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Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005





This needs to be on every first page of every thread

I'd also like to encourage all the lurkers who feel intimidated by big hulking megathreads to get stuck in and just ask whatever's on your mind about military history.

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Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



Effortposts I Made That I Still Like

Hi, I like the First World War a lot. For a while during the anniversary I was running a day-by-day 100 Years Later blog (started as posting here and then it entirely got away from me) which eventually became two self-published ebooks (you can still buy them typos and all, people are still buying them occasionally), got completely unmanageable, and died on the Somme in mid-1916. It's still an ambition of mine to pick the project up again in 2021. We'll see what else I've got going on.

But, here, in no particular order, here's some things I've written over the years. (And a couple of things some other people wrote.)

The universal 20th-century military experience is going on a working-party, what was that like?

The rhythm of life in the infantry

The critical importance of artillery

The opening chords in Africa in 1914

Could anyone have warred better in 1914?

How The Schlieffen Plan Was Made, feat. Is It Even A Good Idea To Call It The Schlieffen Plan?

What would have happened if the BEF lost the First Battle of Ypres?

Who decided to fight on the Somme?

Can the Germans possibly win Jutland?

Why Verdun of all places?

Why didn't anyone want to negotiate in the winter of 1916?

What alt-hist conditions do you need for peace in 1917?

Third Ypres: the context

Third Ypres: the preparations

Third Ypres: Just gently caress off, chum

All Arms Battle and why "the Hundred Days" is a poo poo name

Americans: just as critical to victory in this war, but in a completely different way

How the War was Won: Background

How the War was Won: Timeline

The smell of the war

The Indian Army and the Viceroy's Commissioned Officer

Why can't the British and French generals just get along?

How Trenches Work/How Trench Fighting Works
British/German/French Trench Philosophy
German trenches and why they still got captured
Why bother with trenches at all?
Evolution in trench design and the start of defence in depth
The importance of barbed wire

Can you win a war with bite and hold?

John Chilembwe and how he proves that fundamentally, revisionists can get tae gently caress

Walking across No Man's Land is the best way to do it

Deception and Chinese attacks

Redeploying the reserves and how to counter this advantage

Informal discipline in the BEF
Formal discipline in the BEF
Formal discipline, part 2
The stages of a British military execution

Trench foot and "Large supplies of money in the money market
Gas masks, and what gas is actually good for
Cavalry as very short-range paratroopers
If attacking is so difficult in WW1, why bother trying?
How does Army service work? Do you serve tours like Vietnam or what?
What's a rolling barrage?
What's a battalion and why are they named what they are?
Sniping
How come there were 12 battles of the Isonzo?
What's it like to successfully advance? How did fighting in villages and towns work?
Why do units keep getting shuffled into different sectors of the Western Front?

French Fashion Choices
Fraternisation
Father Galaup looks for a bayonet

The Ross Rifle
A Shovel with an 'Ole In It

The Australians: what the gently caress's it got to do with you?
The First Gallipoli Landings: why it's understandable that they never moved further inland while they had the chance
Why did everyone on Gallipoli get sick?

German recruitment and what to do with your aristocrats

Why Big Trains Were Important
Why Little Trains Were More Important
Tremendous Slaughter In Prices
The Man with the Tea

Why does nobody like Sir John French?
Haig Did Nothing, Wrong
Hunter-Weston Was A Gobshite
What Hitler Did In The War

The best description ever of going up the line
The All-Name British Army Polo Team, 1914-1918
Dan Carlin is a gobshite
Gordon Corrigan is also a gobshite
How did that gobshite get on the television?


Things that aren't WWI

"What's your excuse?" "Pissed, sir."
Would General Alexander smoke poo poo?
The Ballad of Wolfgang, the Bratty Man of Soltau
The Warrior and the Chaingun
How war stories improve themselves over time
List, Alphabetised, Keeping Proper Stock, For The Use Of
The Nato Symbol for "Freemasons"

Trin Tragula fucked around with this message at 01:23 on Dec 7, 2020

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



Ensign Expendable posted:

Oh look, I can change the thread title.

