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Old 14 February 2014, 04:56 PM
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Johnny Slick Johnny Slick is offline
Join Date: 13 February 2003
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 11,628

Yeah, the three bits of bad luck were not in any way, shape, or form attempting to mitigate Germany's role in the conflict. I specifically stated it was an aside and, really, I don't think, says a lot about them either way, as all three events really occurred after the run-up had already been decided (really, in the case of Belgium, well before then). The Belgium point is a good one that I neglected to bring up myself; it figures into why I think it was a less than 50/50 proposition (actually, way less, I'd say; maybe 80/20 against is more fair) that they'd capitulate like that. If there was any relation to the thing as a whole it was just to point out that at the end of the day Britain could have used its existing alliances to get into the war or to stay out of it and they chose the former.

(Incidentally, I think the Schlieffen Plan was a terrible idea from the start and von Molttke was right to monkey around with it on the fly.)

But that's England, specifically. I think in the 2 weeks after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, there was something of a political game being played between France and Germany in particular but also involving Austria-Hungary and Russia. France dearly wanted to go to war (in a manner that seems flat-out strange to modern readers, in fact) but wanted Germany to be labeled the aggressors. Meanwhile, Russia had basically already entered into war with A-H and knew that Germany joining in to protect their allies was an inevitability and so were also trying to mobilize on the German-Prussian front without it actually looking like they were mobilizing since that would constitute an act of war without a declaration thereof.

I imagine you've read Barbara Tuchmann's "The Guns of August" but I recommend it in general anyway, as it's probably the best account of the first few months of the war, including what could have been done to stop it, that exist. I also recommend her book "The Proud Tower", which speaks to the environment leading up to that war.
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