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First World War

First World War



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Published by Jacobin Parcelle
Encyclopedia Series OF Conflict, War, and Peace : First World War
Encyclopedia Series OF Conflict, War, and Peace : First World War

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Published by: Jacobin Parcelle on Feb 17, 2009
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may find it advantageous to vote for a less preferredbut more viable candidate instead of ‘wasting’ his orher vote on a candidate with little chance. In contrast,multi-member districts and even single-member dis-tricts with decision rules other than plurality mayreduce the incentives for voters to deviate from theirfirst choice.Strategic behavior and an aversion to wasting one’svotemeansthatFPTPelectionsaretypifiedbycontestsbetween two major candidates, whereas alternativesystems often exhibit several viable candidates. Ex-tending this result to parties, FPTP systems routinelyhave only two major parties, a phenomenon that hasbeen coined
erger’s law
, named after the Frenchscholar who extensively described the relationship(Duverger 1954). Proportional representation sys-tems, however, usually have more than two parties, aresult that has come to be known as
(Riker 1982, Cox 1997).When there are only two viable candidates in anFPTP election, no abstentions, and the candidates arechoosing their positions to maximize their electoralsupport, the candidate ideologically closest to themedian voter is advantaged (Downs 1957). FPTPsystemsthustendtoproducemoremoderateoutcomesthan alternative systems. The incentive for candidatesto take moderate positions can produce candidateswhoareonlyminimallydifferentiated,leadingsometoconclude that the choices in FPTP are often of littleconsequence. One potential advantage to such asystem, however, is that the outcomes from oneelection to the next tend to be more ideologicallyconsistent, resulting in small, incremental policychanges over time.
See also
: Electoral Systems; Political Representation;Voting, Sociology of; Voting: Tactical
Arrow K J 1963
Social Choice and Indi 
idual Values
, 2nd edn.Wiley, New YorkCox G W 1997
Making Votes Count: Strategic Coordination inthe World’s Electoral Systems
. Cambridge University Press,Cambridge, UKDownsA1957
.Harper,NewYorkDuverger M 1954
Political Parties
. Wiley, New York
International IDEA Handbook of Electoral System Design
1997.International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assis-tance, StockholmMay K O 1952 A set of independent necessary and sufficientconditions for simple majority decision.
:680–4Merrill S III 1988
Making Multicandidate Elections MoreDemocratic
. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJRae D W 1971
The Political Consequences of Electoral Laws
,rev. edn. Yale University Press, New Haven, CTRiker W H 1982 The two-party system and Duverger’s law: anessay on the history of political science.
American Political Science Re
: 753–66
G. D. Adams and W. R. Keech
First World War, The
1. Causes
TheoutbreakoftheFirstWorldWarinthesummerof 1914 has been attributed to accident, design andconfusion. The first position suggests that no oneintended that armed conflict would break out in 1914;the second, that German and Austrian military elitesplanned the conversion of a Balkan diplomatic crisisinto an armed confrontation; the third, that politicaland military leaders throughout Europe began tomaneuverwithsomenotionthatwarwaspossible,butfound that they could not resist the momentum of confrontation (Joll 1992).What was the sequence of events subject to theseinterpretations, and which has commanded the sup-port of most historians who have addressed the issueof the descent into war in 1914? On 28 June 1914, theArchdukeFranz-FerdinandofAustria–Hungary,heirto the throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo. The crimewas carried out by a group of Serb student patriots inneighboring Bosnia, then a province of the Austro–Hungarian empire. Their aim was to demonstrate theforce of Slavic nationalism, and to challenge thedomination of these south Slavic lands by imperialistsin Vienna and Budapest.Inthis aim,theysucceeded completely. The govern-ment inVienna decided tomakethis crimea matterof state, and to lay the blame for this political murder onthe independent Kingdom of Serbia, and its intel-ligenceservices.On5–6July,AustrianofficialswenttoGermany to seek support for their policy of makingSerbia ‘payfor the assassination. German officialsgave their approval, offering a ‘blank check’ to theirAustrian allies. With this backing, on 23 July theAustrians presented Serbia with a list of demandswhich constituted a challenge to the status quo in theBalkans.This is where Russia entered the conflict. A hu-miliation for Serbia would humiliate her Slavic ally,Russia. With Russian backing, Serbia met most of theAustrian demands, but refused to capitulate com-pletely. In support of Serbia, Russia ordered partialmobilization of her armies on 29 July. In support of Austria, and in response to the numerical superiorityof Russian forces, the German army mobilized too.Once German mobilization was in progress, thenthe crucial link appears between a conflict in theBalkans and an all-European war. German military5688
