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July 28th was the 100th anniversary of Austria-Hungary's declaration of war on Serbia, which marked the start of hostilities that quickly mushroomed into the Great War.

In response Russia started partial mobilization 100 years ago yesterday, and Germany mobilized (with Russia starting full mobilization in response) 100 years ago today. By 100 years ago next Monday (August 4), those four, plus France, Belgium and Britain, were all at war with each other and armies numbering in the millions were on the march across Europe.

Interesting to me, since that was about 49 years before I was born, and I am soon turning 51. So the start of World War One - an event which feels like it is almost ancient history - was closer to my date of birth than today is.

Historically speaking the 75 years that followed, until 1989, consisted of little more than the consequences of that fateful event playing themselves out - and of course they echo on further in many parts of the world, including the middle-east.

db_sap01_ca000500_p3.jpg

French troops defending a trench; June 1917.

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Overall a bad idea, that one.

Just look at how recent the really dangerous communism went out and how many of the really annoying ones are left.

Germany fedexing Lenin to Russia didn't work out great for them long term. Well at least we didn't get a 1975 run to the Rhine.

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There is more to the 75 years that followed than merely "consequences". Undeniably, though, a war was won but the peace was lost, to paraphrase somewhat the famous "Don't lose it again" cartoon of Philip Zec...

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I wonder how much different the world would be today if Franz Ferdinand's driver hadn't gotten lost that day.

Indeed.

It seems more likely than not that some kind of great-power war consisting of more or less the same line-up would have eventually resulted, though, given the tensions and alliances that existed. Germany's leadership were convinced that time was working against them, and that modernization in Russia would eventually leave them with no hope of winning a war against the combination of France and Russia. This is one major reason why they accepted war in 1914 and didn't try to moderate Austria's behavior - "the sooner the better".

On the other hand, Germany might have eventually used a more intelligent strategy - remaining on the strategic defensive in Alsace-Lorraine. Leaving Belgium neutral would have kept Britain out of the war for some amount of time, if not indefinitely, which would have kept the US out as well. Germany could have then aimed to inflict a quick defeat on Russia (which might not have led to a communist coup).

Harry Turtledove, a writer of alternate history fiction, has explored the question a bit, but only in the context of the South also winning the US Civil War. In his "Great War" alternate history series, the CSA is allied with Britain and France (who intervened in 1863 to help it gain independence), and the north is naturally allied with Germany...

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Incalcuably so! For better or worse? There's an unanswerable value judgement...

As well as the obvious it is worth remembering that without the 2 great wars of the last century we probably would not have advanced in technology so quickly. Flight, mechanics, computing, communication, mass production, agriculture etc... all had huge advances due to the needs of great wars.

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As well as the obvious it is worth remembering that without the 2 great wars of the last century we probably would not have advanced in technology so quickly. Flight, mechanics, computing, communication, mass production, agriculture etc... all had huge advances due to the needs of great wars.

 

Unfortunately, along with that technological progress we also got massive advances in rocket-based weaponry, conventional arms, as well as chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

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Unfortunately, along with that technological progress we also got massive advances in rocket-based weaponry, conventional arms, as well as chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

 

Sometimes you have to take the good with the extremely atrocious.

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Unfortunately, along with that technological progress we also got massive advances in rocket-based weaponry, conventional arms, as well as chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

 

Yep, there are bad uses for every technology

 

Rocket-based weaponry also leads to Space exploration

Nuclear weapons leads to nuclear power

Conventional arms also leads to better explosives for more efficiant mining (yeah that one was a stretch!)

Chemical and biological weapons lead to a lot of discoveries about chemistry and biology that have helped medical science

 

Not saying war is good of course! But it's interesting that war throughout history nearly always leads to massive leaps in technology that usually benefits society after it's done. I wonder what the world would look like if we had say 200 years of peace.

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Unfortunately, along with that technological progress we also got massive advances in rocket-based weaponry, conventional arms, as well as chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

However, to me it seems that the real misery of the world today only requires trucks, AK-47s and radios.

Doro, post nuked.

ETA: stop the Doro-only drama, nobody cares.

