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He may have to wait a while

The Times 4 October 1917 p3

We are all familiar with Churchill’s soaring rhetoric from the Second World War but how do his efforts from the first time around compare?

Sadly, this is a report of what he said as opposed to a transcript but you get the general idea:

So now the weight devolved squarely on our shoulders. If we failed, all failed. If we held, all prospered. It rested with us to carry it out. Was there a man in this country who doubted our capacity to maintain and sustain the moral and military effort of the Allies against Prussian militarism until the weight of the United States could be brought to bear? We felt an assured confidence that we should not fail. But our confidence was shared by the Germans. (Cheers.) It was not for nothing that they were making these desperate efforts to strangle our shipping, to terrorize our cities, to drive our soldiers back in their remorseless and methodical advance. They knew where the vital point in the world struggle was. They knew that this island stood alone between them – and even at this last moment, even after all this struggle – and complete victory. They knew that in this island there resided the forces which were appointed from the dawn of history to frustrate that great evil and shield the world from its unmeasured consequences.

Not bad I’d say.

42 comments to He may have to wait a while

  • And now we have… Theresa May. Wonderful 😐

  • Alisa

    Yes, but don’t forget that you also had Lloyd George – and look where he’s now 🙂

  • Alisa

    Yes, still (as reported).

  • Paul Marks

    Good post Patrick.

    It is often forgotten that Germany had no legitimate war aims in the First World War. The infamous two letters to the Russian government in 1914 show that – one letter saying that Germany was declaring war because Russia was mobilising and the other letter (delivered accidentally, or perhaps accidentally-on-purpose, by the German Ambassador to Russia) saying that Germany was declaring war even if Russia agreed to demobilise. The German Declaration of War on France in 1914 was a wild tissue of lies (it even pretends the French are bombing Bavaria), and the attack on Belgium caused the German Ambassador to Britain (yes I did say the GERMAN Ambassador) on his return to Germany to take down the picture of Kaiser Wilhelm II from the wall of his house, and his wife to forbid any guest to even mention the name of the German Emperor.

    Germany was not fighting in 1914 (as it claimed it was fighting in 1939) for areas of mixed population where there were many Germans or which had at one time been German. On the contrary – in 1914 Germany already controlled areas that were largely NON German. So what was what was Germany fighting for? Germany was fighting to destroy Russia and France – it is as brutally simple as that (whatever modern historians try and pretend). Partly this was because the German government believed that the faster economic growth of France and (especially) RUSSIA was a long term threat to Germany (especially as Kaiser Wilhelm had thrown away the German alliance with Russia in 1890 – turning a friend into an enemy), but also because German “Geopolitics” (taught in the German universities and believed in by the political elite – including Kaiser Wilhelm himself) taught that international affairs was a struggle for dominance – that in the end there-could-only-be-one dominant power (a sort of “Highlander” fantasy show view of things), and that either had to be Germany or (in the long term) Germany would be destroyed.

    Both the father of Kaiser Wilhelm, Kaiser Frederick (tragically short lived – he died of cancer in 1888) and his mother (a daughter of Queen Victoria) were Classical Liberals – and they tried to educate their son in their beliefs. However, he rebelled against his parents (perhaps hating them because of their emotional coldness – and the wildly misguided treatments they insisted on for his withered arm). In his boyhood Wilhelm had written passionate emotional letters to his mother from his boarding school – she replied by correcting his spelling and grammar and her letters were essays on various subjects (her views were actually sound – but her young son did not want academic essays from his mother). As he grow older Kaiser Wilhelm did develop intellectual interests – but not in the Classical Liberalism of his parents (he came to regard capitalism as EVIL – the work of the English and the Jews). The fashionable theories of German academia found an admiring audience in the young Wilhelm- their state socialism, racialism (especially hated of Jews – but Slavs also) and desire for unlimited conquest.

    It is quite true that Kaiser Wilhelm never went as far as General Ludendorff did – the German War Leader in the First World War was a National Socialist (in everything from economic policy to racial theories, to pagan HATRED of Christianity), and Wilhelm had elements in him that were NOT this way inclined. There was still a decent streak in Wilhelm (the streak that showed itself in his love for his grandmother Queen Victoria, and in personal kindness at some points in his life – as well as his doubts during some points of the First World War), but one never knew which Wilhelm one would meet – the nice Wilhelm or the Wilhelm bewitched by the theories of the German intellectual elite of his time. Although Wilhelm, in the end, seems to have won the battle with the evil in himself – but too late, in old age and in exile. For example, his response to Kristallnacht (the National Socialist assault on the Jews) was to say “this makes me ashamed to be a German”.

    Kaiser Wilhelm was dragged along by the currents of the German thought of his time (although, in the end, he may have freed himself from them – and by so doing saved his own individual soul, if not his country) ideas that were certainly NOT confined to Germany – but were stronger in German academia than in the schools and universities of other lands. And education was more important in Germany than in any other country – the Germans, quite correctly, called themselves the “most educated people in the world”, and there was a dark side to that. Ludendorff was in the vanguard of such ideals – in him, and people like him, the ideas of German philosophers such as Fichte (a century before) reached its logical conclusion. British historians (with their “empirical” contempt for the importance of IDEAS) tend to utterly misunderstand people such as Ludendorff. Astonishingly – the wild fantasy film “Wonderwoman” is actually closer to the truth about him than the works of such historians as Denis Winter (who believes everything that Ludendorff said – and thinks him a perfect gentleman).

    Douglas Haig was sometimes a pompous idiot who refused to learn from experience (one thinks of his infamous words as late as the 1920s – when he talks of cavalry still having a role in future wars as long as the horses were “well bred”, basically “I am not from a family of whiskey makers – I am a country gentleman, and I will say utterly absurd things in order to prove I am an aristocrat, even though I was not born one”), but Douglas Haig was NOT an evil man. Ludendorff was an evil man, he really was, he had given in to (embraced) evil.

