Monday, May 7, 2012

"Intimate History of an Attitude", 1942 . . .

From Howard K Smith's classic Last Train from Berlin:
A few months before, the Germans had, in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles, marched in the Rhineland. A friend of mine and I bicycled to Worms to see what we could see. The town was not in war, yet, but it was the best imitation of a town-in-war I have ever seen. The streets were filled with soldiers. On every corner forests of new sign posts told the way of parking ground for motorized units, regimental headquarters, divisional headquarters, corps headquarters, field hospitals. We elbowed our way the length of the main street and saw not another man in civilian dress. That evening we spent in a beer-hall, in whose upper stories we had rented rooms. The beer-hall was packed with fine-looking young officers, drinking, shouting, singing. The tables were wet with spilled beer and the air hazy with blue cigarette smoke.
I do not know what it was, except that the turn of this reaction was logically due - it was perhaps partly that the beer had loosened up my imagination - but watching the faces of these men, my own age, my own generation, caused me to think of their military culture, for the first time, in terms of me and my culture. For the first time I thought of Germany, not as an academic subject studiously to gather facts about for discussion at home, but as a real, direct and imminent threat to the existence of a civilization which gathers facts and discusses. A schism deeper than the Grand Canyon separated my world from that of the young man across from me, whose face bore fencing scars and carried a monocle over one glassy eye. The fetishes of my world, the values it worshiped, if it did not always attain them, were contained in words like "Reason", "Think", "Truth". His fetishes and his values were "Feel", "Obey", "Fight". There was no base of pride for me in this involuntary comparison; rather, a terror like that which paralyses a child alone in the dark took hold of me. For, my world, with all the good qualities I thought it had, was in terms of force, weak; his was mighty, powerful, reckless. It screamed defiance at my world from the housetops. One had to be deaf not to hear it. (Summer 1936)
The title is the chapter heading from HKS's book. Attitude. That seems to be the main problem. There is something quite different about HKS's perspective as well. Notice there is no hint of the American exceptionalism that runs riot among US pundits today, that forms that basis for everything that follows. Why? Two reasons I think. First off let's look at the cultural component. HKS was from the South, Louisiana to be exact. Why should that make a difference? Because he knew what happened to a culture/political community when "history happened" . . . C. Vann Woodward wrote about it in his essay "The Irony of Southern History". There is no trace of American exceptionalism here:
. . . It explains in large part the national faith in unlimited progress, in the efficacy of material means, in the importance of mass and speed, the worship of success, and the belief in the invincibility of American arms.
The legend has been supported by an unbroken succession of victorious wars. Battles have been lost, and whole campaigns - but not wars. In the course of their national history Americans, who have been called a bellicose though unmartial people, have fought eight wars, and so far without so much as one South African fiasco such as England encountered in the heyday of her power. This unique good fortune has isolated America, I think rather dangerously, from the common experience of the rest of mankind, all the great peoples of which have without exception known the bitter taste of defeat and humiliation. It has fostered the tacit conviction that American ideals, values, and principles inevitably prevail in the end. That conviction has never received a name, nor even so much explicit formulation as the old concept of Manifest Destiny. It is assumed, not discussed. And the assumption exposes us to the temptation of believing that we are somehow immune from the forces of history.
The country that has come nearest to approximating the American legend of success and victory is England. The nearness of continental rivals and the precariousness of the balance of power, however, bred in the English an historical sophistication that prevented the legend from flourishing as luxuriantly as it has in the American climate. Only briefly toward the end of the Victorian period did the legend threaten to get out of hand in England. Arnold J. Toynbee has recalled those piping days in a reminiscent passage. "I remember watching the Diamond Jubilee procession myself as a small boy," he writes. "I remember the atmosphere. It was: well, here we are on the top of the world, and we have arrived at this peak to stay there - forever! There is, of course, a thing called history, but history is something unpleasant that happens to other people. We are comfortably outside all that. I am sure, if I had been a small boy in New York in 1897 I should have felt the same. Of course, if I had been a small boy in 1897 in the Southern part of the United States, I should not have felt the same; I should then have known from my parents that history had happened to my people in my part of the world."