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It seems more likely than not that some kind of great-power war consisting of more or less the same line-up would have eventually resulted, though, given the tensions and alliances that existed. Germany's leadership were convinced that time was working against them, and that modernization in Russia would eventually leave them with no hope of winning a war against the combination of France and Russia. This is one major reason why they accepted war in 1914 and didn't try to moderate Austria's behavior - "the sooner the better".

I tend to agree with this.  I think there were a LOT of forces moving at the time that were leading toward what eventually became WW1.  To think something small and trivial as that leading to an undoing of those massive forces and a change in the course of history doesn't seem plausible.

 

Ever read Dreadnought?  Robert K. Massie?  

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Thought it was fascinating.  I probably read it 20 years ago.  It does show how close the ruling families were and how petty some of the conflict was.  One could argue it would not have taken much for the 'cousins' to get into the same room and put their differences aside.  I myself think there were too many advances being made and not enough lessons learned on the horrors of war for people to not consider it a useful avenue.  You look at all the mistakes we still make today, and that's WITH all the lessons learned from WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Nagasaki/Hiroshima, the Holocaust, and countless other conflicts and atrocities.  I think we still have a long way to go and a lot of bad events to take place before we figure how to not deplete our planet's resources, overpopulate it, and/or kill each other with the latest superbomb...before we head out into space as part of Starfleet.

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snip

 

  I myself think there were too many advances being made and not enough lessons learned on the horrors of war for people to not consider it a useful avenue.  You look at all the mistakes we still make today, and that's WITH all the lessons learned from WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Nagasaki/Hiroshima, the Holocaust, and countless other conflicts and atrocities.  I think we still have a long way to go and a lot of bad events to take place before we figure how to not deplete our planet's resources, overpopulate it, and/or kill each other with the latest superbomb...before we head out into space as part of Starfleet.

 

The one thing all races and creeds and religions around this globe share in common is that none of us learn from History and will repeat it.

 

CrankyCat

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I've read Dreadnought more than once; it's one of the best written & well researched histories I've ever read. However... alongside Bel's "Germany's leadership were convinced that time was running out" (dammit, why does neither quote nor cut & paste work for me now? Gah!), you have to lay the fact that they panicked when they realised that war was unavoidable.

 

There is an argument that The Great War was inevitable; that, I think, is wrong. There is another argument that A Great War was inevitable; a case can be made for that, although it will never be more certain than an intellectual exercise. But The Great War as it happened was, I think, a war of ommission, rather than commission. No-one (not even Hotzendorf) set out to start it. It was just far too late when those who might have withdrawn realised they couldn't...

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I've read Dreadnought more than once; it's one of the best written & well researched histories I've ever read. However... alongside Bel's "Germany's leadership were convinced that time was running out" (dammit, why does neither quote nor cut & paste work for me now? Gah!), you have to lay the fact that they panicked when they realised that war was unavoidable.

 

There is an argument that The Great War was inevitable; that, I think, is wrong. There is another argument that A Great War was inevitable; a case can be made for that, although it will never be more certain than an intellectual exercise. But The Great War as it happened was, I think, a war of ommission, rather than commission. No-one (not even Hotzendorf) set out to start it. It was just far too late when those who might have withdrawn realised they couldn't...

Doesn't work for me in Explorer.

I use Explorer for reading and Firefox for posting

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Cut'n'paste is always spotty in this forum software with it's naive try'n'error written text box. Switching to plain view (the switch on the top left) sometimes helps.

Absurdly enough it works fine in X11 right now both for selection and clipboard. That never happens with web software.

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I just did. Interesting, nicely written, but inaccurate in many respects; written by a journalist, not a historian. Very evocative, but... "Sixty thousand men vaporized in an afternoon is inconceivable"? Never happened. He's confused 60,000 casualties on the first day of the Somme (true) with 60,000 dead (not true), and even that doesn't excuse the use of "vapourised". Interesting, but do read it with a degree of caution!

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via hotair.com, a WWI commemoration at the Tower of London:

poppies-8-e1407453574909.jpg

 

It’s rare that a high-profile public art installation—called to be somber, stately, accessible, and stirring to all people of all tastes—succeeds so thoroughly. Add to this that it’s a modern work of art honoring heroes lost in a 100-year-old conflict with a 900-year-old world-famous landmark as a canvas, and it seems damn-near miraculous.

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