Well in that case, let's have it proper in the thread like! It's from Spike Milligan's WW2 memoirs, which if you haven't read you need to do that yesterday. He was in the artillery and saw action in Tunisia which went very well for him; and Italy, which went less well, he was eventually invalided to the rear with what we'd now call PTSD. This is from the celebrations immediately after the fall of Tobruk.

quote:

Approaching are Gunners Musslewhite, Roberts and Wilson, riding donkeys and completely drunk: days later they were found in Sousse [approximately 125 miles from where they were supposed to be] with no recollection of anything.

Up before Major Chater Jack, the answer to his question, “What’s your excuse?” was ‘Pissed, sir’.

“Such honesty cannot go unrewarded,” said Chater Jack. “Case dismissed.”

Major Chater Jack is the commanding officer we all hope we'd have, if it ever came to that; Leather Suitcase and Jumbo Jenkins are the commanding officer we all fear we'd end up with.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



Memento posted:

British machine guns were originally part of the Royal Artillery but after the first year of butchery in WWI they were reorganised into their own Corps.

You sure about that? They were organic assets in 1914, two per battalion in their own machine-gun section. The Machine Gun Corps was founded by abstracting the Vickers gun sections from the infantry, who got the man-portable Lewis guns instead. The smallest thing the RA had was the pom-pom gun.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



My usual recommendation for a one-volume starter history of the First World War is Peter Hart's The Great War: A Combat History. He's in charge of the Imperial War Museum's sound archive and he just loves a good personal account.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



ChubbyChecker posted:

I've read a story, which was probably made up, that during some bluffing operation a single German plane flew over a fake airfield that had dummy planes and dropped a wooden bomb on it.

I've heard the wooden bomb story, it's got all the hallmarks of an old soldier's dit.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



Fearless posted:

I cannot fathom what being in a heavy battery during the Great War would have been like.

Far preferable to being in the PBI, let me assure you

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



I think the point is the [citation needed], though: how is it that we know what Zee Chermans were supposedly thinking?

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



the paradigm shift posted:

What do you mean by trains

A whacking big long fing wiv an engine onna front

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



BalloonFish posted:

And here is the view slightly inland, to seaward, at the end of the trench system proper:



I'm pretty sure it was Charles Douie in his Recollections Of A Subaltern of Infantry - if not it was another British junior officer who was stationed on the front at Nieuport - but he said he made a point every day during evening rounds of walking along the trench right to the end until the sandbags and barbed wire on the beach blocked him so he could be 'the last man on the Western Front' at the end of the system from the Swiss Border. IIRC he said that he sometimes thought of himself instead as the 'first man on the Western Front' depending on the mood.

The chap you're thinking of is another subaltern called Paddy King who was in a very Territorial Territorial Battalion, the 2/4th Useless Fat Bastards or something like that.

...

I looked it up, it was the 2/5th East Lancashires. The "2" in front indicates that this is supposed to be a second-line battalion for crocks and old farts. At the start of the war they were fit only for garrison duty in England, then they became fit only for garrison duty in France, then lines of communication work, then fetching and carrying up the line and back again and other pioneer work, by 1917 they're going up the line properly in quiet sectors, and by the time Third Ypres rolls round they're (literally, it's very wet) in at the deep end like everyone else.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



KYOON GRIFFEY JR posted:

Dragoons were used as doctrinally intended, though. I think the distinction with modern paratroopers is that they really never get used in combat drops. It would be like if dragoons never actually rode their horses.

Pre-WWI French cuirassiers, maybe? Expensive equipment, nominally elite, with a vestigial specialization that wasn't useful, employed exactly the same way as all other cavalry in the end. However, I don't think they were trained all that differently from other French cavalry.