The South has had its full share of illusions, fantasies, and pretensions, and it has continued to cling to some of them with an astonishing tenacity that defies explanation. But the illusion that "history is something unpleasant that happens to other people" is certainly not one of them - not in the face of accumulated evidence and memory to the contrary. . .
This perspective is something HKS actually had in common with those German officers in Worms. They too knew that history "could happen". What made HKS different is that he was not willing to put his faith in a "great man". One who was thought destined to lead the nation to glory, to revenge over their enemies. This leader would lead and take on the responsibility for the entire people, the army acting as executer of his will, with the responsibility his alone. A pre-modern notion to say the least, but common to all sorts of notions of human perfection requiring blind, unquestioning faith. Something to be rejected by a product of the Enlightenment who also understood tragedy such as HKS.
The second reason for HKS's "realism" that precluded the current virus of American exceptionalism, was historically based. He had come of age during the Great Depression, having been born in 1914, so he knew that the US as "the greatest economy in the world" had a hallow ring to it. In fact being a man of his times with critical faculties he could not but notice a strong connection between corporate control and fascism. The Nazis were not anti-capitalist at all, but supported the cartels. Assuming a firm link between democracy and corporate capitalism would have been ludicrous for HKS and many others who considered themselves unclouded by ideology.
This brings up the question as to whether there were any similarities between HKS's view and the view he assumed of the German officer sitting across from him at the Worms beer hall. I think we can make an argument that there was a very strong common view. That is in the instrumentality of technology, of the technological approach. That technology was essentially value-less and could be adopted by whatever ideology without being affected or affecting that ideological view. Thus later in his book, HKS advocates the use of strategic bombing to destroy the will of the German people to fight on, in fact he advocated mass destruction of a culture and people to whom he had much affinity.
Taking a broader view was Lewis Mumford writing in 1944:
Unlike his liberal and democratic opponents, Oswald Spengler drew the inevitable conclusion from this situation. If values are unreal and if humane purposes are chimerical, then even scientific technique must ultimately become subservient to brute force: the need for rational restraint and self-discipline of any kind disappears. Thus technicism leads directly to irrationality - and the cult of barbarian power salvages the technician's otherwise growing sense of frustration and futility. It is no accident that Germany produced both the most mechanized type of personality in tis robot-like soldiers and civilians, and the most unrestrained reaction against humane discipline, in the form of an exultant sub-animality.
Spengler ignored all the creative tendencies in modern life, except those associated with the machine: little though he relished the thought, his essential creed favored Russia and the US even more than it did the fascist countries. Spengler accepted as "real" only those elements which emphasized modern man's automatism, his deflation of values, his subservience to mechanical organization, and the savage irrationality which takes the place of reason in other parts of the personality. And because these forces cannot be confined within their original frontiers, Spengler predicted, far more accurately that hopeful philosophers, the disastrous downward course that modern civilization is still following at a steadily accelerating pace. Through its emotional impact, Spengler's word as a whole constitutes a morbid Sage of Barbarism. It began as a poem of defeat; it finally became an epic justification for the fascist attack on the very humanity of man - an attack that has already gone so far that even democratic peoples have torpidly swallowed as their own, without retching, the fascist doctrine of totalitarian air warfare: one of the deepest degradations of our age.
Spengler's day is not yet over. These are ominous times and Spengler is like a black crow, hoarsely cawing, whose prophetic wings case a shadow over our whole landscape. The democratic people cannot conquer their fascist enemies until they have conquered in their own hearts and minds the underlying barbarism that unites them with their foes. In the passive barbarism that the US now boasts under the cover of technical progress, there is no promise whatever of victory of even bare survival. Without a deep regeneration and renewal, the external triumph of American machinery and arms will but hasten the downfall of the Western World. Only those who are ready for that renewal with all its rigors, its sacrifices, its hard adventures, and entitled to celebrate even our temporary victories.