    Imagine being ship wreaked – either with Haig or with Ludendorff.

    On the island Haig would do his best to help – and if things went wrong he would do his best to die like a gentleman. Although Max Hastings has claimed that Haig went into a panic in 1914 – both emotionally, and in his actions which de facto betrayed Smith-Dorian leaving the latter’s forces exposed to the Germans. Although Smith-Dorian managed to hold the Germans in 1914, showing the same character he had shown at the Battle of Isandlwana against the Zulu, where Smith-Dorian was not only one of the handful of British soldiers to survive but actually carried out another man (a man he hardly knew), cutting his way through Zulu warriors because the wounded man had called out to him for help. Haig might not have done that (very few men are mentally or physically capable of doing what Smith-Dorian did at Isandlwana) – but he would not have thrown another man to the Zulu to save himself, what Haig did to Smith-Dorian’s army in 1914 (assuming that Max Hastings is correct – and I have found errors in his writings on other matters) was a matter of thoughtlessness (withdrawing his own men because he believed they would be overrun by the Germans – and leaving the forces of Smith-Dorian exposed) not coldly sacrificing other people to save himself personally.

    When James Edmonds said that Ludendorff was “not a gentleman” he was saying (in his understated English way) that Ludendoff was a man who would do that – kill someone else to save himself. As for being ship wreaked on a desert island – do not turn your back on Ludendorff (unless you wish to be killed and eaten). Had Germany won the First World War the Russians and French civilians would have been enslaved (indeed many people were enslaved by the Germans in the First World War) and had they resisted the civilian population would have been slaughtered without pity. And, yes, the turn of Britain would have come.

  • You dont get that kind of speechifying anymore.

  • Thailover

    I understand that Hitler was planning on not confronting England until Neville Chamberlain showed up on his doorstep to grovel and beg like a dog.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Patrick, thanks very much for the posting. What Darryl Said.

    . . .

    Paul, thanks very much to you for your informative, eloquent comment. My mother once told me that Wilhelm had told his air force not to bomb Buckingham Palace–“my cousin lives there!” You’ve put a bit of life and color into this anecdote for me. :>))

    As I’m sure you know, The Professor wrote somewhere about the evil that was WW I, and made the comment (from memory: I may have the year wrong) that “by 1915, three of my four friends were dead.” That thought was in my mind during the conversation with Mother.

  • Michael Jennings

    Churchill had an endless ability to come back from misfortune. Lloyd George, not so much.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes indeed Julie. The human side of Wilhelm fighting with the vile ideas he had been accepted. Tolkien argued that the Germans took virtues (yes virtues – virtues that he argued the Germans were stronger in than their opponents) and twisted them into vices – turning hard work and practical intelligence to the service if an evil cause, and turning loyalty and honour in-on-them-selves. For example confusing honour and political loyalty – forgetting (or rather deliberately suppressing) the basic principle that one’s honour is not judged by obeying any orders, it is judged by following natural law – doing what is morally right, even if one has to fight the whole world in the defence of someone who has no claim other than their innocence.

    David Lloyd-George – a man who would complain (endlessly) about Haig and co but would never replace them. Convenient was it not Davy? To have someone you could blame everything on – thus turning the blame away from yourself. If you had actually picked the commander yourself you would have been to blame if the commander you picked messed things up.

    Not impressed by David Lloyd George – he got in to Paliament by vile tactics (playing Class War games, smearing a good man in Wales), and behaved horribly (both in policy and personally) for the rest of his life.

    Just about the only thing he was right about was, possibly, Turkey.

    David Lloyd-George (perhaps remembering all those speeches by Gladstone) argued that no matter if a secular dictator took power in Turkey, eventually Turkey would get an Islamist government – and, for that reason, the Turks should be driven back after the First World War. Of course the Greek offensive proved a total fiasco and for decades Turkey was held up as the example of how a Muslim country could become secular – but David Lloyd-George may be having a quiet laugh (wherever he is) over events in recent years.

    In the 19th century the great debate in British policy was not Germany – it was Turkey. Anti Ottomans (such as Gladstone) hated the Ottoman Empire for what today would be called “Islamophoic” reasons (both Gladstone and Winston Churchill would, most likely, be in prison if they were still about – due to the sort of things they said about Islam). But many other British policy makers in the 19th century (the great majority actually) were pro Ottoman – out of fear of Russia. It was felt even in 1915 that if the operations against the Ottomans were successful the power that would really benefit would not be the British Empire (which could not really hold Constantinople) – but rather RUSSIA, the dream of the Orthodox being (since 1453) the recapture of Constantinople. Many people in the British establishment thought that such a turn of events would be an utter disaster – and that Russian power and prestige would grow, becoming a threat in both the Middle East (including Persia) and in India.

    Of course not wanting an operation to succeed is not the same as deliberately sabotaging it. The latter would be a very severe charge. Do not attribute to conspiracy what is more likely to have been the result of incompetence.

    But Russia must NOT be confused with the Soviet Union – the late historian A.J.P.Taylor made exactly this mistake. Attributing opposition to the Soviet Union (a totalitarian regime about which he was horribly ignorant – as were so many leftist “intellectuals”) with old style prejudice against Russia.

  • Paul Marks

    The present Russia?

    Mr Putin makes deals and…. with Sunni Islamists in Turkey and (at the same time) Shia radicals in Iran. And he backs an Islamist regime in Chechnya – as long as it is allied to him.