Stephen Badsey has this gimmick where he likens the intended role of WWI-era cavalry to very, very short-range paratroopers; you drop into the enemy's rear somewhere inconvenient, get off the parachute horse, dig in, and then hold on for dear life until the cavalry infantry turns up to reinforce and push the enemy back from your strong-point. It's a long way from a one-to-one comparison, but there's enough to it to make it worth more than making people laugh at the saloon bar.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



White Coke posted:

I've heard that the Germans didn't like American soldiers using shotguns, or British soldiers using serrated bayonets in WWI and that they threatened to execute anyone they captured using these weapons. Is that true, and were there any other weapons that were considered similarly criminal in WWI?

There were two widespread and major moral panics among Entente soldiers, specifically about things that Zee Chermans might do to them personally, that began right in the very first days of 1914 (importantly, long before poison gas came out). Those were Germans using serrated bayonets, and also Germans either being issued manufactured expanding ammunition, or turning ordinary ammunition into expanding ammunition by slashing the tips of their bullets.

As far as I can tell, expanding ammunition was purely a moral panic and is in any case impossible to verify; and serrated bayonets were definitely issued to Germans. Which is an excellent excuse to re-repost French grognard-in-chief Louis Barthas telling the tale of the fighting Father Galaup (a bit less resigned than Job on his dung-heap) and his quest to obtain just such a bayonet as a souvenir of German barbarity...

quote:

The abbé Galaup was haunted for some time by the desire to find a German rifle with a sawtoothed bayonet attached, to take home as a souvenir. The Germans had one of these in each squad, in case it was needed to cut a branch, saw up a wooden plank, etc. Of course they would occasionally put it on the end of a rifle, to cut through a thorax or a belly. It served double duty. Father Galaup, in search of this combination weapon-tool, went out into the fog each morning, at the risk of intercepting a bullet along the way.

One day, he told me that if I wanted a revolver and a nice pair of binoculars, he would point them out to me. The next day, accepting this offer, I went to the place he indicated, where an enormous shell had exploded right in the middle of a group of French soldiers mounting an assault, decapitating and frightfully mutilating a dozen men, who were now nothing more than bloody scraps. I spotted the binoculars and the revolver on the ground, still in their leather cases. I quickly grabbed them and fled, appalled by the horrible scene.

With the help of these binoculars, the abbé Galaup ended up finding the object of his desire, a precious sawtoothed bayonet at the end of a rifle held by a dead German, a few paces from the trench, tangled up in a mass of barbed wire. You’d have to be crazy to want to go out, even at night, to look for a weapon like this, risking nine chances out of ten to be killed for a bayonet, even a sawtoothed one. Probably no man in the regiment would have attempted it.

Well, this priest tried it. The following night he crept out, succeeded in getting his fascinating bayonet, and came back without arousing the attention of the Germans. But while he was coming back he lost his way and stumbled upon a listening post of a neighboring company, where two sentinels fired on him but missed. At the very moment that he got away from this post, a 105mm shell fell right onto it, killing the two sentinels.

The abbé Galaup offered profound thanks to Providence, which favored him in this rash enterprise and kept him safe from such serious dangers.

The time for wasting perfectly good equipment had not yet arrived...

Trin Tragula fucked around with this message at 10:55 on Jan 18, 2021

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



best bale posted:

someone early in the thread mentioned that there’s been new scholarship in WWI studies since Guns of August was written. Anyone have a list of the “new classics” for wwi? Both broad and narrow focus welcomed

For the causes of the war I would strongly advise pairing The Sleepwalkers with Margaret Macmillan's The War That Ended Peace; it comes from a completely different angle and draws some different conclusions which you may prefer to Clark's. (I also highly recommend Macmillan's superior and variously-titled work on the Paris conference of 1919.) There will never be One True Holy & Apostolic explanation of the causes of the war, and it's vital to take in alternative viewpoints.

