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Ignorant Conservatives and August 1914
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I recently received an unexpected gift from American historian and political theorist Barry Alan Shain, The Declaration of Independence in Historical Context, a 600 page collection of documents from the era of the American Revolution, with accompanying commentaries and a long introductory essay, published by Yale University Press. It would be marvelous if Barry’s ambitious scholarship elicited the widespread discussion among journalists and media celebrities that it richly deserves. But I doubt this will happen. The author is not in sync with the authorized political camps, from Dinesh D’Souza to the followers of left-radical historian Howard Zinn, when he warns against such “misconceptions” as the belief that the US was founded as a “propositional nation.” Contrary to this belief: “The Declaration may more accurately be seen as the unintended and undesired culmination of a process of resistance in which the majority of the colonists believed they were defending customary and traditional British constitutional institutions and historical political rights against misguided ministerial and parliamentary innovations.”

Shain demonstrates exhaustively that up until the eve of the Revolution most members of the Continental Congress opposed “parliamentary innovations,” as staunch monarchists. Most of these dignitaries were not comfortable with the natural rights phrases that Thomas Jefferson inserted into the Declaration, a point that such scholars as George Carey and Forrest McDonald have also made. If one could go back in time and tell these delegates they were founding a global democracy based on human rights, and that they were putting the US on a course toward converting the entire planet to something called “liberal democracy,” they would have viewed the speaker as mad.

Although other scholars have offered similar arguments, their views, like those of Shain, cannot possibly prevail against the parameters of debate established by our political-journalistic elites. Certain discussions that would have unfolded in the past have become closed questions. This has happened for two reasons, both of which I try to explain in my book The Strange Death of Marxism.

First, in the cultural and social sphere, the US has moved dramatically toward the left, so much so that the left center in my youth would be well to the right of where “conservatives” have placed themselves. Note that onetime feminist Eleanor Roosevelt wanted to limit women’s access to the workplace, lest their presence there reduce the “single family wage” of their husbands and threaten the unity of the family.

Until the 1960s, women were seen by both of our political parties as primarily wives and mothers; homosexuality was generally viewed as a psychic disorder (by communist even more than capitalist nations); and civil rights for blacks meant the right to sit at an integrated lunch counter. Although those changes that have occurred since then may be viewed by the broad public as “only fair,” they have exacted an enormous price, and part of that price is an intolerance of the way people lived before the cataclysm of the 1960s and 1970s. Please note that an idea like gay marriage would have struck most people as silly and possibly offensive thirty years ago; today it is proclaimed by our media as a fundamental, universal right. The Wall Street Journal rails against Russian leader Vladimir Putin for not allowing self-proclaimed homosexuals to teach in public schools. Through most of my life I could easily imagine most Americans taking similar positions to those of the Russian president, without eliciting the anger of Democratic or Republican newspapers.

Second, the shift of our cultural-political spectrum leftward has brought a narrowing of historical debate, which seems to have resulted in having both sides take what used to be recognizably leftist positions. Certain discussions can barely take place any longer, without the participants being accused by the media, the educational establishment, and the official conservative opposition of racial or gender insensitivity. Is it really possible to take a negative view of Reconstruction, without being attacked as a racist? This fate has befallen even the pro-Union historian William A. Dunning. In his study of the Union army’s occupation of the post-Civil War South, Dunning criticizes the politics and rapacity of the Reconstruction government and of those who were behind it; this hapless historian, who came from an impeccable Abolitionist background, is therefore now condemned as a racist. The book on Reconstruction by Eric Foner, which treats the events in question as a morality play between evil Southern whites and a virtuous Union occupying army, has supplanted other treatments of a now politically settled subject. The fact that Foner, a longtime revolutionary socialist, presents Reconstruction as “America’s unfinished revolution” gives his work a link to contemporary social engineering projects.