  1. And yet...all that might and power were thrown recklessly away attempting to fulfill the foolish ambitions of a mad optimist.

    Attitude needs to be coupled with calculation; the problem Germany never solved between 1914 and 1945 was the ability to distinguish tactical capability from geopolitical attainability.

    We here in the U.S. seem to be mesmerized by that same pink war cloud...

  2. Chief-

    Agree, but for 1914. It was more the Russians and French who required war to attain their geo-political aims. Germany had to respond to the reality of their situation.

    And yes, we are mesmerized by the use of violence, you see it constantly in what passes for "strategy" discussions today. And then there's something else. I came across this quote from a Scott Horton interview:

    -- This is where narcissism comes in. Focusing on the question of American decline is problematic because it means we’re applying an American lens to global problems. Whether or not the United States is in decline, the important thing is that in today’s environment, America is the last best hope for global leadership, which it is unwilling and unable to provide. The United States will not intervene on behalf of the Syrian people. It will not bail out Europe. It will not bomb Iran. These are the facts, decline or not. --

    I feel like telling Mr. Bremmer, "OK, here's the flag, why don't you lead the charge, we'll be right behind you . . ." Mostly this is about using force as "global leadership" as in what the US is supposed to and is expected to do in the world . . . large explosions.

    Here we see the liberal interventionist as opposed to the neo-con view of foreign policy, which are in reality two sides of the same lead coin.

  3. Seydlitz,
    The question is-what have we learned from 1914 to present?
    All our conclusions are based on illusion.
    Much like the Nazis described in your text.

    1. Germany of 1872-1913 and of 1949-today proved that the real recipe for success is hard work and a readiness to invest in the future.

      Even a loss of much terrain, occupation, loss of millions of working age people, loss of many years worth of education, loss of intellectual property and many brilliant scientists and engineers did not keep Germany from reaching its 1936 level (before the extreme phase of rearmament began and a time when unemployment was already low) of industrial output by 1952. By 1959, Germany had so much adequately distributed prosperity that basic needs were met nation-wide and the society as a whole made the step towards luxury (car instead of motorcycle, TV set, summer vacation, fridge etc).

      Somehow it was forgotten that military missions beyond allied terrain had not been of any relevance to us for decades, and we allowed our politicians to move towards interventionism with a salami slicing tactic. It all began with a harmless military hospital in Cambodia and led to inept anti-pirate patrols and a occupation brigade in Afghanistan.

      Btw, on the topic of investing in the future: Thou shall not live beyond your means.

  4. Sven: proved that the real recipe for success is hard work and a readiness to invest in the future.

    I would not diminish Germany's recovery in any way, but the country in no way did it on their own.

    What you fail to mention, Sven, is that the US invested $1.5 billion US in aid to Germany from 1949 to 1951, and forgave another 7.5 billion Marks in debt in 1953. Without that US "investment in the future", the German industrial output you tout would have been quite different.

    For this largesse, you can probably thank Josef Stalin as much as the US. Had we not feared that the German people would turn to him and Communism as their next "savior", the Morganthau Plan might well have continued, and Germany might be producing bean sprouts rather than cars today.

    History is such an inconvenient thing.

    1. I didn't "forget" that at all. It was rather almost entirely irrelevant. It's fairy tale history; the crucial part of the recovery was before Marschall Plan began for Germany to any non-symbolic extent and there were reparations paid larger than the plan's subsidies.

      Finally, I am economist and did invest quite some time into studies on economic growth. Suffice to say, such an input as the Marschall Plan for Germany is about as large as a rounding error in any economic growth model.

      The Marschall Plan was a PR stunt in the case of Germany, a largely symbolic action that symbolised the Western integration of West Germany.

    2. Interesting that you did not address the 16 billion Marks is forgiven debt.

      Yes, Sven, the Marshal Plan provided more moral support than economic for Germany. After all, the Marshall Plan was focused on European recovery from extensive damage inflicted by Germany, not simply German recovery. However, it was a major player in changing attitudes from the imposition of a Carthaginian peace upon Germany to an opportunity to return to being an industrialized nation.

      If anything can be called a "PR campaign", it is the avoidance of addressing the period between May 1945 and April 1948 (Start of the Marshall Plan), when the Allied attitude was clearly in line with Morganthau's plan for a "permanently pastoral and agricultural Germany". Indeed, if you ask, most people would say the Marshall Plan "began right after WWII".

      Germany was totally devastated following WWII, and the Allies were quite content to leave it that way. By the beginning of 1947, the population was subsisting on about 1,200 calories per day, the adult death rate was 4 times the prewar rate, and the child death rate was 10 times the prewar rate. And, conditions were deteriorating, not improving. It was quite apparent that if left to fend for itself, Germany would be an economic and humanitarian disaster. Worse, it might go communist! The population could not produce enough food to feed itself and lacked the resources to import food, even if it were allowed. Germany was, as FDR desired, "Stewing in its own juices", and in a downward spiral.

