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quarta-feira, 12 de junho de 2019

The First World War as a global war - Hew Strachan (Journal of First World War Studies)

Um artigo excepcional sobre a dimensão imediatamente global da Grande Guerra, assim percebida pelos impérios centrais, antes mesmo dos aliados.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

The First World War as a global war

Hew Strachan

Journal

First World War StudiesVolume 1, 2010 - Issue 1


This essay was first delivered as a lecture at a symposium held in Vienna on 7 November 2009 to mark the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Austrian Republic, ‘1918–1920: der Fall der Imperien und der Traum einer besseren Welt’, and I am grateful to Wolfgang Maderthaner and Lutz Musner of the Verein für Geschichte der Arbeiterwegung for their invitation and inspiration. Since then it has had outings as a seminar paper at Victoria University Wellington and St Andrews University, and it was the keynote lecture at the 2009 conference of the International Society for First World War Studies; I am grateful for the questions and comments raised on all these occasions. 

This article discusses the widening of the First World War from a European war to a global war and what that meant for the participants. Today's politicians, who talk (albeit tautologically) of an ‘increasingly globalized world’, forget how already ‘globalized’ the world seemed in 1914, especially if you happened to live in London. The fact that the First World War was a global war was itself the product of a global order, shaped by the European great powers and held together by an embryonic economic system. The title ‘the world war’ was a statement about its importance, not a statement about its geographical scale. And yet the French and British official histories, unlike the German, did not use ‘world war’ in their titles, any more than they had used the phrase during the war itself. They preferred the title ‘the Great War’, and in English the war only became widely known as the First World War after 1945, in other words after there had been a Second World War. The article explores the implications of the title ‘the Great War’ and the idea that the war of 1914–1918 was a great European war (a name also used in Britain, especially during the war itself).
 The article also examines the role of finances in the widening of the war and the global economy during a worldwide conflict. It also discusses the role of empires in the expanding war. However, the financial situation of participants, including those who entered the war at a later date, and the desire for empire were not the only factors in the creation of a global conflict. Decisions made in the interest of individual nations also had an effect on the widening of the war from a regional dispute.
 The corollary of the article's argument, that the First World War was in some respects an aggregation of regional conflicts, was that the war would not simply end when the European war ended. All that was agreed on 11 November 1918 was the surrender of Germany, largely on terms which reflected the situation within Europe and specifically on the western front. Only here did the guns fell silent at 11am on that day. However, so imperative were the immediate demands of the conflict that there was scant consideration of their long-term effects. Some of the consequences of the fact that the First World War was waged as a global war remained with Europe throughout the Cold War, and others remain in the Middle East to this day.

H.M. Tomlinson was a patriot but also a pacifist, a man who reported on the war from the Western Front and in 1917 became the literary editor of The Nation. In 1930 his war novel, All our Yesterdays, was reprinted three times within a month of its publication. The book has not entered the canon of First World War literature. Tomlinson's prose is wordy and contrived. His characters, in Cyril Falls's apt criticism, ‘do not live except while under the narrator's eyes and through his eyes’. 1 

1. Falls 1930 Falls, Cyril. 1930. War books: a critical guide, 2nd ed, London: Peter Davies, 1989.  [Google Scholar], 299. 

And yet, in his critical guide to war books, Falls called All our Yesterdays ‘a very fine book’, and according it two stars in a classification system that ranked it alongside A.P. Herbert's The Secret Battle and, somewhat less excusably, Ford Madox Ford's magnificent ‘Tietjens tetralogy’, Parade's End.
All our Yesterdays was designed to show how the war had cut across the lives of British lives in the first quarter of the twentieth century. The first of its five parts is entitled ‘1900’, and the book does not reach what it calls ‘War!’ until the fourth. Tomlinson had been born in the east end of London, had worked as a shipping clerk, and had first found literary success with his account of a journey up the Amazon, The Sea and the Jungle, published in 1912. These biographical elements found their places in All our Yesterdays, and in Chapter 8 of Book 4 Tomlinson – as a Londoner whose living and experience of life were shaped by the City's global and maritime interests – provided a tour d'horizon of the strategic situation at the end of 1914: 