But the most disfiguring ideological reconstruction of history has taken place on what is supposedly the conservative side. Here we see the current labeling of good and bad guys read back into the past in order to justify a belligerent foreign policy. Thus the struggles for hegemony between two ancient Greek slave societies, according to Victor Davis Hanson, reveal the outlines of modern confrontations between predictable heroes and equally predictable villains.


These evocations of Manichean struggles, which I notice particularly in Hanson’s newspaper columns, sometimes verge on the ludicrous. They have nothing to do with history as a serious discipline. The first rule for the study of history should be to understand the differences between past and present and then the differences between different things in the past. I am now reading and hearing outbursts of anger in the press about the revival of murderous anti-Semitism in Germany and France. This invective, however well-intentioned, leave the mistaken impression that the violently anti-Jewish demonstrators who are raging through European cities are the left over accessories from the Nazi regime. Only by looking at pictures could one guess that the troublemakers are Muslim immigrants who have been allowed to settle in Western European countries. Although a serious problem is occurring, let’s not pretend it’s more of the evil European past. We are dealing with an unprecedented problem that was caused by an unwise immigration policy.

A discussion that the “conservative” establishment in particular has tried to take off the table concerns responsibility for the Great War that started one hundred years ago. From reading Professor Hanson and Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard, I would have to assume both counterfactually and counterintuitively, that “autocratic” Germany was responsible for the entire bloodbath, that Winston Churchill played a gallant role in World War One as he did in the struggle against Hitler, in preserving European democracy against the German threat, and that Imperial Germany and possibly the Habsburg Empire were precursors of the Third Reich. These tediously recited opinions are the result of looking in the wrong places for a later disaster, in this case Nazi crimes. Although Imperial Germany was an unevenly developed constitutional monarchy and although the last German Kaiser was far from a model diplomat (who was in European politics in 1914?), Germany in 1914 was a government of law, with the best fed working class and lowest taxes in Europe and a very free press. Germany had no more to do with inciting the First World War, the scope of which none of the belligerents foresaw, than the Entente powers that the Germans fought.

All the major participants behaved with equivalent recklessness, a point that Christopher Clark demonstrates in his magisterial The Sleepwalkers. As someone who has been studying the Great War for forty years, I shall be happy to provide my critics with a mountain of counterevidence to what has become neoconservative holy writ for German sole responsibility for the Great War. This position was supposedly worked out indisputably in Fritz Fischer’s voluminous critical study of Wilhelmine Germany, Griff nach der Weltmacht (1961), a work that seems to have brought equal pleasure to the German anti-national Left, American refugee historians with whom I studied in graduate school, and the future neoconservative masters of the American conservative movement.

Unfortunately for his ill-informed American fans, every major contention in Fischer’s brief against Imperial Germany, which was written by a onetime Nazi zealot, who later made a name for himself as a German antifascist, anti-nationalist historian, has been effectively challenged multiple times. It is even questionable whether Fischer found the evidence for his brief in those East German archives to which he was given access, but which were closed to less radically leftist historians. Much of what Fischer claims to be documenting was glaringly misquoted or given a distorting context. Moreover, those nationalist attitudes Fischer’s books treat as peculiarly German were at least as much present in Germany’s enemies as they were in the German Second Empire. France and Russia has far more extensive military conscription than the Germans and Austrians and were obviously planning for war against the Central Powers in 1914.

Equally noteworthy, the German historian Gunter Spraul in Der Fischer Komplex devotes several hundred pages of minute analysis to investigating how Fischer twisted the statements of German leaders in 1914 and even earlier in order to prove what Fischer never satisfactorily proves: that the German government alone planned a general European war that it unleashed in 1914, for the sake of territorial conquest and economic hegemony. Even more devastating in this regard is the 1100 page work 14/18. Der Weg nachVersailles by Jörg Friedrich, a study that blows out of the water any explicit or implicit defense of the main lines of the Fischer-thesis. Of course the authors of neoconservative screeds against Imperial Germany may be totally oblivious to whatever contradicts the anti-German hang-ups of their patrons. I strongly doubt that these journalists do research in German sources or keep up with relevant secondary works. There is no need for them to do either in order to collect their checks.

