Mexico. Of course, no one actually did a plebiscite in the Mexican Cession in 1848, so we can't actually be sure about this.

I do know that US settlers in California proclaimed the independence of the Bear Flag Republic (California Republic) in 1846, but I don't actually know if they had majority support among Alta California's population for this move of theirs.

I'm not sure as I don't know the details, however if Russia had the same justification of living space I don't support it. I'm not opposed to expansionism, however when the reason is something I see as vile such as living space or settler colonialism I can't support it.
AFAIK, at least a part of Russia's rationale in expanding into Central Asia was to discourage Turkic raiders. Still, millions of Russia did settle in Central Asia after the Russian conquest--though I am unsure if this was actually an initial Russian aim in regards to this. In 1989, Central Asia had almost ten million Russians, if I recall correctly.

What happens today is irrelevant, we need to look at what happened then. Even still, you claim that decolonisation was a good thing....well, would it be fair to say that Palestine or Rhodesia were better off under the British Empire? If so, why is it good when the US expands on strange justifications and this is justified because the population has a higher living standard than before, but decolonisation is good when similar logic is applied to colonialism?
Actually, it's certainly possible that colonialism was (or at least would have been) beneficial for certain populations in a more humane form. One could certainly view the independence movements in the Third World (or at least some of them) as ultimately producing a worse outcome for the Third World than a continuation of colonialism and the granting of full equality to the natives would have been. The thing is, though, that had colonialism continued, European countries might have been faced with a choice between granting citizenship and full equality (no gerrymandering, et cetera) to their colonized subjects--which would have meant that their colonized subjects would have outnumbered the metropole's population and thus began dictating national policy to the metropole. Also, this would have meant unlimited or almost unlimited freedom of movement between the former colonies and the metropole--which could have likewise resulted in demographic changes that Europeans might have disliked. In the US context, it is worth noting that a majority of Puerto Ricans currently live in the US rather than in Puerto Rico due to mass migration over the last several decades.

If Third Worlders want First Worlders' help in running their countries, I would certainly support that. I also support having the West give aid to the Third World as long as the West watches carefully that this aid isn't actually going to be stolen by corrupt Third World politicians. A continuation of colonialism would have probably been untenable for demographic reasons, though. This is why the only colonies that are still colonies today are those colonies that have a small population and thus aren't actually a demographic threat to the metropole. Unlimited migration from Puerto Rico to the US hasn't been very harmful to the US since there are only something like 10 million Puerto Ricans (including those in the US) and over 300 million Americans. Unlimited migration from the Belgian Congo to Belgium would be quite a different story, though.

More or less what has been said above. Why is colonialism bad if someone like the Sudanese could live in the developed British Empire but when US colonises and expands it's justified because the natives live in the developed US?
Oh, colonialism (or at least its milder forms) could have certainly been said to have been good for the colonized peoples--or at least it would have been good had the colonized peoples been given citizenship and full equality. The question is, though, is it actually good for the colonizing powers? Indeed, would colonizing powers have actually wanted to become outnumbered and outvoted by their colonial subjects?

Considering how the settlers that rebelled against Mexico even got into Texas I am inclined to support Mexico.
OK.

They were claimed on historical grounds, not ethnic. I don't support the attempted settler colonialism in Kosovo and if the population was expelled I would certainly not support it. I would be alright with a non-violent assimilation program that doesn't displace the population but settler colonialism was not that.
Just how did Serbia historically acquire these territories, though? By conquest?
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,412
Republika Srpska
While it is true that Serbia took Kosovo and most of Macedonia by conquest, it did not claim them by the right of conquest.
 
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Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,877
Iowa USA
While it is true that Serbia took Kosovo and most of Macedonia by conquest, it did not claim them by the right of conquest.
All the great powers that discussed the settlement after the First B.W. were okay with the borders, and maybe aside from Germany all of those powers were ready for Turkey in Europe to be drastically reduced in size for about 25 years.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,131
SoCal
While it is true that Serbia took Kosovo and most of Macedonia by conquest, it did not claim them by the right of conquest.
On what grounds did Serbia historically claim them, though? I mean, in 1912 it claimed them on historical grounds, but what about several centuries before that? On what grounds did Serbia claim these territories in the Middle Ages?
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,412
Republika Srpska
The Great Powers' attitudes towards the Balkans were a mess that still is not really resolved. They basically shifted their positions as the situation dictated.

@Futurist
Well, yes, as far as the Middle Ages go, the right of conquest applies.
 
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