Russians were hurling Kurds from the slopes of Mount Ararat. And at Basra, that port for which Sinbad had set sail, Sikhs had arrived from the Punjab, and Gurkhas from the Himalayas; and these men, moved by the new zeal which would free us from the tyranny of obsolete and ruinous dogmas, and led by young men from English public schools, marched to dislodge Ottomans who were entrenched in the Garden of Eden. The coconut groves of New Guinea were stormed by Australians. In those days, while steaming at sunset under the snows of the Andes, British ships were sunk by their foes; who, but little later, were sunk by British warships off the Falkland Islands. Merchant vessels and their cargoes foundered in the Bay of Bengal and off the Cape of Good Hope through the explosions of torpedoes. It might have been thought that Penang, that city of light and colour with its smell of spices, would have remained inviolate, if only because it was on the Strait of Malacca, yet a German cruiser appeared there one day, scattered its anchorage with smoking wreckage, and vanished again, leaving on the waters the bodies of a number of Japanese girls, which had floated out of a sunken Russian cruiser.

There is more in the same vein, as Tomlinson employs irony to describe the mutiny of Indian troops in Singapore and the Germans' determination to hold Shantung against the Japanese. Then he concludes: 

It was already becoming clear for the first time to many onlookers that the earth was not two hemispheres as we had thought, but one simple and responsive ball, and that happenings on the shores of the Yellow Sea and elsewhere may cause disturbing noises even in Washington. 2 

2. Tomlinson 1930 Tomlinson, H. M. 1930. All our yesterdays, London: Harper and Brothers.  [Google Scholar], 340–1. 

Today's politicians, who talk (albeit tautologically) of an increasingly globalized world, forget how already ‘globalized’ the world seemed in 1914, especially if you happened to live in London. The fact that the First World War was a global war was itself the product of a global order, shaped by the European great powers and held together by an embryonic economic system. By 1930 Tomlinson's evocation of the repercussions felt in Asia and the Pacific within four months of the outbreak of a war whose epicentre lay in south-eastern Europe should, to that extent, have been a statement of the obvious. But it was not.
True, the literature of warning written before 1914, particularly works published in Germany, spoke of the coming conflict as ‘the world war’, Der Weltkrieg. 3 

3. Clarke 1997 Clarke, I. F. 1997. The Great War with Germany, 1890–1914: fictions and fantasies of the war-to-come, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.  [Google Scholar], for examples of the genre; see also Echevarria 2007Echevarria, Antulio J. 2007. Imagining future war: the west's technological revolution and visions of war to come, 1880–1914, Westport, CT: Praeger.  [Google Scholar] and Dülffer 1994 Dülffer, Jost. 1994. “Kriegserwartung und Kriegsbild in Deutschland vor 1914”. In Der erste Weltkrieg: Wirkung, Warnehmung, Analyse, Edited by: Michalka, Wolfgang. 778798. Munich: Piper.  [Google Scholar]. 

The policy of Weltpolitik or ‘world policy’, embraced by Germany's penultimate pre-war chancellor, Bernhard von Bülow, argued that his country's great power status was conditional on its standing in the wider world, and led the German admiralty staff to speak of world war in 1905. 4 

4. Herwig 1991 Herwig, Holger. 1991. The German reaction to the Dreadnought revolution. International History Review, 13(2): 273283. [Taylor & Francis Online], [Google Scholar], 281. 

In Vienna, Franz Conrad von Hötzendorff, the chief of the Austro-Hungarian general staff, had an audience with the emperor, Franz Josef, in January 1913, in which he presented the annual report for 1912 of the governor of Bosnia–Herzegovina, Oskar Potiorek. Conrad took the opportunity, not for the first time, to advocate a preventive war with Serbia, but the emperor told him that he feared Russia above all and that, if there were war with Serbia, a wider conflict would follow. Franz Josef described this war as a ‘Weltkrieg’. 5

 5. Jerabek 1991 Jerabek, Rudolf. 1991. Potiorek. General im Schatten von Sarajevo, Graz: Styria.  [Google Scholar], 100. 

In Berlin four months later, on 24 April 1913, Bülow's successor as chancellor, Theodor von Bethmann Hollweg, said he would do all he could to avoid war, but ‘If there is a war, it will be a world war [einen Weltkrieg], and we must wage it on two fronts … It will be a war for survival [ein Existenzkampf]’. 6 

6. Schulte 1980 Schulte, Bernd E. 1980. Vor dem Kreigsausbruch, 1914: Deutschland, die Türkei und der Balkan, Dusseldorf: Droste.  [Google Scholar], 116. 