      Since you are an economist, you must know that leaving Germany impoverished created a serious drag on, if not permanent impediment to, the economic recovery of the rest of the continent. By late 1946, the Allies began to accept that it was in their best interests to prop up Germany and assist the country in being a player in the European economy and out of communist control. Thus, humanitarian aid was instituted to feed the population. While Marshall Plan numbers are known, the other than Marshall Plan humanitarian aid has never been definitively valued, but many authoritative sources say it was equal to, or greater than the Marshall Plan's costs. Had the attitude towards Germany not changed, and this humanitarian aid been provided, the German population could have readily collapsed.

      In short, at the Marshall Plans inception, Germany was totally incapable of providing for its own basic subsistence without outside help. It did not "rise out of its own ashes", but was lifted out, simply because it was in the Allies best interests to do so. If Germany had not finally been put on "Life Support", there would not and could not have been the Wirtschaftswunder.

      May 1945 through Apr 1948 is probably overlooked by the Allies because their actions were, in truth, inhumane and best left out of the light of day. Why Germans tend to side step it is beyond my ability to explain.

  5. And I might add that the Germany of 1914 then proceeded to throw away all that hard work by encouraging their Austrian ally to drag Russia into a Balkan war, knowing (or at the very least suspecting) that such a course would drag in the French as well...and then persisting in an impractical war plan that insisted on violating Belgian neutrality even though that was likely to pull the British in against them, too.

    The people and leaders of Germany, like all leaders and peoples, have convenient blind spells where nasty realities conflict with their national ambitions and fantasies - look at the current German insistence on "austerity" in the midst of a European depression and consider how well that went the LAST time European leaders forced poverty on their own peoples in an attempt to preserve "fiscal discipline".

    1. The British joined the war because their government wanted to participate, it was part of theri "maintain balance of power" habit. The invasion of Belgium and the almost-forgotten treaty were only their excuses.
      Same with the U.S.; the sub war was only an excuse.

      Likewise, there's today no "German" insistence on austerity. Look at the leading economics-related newspaper and you'll see there's considerable dissent by informed people. Our government is composed of incompetent people who have no clue about governing or economics. They're good at party infights and mere administration only.

      Besides, austerity vs. expansionary policy is largely a question of long term vs. short term. Germany has increasingly moved towards long-term policies since the reunification.
      There's little hope that long-term defects will be repaired if even the problem pressure of a depression doesn't motivate a repair.

      Sad fact is that the countries with the most troubles have a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. Neither the long-term recipes nor the short-term recipes are a match for their huge problems. A short-term success through expansionary policies would only provoke a bigger bust in less than a decade. A long-term policy may stretch the depression to a lost decade.

      Last time a German leader forced poverty on his own people for fiscal discipline (or similar): Schröder 2003-2005, keyword "Agenda 2010"; horrible consequences for the lower class, bad times for middle class.

    2. Please read Krugman's writings on austerity, and the practice vs. preach aspects of German policy.

      As for the UK intervening in WWI, that was the first major mainland intervention by the UK since the 1840's or 1810's (depending on how the Crimean War should be counted). This was not something which they just did for kicks and grins. Please note that the UK had *not* intervened in the Franco-Prussian War.

      This is due to German policy. They decided to both wage a two-front war, and wage the Western Front against everybody in Western Europe, not just France. That escalation bred escalation.

      About the Marshall Plan - another feature was that it prioritized cross-border businesses; this obviously helped increase intra-European trade, at a time when, ah, 'tensions were high'.

  6. Chief-

    Don't believe that the Russians needed any dragging at all. Their "partial mobilization", actually that of the western military districts (including the Caucasus) was issued on 24 July 1914 if not earlier . . . that is Russian mobilization was decided upon before the French and Russians had officially received the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia . . . see McMeekin, "The Russian Origins of the First World War", page 59. It's all in the timing. If the Germans were trying to catch up with events during the end of July, it is very different than them anticipating events . . . and what of the actions of Britain?

  7. My understanding of the tangle that exploded in late summer of 1914, was;

    1. The Austrians had a hard-on for Serbia. Princip gave them a casus beli, even though their own sources told them that interrogation produced no evidence that Serbia was involved in the assassination of FF and Sophie.

    2. The Russians were involved early on backing Serbia's play, so, yes, they did mobilize early - that was the first sign that Austria was playing with fire.

    3. The Austrians, schlampi little bastards and all, weren't stupid enough to take on the Russians without Germany at their back. So if the Wilhelmstraße had told their pastry-loving neighbors to chill, they probably would have.