    The Romanovs (who ruled Russia from 1613 to 1917) had many horrible faults – but at least they believed (they really did). Mr Putin is just playing at being an Orthodox Christian. He lacks PASSION (a central Russian trait – at least in past times) – he is controlled, unwilling to risk his life on a throw of a dice. At least so he seems to me.

    A master chess player – but what-is-he-doing-it-all-for. Mr Putin does not really seem to have a cause – other than his own power.

  • fcal

    @ Paul Marks – Why was Russia suddenly mobilizing in the summer of 1914?

  • herbert

    fcal, it had to do with helping their brother Slavic state Serbia at war with Austria-Hungary…

  • Paul Marks

    fcal – it was a gesture of support for Serbia in relation to the threats of invasion from Austro-Hungary.

    The Emperor Nicholas (the second) pointed out that as Russia was utterly unready for war (Russian military modernisation was not even set to be complete till 1918 – and might have actually taken longer), mobilising was a POINTLESS GESTURE – indeed it would be humiliating for Russia to mobilise and then not do anything (and Russia could not go to war in 1914 as Russia was in no position to go war – and would not be for years). But various ministers (including the Minister for War and even the Foreign Minister) shouted and screamed at Nicholas – insisting that a gesture must be made (even if the gesture could not be followed up). And Nicholas, like the hopelessly weak man he was, gave in. A monarch who gets shouted and screamed at by his own ministers is hardly an inspiring figure

    The Germans leaped on the excuse for war – knowing (as Nicholas did himself) that Russia was utterly unready for war in 1914. But were concerned that Russia might choose to demobilise before they (the Germans) could declare war – hence the second letter (as a backup position in case Russia agreed to demobilise).

    As it was Russia acted unexpectedly after the Germans declared war and attacked Belgium and France – the Russians launched an all out offensive to try and distract the Germans and save France.

    The Russian offensive was in many ways a blood soaked farce – Russian soldiers had not even been taught Russian codes and so sent orders in “clear” (which meant the Germans knew exactly what the Russians were doing – whereas the Russians did not know what the Germans were doing).

    The scouts of General S. warned him that the Russian 2nd Army was marching into a German trap and he begged to be allowed to stop – but Defence Minister General J. replied “General S. will not be allowed to play the coward – the offensive will continue”.

    So the Russian 2nd Army was destroyed and General S. killed himself. However, the Russian offensive was a “strategic success” – as some German divisions were taken away from the attack in the West. No comfort for the vast numbers of Russians who were killed in an offensive the Russian army was not prepared for.

    By the way in June 1916 (well before the British offensive on the Somme on July 1st) the Russians launched an all out offensive (cavalry charges and all) against the Austro-Hungary and German armies – in order to distract the Germans from VERDUN (where the French were under terrible strain). Another “strategic success” – as German divisions earmarked for Verdun were sent to the Eastern Front. Verdun was saved – although this place actually had no great military importance (a fact the French refused to see).

    The Russians kept having “strategic successes” of this sort – it led to the ruination of the Russian Empire.

    For example, the Imperial Guard army was slaughtered during a battle during a “successful” Russian offensive in 1916.

    The Imperial Guard were sent up a causeway in a bog – with the Germans in front and ON BOTH SIDES. And were slaughtered.

    Even Douglas Haig never came up a plan like that. “Why did the Imperial Guard not save the Tsar?” – they did not save the Tsar because most of them were dead.

  • Paul Marks

    One myth is that Douglas Haig sent his cavalry to attack entrenched positions – as far as I know this was NOT a standard practice of his.

    The Russians on the other hand…..

    In 1914 the commander of a large section of Russian cavalry was the Khan of N. He was a very elderly man – as the Russians practised the absurd system of “promotion by seniority” – basically as long as you kept your nose clean, the longer you served as a officer the more senior you would be.

    The Khan made desperate efforts to join his men in a death charge – but he could not sit on a horse, amongst other things he suffered from piles (only a joke if you do not what they are). In the end he collapsed in tears – crying hopelessly and in despair.

  • fcal

    @ Paul Marks – So according to your opinion in this matter, Russia was only posturing when it mobilized. Is mobilisation necessary if one wants to teach the Austrians a lesson with regard to the ongoing miniwar between Serbia and Austria? Russia had a large standing army wasn’t that sufficient? Of course there was also the mutual defense treaty between Germany and Austria. So it seems Russia expected that it was best to be prepared for an eventual war with Austria’s ally, Germany when it intervened. In a previous post you stated that in WW1 Germany had no territorial aims. Were the Pan-Slavic Balkan policy makers in the Czar’s cabinet pinning their hopes on an easy ride since Germany would also have to confront France if it finally rose to the defense of Austria and declared war on Russia. Had it not been better if in the initial stades, the two superpowers of the time, Germany and Russia had forced both Austria and Servia to stop the nonsense?

  • Mr Ed

    In the end he collapsed in tears – crying hopelessly and in despair.

    Let us hope that is not your epitaph. 😉

  • Paul Marks

    fcal – Germany did not want “to stop the nonsense”, it wanted to destroy France and Russia. France was developing new industries that, in time, would become very important – and Russia (from a very low base) was catching up with Germany and eventually (the Germans feared) would surpass Germany. However, the main reason was that German academics taught (even before the First World War) that world politics (Geo Politics) was a matter of a struggle for power – a sort of “Highlander” “there can only be one” view of life – and “the one” was going to be Germany, with everyone else (eventually) crushed. Other nations had this academic problem to – but not so badly.

    “In a previous post you stated that in WW1 Germany had no territorial aims” – I do not believe I have ever said that in my life, and even in my semi senile state I think I would remember saying such a thing. I am much more likely to have said no “legitimate” aims, not no “territorial” aims – they did have aims, evil aims, not legitimate (not rightful) aims.