That is really the point. The title ‘the world war’ was a statement about its importance, not a statement about its geographical scale. It would be a war for the very existence of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires. In each of these cases, those who spoke of the threat of world war did so for rhetorical effect, rather than in order to clarify a planning assumption. German naval officers may have anticipated a world war, but Alfred von Tirpitz, the head of the Reich's naval armaments office, built a German fleet designed overwhelmingly for operations in the North Sea. He neglected the construction of cruisers for oceanic war despite the Kaiser's wishes. When Conrad advocated war with Serbia, he was envisaging a limited war to reassert the empire's authority in the Balkans. After the crisis broke in July 1914, he was almost wilful in his disregard of the danger that a Balkan war would become a European war and a European war a world war. Finally, even Bethmann Hollweg's statement spoke only of a two-front war, a war waged simultaneously against France and Russia. He did not mention a third front, a war to the south with Italy or in the Balkans, or a war at sea, let alone war in Africa or the Far East.
After the war was over, the German official history, published by the Reichsarchiv, was called Der Weltkrieg, and yet its contents did not reflect the title. An account of military operations on land only, and separate from those series devoted to the war at sea and in the air, its attention to the fronts outside Europe was fleeting. 7 

7. Pöhlmann 2002 Pöhlmann, Markus. 2002. Kriegsgeschichte und Geschichtspolitik: Der Erste Weltkrieg. Die amtliche deutsche Militärgeschichtsschreibung 1914–1956, Paderborn: Schöningh.  [Google Scholar]; there seems little sense that the title of the series was ever seriously debated. 

There is a paradox here. The equivalent series in France and Britain have much less grandiloquent titles and yet range much further geographically. Les Armées Françaises dans la Grande Guerre allocated a whole volume to the war in the Cameroons. The British official history, given the overall title of the Official History of the Great War, devoted four volumes of its series on the land war, Military Operations, to Mesopotamia; one to the Cameroons; three to Egypt and Palestine; two to Gallipoli, and one (with a further volume planned but never completed) to East Africa. 8 

8. Green 2003Green, Andrew. 2003. Writing the Great War: Sir James Edmonds and the Official Histories 1915–1948, London: Routledge.  [Google Scholar]; again, the title does not seem to have debated. 

And yet the French and British official histories, unlike the German, did not use ‘world war’ in their titles, any more than they had used the phrase during the war itself. They preferred the title ‘the Great War’, and in English the war only became widely known as the First World War after 1945, in other words after there had been a Second World War. Admittedly Charles à Court Repington, the military correspondent of The Times, chose in 1920 to call his war memoirs The First World War 1914–1918, but his motivation (which he did not explain, but certainly included a desire to provoke) appears to have been his frustration with the peace settlement rather than a determination to reflect the global shape of the war itself. The French, even today, are as likely to call the First World War la grande guerre as they are to call it la première guerre mondiale.
Implicit in the title ‘the Great War’ is the idea that the war of 1914–1918 was a great European war (a name also used in Britain, especially during the war itself). Such a description carried the connotation of a civil war between civilized nations, united by Christianity and capitalism, an act of collective folly which would result in their losing their primacy in the world to the United States. According to this view, Tomlinson was wrong: the First World War did not become a world war in 1914, but in 1917, when the United States entered it and when Russia, by dint of its revolutions, left. In the same way the Second World War can be seen as a European war between 1939 and 1941, and only became a world war when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 and Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December of the same year. 9 

9. For this sort of thinking, see Lukacs 1977 Lukacs, John. 1977. The last European war, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.  [Google Scholar]. 

This, however, is history written with hindsight, shaped by the Cold War, and by the knowledge that the legacy of 1917 and 1941 would be a prolonged stand-off between the United States and the Soviet Union. In fact, Tomlinson was right. In 1914 Europe was the centre of the world, and as soon as Austria–Hungary's war with Serbia could no longer be limited to the Balkans it would become a world war, and not just a European one. This line of thinking produces the somewhat paradoxical notion that the ancient and doddery Franz Josef, in recognizing this danger in 1913, showed himself to be one of the more far-sighted statesmen of 1914. However, the emperor probably did not know why he was right, whereas H.M. Tomlinson did. Europe was the centre of the world in 1914 for two reasons, neither of which was necessarily of paramount consideration to the emperor or even to Austria–Hungary: the first was financial and commercial, and the second colonial and imperial.
In July 1914, 59 countries were on the gold standard. In other words, they used gold coin or backed their paper money with a set percentage of gold, and they determined a gold value for their currency and guaranteed its convertibility. During major crises, the central banks of the leading nations cooperated. In 1907, in a crisis which reminds us that the financial storm of 2009 has many more precedents than that of 1929, the Banque de France and the Reichsbank in Germany drew on their gold reserves to support the Bank of England, caught by heavy American borrowing. Both banks pushed up their interest rates to increase their gold stocks, while trying to prevent the flow of gold to the United States. What was important in the 1907 crisis was the behaviour of the Bank of England. Unlike the central banks of France and Germany, it did not build up its gold reserves, preferring to use gold rather than to hoard it. It could do that because it was the centre of the world's money and insurance markets. Its strength was its liquidity. By 1910 the United States may have held 31% of the world's gold reserves, but it still financed its trade through London. Therefore the gold standard worked because it was in reality a sterling exchange system, with the world's commerce revolving around the pound sterling. The centrality of the pound to international exchanges and to world markets made Britain's entry to the First World War of paramount importance. 10 