Anyway, this sounds like an excellent excuse to draw up a reading list for someone who's read a general history or two, or seen a few big documentaries, and wants to dig down a bit more without getting too deep in just yet. Pick the bit that sounds most interesting and have at it. N.b. no personal accounts here, they need their own post.

If you're going to read in English you have to go for Forgotten Victory by Gary Sheffield; the first blast of the trumpet of the monstrous regiment of revisionists. Even if you're going to disagree with him about some of the conclusions he draws, you still need to read it. Most of what he says is accurate and well-founded and will help guide you away from the Blackadder telling of the war, and towards a more nuanced understanding of what was going on.

The Western Front

As ever, the Western Front is hugely over-represented and it's quite hard to go properly wrong.

If you have a good tolerance for very dry dates-and-places recountings of grand strategy, and the doings of generals and politicians, everyone benefits from reading Robert A Doughty's Pyrrhic Victory, which is the grand strategy of the war from the French perspective. Which makes sense, as they were the primary strategic movers for the vast majority of the war. I can't recommend it highly enough for breaking people out of Anglocentric ways of thinking and conceptions of the war. You need a proper understanding of what the French thought they were up to; otherwise it's like reading about 1941-1945 with Eisenhower and Macarthur being occasional supporting characters instead of pivotal figures. It is very dry and academic, but it's worth persevering with.

For the German perspective, no less important (again, it's like reading 1935-1945 and only barely thinking about Hitler), go with Alexander Watson's Ring of Steel, which will also introduce you to the German home front, the clusterfuck in Austria-Hungary, and the Eastern Front; and if you can cope with drier, more academic writings, Jorn Leonhard comes in with Pandora's Box.

The last few years have also seen a wealth of works on under-appreciated elements of the Western Front. Martin Davies comes in with Conceal, Create, Confuse (the development of deception); Simon Jones with Underground Warfare (mining and sapping); John Glanfield with The Devil's Chariots (the invention of the tank and development of tactics).

The Eastern Front

Yes, there's an Eastern Front in this war, too. It's the direct cause of one of the two most geopolitically important consequences of the war, the Russian Revolution. Until very recently we were reliant on Norman Stone's ageing 70s The Eastern Front, weird cheap shots at Romanian officers and all, but he's now finally been knocked into a cocked hat by an excellent three-volume series from Prit Buttar (or Douglas Boyd's The Other First World War, which goes coast-to-coast in one volume, and naturally rather less detail). For a less imposing introduction to the sort of horror you're dealing with here, Graydon Tunstall's Blood on the Snow is short and snappy and focuses on the brutal fighting in the Carpathian Mountains in early 1915.

Italy

You've read Forgotten Victory to get away from the Blackadder view of the war. After that, Mark Thompson's The White War will take you to the Italian front and introduce you to General Luigi Cadorna, who genuinely did treat his men with levels of callousness far beyond what Blackadder could imagine, as he engages in twelve consecutive and entirely unsuccessful attempts to move his drinks cabinet six inches closer to Trieste and so turn the Adriatic Sea into an Italian pond. This front will also help you understand the post-war rise of OG Fascism on the backs of the Arditi and Gabriele D'Annunzio.

Beyond Mainland Europe

To get away from Europe entirely, the best starting point is probably Roger Ford with Eden to Armageddon. He briefly but comprehensively covers the three theatres of the war for the failing Ottoman Empire: Anatolia & the Caucasus; the modern-day Middle East; and Gallipoli. The section on the Anatolia/Caucasus campaign against the Russians is still the only English-language work I know of to attempt any kind of detailed recounting of the fighting in this area. The section on the Middle East is vital for understanding how that part of the world came to be how it is now. And there's also a nice unsentimental recounting of the disaster on Gallipoli without any unwanted over-the-top Anzackery dragging it down.