    Mr Ed – of course it will be my epitaph, we both know it would have been best if I had been killed years ago (that is not exactly a secret). However, I may have been unjust to the old Khan of Nakchichevan (the title was an honorific – his family had lost their realm to the Russian Empire generations before, although now it is part of an independent Azerbaijan).

    Patrick often says I should check the old soldiers stories I was told (and retold, and retold) as a child. And it turns out that the Khan of N. recovered from his illness in 1914 and served well for the next few years – being removed because he continued to support the Tsar after the February-March Revolution. Later there was the October-November Revolution (organised by the man the Germans, specifically Ludendorff, had sent in – “Lenin”) and was imprisoned and murdered. I am sure he died well – and he died opposing one of the most evil forces this planet has ever known, Marxist socialism. He now has both honour and peace – a position to be envied.

    Also I should not be unjust to Brusilov’s offensive of 1916 – after all he did do great harm to the forces of the Central Powers.

  • Paul Marks

    The influence of the “Black Hand” within the Serbian government is hotly debated – but certainly Colonel A. was a member and he gave the green light to the young men who launched their murder attack on Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie (I believe the marriage would have been declared a full one – as soon as the Emperor Franz Joseph had died), although ironically these young men were not members of the Black Hand (and so could reveal nothing about it) – they were totally expendable from the point of view of the Colonel and his Black Hand associates.

    Of course the German academic elite could not care less about any of this, to them it was just an excuse to do what they wanted to do anyway – they were “beyond” the “moral chains of good and evil” and did not think in these terms (and they had nothing but contempt for the Austro-Hungarian Empire anyway – after all both its law code of 1811 and its Declaration of Rights of 1868 assume the existence of natural justice, natural law “how absurdly reactionary” the German academics would have held). But I care about what happened in 1914. And what came before it.

    1903 (the first operation of the Colonel – which changed the Serbian Royal family in a bloody coup) was a classic “Prisoner of Zenda” style event, accept (as so often in life) the “good guys” lost. It did not need to have turned out as it did – the evil could have been prevented.

    Keep the door properly shut – and do not have a light on anyway. And have the relief force stronger and closer to hand.

    Alas someone like the character that Stewart Granger played in the film version of “Prisoner of Zenda” was not to hand.

    Had someone like (later General) Ironside (see his deeds in Southern Africa), or Smith-Dorian, or Maxwell (for all his over reaction in Dublin in 1916), or Adrian Carton de Wiart (of both World Wars and the Cold War), or “Mad Jack” Churchill (from the next generation) has been there – things might have been very different. One man (even a stranger there by chance) can make a difference even against a large group – if it is the right man.

    At least the Colonel would have been given a run for his money.

  • fcal

    @ Paul Marks – You wrote “Germany was not fighting in 1914 (as it claimed it was fighting in 1939) for areas of mixed population where there were many Germans or which had at one time been German. On the contrary – in 1914 Germany already controlled areas that were largely NON German. So what was what was Germany fighting for?” Am I wrong to deduce from the foregoing that in this case as opposed to WW2 no territorial aims were involved?
    Since the French revolution mobilisation meant in fact a declaration of war. This was certainly the case in the early 20th century. Neither Russia nor Germany wanted to stop jointly the nonsense of the Serbian-Austrian conflict. Germany camped on a position that this was a local conflict. Russia considered it an assault on Slavic dignity and as a patron of all Slavic countries seems to have been willing to intervene militarily and mobilized. What a foolish thing to do. Had both senior parties reacted jointly and properly one by curtailing the Austrian hubris and the second by ‘saving’ the Serbian ‘honour’, it would have saved the continent ten million lives. Classical Liberalism collapsed also in WW1 and has not yet reemerged. Cousin Czar was to be at war with cousin Kaiser. They wouls soon be joint by cousin Coburg from London.
    Why did the UK join the fray of his typical continental dispute? It didn’t in 1870 in the Prussian-French war.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Britain joined because it didn’t want Germany to become the dominant power in Europe. The Germans almost reached Paris early on in the war, so they could have won over the French then and there! How long before a triumphant Germany began building a fleet to attack Britain?
    As it says in that great book, The Thucydides Trap, a rising power always causes fear in a dominant power- Athens and Sparta, Germany and Britain, China and America.
    Don’t only go by reason, but also allow emotions to be considered. Plenty of people thought that Europe in 1910 was too intermeshed to go to war. It was a reasonable argument, but then national pride upset such reasoning.

  • fcal

    @ Gray – At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century Germany was already the dominant power on the European continent both industrially and militarily. Britain never ever was the dominant power in Europe. First it was France and later it was Germany. In seeking a balance of power Britain with changing allies always tried to frustrate the nascent dominant power on the continent. However Britain was then indeed the global dominant naval and colonial power. Neither WW1 or WW2 changed Germany’s industrial dominant position in Europe. It is the same within the EU now. What are we talking about? So according to you Britain joint the war for something, it didn’t have never acquired, never lost and resulted in about 750 000 militarily casualties. Methinks the 1870 policy of neutrality was more advantageous

  • Mr Ed


    So what was what was Germany fighting for?

    A demented plan of world domination, read Omnipotent Government by Ludwig von Mises, who lived through it all, and consider the Zimmerman telegram.

  • fcal

    @ Mr Ed – I agree fully with Ludwig von Mises with regard to fallacy of ‘Omnipotent Government’. In WW1 every participating country became totally statist. As usually Germany was the most extreme case. LvM explains why.
    Germany was fighting because it considered the Russian mobilisation and intentions as a declaration of war. At that moment the civil government was overtaken by the German military establishment, a feature which only increased during the war. It was the military logic which dictated the initiative of a foolhardy two-front war.
    World domination was definitely not a real objective. You may believe propaganda but reality is safer to be considered.
    Zimmerman’s telegram from 16 01 1917 shows only how inept some foreign services can be.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Germany was fighting because it considered the Russian mobilisation and intentions as a declaration of war.