10. See de Cecco 1984 de Cecco, Marcello. 1984. The international gold standard: money and empire, 2nd ed, London: Palgrave Macmillan.  [Google Scholar], 115–21; Eichengreen 1992 Eichengreen, Barry. 1992. Golden fetters: the gold standard and the Great Depression, 1919–1939, New York: Oxford University Press. [Crossref], [Google Scholar], 3–9, 29–66. 

When Sir Edward Grey, the British foreign secretary, told the House of Commons on the afternoon of 3 August 1914 that Britain was on the brink of war, he stressed that as a commercial and maritime nation Britain would be so affected by war in Europe that it would be little worse off if it became a belligerent than if it remained a neutral. He imagined a war fought, at least from the British perspective, almost entirely at sea; he did not anticipate Britain raising a mass army for service on the continent of Europe. Britain's economic position pivoted on the City of London, the shipping industry in which Tomlinson had worked, and its balance of trade. Indeed, in the eyes of Asquith's Liberal cabinet these were the principal strengths which Britain could contribute to the Entente's war effort.
By the same token, when Britain became a belligerent, every country in the world was affected. Those who were Britain's enemies were progressively cut off from overseas trade by the naval blockade. Despite being the world's second largest industrial power by 1914, Germany could only export or import to those neutrals on its immediate borders. It was unable to access international money markets, particularly that of New York, despite strong pro-German sentiment in at least some parts of the United States. 11 

11. See Frey 1994 Frey, Marc. 1994. Deutsche Finanzinteressen an der Vereinigten Staaten und den Niederlanden im Ersten Weltkrieg. Militärgeschichtliche Mitteilungen, 53: 327353.  [Google Scholar], 327–53; Knauss 1923 Knauss, Robert. 1923. Die Deutsche, Englische und Französische Kriegsfinanzierung, Berlin: W. de Gruyter.  [Google Scholar] remains useful, here 73–4. 

Those who were Britain's allies found that their access to the same money markets, and so to the borrowing required to pay for the overseas imports which they needed to equip their war efforts, depended on Britain's international credit-worthiness, and on the sterling–dollar exchange rate. From the war's onset, Russia could not raise funds in the United States, but Britain could. By 1916 Britain had become the vehicle by which France and Italy too raised funds in America. Finally, those who remained neutral found that their wealth and trade were increasingly compromised by the war because of the power of the sterling–dollar relationship and because of the capacity of Britain to keep its shipping and insurance business active despite hostilities. Neutrality proved to be relative, not absolute.
This was particularly true of the principal neutral, the United States. The United States may have been a late entrant to the war, but from its outset in 1914 America's recovery from depression was achieved on the back of orders from the Entente powers. Britain sold treasury bonds to American private investors, using J.P. Morgan as its agents. Much of the finance so raised was then used to maintain the sterling–dollar exchange rate so as to control the prices of goods from the United States. So heavily had the private investors of the United States sunk their resources in Allied debt that on 28 November 1916 the Federal Reserve Board, temporarily dominated by pro-German and neutral sentiment, warned them that they were speculating too heavily on an Entente victory. By then, two-fifths of Britain's daily spending on the war was directed to the United States, and it was reckoned that five-sixths of British expenditure over the next six months would have to be funded by loans, mostly raised on the New York stock market. Britain was effectively spending money in the United States which was then borrowed back to be spent in the United States again. Moreover, it was doing so not only on its own account but also on those of its allies, France, Russia and Italy. The Federal Reserve Board's warning created a crisis in Allied finances that was only resolved (and even then not fully so) by the entry of the United States to the war in 1917. 12 

12. The essential work on this is Burk 1985 Burk, Kathleen. 1985. Britain, America and the sinews of war, 1914–1918, Boston: Allen & Unwin.  [Google Scholar], 80–93; see also Nouailhat 1979 Nouailhat, Yves-Henri. 1979. France et Etats-unis août 1914–avril 1917, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne.  [Google Scholar], 373–82; Cooper 1976 Cooper, John Milton. 1976. The power of gold reversed: American loans to Britain, 1915–1917. Pacific Historical Review, 45(1): 209230.  [Google Scholar], 209–30.

