WWI Lecture: “The Causes, Conduct, and Consequences of WWI”

let me tell you a few things about what the Institute is doing in this area this semester in addition to this series we also have a film series in the Browning cinema in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center we have our own series of films starting with paths of glory by Stanley Kubrick that’s on the 18th of this month our staff members have some more of these if you want to take these around which lists all of the films in our series but there is an addition to that a large number of films that Ted Barron the associate director of the Browning cinema there has scheduled that also have to do with the First World War and it’s aftermath so please check out you know a pretty extensive list of offerings in this area there so many histories of this war have been written and continued to be written but the focus of this series is going to be on the new things that we need to think about or the things that we’ve thought about that need to be rethought so we have five superb lectures to lead us through this I know that we have some undergraduates in the in the audience so let’s consider where things stood a hundred years ago right now so back at the end of June when most of you were doing summer research projects for the for the Nana Vik Institute’s or sticking your feet in the lake somewhere an austro-hungarian Archduke in Sarajevo was murdered by a young Serb nationalists the Empire shoot some ultimatums the Serbs Oh baby to eight or nine of them wasn’t enough so the Empire declared war on Serbia and its King for various reasons trouble had been brewing in this area for a while and the trouble is now as you know spread all across Europe a few days before the first day of classes this semester Germany invaded France by coming quickly through Belgium there was fighting down through Belgium now in northern France large military forces last week the French retreated a little south across the river Marne which as you know is East of runs east of Paris they were alongside the British Expeditionary Force which was their reinforcements came to join the French divisions from Paris a few days ago and you may have heard that they came in about sixty the six hundred to a thousand taxicabs from the streets of Paris and now we’ve got this massive battle ongoing right now and the Germans are being pushed back the French have been pretty successful in dividing them their heavy casualties they’re these newfangled things called airplanes which were just invented about ten years ago they’re being used for reconnaissance and the Allies seems to be winning to the point that the German chief of staff Moltke has suffered some sort of nervous breakdown and is withdrawing the forces of about forty miles north of the Marne River across the river enya they are doing something new they’re digging something that are called trenches they weren’t prepared to do this but now they’re waiting for continued attacks here to tell us more about the the causes conduct and the consequences of this mess his professor of political science Dan Lindley he Co directs Notre Dame’s international security program and is also a fellow of the croc Institute for International Peace Studies after working in DC for a congressman the Center for Defense Information the Brookings Institution mr. Lindley did his graduate work in the Security Studies program at MIT Princeton published his first book promoting peace with information which is why you’ll see statistics on the screen in 2007 he’s been speaking and publishing on war and peace ever since at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard this y’all spoke in Paris and of course here at Notre Dame so please welcome a Nana Vick fellow professor dan Lindley so the question is what’s changed from then to now nowadays the French would take uber to the battlefield instead of the taxis that they did back then so by way of preparatory remarks who here assuming your president the United States who here would have fought World War one sent our troops into battle think it’s worth the trouble anybody here would have fought World War one okay couple hardliners in the back and maybe a yawn up here not sure who would not have fought World War one quite a bit more hands still people like oh but twisting so we’ll see how you guys feel about that at the end of the talk so who cares about World War one anymore it’s very important in history it was known back then as the great war the war to

end all wars unfortunate did not turn out to be the case some 10 million or so military people soldiers were killed another 7 million or so civilians were killed and maybe 23 million people were wounded in the course of World War one one can argue that the Turkish Russian and austro-hungarian empires died in the war one can argue that the u.s continued its route to dominating the west and becoming one of the most powerful countries in the world as a result of being on the winning side in World War one and tilting the balance at the end one could argue that when would argue one should argue that the League of Nations was born as a result of World War one and the Treaty of Versailles was also a result of World War one and so it’s possible the extent that the Treaty of Versailles helped cause World War two that we are laying the seeds for the Second World War which was an even huger and conflagration and far more tragic so there’s lots to be seen in world war one from a scholarly point of view this is one of the most studied of all wars and lots and lots of work have been done in the archives interviewing dead people so lots of research there and what have we learned we’ve learned that everything causes war for every scholar who studies it there’s a new theory about the causes of war so I’m going to outline some of the major ones today and give you some sense of perspective some of the different scholarship there because so many causes of war manifest in World War one it helps us teach a lot about the causes of war more generally because frequently these things recur and one of the themes of this talk is to think about where are their situations in today’s world where there are tight alliances or radical ideologies or militarism is prevalent think about those things because when you think about thing you might think well it might not cause World War 1 that’s sort of impossible but it could get us into trouble in other places so World War 1 is something of a Rorschach test for scholars who see in it all sorts of different causes depending on their their bent so for some people it’s a result of miscalculation and misperception nationalism for other people it’s a result of strategic choices made rationally maybe Germany’s did it on purpose for gain or for preventive war so with that let’s start out with looking at some of the general causes of World War one let’s start with a little mystery that Anthony alluded to and this is known as the July crisis so you’ll note the date June 29 Archduke is killed this might be known as an act of terrorism in today’s world you can think could an assassination help provoke war is it possible that two beheadings are gonna throw us into more conflict so in any case this is June 29th slain by assassin’s bullets as Anthony mentioned and I’ll be describing a little bit later there was a July crisis with an ultimatum that Serbia generally accepted but rejected one of the claims so upon the rejection Austria declares war on Serbia you’ll note that the New York Times a penny back then it was well worth the penny because they couldn’t spell Serbia could they so Austrian declares war on Serbia this is July 29th so a month after the assassination so Russia’s threatening already moving troops piece of Europe in kaisers hands so a month later things are beginning to turn sour the next day holy cow things are turning bad very fast aren’t they so the next day Russia expects war mobilizes a million point two men the Czar summons reservists the colours belgrade’s bombarded kaisers debating whether to go to war himself so many buildings damaged ok August 2nd Germany joins the fray declares war on Russia and actually then wheels over to attack France so France is mobilizing may be drawn in tomorrow we have to rescue our own people and get them out so can you imagine the quickness of this happening this is the fundamental mystery I’m trying to point out for you guys there are other