    Thread winner. A thread in which I made this exact point and related points with primary sources and extensive documentation:


    As I said then, there is a difference between a declaration of war and an act of war. Blaming Germany for WWI is to confuse one for the other.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    fcal- my point still stands. Britain didn’t want a German-dominated Europe. Individually, Germany might have been the strongest nation, and have a big and powerful army, but that generated lots of enemies, especially those countries nearest it. Hence all the treaty-making that went on, as countries tried to create strong alliances.

  • Mr Ed

    Germany was fighting because it considered the Russian mobilisation and intentions as a declaration of war.

    I was not hitherto aware that Russian forces had moved into Belgium in the summer of 1914, I must have missed Belgium’s acquiescence in a massive breach of its neutrality.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    I was not hitherto aware that Russian forces had moved into Belgium in the summer of 1914, I must have missed Belgium’s acquiescence in a massive breach of its neutrality.

    Israel was the first to attack a foreign nation in Six Day War (Operation Moked). Was Israel responsible for the 1967 war? If you answer yes then please google “Straits of Tiran”. Egypt’s closing of the straits of Tiran and Russian full mobilization were acts of war. Israel and Germany responded accordingly.

    If war was going to happen, Israel had to strike first in order to have a CHANCE of winning (due to the composition, quality, scale, placement/location, and allegiances of various forces throughout the Middle East)

    If war was going to happen, Germany had to strike first in order to have a CHANCE of winning (due to the composition, quality, scale, placement/location and allegiances of various forces in Europe)

    Israel won; very few people blame Israel for starting 1967 war. Germany lost WWI; most people blame Germany for starting WWI. Didn’t Churchill say something about the victors writing history?

  • Mr Ed

    Israel was the first to attack a foreign nation in Six Day War (Operation Moked). Was Israel responsible for the 1967 war?

    Well Israel certainly wasn’t a party to WWI, was it? Can’t see how the Six Day War assists in causation of the First World War, in the same way that your children don’t determine who your parents were.

    If war was going to happen, Germany had to strike first in order to have a CHANCE of winning (due to the composition, quality, scale, placement/location and allegiances of various forces in Europe)

    If war was going to happen in accordance with Germany’s intention to dominate the World, Germany had to strike first in order to have a CHANCE of winning (due to the composition, quality, scale, placement/location and allegiances of various forces in Europe). If Germany had done nothing, at most there would have been another far-away Balkan war.

    Fixed it for you. I won’t bother with any more of this crap btw.

  • bobby b

    Shlomo Maistre
    October 13, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    “Israel was the first to attack a foreign nation in Six Day War (Operation Moked). Was Israel responsible for the 1967 war?”

    Exactly. Sometimes the first act in a war isn’t an act of war. Intolerable threats can be signaled through facially peaceful acts.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Israel was the first to attack a foreign nation in Six Day War (Operation Moked). Was Israel responsible for the 1967 war?

    Well Israel certainly wasn’t a party to WWI, was it? Can’t see how the Six Day War assists in causation of the First World War, in the same way that your children don’t determine who your parents were.

    The point is that the country that first attacks in a war is not always the country that committed the first act of war that caused the war to happen.

  • Paul Marks

    fcal – yes you are wrong. And it is baffling that you could not see the plain meaning of the words.

    Germany did not even claim in 1914 to be fighting to take areas that were mostly inhabited by Germans (the claim in 1939 – and a wildly false claim even in 1939), because it already controlled areas that were NON Germans (due to previous unjust wars going back centuries – at least in the case of Prussia and the Military Order that became Prussia). However, you could, if you wished, describe the German war aims in 1914 as “territorial” (although that is not a word I would use) – as their objective was (as a first stage) to destroy Russia and France, to reduce them to areas indirectly (if not directly) under German control, or just reduce them to chaos.

    As I have pointed out several times now – the German academic elite (more important in Germany than any other country) had utterly rejected the idea that nations could live in peace with each other and benefit from their citizens freely trading over national borders. Even the Kaiser had accepted the ANTI capitalist doctrines – rejecting the liberal opinions of both his mother (a daughter of Queen Victoria) and his father (the tragically short lived Emperor Frederick).

    The German elite (academic and political) believed that, in the end, there-could-only-be-one (a sort of “Highlander” television film and television show view of the world) destroying Russia and France was only the only first step – eventually ALL major powers (not just Britain – but the United State also) were to be destroyed or turned into de facto German dominated puppet states. That was the objective that the FALSE German academic (the “most educated nation on Earth” – and they were) view of the world had committed them to.

    The position of Israel is almost the exact opposite – for example the Israelis did not have to make up LIES about Egypt in 1967 (unlike the Germans whose Declaration of War upon France in 1914 is a tissue of LIES) – as Nasser made it quite clear (again and again) that he intended to remove Israel from the map.

    People who defend Germany in 1914 really are tilting at windmills. The view of the German elite was radically hostile in theory – and their actions, such as the tissue of lies that was the German Declaration of War upon France in 1914, were hostile in practice.

    The idea that Britain could have just sat here in 1914 and allowed the Germans to take de facto control of the resources of Europe (including Russia) and control the coast opposite this island, is absurd. Contrary to the falsehoods of some people – the Conservatives in Britain were more “pro war” than the Liberals – the Liberals (such as the Prime Minister Asquith, the Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Gray, and the Chancellor David Lloyd-George – he had even opposed the Boar War) were desperately ANTI war. The German rulers forced-war-upon-them – as even the German Ambassador (yes the German Ambassador) understood.