Britain's entry to the war in 1914 therefore meant that finance and trade were affected globally, whether a state was belligerent or not, and Britain's adoption of economic warfare only underlined this point. But the implications were also more narrowly strategic. Each of the Entente powers, Russia, France and especially Britain, were colonial powers. As a result of their entering the war, all Africa, save Ethiopia and Liberia, much of Asia, effectively all of Australasia, and parts of the Americas also found themselves at war.
For the imperial powers themselves, empire implied resources, especially of manpower. Nowhere was this more true than of France, confronted with a falling population and obsessed accordingly with pro-natalism. In the years leading up to the outbreak of war, in order to match the size of the German army, France had to call up over 80% of its adult male population, whereas its rival could keep pace by conscripting only 57%. In 1910, General Charles Mangin had proposed raising an army from French Equatorial Africa, ‘la force noire’, in addition to the units already formed in French North Africa and Indo-China. By the end of the war France had raised 200,000 men from West Africa alone, and 550,000 from the empire as a whole, of whom 440,000 served in Europe. 13 

13. Michel 1982 Michel, Marc. 1982. L'appel à l'Afrique: contributions et réactions à l'effort de guerre en AOF (1914–1919), Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne.  [Google Scholar], 21–4, 404. 

In 1914 Britain's biggest army was not at home but in India. While Britain prepared one expeditionary force in August, India formed four – one each for Europe, Egypt, Mesopotamia and East Africa. India raised 1.4 million soldiers during the war, of whom 1.1 million served outside the subcontinent. Furthermore, some argue that by 1917 Britain's crack fighting units in France came from the ‘white’ dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and – to a lesser extent – South Africa. Together they contributed 1.2 million men, of whom 900,000 served in Europe. 14 

14. War Office 1922 War Office. 1922. Statistics of the military effort of the British empire during the Great War 1914–1920, London: HMSO.  [Google Scholar], 363, 379–84. 

Finally, Russia raised 15 million men in the war, the largest number of any belligerent, even if that figure only represented 39% of its population of military age. To raise less than half that total, France had to take twice that percentage. While it seems reasonable to conclude that the Russian army was predominantly European in its ethnic composition, there is no reason to suggest that it was exclusively so.
In terms of resources, the Entente had the global capacity to defeat the Central Powers in short order. 15 

15. A point that forms a key theme of Ferguson 1998 Ferguson, Niall. 1998. The pity of war, London: Allen Lane.  [Google Scholar], 248–318. 

But economic determinism is, in isolation, a poor tool for explaining battlefield outcomes. The keys to unlocking this capacity were, first, its mobilization and, second, its concentration and application to the fighting fronts where they would be most effective. Strategically, therefore, neither France nor Britain had an interest in the war becoming global. They called it the Great War, not the world war, precisely because they needed to confine its fighting to Europe. If the war was widened, then their resources would be dispersed, not concentrated; they would have to defend their colonies, not attack Germany.
The war at sea provides an obvious illustration of this point. The Royal Navy's principal battles of 1914, to which Tomlinson referred (albeit somewhat elliptically), were fought not in the North Sea, but in the south Pacific at Coronel and, decisively, in the south Atlantic, off the Falkland islands. They were designed to remove the German cruiser threat to the world's shipping lanes, and so secure Britain's ability to tap into the world's markets. Britain's conduct of the war on land reinforces the argument. On 5 August 1914 a subcommittee of the Committee of Imperial Defence met to consider what to do with British land forces both within Europe and outside it. Its aim outside Europe was denial – to close down Germany's ability to use its African and Pacific colonies as bases for offensive operations designed to widen the war, to prevent the use of their ports by German cruisers, and to break up the German global wireless network radiating out from Nauen that would coordinate the actions of those cruisers. Britain's attacks on German colonies in 1914 were not part of an imperialist design, a manifestation of a Fischer-like war aims agenda or a fulfilment of the socialists' pre-1914 expectation that, if war came, it would be a war of imperialism. If war aims fuelled the overseas campaigns that Britain fought in 1914–15, they were inspired by so-called ‘sub-imperialism’, the ambitions not of Britain but of its subordinate dominions. Australia and New Zealand had eyes on New Guinea and Samoa in the south Pacific, and South Africa hoped to expand into Namibia and up to the Zambezi. Territorial concessions were the price of their loyalty to London, not of any ambitions for an even larger post-war empire entertained in Whitehall.
By the same token, the Central Powers had an interest in widening the war, precisely to draw Entente forces away from Europe. This was a particular focus for the war between Germany and Britain. In German East Africa, Paul von Lettow Vorbeck, who had arrived as the military commander at the beginning of 1914, argued in a memorandum of 15 May 1914 that, if there were war, then the fighting in East Africa should be treated not as a self-sufficient episode but made to interact with ‘the great war’ in Europe. Lettow's aim, in a campaign sustained throughout 1914–1918, was not colonial (indeed, his conduct of the war devastated the German colony), but military: to use East Africa as a war zone so as to divert British resources from the main theatre of operations. 16