mysteries too but we’ll get to that in just a second so England’s gonna protect the French coast it had pledged to defence Belgium defend Belgium since 1830 German Iroquois it who calls its envoi Germany’s hesitating at the French frontier and a German liner slips out of New York and a war paint and war pain now that’s one of the big mysteries of the lecture how does a German liner slip out of New York in the war paint so Wars being declared you say ah ok time to go down to the the loads and buy some wool paint yeah and so they rushed down they went to Lowe’s got some more paint and painted it overnight and left the I don’t know the answer to this mystery but there it is we were trying to figure it out okay so big mystery here how did this thing start so quickly what things were in play there must have been background factors so let’s walk through that first of all tight alliances and all-or-nothing mobilization general argument here is that big countries were allowed to lesser countries so if the small states got into trouble it would be in bring in the big states the big States had mobilization plans so that they mobilize to help save the smaller states they would be mobilizing for general war in Europe and I’ll explain a little bit how that went so again tight alliances and all-or-nothing mobilization so here’s Europe okay so austria-hungary had been seeing its empire decline for quite some time and what little vestige of power that it had outside of its own territory was down in bosnia-herzegovina which had annexed in 1908 and a lot of people in bosnia-herzegovina were Muslims or Serbians and so they weren’t at all happy to have their territory the next year so that’s why the assassination occurred below as important was if austria-hungary had lost this area and it went under serbian control they would have felt like their empire was going down even more than it had so its empire was at stake in trying to maintain influence and control over buff bosnia-herzegovina and trying to resist the advances of serbia so austria-hungary was at stake there Germany felt was allied to Austria Hungary and Germany felt that its influence in the world rested on maintaining alliance with austria-hungary so in that sense Germany was tied to austria-hungary austria-hungary was wrapped up in the Balkans and therein lies some trouble Russia of course people who mobilize 1.2 million troops along this entire border was on taunt on tante allies with France and joined in the anton later by great written so these powers were all allied against Germany and austria-hungary here is Belgium which I mentioned Great Britain had pledged to defend so if Germany goes into Belgium then Great Britain gets drawn into the war so what ends up happening here with tight alliances and all-or-nothing mobilization is though an austria-hungary declares war on Serbia Russia wants to defend its ally Serbia so it mobilizes and it mobilizes all across the front this of course threatens Germany and Germany mobilizes to do what to execute its Schlieffen Plan which is to attack through Belgium into France defeat France and wheel back and deal with the Russians that was their war plan so to defend against to defend against Serbia Russia mobilizes Germany goes through Belgium into France and pretty soon the world’s at war do European world is at war so tight alliances and all or nothing mobilization okay nationalism is another factor here nationalism is typically defined as devotion to interests or culture of another nation aspiring for national independence to get out from domination but we’re talking about more than nationalism in this case nationalism taken to hyper nationalism with strong doses of social Darwinism oh thank you yeah Austin don’t let that happen again okay so here we are talking about social Darwinism the idea that nations have to fight each other to show their worth pretty neat things dislike Darwinism right who’s the winning animal who’s the top dog you get there by fighting now are you likely to have a war when people think fighting is good right most of us

