Was World War I worth it?

Jan 2010
4,364
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#11
True. I can see only one 'massive' gain out of WW1. That was the end of the Ottoman empire, but that should have been accomplished much before, by letting Russia do it, if the West wasn't willing take up the task itself.

The breakup of the Austro-Hungarian empire was inevitable with or without the WW1, I believe.
You might want to read David Fromkin’s The Peace to End All Peace before you conclude the breakup of the Ottoman Empire was an unalloyed good.
 
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#13
None of the major powers gained anything from it, maybe in the short-term the USA gained the upper hand in the superpower stakes, what with all their European rivals weakened badly. In the long-term they had to abandon isolationism, which I'd call a slight negative overall for the US but that's a topic for another thread.

Wars like that are only worth it if the winners & losers learn from it, obviously it took another World War to ram the point home.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
16,666
SoCal
#14
None of the major powers gained anything from it, maybe in the short-term the USA gained the upper hand in the superpower stakes, what with all their European rivals weakened badly. In the long-term they had to abandon isolationism, which I'd call a slight negative overall for the US but that's a topic for another thread.

Wars like that are only worth it if the winners & losers learn from it, obviously it took another World War to ram the point home.
The US might have been better served in not entering WWI at all. Europe was already bled dry from WWI and the US lacked the appetite to enforce the peace that it helped to create by helping the Entente win WWI.
 
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Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,645
US
#17
I do agree with you that the spread of national self-determination as a result of WWI--albeit only partial and incomplete--was certainly a good thing. Still, I wonder if a World War was actually necessary to accomplish this. As I said in my OP here, Russia could have still eventually descended into revolution even without a World War due to Tsar Nicholas II's incompetence. This would have likely given Poland an opportunity to break free from Russia--albeit with a smaller amount of territory. Also, while this would not have been as good as outright independence, had the United States of Greater Austria plan eventually been implemented, the various ethnic groups within Austria-Hungary could have still obtained a large amount of self-rule--which would have certainly been an improvement over the previously existing situation.
It would have taken a revolution in Russia to break that empire. Germany would have never conceded any self determination for the Poles and Kashubians in the eastern marches. A-H was becoming balkanized, but would that have led to some kind of conflict? The Ottomans were being removed from Europe. I don't see the same thing occurring in the Middle East among the Armenians, Arabs, Kurds, Jews, etc. Foreign intervention by Britain or France would have led to a reshuffling of colonial power, as we saw after the war ended in 1918.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,645
US
#18
I'm real sure that the families of the 16 million dead would never agree that the war was worth their loss. The question and responses are quite different if you had skin in the game.
I am sure there was grieving. The thing about families in those days: they were used to loss. Most mothers lost at least one child at child birth or a child, due to illness or some other calamity. My father's grandmother lost 4 of 12 and my mother's mother lost 4 of 13. My mother's uncle died in the Great War and he was well remembered and honored by the family. To this day my other speaks about him. He is better remembered than her other uncles. For Europeans, fighting for you freedom may have well been worth the cause for most, especially those living under the repressive regimes of the Central Powers. All those Armenians that suffered genocide, would they have preferred to have had a weapon and at least fight for their life? I think so.
 
Jun 2017
2,578
Connecticut
#20
Do you think that World War I was worth it?

Note: I am not asking whether you think that your country should have avoided fighting in WWI. Rather, I am asking if it would have been best had WWI been completely prevented.

IMHO, it was "good" that certain wars occurred. For instance, both the Texas War of Independence and the Mexican-American War allowed the U.S. to acquire large amounts of living space--living space that it subsequently made excellent use of--that it wouldn't have acquired otherwise. Likewise, it was "good" that the American Civil War occurred because the secession of the Southern U.S. states allowed the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to be successfully pushed through after the end of the war; had the South remained in the Union, it would have been impossible to pass these Amendments for an extremely long time due to Southern opposition (U.S. Constitutional Amendments need to be approved by 2/3rds of both house of the U.S. Congress as well as by 3/4ths of all U.S. states).

Meanwhile, it was clearly best if certain wars--such as WWII--would have never occurred. Obviously the Allies were justified in fighting against the Nazi menace in WWII, but it would have been best had Germany had a more reasonable leadership in 1939 which would not have started any wars.

In turn, this raises an interesting question--would you say that it was a "good" thing that WWI broke out? Or would it have been best had WWI not broken out at all?

IMHO, it would have been best for WWI to have never broken out at all. Sure, WWII resulted in certain positive border changes in Europe--the Italian annexation of Trentino, Trieste, and Fiume, the Serb annexation of the Serbian-majority parts of the former Austria-Hungary, the Romanian annexation of Transylvania, Bessarabia, Bukovina, the creation of Czechoslovakia (even if its borders were too generous in its favor), the recreation of an independent Poland on almost all Polish-majority territories, et cetera. Still, IMHO, such territorial changes were not worth a World War. Tsarist Russia could have eventually descended into revolution even without a World War--and then Poland would have had the opportunity to regain its independence, albeit with smaller borders due to Germany and Austria-Hungary keeping their Polish-majority territories. As for these other territories, hopefully something similar to the United States of Greater Austria would have been implemented in Austria-Hungary which would have given sufficient autonomy to the various non-German and non-Magyar ethnicities of Austria-Hungary:

United States of Greater Austria - Wikipedia



Another positive consequence of the World Wars was decolonization, but that was probably bound to happen anyway even without the World Wars for demographic reasons as well as due to changing cultural values. Thus, the World Wars don't appear to have been crucial for this either.

Anyway, do you agree with my assessment here that, unlike certain other wars, it would have been best had WWI never occurred?
No. Wasn't worth it due to what was at stakes and the outcome was horrible.Central Powers winning would have been far better for the world and it would have been far better for President Wilson to go with William Jennings Bryan's council that this was a stupid war and to not cosign on the French's insane revenge quest over two lost provinces which ended up destroying an entire continent and the paranoia of the British over an imaginary large battlefleet(the size was imaginary not the size itself). One could fill a shelf with books on the calamaties WWI caused throughout Europe and the world. It is hard to see the scenario where the Central Powers win or where the war doesn't happen going quite as badly as things did in the present.
 
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