Here is the final installment of my musings on the First World War. After this, it will be back to little toy soldiers for a while. I painted the camo green on all of my Egyptian vehicles today. Will try to get the tracks painted tomorrow and then a little weathering and they are finished. First painting that I have done in a while, and with a week to go until the holidays, time to step up the production process.
The worst Possible Outcome
- The British Empire was fundamentally weakened by the effects of the war. World financial leadership passed to the USA.
- France cemented its decline with irreparable losses in manpower and national treasure. In return it was unable to dismantle Germany and assure its own security.
- The US gained a voice at the peace conference leading to the triumphant realisation of Wison’s idealist views with no understanding of the realities of Europe. The result of national self-determination was a power vacuum in Eastern Europe between Germany and the USSR. The sponsorship of ‘democracy’ as the best form of government in unstable environments led to the great crisis of democracy in the 1930s.
- Disillusionment with democratic governments dominated by traditional elites would lead to polarisation in politics between the left and the rights that would end in civil war, dictatorship or defeat.
- Russia remained essentially intact with an aggressive totalitarian communist regime that would seduce intellectuals and workers in the west and undermine liberalism from the left. It would go on to conquer Eastern Europe, creating an environment for cold war. Ironically the same outcome would have occurred had the allies been quickly victorious in WWI. The only difference (and it is an important one) would have been that Russia would have been even stronger under a capitalist system that supported another noxious philosophy of government – absolute autocracy. And in this case, Russia may have been victorious in the Cold War.
- A League of Nations was formed that consisted of every nation except the most powerful – the USA; the defeated – Germany; and the largest nation on earth – the USSR. It was doomed to failure from the beginning.
- Versailles was a peace of victor over vanquished, but the victors were not draconian enough to make this work. Either Germany had to be partitioned and weakened so that it was no longer any possible threat. or it should have been accepted as an equal at a Congress like that at Vienna in 1815. The mobilistaion of hatred by the Allied propaganda machines would never allow the latter; the lack of realism amongst the US delegation prevented the former.
SO in summary, I believe that Russia was chiefly responsible for starting the global war in 1914, that Britain should not have intervened, that Germany did not represent evil, nor even a threat to democracy. That for the continental powers, the war was not pointless until around 1916 when sanity could no longer prevail due to the strength of the propaganda machines of which the politicians had lost control. That the generals were unable to prevent high casualties no matter how good they were (and some were very good… and some were very bad). That the peace settlement was the worst possible outcome in that it did not create security and indeed made a second war likely, and that the influence of Woodrow Wilson was largely to blame.
And that is all I have for now. I would like to expand on a few of these points at some stage, but for now I am just happy to have put them in a place where they can be read and either scoffed at or thought deeply about.
Next… Egyptian Army 1973.