There are copious available sources for all the following assertions, which I can easily provide for the curious or skeptical: Although Winston Churchill behaved heroically in facing up to Hitler, the British First Lord of the Admiralty was an anti-German loose wire in 1914 and throughout the decade before the war; it was the Germans and Austrians, never the Allies, who displayed a willingness to end the war with a compromise peace. Not incidentally, there was far more tolerance of antiwar opposition in Germany and Austria than in the “democracies,” particularly after Woodrow Wilson launched our first “crusade for democracy” after having suppressed all opposition to this undertaking.

It is also inaccurate to claim that the British were “driven” into an anti-German and anti-Austrian alliance system because of the naval expansion begun by the Germans in 1898. This build-up never came close to threatening English naval supremacy, and on the eve of the war, Germany had only moved from eleventh place up to fifth as a naval powe r. When Anglophile German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg (his name is inexcusably misspelled in the English Wikipedia and in its slavish German translation) proposed to scale down the naval build-up and offered other concessions to the British as a way of winning their friendship, he got nowhere in a hurry. As we learn from German dean of diplomatic historians Konrad Canis in Der Weg in den Abgrund 1891-1914 , the British government of Lord Edward Grey ignored the Chancellor’s overtures and proceeded to tighten the encirclement of Germany with the French and Russians. In the summer of 1914, if the war had not broken out, the British would have signed an agreement with the Russians centered on landing Russian armies, who were to be transported in British ships, on the North German coast. This was not in any way prompted by provocative German action. It was, as Canis painstakingly documents, a step toward the hostile encirclement of Germany that the Grey government had been working to achieve since 1905.


Moreover, a civilian government continued to operate in Germany throughout what we are sometimes misleadingly told was a “military dictatorship,” and it was the collapse of the will of the Kaiser and the military command that caused Germany to sue for peace. The parliamentary parties would in all probability have continued the struggle against the Allies. Ironically the military fobbed off the defeat on the civilian government, when it was the military that caved in. The starvation blockade that Churchill placed around Germany resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and led to the unrestricted U-Boat sinking carried out by the Germans in the Atlantic, which was intended to divert the blockading British fleet. This misstep handed Wilson’s never really neutral government the excuse to go to war, a step the Anglophile Republican Party had been calling for since 1914.

This blockade would have been illegal as well as outrageously immoral but the British government, knowing they would use this measure in a war they expected to wage against Germany, refused to sign the Hague Conventions, banning starvation blockades on humanitarian grounds. The Belgians were far from neutral in 1914. Indeed the Belgian king had participated in military conversations with the British and French, calling for an amphibious landing of British troops on the Belgian coast in case of war with Germany. Finally, as Niall Ferguson points out in The Pity of War, England would have been in a much better position in 1919, even if the Central Powers managed to squeeze out a victory, than she was after the devastation of World War One. Nor would the US have chosen badly if it had stayed out. It still would have been the world’s major power in 1919 and might have done even better if it had tried, contrary to what it actually did, to broker an honest peace between the two war-weary sides.

These are just a few of the judgments regarding the supposedly bad side in World War One, which would have been axiomatic truths in National Review, Human Events and among many respectable historians circa 1965. Naturally I have no hope of converting Professor Hanson whose idiosyncratic revulsion for the Germans may even exceed that of his neoconservative sponsors, who continue to loathe the Germans as perpetrators of the Holocaust. As a prime illustration of Hanson’s idée fixe, allow me to cite from a column on NATO that he posted on his home site at NR-Online on August 6: “The war-torn democracies were scared that Germany would quickly rebound to prompt yet another European war for the fourth time in less than a century.” Having shown this puzzling passage to various historians of my acquaintance, none of them could figure out what Hanson’s third German war was. We’ll concede arguendo two German wars, but what the hell is the third one. Perhaps Hanson means the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, but in that conflict it was France that stupidly declared war on Prussia (there was no unified Germany at the time). In the rest of his column Hanson rages against the dangers posed by Putin as a Russian nationalist, although even here it seems that Hanson is continuing his anti-German rant and simply transferring it to the new Kaiser Wilhelm in Moscow.