in the room I hope think fighting is bad right I can be deterred hopefully you can be deterred but if you think fighting is good you’re gonna say come on Lindley let’s do it to see who’s best so let’s have a little example of this social Darwinism and what it looks like this is by general Friedrich minority Germany in the next war published in 1912 but written in 1911 and we’ll find some really interesting ways of thinking here so this is something if you ever read a book like this they published by Putin well you know you really don’t want to read this book published by Putin do we okay so the right to make war the duty to make war hmm that sound peaceful Germany’s historical mission world power or downfall oh right Red Alert alarm bells going off so what does this sound like well basically we don’t like peace very much this desire for peace has rendered most civilized nations anemic and marks a decay of spirit and political courage the desire for peace renders nations anemic this aspiration to peace is directly antagonistic to the great universal laws which rule all life war is a biological necessity of the first importance a regulative element in the life of mankind which cannot be dispensed with since without it war an unhealthy development will follow which excludes every advancement of the race and therefore all real civilization quote war is the father of all things unquote so here we have Germany in the next war and that’s a great example of the social divers and existed not just in Germany but to lesser extents in other countries as well but this is certainly the writings of someone who’s very hard to deter and may in fact want war and think their country is going to profit from it kind of interesting okay how about imperialism let’s throw some imperialism Austin Austin is a former student and a great guy and I can trust him to say Lindley you’re not doing things right so don’t let the graphic go nuts okay so I’d rather blame a student to me cuz I never tie and he doesn’t write so okay so it’s the natural order isn’t it the power right brute power of having a ties the way life ought to be we just read it didn’t we Tai’s dominate okay back to reality here we go imperialism okay in the competition for colonies a little hard to see here but basically what we see is Africa conquered by all the European powers divided up and tell there was nothing more for people to have and Germany was a rising power and it felt like it didn’t have as much influence as the other countries which had more of Africa so they competed to take as much as they could and this led to several crises where the Moroccan crises which I’ll talk about shortly but there’s contests of power that helped Germany self encircle itself it did stuff like go down to Morocco sail a ship into the harbor and save France would you please give me this colony and for instantly like when drainie did that so it caused self encirclement and you can look at is what political science calls security dilemma if you make yourself stronger you weaken someone else in that same sense this is if somebody has a colony and you don’t you feel weaker so it’s a zero-sum contest for power and when the last gobble is made and Germany feels like it doesn’t have it to just do it gets a little upset so there were lots of squabbles in here in the lead-up to World War one so vulgar one didn’t exactly come out of the blue there was lots of geopolitical contest also involved okay another factor militarism okay very related to bernardi’s arguments this is glorification of the professional military class predominance of the Armed Forces in the administration or policy of the state on a policy in which military preparedness is of primary importance to a state so if you have military folks in charge and that’s your hammer you know any problem you meet is going to look like you’re gonna have to use that hammer so that’s

an overview of military and also some of the major authors on World War one Snyder and vane ever argue that organizations tend to want size wealth and autonomy and what does that equate to in terms of military doctrine being on the offense if you’re on the offense you can control the battlefield you have better weapons you have more soldiers it’s harder to go on the offense so therefore you get more stuff better budget better autonomy so organizational imperatives amplified by the fact that military has a good influence on the policies of a country can lead to more offensive strategies and that was part of the all-or-nothing mobilization militarism the thought that war is good all combined into a heady and dangerous combination and this what by the way I think is why it’s actually very wise to study war right some people say study War no more but actually had there been more informed civilians able to identify some of these pathologies maybe the rush to war would have been lessened so I think it’s actually very good to know some of the technical details about mobilizations and militarism who’s in power what they’re trying to say don’t run away from that because that’s the hard battles that are fought in politics right militaries will be around for a long time it’s better to understand them than to put your head in the sand hop it over okay perceived offense dominance another dangerous part of the mix so offense dominance is when war seems easy expansions easy cost of aggression is low victory is going to go to those who move first if offense is dominant defenses dominance easier to defend versus costly you can’t go very far without being stopped but a lot of people thought the offense would be easy now imagine this I’m Germany and many policymakers in Germany thought hey Wars gonna be over in six weeks we’re going to take France block Russia six weeks funny thing is a lot of people in Russia thought the war would be over in six weeks hmm now if everybody is sitting around thinking wars over in six weeks with me the winner again the odds of deterrence get lower and lower people are enthusiastic for for nationalism reasons because they think they’re gonna win and as we know you can almost say nobody won World War 1 until right at the end it was a very hard slog so people believed in spirit that you could have enough nationalism to move forward in winning battles that’s what it took spirit so in the French lost to battle they put little red decorations on their uniforms that the next time they would win no did not work out too well but that’s this belief in spirit moving forward and gross misinterpretations of offense versus defense dominance maybe right the trenches machine guns barbed wire made it very hard to advance I’m gonna talk a little bit about barbed wire and trenches and then we’ll watch a short film clip about how badly things turned out so life in trenches was very difficult very unpleasant it’s hard to see the disguise standing watch while these soldiers are sleeping lots of boredom who knows what this is a cake gone awry no this is German trenches here so layers of trenches they could fall back this is no-man’s land here so call this a football field or three and then British and French trenches fear so the goal was to hop out of your trench after lots of artillery shells run across a terrible field filled with indentations and explosions through artillery through machine-gun fire as you’re running any volunteers to do a trench run a quarter-mile maybe through artillery fire you’re not able to even see who’s firing at you no volunteers even we near them people who wouldn’t fight World War one I can’t believe it Austin do you want to know yeah I love you too much so the bell would go off the whistle blown and they would hop out of the trench into a hail of machine gun so let’s can we cue up the video on which this is three minutes from paths of glory which might be an ad to watch it the whole thing from the Nano sponsored in the future he told me it would take a few minutes

for the system to transition and that appears to be true