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planninghadforyearsestablished asetofprioritiestosafeguard the security of the German empire. Theprimary point here was the need to avoid fighting atwo-front war. Thus, it was necessary for Germany toeliminate a western threat on the part of Russia’s ally,France, before facing the huge armies Russia couldput in the field. To do so, a military plan—theSchlieffen plan—was developed through which Ger-man forces could move in a huge arc from Cologne insouthwestern Germany westward through Belgiumand then southward through France. The destination,after 42 days, was in the vicinity of Paris, where theFrencharmywouldbedestroyed,justashadoccurredin 1870.The Schlieffen plan was thus a German response tothe threat of a two-front war. That threat hadmaterialized out of the confrontation of Germany’sally Austria–Hungary with Russia’s ally Serbia. Butthe German plan to destroy the French army by anarcing move through Belgium threatened to bring inthe UK, guarantor of Belgian independence (Ritter1958).And that is precisely what happened. The Germaninvasion ofBelgiumprecipitated a state ofwar amongthefivegreat powers:Germany and Austria–Hungaryon one side, and France, Russia and the UK on theother. By 4 August 1914, the First World War hadbegun.Had anyone intended this moment to occur? Prob-ably not. While the chief catalyst of the war crisis wasthe decision by Austria and Germany to press Serbiato pay a political price for the assassination, theoutbreak of war was less a conspiracy than a complexmixture of arrogance, a sense of national ‘honor,’ignorance, and confusion. All the actors in this dramamisjudged the other side. Each move forward in thecrisiswasfollowedbyafurtherheighteningoftension.FirstAustrianhonorwasatstake;thenRussianhonor;then German fears of encirclement led her to respondto a perceived threat from Russia by threateningRussia’sally,France;and whenconfrontedbya likelyinvasion of France, the UK hesitated, and then indefense of her honor, she declared war on Germany.Two elements in the crisis were crucial in theprevention of a diplomatic solution. The first wastemporal; the second, structural. First, timing. Thewar crisis lasted for one month. But a closer view of theseeventspresentsuswithanevenshortertimetablein the slide towards war. One week separated theAustrian ultimatum to Serbia—on 23 July—fromRussian and German mobilization—29–31 July. Inthat time period, it was simply impossible for altern-atives to be explored, or for the weight of antiwar andpacifistopinion,bynomeansnegligible,tobebroughtto bear on political leaders. The crisis moved too fastto be stopped.The second determinant of a general European warwas, broadly speaking, structural. That is, the chronicinstability of southeastern Europe was insufficient inand of itself to bring the Great Powers to war. Whatturned a minor conflict into a major crisis was thelinkage between the Balkan conflict and the longer-termbalanceofpowerbetweenGermanyandtheUK.Once the UK and Germany were aligned on oppositesides, then the crisis of 1914 became a contest forcontrol over northwestern Europe. Should Germanydefeat France in 1914, as she had done in 1870, theGermannavywouldoccupytheChannelports.Britishshippinglanes,necessarytofeedherhomepopulation,wouldbeopenatthepleasureoftheGermannavy.NoBritish government could accept that prospect (Ken-nedy 1980).It is true that the British Foreign Secretary, LordGrey, did not make this issue clear in his diplomatichandling of the war crisis. The German Chancellor,Bethmann-HollweghopedthattheUKwouldstayoutofthewar. But geographical and strategic imperativesovershadowed diplomatic miscalculations. An in-vasionofBelgiumandFranceposedarealandpresentdanger to British vital interests. And when the UKentered the war, so did the British empire. What hadstarted in Sarajevo, echoed in Sydney, Capetown andCalcutta. By 4 August 1914, the world was indeed atwar.