Well at least, Hanson has not descended to the degree of historical illiteracy about World War One that I’ve encountered in the Weekly Standard, most recently on August 4. There I learned that Wilson should have entered the war against the German autocrats much earlier, a point that we somehow learn, or so author Daniel Halper insists, from the events of the Second World War. I don’t quite grasp the connection, but since I’m neither a neocon nor a certified movement conservative any longer, this is not surprising. Apparently had we not entered the European struggle for democracy, after what Halper tells us was Wilson’s honest efforts to maintain neutrality, an aggressive Germany “would have dominated Europe and then threatened the United States.” Perhaps Wilson and Halper would have done well to notice the British starvation blockade, which drove the German government to desperate measures, and the fact that the Lusitania, which the Germans sank in 1915, was not a harmless pleasure vessel, as Halper suggests. The ship was loaded with contraband, including munitions to the British that would be used against German and Austrian soldiers. The Lusitania was also registered with the British navy as an auxiliary cruiser and was therefore a fair war target for the German submarines. Finally, and not insignificantly, the German government had advertised these facts in American newspapers and urged Americans not to expose themselves to danger by travelling on what was viewed as an armed war ship. Oh yes, I know this refutation is an exercise in futility. Neocons have at their beck and call major media resources and don’t have to respond to aging Old Right critics, whom they marginalized decades ago with the snap of their fingers.

Let me end my comments on Germanophobic obsessions, by recalling an exchange at a conference on international relations that was sponsored by the Alexander Hamilton Institute. At that conference I found myself on a panel with Hanson’s Doppelgänger, an army officer who seemed to have emerged from the pages of the Murdoch press but who had actually worked in intelligence. I agreed with my fellow-participant when he stressed the need for a “realistic” foreign policy,” although he may have meant by that term something different from my understanding of it. In my remarks I noted parenthetically that the origins of some conflicts are “extremely complex” and, because of the anniversary of that catastrophe, I mentioned the Great War as an example. The officer then shot back in my direction: “That’s not true. That was caused by a German military dictatorship.” At that point I thought to myself: “Right! And the Spanish American War was caused by a Latin Catholic autocrat who sank our ship in Havana harbor.”

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  1. ““The Declaration may more accurately be seen as the unintended and undesired culmination of a process of resistance in which the majority of the colonists believed they were defending customary and traditional British constitutional institutions and historical political rights against misguided ministerial and parliamentary innovations”

    Sure but that all changed with Thomas Paine and his radicalizing the American populace. I believe it was John Adams had said something along the lines of ‘without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been in vain.’

    It follows, when the article states .. “Most of these dignitaries were not comfortable with the natural rights phrases that Thomas Jefferson inserted into the Declaration” .. became moot as much of the populace had been converted to an ‘anti-federalist’ persuasion.

    Recalling Oscar Wilde’s maxim ‘truth is seldom pure and never simple’, when the article goes on to say…

    “If one could go back in time and tell these delegates they were founding a global democracy based on human rights, and that they were putting the US on a course toward converting the entire planet to something called “liberal democracy,” they would have viewed the speaker as mad”

    …yes, that would be true *BUT* if you changed the ‘liberal democracy’ to ‘secular republic’, and contrasted this to the founders thoughts the USA could become a leading light by setting example, suddenly the idea is not far-fetched. How interesting, in retrospect, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had been inspired in no small part by the USA’s so-called ‘Bill of Rights.’

    Now, how this articles introductory tidbit of American foundational history plays into altogether seeming irrelevant or disjointed, out of context history of a century later, is beyond this reader. But one thing you do not see in the current narrative, left or right, is how it came about a nazi meme has permeated the political and security structures of the USA and is the driving cultural force within those institutions:

    ^ And it is here you will discover the American impetus to perpetual & escalating war.