16. Boell 1951 Boell, Ludwig. 1951. Die Operationen in Ostafrika,  Hamburg: Dachert.  [Google Scholar], 23. 

The most dramatic illustration of this point was Germany's alliance with the Ottoman empire. On 13 March 1914, Helmuth von Moltke the younger, chief of the Prussian general staff, wrote to Conrad, his Austro-Hungarian counterpart: 

Turkey is militarily a nonentity! The reports of our military mission sound desperate. The state of the army is ridiculed in every report. If Turkey was previously described as a sick man, now we must speak of it as a dying one. It has no life force left, and finds itself beyond saving as it enters its final agony. Our military mission is like a medical board, whose doctors stand by the death bed of an incurable invalid. 17 

17. Mühlmann 1942 Mühlmann, Carl. 1942. Oberste Heeresleitung und Balkan im Welkrieg 1914–1918, Berlin: Wilhelm Limpert.  [Google Scholar], 22; see also Wallach 1976 Wallach, Jehuda. 1976. Anatomie einer Militärhilfe: Die preussisch-deutschen Militärmissionen in der Türkei 1835–1919, Dusseldorf: Droste.  [Google Scholar]. 

That was Wilhelm II's view, too. But Britain's attitude to the July crisis changed everything. On 30 July 1914, the Kaiser announced that ‘our consuls in Turkey and India … must inflame the whole Muslim world to rebel against this hated, treacherous and ignorant nation of criminals; if we are going to shed our blood, then England must at least lose India’. 18 

18. Gehrke 1960 Gehrke, Ulrich. 1960. Persien in der deutschen Orientpolitik während des Ersten Weltkrieges, 2 vols, Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer.  [Google Scholar], vol. 1, 1. 

This demand would culminate with the declaration of Holy War by the Caliphate on 14 November 1914, summoning Muslims to rise specifically against British, French, Russian, Serb and Montenegrin rule, but not German or Austro-Hungarian. 19 

19. Lewis 1977 Lewis, Geoffrey. 1977. “The Ottoman proclamation of Jihad in 1914”. In Arabic and Islamic garland: historical, educational and literary papers presented to Abdul-Latif Tibawi by colleagues, friends, and students, Edited by: Tibawi, Abdul-Latif. 159165. London: The Islamic Cultural Centre.  [Google Scholar]. 

Moltke too changed his tune. What he had inherited from his predecessor as chief of the general staff, Alfred von Schlieffen, was a plan for a short campaign within Europe, but what he faced was the need to wage a long war that embraced the world. ‘This war’, he remarked to his adjutant, Hans von Haeften, shortly after midnight on 30–31 July 1914, ‘will grow into a world war in which England will also intervene. Few can have an idea of the extent, the duration and the end of this war.20 

20. Mombauer 2001Mombauer, Annika. 2001. Helmuth von Moltke and the origins of the First World War, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Crossref], [Google Scholar], 206.