    Nor could the United States remain out of the conflict for ever – the Imperial German activities in both South America and North America would (under the Monroe Doctrine) eventually havr lead to war with Germany – even if the Americans had decided to allow Britain to be destroyed.

    Most Americans seem to think that only the Nazis aimed at World Conquest (Rothbardians sometimes deny even they obvious truth that the Nazis aimed at world conquest) – actually, de facto, Imperial Germany had the same long term objective. The mistaken statism and Geo Politics of German academia led them in this unfortunate direction. Even the German efforts to stir up Mexican groups to attack the United States (not just the border raiding – but promises to reverse the outcome of the conflicts of 1848 and 1836) and the widespread TERRORIST ATTACKS directly organised by Imperial German Intelligence inside the United States (for example the massive bombing in New York City) seem to have been forgotten.

    Many Americans seem to think that Woodrow Wilson got up one morning and said “I think I will ask the Congress to declare war – because I like war” – they have forgotten (or never knew) that the Germans had been killing Americans for years, both on the High Seas, and in Latin America, and in the United States itself. If “there can only be one” ( the “Highlander” style view of the German elite) then the United States of America would, eventually, have-to-go.

    And, no Rothbardians, it was not a plot by the Morgan banking family – actually the Morgans and Woodrow Wilson were not on very good terms (the Morgan family being Republicans and President Wilson being a Democrat).

    Somehow certain modern “libertarians” (drawing on both Marxist “history” and the Nazi history of Harry Elmer Barnes) have convinced themselves that people such as Asquith, Lloyd-George and Woodrow Wilson (the man denounced by T. Roosevelt as having “all the backbone of a chocolate eclair” for not declaring war YEARS before) were warmongers and Germany was the innocent victims of the “banksters” (the Rothschilds and the Morgans).

    It (the attack upon the leaders of Britain and the United States – the pretence that they were warmongers) would be amusing – if it was not so horribly wrong headed. As for the disinformation and agitprop campaigns against President Poincare (the French President in 1914 – and a good man) these seem to have really got away in the 1920s – possibly a joint effort by the liars of Weimar Germany and the liars of Soviet Russia (and possibly two different campaigns with the same objective of smearing Poincare), this stuff is transparent in its dishonesty – really only Rothbardians (with their fanatical hatred of the West and support for any enemy of the West) could believe it. Or PRETEND to believe it.

    Of course if Kaiser Frederick had lived in 1888 things might have been different – he might have led a fight back against the radical collectivists (for example the “Historical School of Political Economy” – what we call the historicists) that were taking over German academia (and the political elite educated in these places) – but he died of cancer, and that was it for Germany. The doctrines that there was no such thing as objective and universal moral right and moral wrong (just as there were no objective and universal principles of economics) became dominant – as did that the idea that foreign affairs must inevitably be about endlessly fighting for world dominance.

    Both Tsar Alexander III and Tsar Nicholas II came to the conclusion (after meeting him) that Kaiser Wilhelm II was insane – actually they may have been wrong in this conclusion (although Wilhelm did have severe mental health problems – “insane” is, I think, going too far) it was the IDEAS HE HAD BEEN TAUGHT that were insane, the ideas that had come to dominate German intellectual life (although there was a few dissenters – even in the German universities).

    Actually something in Wilhelm (his soul – his moral conscience) fought against the ideas he had been taught (as can be seen by the doubts he sometimes expressed) – for a German who accepted the fashionable ideas without reservation, see General Ludendorff (of very great importance in the First World War – but never with the unlimited power he craved). Adolf Hitler invented nothing – it was already there, he just took the ideas and ran with them. With no one in power expressing nagging doubts about whether it was morally right to exterminate or enslave whole races – even if world conflict was “inevitable”.

  • Paul Marks

    The evil German professor, rejecting the “moral chains” of objective and universal moral good and moral evil and arguing for determinism (the denial of human agency – the human person) and moral relativism (basically doing evil things is O.K. if one pretends one does not know they are evil), was a stock figure of British popular writing in the early 20th century (normally such a figure would explain, in great detail, his evil plan – whilst the hero was working to get his hand free of the ropes so he could hit the evil professor in the mouth) – so what I have pointed to was once generally known.

    Of course one could point to similar moral and intellectual decline in British and American academia – but it was less extreme (at that time it was less extreme).

    Sadly, if they returned today, I suspect that the only jobs such thinkers-within-the-Western-tradition as Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Sir William David Ross and Harold Prichard could get at modern Oxford would be cleaning the toilets.

    The modern moral collapse of British and American academia is not the same as the one that German academia experienced – but it is just as severe.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course many Anglican and Protestant (not just Roman Catholic) thinkers have pointed to the origins of the ideas that eventually became fashionable in German academic and political circles in a secularised and theology-made-into-secular-philosophy version of some of the ideas of Martin Luther.

    Not so much the antisemitism (although Mr Hitler, like others before him, was able to quote Mr Luther’s rantings against the Jews loot-burn-kill …., at great length), but rather the depiction of morality as the arbitrary WILL of the ruler (whether Mr Luther’s version of God – or a human despot) with it being denied that human reason can find objective moral right. And the determinism (clearly at least bordering on actual lunacy in such works as “The Bondage of the Will”) which holds that even if humans could find moral right independently of orders-from-on-high (impossible – according to Mr Luther) humans, not being moral agents, could not choose to do what is morally right against our desire to do what is morally evil – Mr Luther’s view of humans being essentially bestial (what the National Socialists later called the “Blond Beast” and, UNLIKE Mr Luther, actually CELEBRATED). And Mr Luther political absolutism – advocating serfdom (then newly being introduced into some of the German lands – although already existing in other areas of these lands), and total submission to even the Islamic Ottoman Sultan or any despot (no natural law you see – no natural justice, so no theory of just resistance to the ruler). No German had to read Mr Hobbes – all the evil is there in Mr Luther’s writings long before Mr Hobbes was born.