    And when it comes to historical revisionism relating to the American founding ideal and how that revisionism plays in current cycle of propaganda, both the left and right have their dedicated disinformation professionals, one of the worst on the left being Robert Parry:

    Insofar as the right and its contemporary perversions of American foundational history, no one does better exposing the current political drift than

    Nothing quite like keeping honest people on both left and right fighting, to preserve the status quo:

    And for those who prefer the satire:


    • Replies: @Sam J.
  2. Oldeguy says:

    Superb article Dr. Gottfried; thank you very much. The Great War’s legacy is still with us in so many ways and the deep wounds that inflicted on Western Civilization have yet to heal. Although I did not find Ms. MacMillan’s book “tedious” ( she is a far more engaging writer than Barbara Tuchman who was making the same points 50 years ago ) , I fully concur that the insistence on German responsibility for the War is very much out of date. The Kaiser was a neurotic buffoon not a proto-Hitler. I would also agree that Dr. Clark’s The Sleepwalkers is the best of the crop of the new popular studies: the state sponsored Terrorism of Serbia presented the Old Order with a challenge that it lacked the institutions to deal with effectively.

    • Replies: @pyrrhus
  3. “The Belgians were far from neutral in 1914. Indeed the Belgian king had participated in military conversations with the British and French, calling for an amphibious landing of British troops on the Belgian coast in case of war with Germany. ”

    The Belgians were entirely neutral in 1914. “…in case of war with Germany…” Er, I think you mean, in case of invasion by Germany. It is unlikely, as even Gottfried would have to admit, that Belgium was contemplating an invasion of Germany.

    Britain came into the war because of Germany’s cynical violation of Belgian neutrality, something which von Schlieffen had planned and which the Kaiser, a bombastic fool, approved.

    The Germans killed about 15,000 Belgian civilians in the process, displaced nearly half the population as refugees, raped God knows how many Belgian women, dragged about 100,000 men off to Germany as slave labourers (a precursor of their behaviour on a massively greater scale in WW2) and destroyed – deliberately, as an act of policy – some of the most beautiful and historic townscapes, university buildings, libraries and churches in western Europe.

    They did this in a gamble, which almost came off, hoping that the UK forces would not muster quickly enough to prevent it, and that France would be knocked out of the war quickly, and that they would then have unfettered access to the Entire channel coast, something which no British government could allow to a hostile power, any more than in 1940 or in 1805.

    Gottfried should pause before accusing anyone of “historical illiteracy.” The war aims of the German Empire in 1914 were basically the same as in 1940: knock out France quickly, take her industry in the north of the country, then defeat Russia and gain lebensraum. Gottfried’s apparent view that Germany had no aggressive territorial designs would have been amusing to those who drew up the Treaty of Brest Litovsk: perhaps less amusing for the defeated Russians who were forced to sign it.

    • Replies: @Neocon-hater
  4. KA says:

    So America turned out to be something in less than 2 decades what the revolution of 1760 did not intend it to be.
    Antisemitism could have disappeared from Europe if there were no Muslim immigrant .
    Germany according to some blinkered historian was responsible for two WWs . Wilson should have entered the war before he did according to these consistent and regular cheerleaders for wars .
    Left more than right seeks vindication ,for all kind of social engineerings , in the remote past and in the historical documents. But prophets seek always justification. New Testament sought in Old Testament . People seek validation for actions,ideas,changes,and revolution .
    So what ? Obviously Washington and his crew went to fight British not for full independence but to have the right to maintain slavery whose days were getting threatened in UK and to have the right to acquire more and more Indian lands west of Appalachian range .
    No taxation without representation! That was a slogan neither supported by existing situation in 18 century UK nor by later developments in US.
    They did not want any democracy and neither they wanted a monarchy . They settled for elitism . The fight against this elitistic system have broken out from the very begining and continues to do so and will continue . Bill of Rights or Shays revolt in the past or Ferguson fiasco or Occupy Wall Street or anti NSA activities are the continuation of the same trend .
    UK did not need to get involved in WW1. It did . It could have avoided WW2 . It did not . UK passed the empire to US and to Russia . Hanson or Kristol can think as conservative for they have got rid of the real pro American – conservatives . They can pout and shout since no journalist since Nuremberg have gone to trial for inciting war or been prosecuted. No moral hazard ! None for repeated lying or distortion either .
    Antisemitism has always been there where there been diaspora presence .That’s what Netanhyu’s father figured out after writing a book on Inquisition. People just don’t like closed society who has open one way access to the rest . People don’t like to be exploited ,violated,lied,and taken advantages of . At least not for long. Antisemitism charge in US and Canada are pretty routine without having overtly visible Muslim presence in market,street,politics,or colleges .