He had warned the Kaiser of as much when he was identified as Schlieffen's successor almost 10 years before, 21 

21. von Moltke 1922 von Moltke, Helmuth. 1922. Erinnerungen-Briefe-Dokumente 1877–1916, Edited by: von Moltke, Eliza. Stuttgart: Der Kommende Tag.  [Google Scholar], 308. 

 but now he had to do something about it. He was particularly worried about the Eastern Front, where the German army seemed too weak to prevent a Russian invasion. Both he and his predecessor had somewhat blithely assumed that their Austro-Hungarian ally would pull the main weight of the Russian army south towards Galicia, although neither of them had any faith in the capacity of the Austro-Hungarian army to do so. Accordingly, on 5 August 1914 he called for an Islamic revolution in the Caucasus. War in the Caucasus would at the very least prevent Russia from deploying units from there to the Central Powers' Eastern Front (or the Russians' Western Front), and at best might even pull Russian units from East Prussia and Galicia to the Caucasus. The alliance with Turkey was agreed by Germany on 2 August 1914 and by Austria–Hungary on 5 August. Both imagined that the Ottoman army would attack in the Caucasus so as to lure Russian troops south and east.
On 20 August 1914, Moltke added in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Afghanistan; now Islamic revolution had become the means to enable Germany to attack French North Africa and to stoke war on the north-west frontier of British India. The Ottoman empire had become the land bridge by which Germany escaped its encirclement within Europe. Germany needed all its troops and munitions in Europe, and the only instruments available to it with which to implement this expanding strategy were diplomatic. Even if it could not transport an army down the Danube to Istanbul, and thence to Anatolia, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, it could at least send agents and consuls. They brought promises, not only of arms but also of gold and even of national independence. Turkey apart, most local rulers were canny enough to bide their time, waiting for the promises to gain substance, and prudent enough to play one side off against another. The Entente found itself with an extra theatre of war, but it was one which militarily it was able to contain. German diplomacy had widened the war, and it threatened to widen it further.
The globalization of what had begun as a Balkan war was not just due to finance and empire, or to the Anglo–German antagonism. None of these pressures explains why Turkey fell in with Germany's plans, nor why it resisted pressure from Britain and France to stay out of the war. The Ottoman empire had just lost most of the remaining vestiges of its European territory; it was deeply in debt, and it was wracked by domestic turmoil, suffering a succession of coups and counter-coups. These were good reasons for not compounding its problems by entering a major war, and it certainly had no interest in becoming a tool of German ambitions. But such factors added to the attractions of an ally that seemed to harbour few expansionist designs within the Ottomans' own sphere of interest, and which had suddenly become ready to treat them seriously in a way that the other European powers had not. Turkey entered the First World War because its government, or, to be more exact, elements within its government, concluded that it suited Turkey's needs to do so. What Turkey's decision reflects is that, once war broke out in Europe at the end of July 1914, a whole series of regional conflicts and latent antagonisms attached themselves to the central conflict and, by doing so, widened it.
Turkey did not care about developments in France or in East Prussia, and it did not wish to be the tool of Germany's strategy for widening the war. It agreed to the alliance with the Central Powers because it needed to recover its own position and status. It regarded both the Caucasus and Egypt as falling within its own territorial orbit, as elements of the Ottoman empire. Thus there was a short-term convergence between Germany's wider aims against Russia and Britain and Turkey's nearer goals. Moreover, the Ottoman empire needed an alliance to secure its standing in the Aegean and to recover it in the Balkans. Like Austria–Hungary and Bulgaria, it wished to overthrow the verdict of the Balkan wars of 1912–1913. On this reading, an alliance with the Central Powers was a means to create a fresh Balkan bloc that would include Bulgaria and Romania and isolate Greece.
Other later entrants to the war pursued similar regional ambitions, which also piggybacked on to the original war but did not share its motivations. The universalism of the rhetoric espoused with such speed by the original belligerents, the claim that this was a war for ‘Kultur’, for ‘civilization’, for the rights of small nations and international law, found little echo amid the more obviously self-interested and territorial motivations of those who followed. Italy entered the war in 1915 to further its local ambitions in Austro-Hungarian Slovenia; Bulgaria and Romania also aimed to expand their frontiers at the expense of their immediate neighbours when they joined the war on opposing sides in 1915 and 1916. Both Japan and Portugal responded to the outbreak of war with concerns that were specifically extra-European. Japan exploited the Anglo-Japanese alliance in August 1914 precisely to further its territorial ambitions in China and the Pacific. Its contribution to the war in Europe was confined to a naval flotilla, reluctantly deployed in 1917 to the Mediterranean. Portugal, worried that the outcome of the war would see it lose its African colonies, was anxious to fight precisely to secure them. Britain resisted this pressure until 1916, trying to contain Portugal's involvement to Angola and Mozambique, but in 1916 Portugal requisitioned the shipping of the Central Powers that had been interned in its ports in 1914, and so provoked the latter into open hostilities. These regional interests stacked up and, as they did so, so their pressures became mutually reinforcing, especially after the United States' entry, which brought in its wake allies such as China and a clutch of South American states. Their military contributions were negligible, but they, like Japan and Portugal, recognized that this war was now so big that they could better protect their interests by fighting than by not doing so. Belligerence was a passport to the peace negotiations, which seemed likely to create a new world order.
The corollary of this argument, that the First World War was in some respects an aggregation of regional conflicts, was that the war would not simply end when the European war ended. All that was agreed on 11 November 1918 was the surrender of Germany, largely on terms that reflected the situation within Europe and specifically on the Western Front. Only here did the guns fall silent at 11 am on that day. They had already done so on the Macedonian, Italian and Palestinian fronts, in a series of independent settlements with Bulgaria, Austria (but not Hungary, which did not agree terms until 13 November), and Turkey. However, other regional conflicts persisted. The collapse of four empires, those of Russia, Turkey, Austria–Hungary, and Germany, also meant that new ones emerged, including wars between the Czechs and Hungarians, the Hungarians and Romanians, and the Poles and Russians. Some reflected the resumption of older antagonisms, for example that between the Greeks and Turks. The British Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Sir Henry Wilson, wrote to Lord Esher on 14 November 1919: ‘It is again pathetic to realise that one year and three days after the Armistice we have between 20 and 30 wars raging in different parts of the world’. 22 