Alternatively, go even further afield and join Edward Paice in west Africa for Tip & Run, on the war in modern-day Tanzania. This will introduce you to (among other things) a masterpiece of guerrilla warfare, a number of masterpieces of engineering, a lot of awful Boers, an attack thwarted by a storm of bees, naval supremacy being held by a flat-pack steamer (which is still sailing today) with a really large gun on it, and Winston Churchill quite literally trying to set a river on fire. It's such an odd place, even Portugal manages to be relevant somehow.

Tiddly Up-Up-Up

If there's anyone who likes planes and wants to go into military history with a popular bent, we're still waiting for a comprehensive bestseller about the birth of aerial warfare. Peter Hart has more than one volume of oral histories from the Royal Flying Corps. However, if you can slog through John H Morrow's pricey, vital, yet surpassingly boring The Great War in the Air, it's indispensible for showing how the situation went from the occasional recon aircraft with pilots waving at each other in 1914, to the birth of the modern fighter (Sopwith, Fokker, and SPAD) and bomber (Caproni series, the only good thing the Italians contributed), with constantly-evolving tactics to match. It's a fascinating subject, and urgently deserves attention from someone who can actually string a sentence together.

Big Boats Go Bang

Robert Massie. Castles of Steel. It's about more than really big ships that do gently caress-all except crash into each other during gunnery practice. The British Official Naval History is also freely available on the internet and is shockingly readable and entertaining, and you'll find out about all kinds of fun little minor actions and epic tales of derring-do as the tiny German colonial navy tried to escape the RN for as long as possible.

Genocides

And finally. Everyone should know about the Armenian Genocide, the event for which the word "genocide" was coined. Not least because the modern Turkish state has decided to go all-in on denying there was a genocide, to the point where scholars of the genocide have been murdered or forced to flee Turkey; and it'd really annoy a lot of people who deserve to be annoyed if you find out as much as possible about it. Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide will help get over what kind of villainy we're dealing with here; for more, Taner Akcam's life's work has been documenting the genocide and the intentions of its architects in painstakingly-evidenced detail.

The great Jewish writer S Ansky also wrote a memoir of his time on the Eastern Front working to relieve the suffering of civilians, as each side freely committed war crimes in turn, and particularly targeted local Jewish populations for anti-Semitic violence. It was translated into English as The Enemy at his Pleasure, and these events would undoubtedly be far more notorious but for the surpassing industrialised crimes that would follow a generation later.

Trin Tragula fucked around with this message at 23:55 on Jan 25, 2021

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



best bale posted:

I don’t see this book mentioned very often, but it’s fantastic

brb, writing a deeply offended six-page letter to Le Midi Socialiste

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



Baron Porkface posted:

Is it a hot take to say that the Macedonian Front was the turning point of WW1? It liquidated Bulgaria and exposed both Austria-Hungary and Ottomans to an attack that they had no preparation for and resulted in their groveling armistices. Is this a common belief outside America/Britain or did I get suckered by Greek nationalists?

You got suckered. The Central Powers had been worn down so far that they simply lacked the resilience to react to major offensives in the way they'd been able to previously. If you must have a turning point for that war, it's the entry of the Americans, but it really doesn't make much sense to think of WW1 as even having turning points. Everything happens very quickly at the start, then everything bogs down forever while the strain increases and increases and increases on both sides, but by 1918 there's so much pressure going one way that all the others can do is collapse, which all happens so suddenly that even at the start of October 1918, everyone's planning for the grand war-winning offensives of 1919 and it isn't fully apparent just how hosed the Germans are.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



HookedOnChthonics posted:

World War I tanks give me the same vibe, tbh—did anyone else watch that three-part BBC series that was on Netflix that had one standout episode set almost entirely inside one? It really captured how utterly little compromise was made for human bodies to fit and function inside it

You're thinking of Our World War (although I prefer episode 2); and, to the contrary, they ensured all mod cons by making it possible to fry eggs on the engine, at the cost of only a 14% increase in one's chance of having an arm taken off by the exposed flywheel, a highly attractive bargain for the average squaddie.