    4. The Russians weren't all THAT eager for war with Austria, and definitely not for war with both Germany AND Austria. Had the Austrians backed off their ultimatum to Serbia, mobilization or not, it's at least 50-50 that the whole thing blows over.

    5. So the fundamental error was Germany's, in assuming that letting their pals go through with their little Serbia-bashing scheme would fly without pulling all the alliances into a general war. But the likelihood of that happening once the ultimatum was issued was huge - as you point out, the Russians and Austrians were already mobilizing, and the French couldn't be far behind. There was no real need for the German Foreign Office to "catch up" - pretty much every military and diplomatic official in central Europe in 1914 understood the implications of provoking and/or allowing mobilization to proceed beyond the initial call-ups. Not being able to connect the "Austrian ultimatum-Russian mobilization" dots shouldn't have taken a geopolitical genius, especially since Berlin knew that Berchtold and von Hötzendorf were, basically, nuts for war with Serbia and would be willing to let everything explode if they were given the slightest hint of German support.

    I'll buy the idea that the British should have weighted in sooner, and if they had it might have helped. But the political reality was that without their German prop the Austro-Hungarians would probably have folded. It's hard not to see Germany as the Jack Fool that led here; Britain is just Tom Fool for following.

    And the Schlieffen Plan was, as we discussed when we talked about the Marne, a seductive fantasy. The lack of decent roads, the problem of rebuilding rail lines, the immense space and the limited time to cover succeed in what it was supposed to do the Plan would have had to run on greased skids, and as your man Clausewitz would have reminded them "Es ist im Kriege alles sehr einfach, aber das Einfachste ist schwierig."

    So I consider the determination of the Oberste Heeresleitung to push through Belgium though it might draw Britain into the war against them to be highly risky. We're talking about attitude here, remember? We've talked about how the Bushie's cocky "we MAKE reality" attitude dragged the U.S. into a ridiculously unprofitable cabinet war that any sane person should have known was a bad risk, even if the initial "win" was a walkover - Jim Fallows wrote an article back in 2002 called "The Fifty-First State" that pretty much laid out exactly what happened over the next ten years, so this stuff wasn't a blakc sawn, it wasn't an issue of "anticipating" some vast unknowable series of events. Once you broke the glass the rest was gonna follow pretty much as a natural consequence.

    Same-same with 1914. I'm not trying to cast the Imperial Government in Berlin as some kind of bloody-handed warmongers - that was Cheney and Perle and the rest of those idiots. But I WOULD call them out for having an overcocky and casual attitude about problems that were both foreseeable and avoidable.

    And that's not a good attitude for a statesman or a military leader...

  8. FDChief-

    The beginning of the First World War is one of those subjects that may never be resolved, or maybe not resolved so well yet. I would recommend McMeekin's book. Full of Russian surprises.

    For me it was always two questions. This as a German history undergrad in the late 1970s, dealing with the Fischer thesis and all that . . .

    First, given Germany's agressive intent, why not war in Summer 1905, with Russia on its knees? The Germans could have launched a war with a high probability of success were those actually their motives. These motives boil down essentially to the "September Program" which provided the smoking gun. . .

    The second question was even more difficult to answer. How was it that the Germans almost made it to Paris? The French had known about this German probability since the 1880s. Follow the newly constructed railheads (as they could have done prior to 1870) . . . and know where the German Army was going to strike. And that the main push would be towards France, towards Paris, this must have been assumed as well.

    But no, rather the French Army massed towards the Rhine? It only makes sense if you assume that the Germans are going to have their hands full elsewhere . . .

  9. SO-

    "The British joined the war because their government wanted to participate, it was part of theri "maintain balance of power" habit. "

    Disagree, although you would have many to agree with you. Rather, by entering the war Britain smashed the balance of power in Europe. France and Russia against Germany and Austria? That's actually the balance, but given Britain coming in, with its command of the seas and financial empire, not to mention the shear vacuum she leaves in her wake, which brings Italy in to the war against Austria as well. And then there's her influence on America . . .

  10. No, Russia wasn't able to live up to its reputation at that time. The officer corps and heavy industries sector were so small that it was simply incapable of waging a modern war in a way that did fit to its population size. It wasn't much more powerful than Austria-Hungary and had many of the same defects.
    Germany on the other hand was clearly superior to France even though it had wasted much on the navy.