22. Jeffery 1985  Jeffrey Keith  The military correspondence of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson 1918–1922  The Bodley Head for The Army Records Society  London  1985  [Google Scholar], 133. 

War had bred war, and this was true in a very direct way. Some of the wars that so irked Wilson were the ongoing effects of the strategies which the Central Powers had adopted during hostilities precisely because of their desire to widen the First World War. The 3rd Afghan War of 1919 can be seen as the pay-off for the German mission to Afghanistan in 1915. The emir, Habibullah, had played a long and circumspect hand, despite pressure from his more intemperate and pro-German brother, Nasrullah. In February 1919 Nasrullah assassinated Habibullah and led his country into a war with British India. In 1922 Egypt threw off British rule, in a similarly delayed response to German agitation, which had been orchestrated in 1914 by Max von Oppenheim. And the biggest of the wars that still raged in late 1919, the Russian Civil War, could on one reading be seen as the consequence of Germany's readiness to help Lenin get back from Switzerland to Russia in 1917, precisely because of Berlin's determination to promote internal division the better to prosecute the First World War.
It has been fashionable to see the treaty of Versailles and its attendant agreements as a cause of the Second World War. This reading blames both the idealism of Woodrow Wilson and the punitive terms demanded of Germany by the Allies for the idea that the two world wars were both ‘German wars’, and that the years 1919–1939 can be seen as nothing other than a prolonged armistice. 23 

23. For this sort of thinking, see Bobbitt 2002 Bobbitt, Philip. 2002. The shield of Achilles, London: Alfred A. Knopf.  [Google Scholar]; Goodspeed 1978 Goodspeed, D. J. 1978. The German wars 1914–1945, London: Orbis Books.  [Google Scholar]. 

 But the peacemakers of 1919, and pre-eminently Wilson himself, were trying to make peace, not war. Their focus may have been European more than it was global, but their ambitions, as manifested in the League of Nations, possessed a universality that was global in its aspiration. Many of the fault lines that dogged the inter-war years found their origins less in the making of the peace in 1919 than in the waging of the war in 1914–1918. It was to wage war that the Entente condoned Japan's ambitions in China in 1914–1915, and it was to pursue those that Japan broke with the League of Nations and in 1937 attacked China, so beginning the Second World War. It was also to wage war that Germany sought the alliance with the Ottoman empire and so set in train the events that led Britain (also through its need to wage war) to make contradictory promises in the Middle East to the French and the Arabs. It was also the better to wage war that the generals of the Russian army colluded in the fall of the Tsar in March 1917, so in turn enabling Germany the more effectively to employ its own strategy of promoting revolution as a means to wage war. In all these cases, so imperative were the immediate demands of the conflict that there was scant consideration of their long-term effects. Some of the consequences of the fact that the First World War was waged as a global war remained with Europe throughout the Cold War, and others remain in the Middle East to this day.

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