  5. Fnn says:

    “The Germans killed about 15,000 Belgian civilians in the process…”

    Maybe. But to place this in context, here’s Wikipedia on deaths in British concentration camps in the Second Boer War:

    27,927 Boer civilians died in concentration camps, plus an unknown number of black Africans (107,000 were interned).

    So it’s not clear that the Germans are innately more bloodthirsty than the Brits.

  6. @Fnn

    When in doubt change the subject. I would also be interested in seeing Gottfried’s evidence for his assertion that Lord Grey was conniving to land Russian troops in Germany using British vessels. Sounds like pure fantasy to me.

  7. Priss Factor [AKA "Andrea Ostrov Letania"] says:

    Actually, I see a trend recently that tries to make the Russian role in WWI even worse than that of Germany. I think this has to do with Putin’s Russia being the #1 hated nation of the globalist Jews.

    PS. I don’t think the rise of homo agenda is ‘leftist’. It’s really the triumph of neo-aristocratic capitalist-consumerism dominated by Wall Street, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley. Didn’t kings and noblemen patronize the artsy homos throughout the ages?

    It seems the current capitalist elites prefer gayday to mayday. It’s in their interest to turn ‘progressivism’ into something that serves the vanity of the elites than the needs of the masses. Makes masses bow down before artsy fartsy gay asses.

  8. MS says:

    ‘Lord Edward Grey’ should read Sir Edward Grey (he did later become Lord Grey of Fallodon, but not until 1916). Furthermore, there was no such thing as the Grey Government. Grey was the Foreign Secretary in the Asquith government.

    • Replies: @john cronin
  9. Jay says:

    Interesting article but hardly controversial. I have also been teaching and discussing The Great War for about 40 years, and have not been impressed by the assertions that the war was caused “primarily” by Imperial Germany. I am of the opinion that Great Britain has never owned up to its responsibility for the conflict: take for example its role in the Middle East before and during the war as well as the UK’s obsession with the projection of power globally, and now England’s role comes into focus. WWI is decidedly a complicated affair, but placing all blame on Germany is ignorant, indeed.

  10. @MS

    There was a remarkably similar piece here by Eric Margolis a few weeks back. I can only repeat my comment on that article:

    From the day Germany invaded Belgium, the UK had the choice of either entering the war, or seeing its diplomatic credibility in Europe destroyed for all time. Had the UK not entered the war, it would have been faced with the prospect of an aggressive expansionist power -and one which had been busy building a navy to rival its own – having control of the entire Channel coast.

    Bismarck was a wiser man than the Kaiser: which is why he sacked him. He won the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 without violating Belgian neutrality, thus avoiding provoking Britain, then pulled out of France fairly quickly to avoid upsetting the wider balance of power.

    He also said, wisely “I am no colonies man.” ie he recognised pragmatically that as a land power only recently united, Germany was too late to get into the game of Empires, as the maritime powers of Europe: UK, France, Holland, Spain – had already grabbed everywhere worth grabbing. The Kaiser’s desperation for a German “place in the sun” was basically a rather foolish exercise in “keeping up with the Jones’s” which would do nothing except provoke the other powers.