  11. SO-

    It's the reputation which counted in 1914, and their ability to mobilize more quickly than before. You're not looking at it from the perspective of 1914, but some time after the war. The British in 1914 bought into the "Russian steamroller" perspective as did the French, and the allies expected a short war, or do you disagree?

    I think the tendency is to look at 1914 more in terms of 1919 or even 1945 . . . hench the assumption of German guilt. Also Austria-Hungary never would have stood up against Russia alone in 1914. Germany clearly superior to France? In some ways yes, but not in all.

  12. If we consider pre-war allied assumptions separately from how the war actually turned out, we are faced with many interesting questions. Let's take the case of France alone. In 1911, General Michel was forced to resign for his post on the Supreme War Council for having suggested a shift to a defensive strategy which would have put the deployment emphasis on the Franco-Belgian border and constructed fortifications in this area as well.

    In July 1914, French assumptions included that the German Army would not field reserve units in there first offensive, but would only deploy them later after retraining. From this they assumed that the Germans did not have sufficient combat power to advance beyond the Meuse. They also assumed that British entry into the war would preclude the need to send troops to the Italian border and that British forces would quickly become available for operations in France. Finally they assumed that the Russian Army would be putting great pressure on the Germans in the east, possibility threatening Berlin itself.

    In July 1914, the Allies were confident and had little inkling of the way the war would actually unfold . . .

  13. All-

    I would like to offer my regrets due to the nature of this post. It just kinda developed. I could blame the new software . . . but the truth is my view on this more or less developed over the space of several days.

    So, attitude as in is the main problem. What makes it so difficult to communicate with those we'd like to on various domestic political issues. Not so much their decisions, which we can't talk about anyway, as much as their reactions, how they physically/emotionally respond.

    We're talking about those we actually wish to possibly win over to our side. Have an open discussion with. So attitude . . .

    Pity that generally you can't really trust the language used much anymore to indicate much of anything . . .

  14. "In July 1914, the Allies were confident...

    I'd say that EVERYONE in Europe was "confident" in that last summer of Victorian Europe. Wrong, but confident; the Long Peace had pretty much all the Important People sure that everything would be short and glorious.

    Hmmm. Too bad about that.

    And I think there's a difference between being "guilty" and being "mistaken", and I think both you, seydlitz, and Sven are arguing about guilt and I'm talking about error. I don't think that Wilhelmine Germany was "guilty" of anything; all the damn "statesmen" in Europe were ready to fight in 1914; the Austrians to take a slap at the Serbs, the Russians to take a slap FOR the Serbs, the French for revanche, the British out of a mixture of treaty obligations and fear of a rising Germany. Germany's only real "guilt", IMO, was that the German emperor and his ministers didn't take the situation as seriously as they should have...

  15. FDChief-

    That's the usual view, but I must stress what I commented earlier . . .

    "It's all in the timing. If the Germans were trying to catch up with events during the end of July, it is very different than them anticipating events . . . "

    Following McMeekin's argument, I think the Germans were caught flat-footed by especially the Russians. The question of war guilt is also still very much with us, since it allows us to brush over that entire period. Wilson's "neutrality" is in need of a critical going over since we can see disturbing similarities with what happened then and what happened post 9/11. How we look at 1914-18 has been hopelessly compromised by 1939-45. Time to get out of the WWII mindset anyway . . .

    It's past time for a fresh appraisal and debate and McMeekin's focus on Russia and their goals in 1914 opens the door for that.

  16. @seydlitz:
    You should have added "believed to" in
    "Rather, by entering the war Britain smashed the balance of power in Europe."

    By the way, you came full circle back to my
    "The British joined the war because their government wanted to participate, it was part of theri "maintain balance of power" habit."

  17. S O-

    If that is what you believe, then you have misunderstood my argument.

    British entente policy was incoherent on several points. First, they insisted that French military planning not consider an invasion of Belgium, even if the Germans crossed the border first. This was not the only reason for the focus on an advance to the Rhine in Plan XVII but it was one of them.

    Second, had Russia achieved her 1914 war aims, that is reunification of Poland under Russian control, dismemberment of Austria-Hungary, a united South Slav state, Germany forced across the Vistula, not to mention their aims concerning Turkey, Russia would have dominated Europe . . . the achievement of these aims with active British support . . . so where is your "balance of power"?

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