2. Conduct
The 1914–18 war spanned the globe, but its outcomewas determined by what happened on the battlefieldsof Western Europe. This article therefore offers anoutline of the major military encounters of the war,encounters which left lasting traces both on thelandscapeofEuropeandonthecontoursoftherestof the twentieth century.The battlefield in 1914 was Victorian in character.Artillery provided more fire power than ever before,but most of it was horse-drawn. Four years later, thebattlefield was transformed. By the end of the war, ittook on contours recognizable to most soldiers whowould come to fight in later conflicts. Infantry,artillery, tanks, and air power were all coordinatedthrough communications systems and supply systemsof great complexity and sophistication. Supplyinganimal power meant relatively little; supplying ma-chines meant everything (van Creveld 1977). The‘storm of steel’ in the words of the German infan-tryman Ernst Ju
nger, had come to stay (Ju
2.1 1914
The two major military encounters of 1914 producedvery different outcomes. In Belgium and France, theGerman army, one million strong, pushed forward ina swing westward and then southward. It met stiff resistance from Belgian forts, and then was harried bystubborn French and British defensive action. As the5689
First World War, The
German army moved west into Belgium, the Frencharmy moved east towards Alsace and Lorraine,provinces lost to Germany in 1871. German defensesheldandinflictedmassivecasualtiesontheFrench.Onone day, 24 August 1914, over 24,000 French soldiersdied in action. This ‘Battle of the Frontiers’ was amassivedefeatfortheFrench.Butthestrengthoftheireast–west rail links enabled the bulk of French forcesto move west to meet the real threat of the Germanadvance towards Paris. There on the river Marne, theGerman thrust was stopped. The German armyretreated northward and dug in on the river Aisne.When French and British forces pursuing the Germanarmy reached the Aisne, they were unable to move theinvaders. There the ‘Western Front’ was born. It soonstretched from Belgium to Switzerland.ThereislittledoubtthattheBattleoftheMarnewasaGermancatastrophe.ThewholepurposeofGermanstrategy had failed. There would be a two-front war.By the end of 1914 the chief of staff of the Germanarmy, von Moltke, had been replaced by Erich vonFalkenhayn. But what redressed the strategic balancewas a massiveGerman military victory on the Easternfront. Two columns of Russian troops advanced intoEast Prussia at the same time as the German armymoved through Belgium and France. These columnswere separated by a string of lakes. A German staff officer, Max Hoffmann, took advantage of the ge-ographyandoftheexistenceofanorth–southraillink.Under the cover of darkness, the German army in thenorth moved south. The Russian column in the northhad no idea they were facing an empty landscape; theRussian column in the south had no idea they werefacing a numerically superior force, that is, until theywere annihilated at the Battle of Tannenberg. ThecommanderofRussianforcesinthesouth,Samsonov,committed suicide. The two commanders of the Ger-man forces, who had not planned the operation, butwhoreapedits rewards,became nationalheroes. Theywere Paul von Hindenburg and Eric Ludendorff (Showalter 1991).
2.2 1915
The war spread in 1915, but the rough stalemate of 1914remainedunbroken.Onemajorattempttobreakit was in Turkey, then an ally of Germany. To ‘stopour troops from chewing on barbed wireon theWestern front, as Winston Churchill, Britain’s FirstLord of the Admiralty, put it, a plan was hatched toknockTurkeyoutofthewarbyanavaloperation.Theaim was to use British naval power to force the straitsthat connected the Mediterranean Sea to the BlackSea. Once done, then the Turkish capital of Constan-tinople would be indefensible. The defeat of Ger-many’s ally Turkey would serve many purposes. Itwould open supply lines to Russia; it would convinceall and sundry, especially in the Islamic world, of theerror of siding with Germany in the world war; itmight even convince Germany to withdraw fromFrance and Belgium.Nothing of the sort happened. Here too, a mixtureof arrogance, ignorance and confusion ruled. Theenemy was Oriental, and all the distortions attendingWestern attitudes towards the Orient flourished. Theenemy was underestimated. Attempts to push a navalforce through the Dardanelles failed in March 1915.TheAlliesdecidetomountajointland–seaoperation,but no one had a clear idea of the terrain on whichsoldiers would land. When they went ashore on 24–25April, they faced steep cliffs and stiTurkish re-sistance. They never got off the beaches. A six-monthstalemate ensued, after which Allied forces withdrew.
2.3 1916
Twofurtherattemptsweremadetoshiftthebalanceof power on the Western front. The first was at Verdun,in eastern France. There on 21 February 1916, morethan one million shells fell on French positions in thehillsnorthofthegarrisoncityofVerdun.Theideawasto force the French into total defense of this relativelyunimportant position. The French, Falkenhayn re-asoned,valuedVerdunasasymbolofFrenchfreedomand power (Afflerbach 1994). He was right. TheFrench committed 259 out of its full complement of 330 infantry regiments to the struggle for Verdun.They moved into Verdun along a vast conveyor belt,which the French called
oie sacre
, the sacred way.It certainly was a field of sacrifice. Falkenhaynsucceeded in bleeding the French army white, but hedidsoatamassivecosttohisowntroops.Perhapshalf a million men died at Verdun, where, by November,the French army had recaptured all the ground lost inthe early days of the battle. Lasting ten months, theBattle of Verdun was the longest battle in history.Thefrontremainedaboutwhereithadbeenbeforethebloodbath (Horne 1962).The same failure to break the stalemate occurredfurther to the north, where the British and Frencharmies opened a major offensive on 1 July 1916. Herethe fault lay in an underestimate of the enemy’sfortifications and an overestimate of the power of artillery to destroy them. A one-week barrage byBritish guns was supposed to obliterate Germandefenses between Amiens and St Quentin in thelowlands of the Somme. But the deep dugouts underthe German lines withstood the barrage, and whenBritish forces moved out early in the morning of 1 July, they were mown down by German machineguns. Of the 100,000 men who went over the top,60,000 were casualties, of whom 20,000 died in thatsingle day. Thereafter, British and German forcesregrouped. A further advance on 14 July was some-what more successful, but by September, it wasapparent that no breakthrough would take place.German lines held, but at a high price. Germancasualties numbered approximately 450,000; together5690
First World War, The

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