Cessna posted:

I'm not good at extemporaneous comments, it's a lot easier to answer questions. Anything you want to know about German infantry crap?

What's the Wehrmacht's equivalent of the Macadam Shield Shovel?

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



Always interested in history. Everyone kept crapping on about the Second World War, so I wanted to know about it. Including how it got started in the first place. And what those masks were about. And why I was suddenly hearing about countries that didn't seem to exist any more. And why the poor ostrich died for nothing.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



SkyeAuroline posted:

Hoping for general pointers, but more specific threads to follow up on are appreciated. Got recommended here as a good source. TLDR: looking for resources to read up on Ottoman participation in WWI, potentially relevant internal politics in the same period.

Start with Roger Ford's Eden to Armageddon for an overview of what you're dealing with. Follow up with Eugene Rogan, and you can also look into Edward J Erickson's stuff so long as you remember that he bought his extensive archive access by agreeing to downplay and deny the Armenian genocide.

quote:

I can follow up with more context related to the use case in question if it helps (and to find out just how inaccurate an author who cites Dan Carlin in-text actually is).

Dan Carlin can get tae gently caress

Trin Tragula fucked around with this message at 22:20 on Mar 31, 2021

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



Nessus posted:

If the Germans had been able to follow through on their first use of poison gas on the Western front, could they have broken through and ended the war with, if not necessarily a total crushing of France and British forces, a situation where they make enough gains to call it quits on their end? I have never been clear on that, but it seems like that is an under-examined counterfactual. On the other hand I may have done an undergraduate paper about chemical warfare

The Second Battle of Ypres happened completely by accident. Both sides had experimented briefly with using tear gas in 1914 and it had proved to be an interesting sideshow and something that might maybe possibly be situationally useful in a real corner case, but it wasn't going to be a wonder weapon or anything like that. German planning was based on the idea that the best case scenario was going to be reducing the Ypres salient in possible preparation for a later attack, and disrupting the other side's preparations for renewed offensives in Artois and Champagne. They completely failed to appreciate how effective the initial attacks were, and it's the kind of weapon whose best effectiveness has an extremely short window, before the other side can get effective-if-rudimentary masks issued.

Had they known for sure that for a week or so they were going to have an instant win button, it almost certainly would have been used somewhere near Noyon (the point at which the front stopped running broadly north/south and started running broadly east/west). There are two obvious strategic possibilities; drive south towards Paris and shock the French government into suing for peace (or collapsing then suing for peace), or west to Dieppe to cut off British access to the best Channel ports. Both of those things require adopting a completely different strategic attitude to the entire war to the one they in fact had, ("stand in France, attack Russia") and making easily-observable preparations, while not also having one's own faith in the ability to gain from an offensive dented by the easily-repulsed French attacks over the winter.

They're probably not going to be achievable goals if opposed with fortitude; the only way I see the war being significantly affected is if they do somehow spook the French into withdrawing inland and giving up every port from Le Havre east, which may have tipped British thinking away from using the New Armies to enlarge the BEF, and towards sending them to Gallipoli/Salonika/Mesopotamia/Tanzania. Or, y'know, maybe it actually redoubles British desire to support the French more directly and the New Armies arrive in France sooner and start learning sooner. Maybe Louis Renault pulls his finger out in response, and we get the FT in mid-1916 instead of 1918.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



Nobody who's writing in English seems to know what's up with Renault. It just goes from, he has zero interest in developing armoured fighting vehicles in 1915, he explicitly tells the French Army's tank pioneers to gently caress off in December 1915 (which is why the first French tanks were built by Schneider and Saint-Chamond); and yet by July 1916 he's personally got his drawing board out to design the FT, for reasons unknown.