    It does not take much wit to see the connections between Mr Luther’s ideas (determinism – denial of the human moral conscience the human person, moral relativism – morality being the arbitrary orders of on high, political despotism….) and orthodox Islam. Although there are, of course, theological differences.

    Now many Lutherian theologians and philosophers over the centuries worked hard to reconcile the writings of Mr Lurther with Common Sense (basically “interpreting” Mr Luther as saying the opposite of what he was saying on these matters) – but their writings got more and more complicated (witness the work of Professor Kant – his objectives are actually quite good, but the path he takes to try and get to his objectives….), but in the 19th century the complexity turned in on itself – somehow (and I am not really sure how) the writings went full circle, and many German intellectuals came (in a very complicated and secular way) to the conclusions that Mr Luther himself had pushed.

    The consequences in the 20th century are well known – or at least used to be well known. See, for example, the talks of C.S. Lewis on the philosophical issues at stake in the conflict above this island in 1940 – whether the evils of determinism and moral relativism would plunge the world into a new Dark Age made more persistent by the use of a “perverted science” as Winston Churchill put it.

    The conflict with people such as General Ludendorff in the First World War was essentially over the same principles – not really about lines on a map.

    Of course antisemitism must not be totally ignored (although it should not be over stressed either) – like Mohammed before him, Mr Luther identified the idea of objective and universal morality that can be (with great effort) found by human reason, and the idea of human agency (Free Will – the idea that, with great effort, one can resist one’s desires to do evil) with “the Jews”.

  • bobby b

    Paul Marks
    October 14, 2017 at 9:12 am

    ” . . . (witness the work of Professor Kant – his objectives are actually quite good, but the path he takes to try and get to his objectives….) . . . )”

    Do you mean, “he guessed right, in spite of his faulty logic”, or “he meant well, but didn’t know what he was doing”, or . . . ?

  • Mr Ed

    ‘‘Tis always a joy to see a triple broadside from HMS Sage of Kettering.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Indeed yes, Mr Ed. Thanks, S of K.

  • fcal

    @ Paul Marks – Sorry, but I don’t believe in complot theories or similar conjectures. I don’t believe the world domination theory nor do I believe the fable of Germany being trapped in a Russian-French ambush. I consider the start of WW1 to be a trainwreck in which multiple parties got lost in the web, they had so cleverly built and of which they seem to not have understood the consequences. If Austria was offended and asked reparations from Serbia for the murder of the Prince Royal, heir to the throne. These were not forthcoming and Russia supported Serbia’s stance. Russia and France seem to have concluded that this incident offered a possibility to put pressure on the Alliance (Germany + Austria). The response to the successive Russian mobilisations, first partial and later total, was the declaration of war by Germany. The UK was the less bellicose party in this drama but to no avail, while too late. After examining the time-line of events, the main culprit was probably Russia.

  • Paul Marks

    bobby b – I mean the route Kant took. His objectives were to show that the universe was real and that human persons (agency – free will) was also real, and that morality was objective. But his route in trying to do this tended many (although certainly not all) of those who followed him to rather different positions.

    Thomas Reid had similar objectives but took a more direct (and less confusing) route (for example rejecting, and seeking to refute, the works of David Hume rather than “taking them on board”, as it were, and trying to take reconcile the work of Mr Hume with conclusions totally opposed to those of Mr Hume) – but Professor Kant rejected Reid with contempt, even though Professor Kant admitted that he had never read any of Reid’s works.

    fcal – I have not stated any “complot theories” (nor any conspiracy theories) I have just stated what the German academia (or rather most of them – there were dissenters, even in German universities) and the leading faction of the political elite believed.

    It really is not my fault if you reject the basic facts (such as the German Declaration of War upon France being pack of lies). The objective of German Geo Politics was indeed “world domination” – hardly a conspiracy, as most (not all) of the leading German thinkers of the time would have argued that all great powers have to act to dominate or be dominated, and they preferred the former to the latter in the case of Germany. The idea that foreign affairs should be conducted in relation to the laws of morality was rejected as silly sentimentalism (much as advanced German theologians had rejected the “simplistic” view of Christianity – much to the future horror of Detrich Bonheoeffer).

    Your claim “the main colprit was probably Russia” is clearly false. By the way is your real name Sean Gabb? Or are you possibly an associate of this anti British (indeed anti Western) person? Possibly not – as you have not yet attacked Winston Churchill or launched a tirade of abuse directed at Queen Elizabeth the second.

  • Paul Marks

    I should make clear that Martin Luther would have denied being a follower of Mohammed – indeed he always wrote about this Arabian personage in highly abusive terms. My point was to show points in common in their thought – certainly I am NOT claiming that Martin Luther was a closet Muslim.

    Martin Luther himself would say that he was trying to get back to Augustine – which, he would say, the Roman Catholic Church had strayed from. I think that the Catholic Church was actually too close to Augustine – the father of the theology of religious persecution (religious persecution certainly existed before Augustine – but it did not have a theology justifying it) and the great pusher of Predestination (to the counter that “Predestination does not mean determinism” – well technically perhaps not, but the two do tend to go together).

    England and Wales are perhaps the only places that had a Reformation (in the sense of a break with the Roman Catholic Church) and ended up further-away from Augustine, rather than closer-to Augustine (although one might argue about the Netherlands – Holland). Karl Barth (the German-Swiss theologian) was exaggerating when he said that the British, even if they did not know the name of Pelagius are “hopelessly Pelagian” – but he did have a point. Even the chaplain of the Parliament in the Civil War (who one would have thought must be a hard core Calvinist) turns out to have been Ralph Cudworth – one of the leading ANTI Predestinationists of the age.