  11. Jay says:
    @Priss Factor

    From WWI to crude and ignorant characterizations of gay people. Why?

  12. KA says:

    Britain lost the war by 1917. Only the conspiracy hatched by the rich Jews , British government ,and the American Zionist saved Britain from total rout by bringing America.
    It was also the false faith in the British assurances that killed Arab independence movement and nipped in the bud emerging Indian independence movement . If these two nascent movements did not believe in any British promises, England would have been forced to leave the both in 1917-1918 . There would have been no Hitler no Pakistan,no Israel.
    One wonders why Wilson was allowed to break the election promises by American public . Why he did it? Why there was no revolt or impeachment ? Lusitania was a feeble false flag operation in a sense that it and any other ship with the kind of business it was engaged to would have been and would always be a target . Lusitania was the modern day equivalent of Bush2 plans of painting UN airplanes with US logo to elicit reaction from Saddam so Bush could offer justification of the attack.
    British behavior in S Africa or later in Kenya or Malay and its role in Indian famine only proved that the evaluation of atrocities are relative ,race based,and back then was also religion based.

  13. @KA

    As I said above, when in doubt, change the subject rather than engage with arguments.

  14. Howdy.

    The presence of German troops in Belgium (which would have acted as an invasion beach) couldn’t have been tolerated by an British government at the time.

    This is the historical invasion route of the Jutes, Angles, Saxons, Danes and even William Bastard’s Allies Baldwin. Furthermore William of Orange and King Louis I of England used Flanders ports to invade England.

    Should Britain have used influence to get the Austrians and Russians to back off from each other? Probably. At that point one needs to look at the Murky policy of the Emperor and the Czar and the precise aims they both had in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

    The Russo-Japanese war where the Japs sank the entire Russian fleet in 1905 is critical in understanding the cataclysm. The British realized that upstart navies could win a decisive knockout. The Germans also realized this and luckily for them the Russian navy in the Baltic was kaput.

    Personally I think that the UK should have told the Germans to evac Belgium once they had defeated France and hope that the Germans would evacuate the area in good conscience.

  15. @KA

    Not really. The British could have switched to a full war economy. The Uboats had crippled the consumer economy but that was a luxury in the circumstances. The Blockade had reduced Germany to rations and carefully parsed allocations of other materiel. The British military was by contrast well fed and increasingly better armed. When the Germans gambled on one last push they encountered British dugouts lavished with pork, beef, brandy, chocolate, sugar, coffee, boots, underpants, socks, wax jackets. All the creature comforts that enable a soldier to fight. That’s when the German army collapsed as they knew they were being lied to about English resources by their own high command. After Operation Michael the Germans refused to fight offensive operations.

  16. @Priss Factor

    Niall Ferguson who is a neocon lickspittle himself suggests that ww1 started when the Russians impending completion of the trans siberian railway threatened Japan’s hegemony over Korea. The Brits funded the Japs the Germans encouraged the Russians to confront the Japs. Once the Russian fleet was sunk in the Yellow Sea the balance of naval power tipped decisively toward Germany in the Baltic and to the UK in the North Sea. The decisive Russian defeat was not expected by any observers. It’s effect was like that of a nuclear bomb going off. Next year Admiral Jackie Fisher launches the Dreadnought.

  17. @john cronin

    This does sound incredibly far fetched. More likely the British were planning to push through Copenhagen-Malmo and land in support of Russian operations in Kurland or Estonia or something. Far fetch rubbish really.

  18. @KA

    Had the Germans fought defensively on their border with France they would have easily overwhelmed the Czar in 1914.

    Britain wouldn’t have lifted a finger to help France as it battered itself to death in Alsace-Loraine.

    The Germans did behave recklessly. Even the most ardent Germanophile should understand this. Doesn’t excuse British miscalculations of course but, crikey, the Germans could have easily obliterated the French military in defensive actions with virtually zero casualties given their technical superiority.