Trin Tragula fucked around with this message at 19:14 on Apr 4, 2021

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



I think there's a non-zero chance that the Germans could have pulled a quick victory off in 1914 using the same basic concept of inviting the French to advance through the revolving door of Alsace and Lorraine, whereupon the STRONK RIGHT VING wheels round to kick them up the arse and cut them off faster than they can retreat. However, what it's also going to take is big enough brass balls to bring the French all the way up to the Rhine, and possibly even allowing them to cross it, before the hammer falls. This shortens the distances involved far enough that it's possible that the SRV might actually be humanly capable of marching and fighting the required distance in the required time without collapsing well short of the finish.

That's an absolutely massive risk; it's entirely possible that the Kaiser would have taken fright and forbidden it; and even if allowed to play out without any interference like we're in a Paradox game, it's just as likely that if things go down this way, the Western Front ends up running from something like Trier to Liechtenstein by way of Stuttgart, which is a far worse outcome for Germany than what they ended up with.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



EggsAisle posted:

My understanding of WW1 is that nobody expected or predicted it would play out the way it did, or that it would draw in so many countries. Is that actually true? Or was there anyone in like 1912 (or even in the early weeks of the war) looking at the situation and thinking "we're in for a long, bloody mess if this blows up." I heard an anecdote once of an American remarking that Europe was like a powder keg- but that's literally from my high school history textbook, so who knows.

I guess I'm just curious if anyone "saw it coming", so to speak, and if so, what led them to that line of thinking?

The way I read it is, you've got a bunch of drunk people in the middle of a really killer party. They're all standing around something really flammable, juggling lit candles. They're all very good at juggling candles. Most of the time the candles stay in the air and nobody gets hurt. Every so often, someone fumbles and some other people all dive after the falling candle to stop it setting fire to the entire house. Someone catches it, there's a few awkward looks, and then everyone goes right back to juggling candles. They're all preparing for what could happen if a candle falls all the way and how they might best take advantage of this and how to make sure Neil gets stuck with the burning bedroom, but nobody's actively trying to drop a candle; it's just that everyone's going to do it if they're pissed and juggling candles. And then one day, someone drops a candle, but this time around, independently, all for their own very good reasons, everyone just stares at everyone else while it falls, and goes "actually it's your job to catch the drat thing this time". The candle falls, the house burns down, and someone posts that old meme about WWI as a bar fight.

In the European system after 1871, crises were inevitable. It was never inevitable that any given crisis would lead to war, as demonstrated by the large number of crises that came and went and everyone carried right on rolling. It wasn't inevitable that the crisis of July 1914 would lead to war...except that everyone decided it was someone else's responsibility to back down. It could have just carried on and history would have taken a different course.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



Hannibal Rex posted:

Thinking about this has led me to a question of my own: if the Central Powers had had enough foresight to consider the war unwinnable by that time, could they have used a magnanimous treaty of Brest-Litovsk as a diplomatic signal for better peace terms for themselves later on?

Though I think it would have taken several dozen gay black generals, diplomats and statesmen to even get to that point.

The problem here is, by the time Brest-Litovsk is being negotiated, you've got on the one hand Woodrow Wilson let out of his box and banging on about the Fourteen Points and self-determination; and on the other you have Georges Clemenceau, about whom it is deeply unfair to say he was the French Churchill, because if you're going to put it like that you should say Churchill is the English Clemenceau. Neither of them are even remotely interested in buying gay black Hindenburg and Ludendorff's KK-Brot and nail statues.

Even if you want to handwave some sensible Germans into power, you also have to handwave in a Joseph Caillaux premiership in France after the failure of the Nivelle offensive. Then, and only then, might you actually get somewhere with peace talks.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



Neophyte posted:

Y'all should stop making repetitive jokes and talk about actual milhist like the Battle of the Isonzo.

Indeed, an important victory for Theodoric.

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Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



Can't make an invasion without blooding the pups...

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