    Even in the early 19th century, if one had gone to Oxford and Cambridge and said “one day Thomas Hobbes, David Hume and Jeremy Bentham will be taught as the British tradition – not as the arch ENEMIES of it” one would have been asked if one felt unwell, and it would have been suggested that one should sit down whilst a cup of tea was made.

    Sadly by the early 20th century it was necessary for people such as Harold Prichard (Professor of moral philosophy at Oxford) to rediscover such thinkers as Ralph Cudworth and Thomas Reid (so well had the followers of Hobbes and Hume done in shoving their opponents down the “Memory Hole” – indeed in shoving the Western tradition, of which such men as Cudworth and Reid were defenders, down the “Memory Hole”). Although the Aristotelian tradition was maintained at Oxford (indeed Prichard and Ross would have said that a major problem with Cudworth was his Cambridge stress on Plato – rather than Aristotle, and that this led to his belief that witches were real, something that Chief Justice Sir John Holt could have instructed him on) – but as soon as Prichard, and Sir William David Ross, and C.S. Lewis and Tolkien were gone from Oxford the decay set in again, worse-than-ever.

    It should be pointed out that the Austrian-British Sir Karl Popper (on the masthead of this very site) was an opponent of the Logical Positivists (not, as some people seem to think, a Logical Positivist himself) because they rejected the “metaphysical” principles of morality and human agency (free will). As Sir Karl pointed out – if one rejects such “metaphysical” principles one might as well hang out a big neon welcome sign for the National Socialists – as, after all, one has just opened the gates for them. And indeed, for General Ludendorff and co in the First World War – as the General’s own writings make clear.

    It should also be pointed out that even when the late Antony Flew (a philosopher largely in the old Oxford tradition) was a young man, and a very strong atheist, he held to the moral law and to human agency – indeed (as he told me many years ago, long before his illness) without these basic beliefs, opposing the totalitarians in war and peace has no foundation. Even when he was a socialist Antony Flew held to basic morality (as opposed to relativism) and to human personhood (as opposed to determinism).

    Ayn Rand was a passionate atheist all through her adult life – and yet held to the side of good in the conflict with evil (not just a matter of grand battles – but an inner war that we all need to fight each day inside ourselves), and held that humans can both find what is morally right and choose (choose) to do what is morally right against our base desires to do evil.

    So it is a bit more than silly old British Anglicans like me.

  • fcal

    @ Paul Marks – You wrote “… I have just stated what the German academia (or rather most of them – there were dissenters, even in German universities) and the leading faction of the political elite believed.” I more or less agree with the content whereupon this statement is based. However the-politics of state are an entirely different matter. Five days after the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the Habsburg throne, in full ‘crisis’ after seeing off a Austrian delegation, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II goes on a 3 week vacation to Norway on his yacht. This doesn’t look like the German cabinet was planning anything serious. This same month of july 1914, the French president is invited to Saint-Petersburg and Russia obtains French backing and proceeds to mobilize in order to intervene in Austria. These are the facts. How Germany reacted is another matter. It wasn’t too clever to say the least.

  • Paul Marks

    I know fcal.

    Indeed even in 1917 the Kaiser was not told of the plan to send “Lenin” into Russia – he was not told in case he had a moral problem with the plan.

    In 1914 Kaiser Wilhelm II was pleased when it seemed that France would not declare war on Germany (“now we will have to fight on one front”) – even if Germany declared war on Russia, but the German elite just shock their heads sadly (poor Wilhelm – he-does-not-understand).

    The facts are that the German elite wanted war with Russia – no matter if Russia mobilised or not (hence the two letters) and the German elite wanted war with France (whatever the French did) – hence the pack-of-lies that is the German Declaration of War upon France in 1914.

    The German academic and political elite (closer in Germany than any other nation) had decided that Russia and France had to be destroyed – because in the future (say in five years time) France and Russia would be much powerful than there were in 1914.

    Take the campaign of terrorism the Germans launched in the United States – a nation with which Germany was at peace.

    Do you think fcal that the Kaiser was told? Do you think he knew about the bombings in New York, or the bombing in Washington D.C. (the Capitol Building itself).

    What about the ANTHRAX plan? To use germ warfare against the United States – a nation that was NOT at war with Germany. This plan was not particularly successful – but the intentions were horrific.

    Do you think someone went up to Kaiser Wilhelm II and said “your Imperial Majesty – do you approve of our plan to spread anthrax in the United States?”

    I doubt it.

    The German academic and political elite had a horribly wrong headed view of the world – for example they thought killing large numbers of Americans would make the Americans too scared to declare war (it had the opposite effect – it ENRAGED the Americans and made war inevitable in 1917), and they thought that Germany had to destroy (or make dependent) all other powers or be destroyed itself.

    And this did NOT just mean destroying Russia and France. The turn of the United Kingdom would come – their doctrines would not allow this country to be an independent power.

    Again the Kaiser might support the doctrines in vague theory – but in practice he might have problems (sudden problems of conscience).

    So best not to tell him.

    Read the writings of Fichte (the early 19th century German philosopher – who became fashionable long after his death) or the writings of General Ludendorff (not the official military writings – the “private” stuff that has long been in the public domain now).

    The Kaiser went along with the collectivist philosophy in theory (rejecting the “capitalist” opinions of his parents) – but had problems in practice. But other Germans were more consistent.

    Tsar Alexander III and Tsar Nicholas II (two men who were so different it is hard to believe they were father and son) both thought that Kaiser Wihelm II was insane – but he was not the worst person in the German elite (not by a long way).

    German agents in Turkey and the Middle East told the Muslims that the Kaiser had converted to Islam – and would share out the British and French (and other infidel) women among the followers of Islam.

    I doubt that Wilhelm was told about this.