  19. @Fnn

    Wait a moment. Sure the British were ruthless. But the Germans had to have known the British couldn’t tolerate a German navy anchored in Antwerp and 200,000 men sitting around in barracks in Belgium. Look at a fucking map.

    The Napoleonic wars were fought by Britian in the main, to prevent a hostile military buildup in the Scheldt estuary and the Rhine estuary. The grand strategy of the Reich had to have known the consequences of threatening the treaties that followed in the wake of Napoleon’s defeat.

  20. A recent survey indicated that one out of six French view ISIS favorably. In the 18 – 24 demographic, more than one out of four.

  21. It might well be that the ideas of a Jefferson were facilely inserted into a conflict that had largely different aims. It’s occurred to me that given our real American history that is incredibly hypocritical in its betrayal of these principles, it was intentional fraud of public opinion using the expressed idealism in the Declaration and Bill of Rights as propaganda. The problem for such cynics then and since, is that the people actually brainwashed to believe these ideals, like Edward Snowden (and many others even at this site) are struck with horror when they discover the depth of the routine betrayals behind the facade of lies.

    So I applaud a questioning of any of this bowdlerized history that has been constructed not to further truth, but to enhance and excuse the power of the prevailing status quo. As that modifies, a la Orwell, so is the record adjusted to fit. But in the quest to discover the reality, dissident historians like Zinn (in other words, not cranks with a single bug to boo, like immigrant hatred) have proven useful foils against the self-justifications of the banal Churchills. After all, Churchill bragged he meant history to be kind to him, as he intended to write it. And so he self-servingly did. As an aside, Malcolm Muggeridge, no communist he, loathed Churchill while noting wryly that human history was largely an ugly “Who, whom.”

    I believe the overall factual arch of Prof. Gottlieb’s arguments are derailed by this particular bug to boo:

    “the mistaken impression that the violently anti-Jewish demonstrators who are raging through European cities are the left over accessories from the Nazi regime. Only by looking at pictures could one guess that the troublemakers are Muslim immigrants who have been allowed to settle in Western European countries. Although a serious problem is occurring, let’s not pretend it’s more of the evil European past. We are dealing with an unprecedented problem that was caused by an unwise immigration policy.”

    But there for all to see, are the Nazi-pedigreed Bandera idolizing thugs of Right Sector and Svoboda with their ideology of pure Ukrainian blood, purging ethnic Russians in a contest of blood and land, supported by white politicians of the West. No doubt, these neo-Nazis don’t like Muslim immigrants either. But just as in the thirties, oligarchs and western monopoly capitalists find an affinity with anyone who seems to advance their own economic position, regardless of morality.

    It’s a truism of history that empires inevitably become polyglot. It’s just not possible to rule over the world while keeping the world out. Perhaps if people in other lands and cultures really were inferior animals as some deceive themselves, it would be possible to rule from an impregnable citadel. But in the end, the failure is because we really are no different and in reality can’t enforce hegemony of dominance forever that is in defiance of reality.

  22. TomB says:

    I don’t have anything to add concerning the … “which Great Power” was responsible for WWI” issue, which seems to me impossible to answer (and thereby suggests there is no one answer.)

    But I would observe something that I have never seen much commented on in its fullness, and that is regardless of which Great Power you look at in the run-up to WWI, what’s shocking is how *all* of them can seem to have behaved in an (unconsciously) sheep-like or herd-like manner in a big way, waiting for at least another sheep if not two to appear to be leaning or bolting one way or another and then and only then moving.

    But then, after they start moving, each and every one sitting there absolutely convinced that they had made their decision independently and inarguably in the best interest of their country.

    Perhaps the Czar’s decision to mobilize is one of the few or only Great Power decisions that doesn’t fit here, with him not seeming to have done much consulting with the French or British before doing so. But still, one wonders the effect on his decision of beforehand one or the other of the latter had flatly said he could not count on them to divide attention from any Russian front.

    Of course everyone knows that in a herd or flock it only takes one individual, acting boldly, to change or determine the course of the herd or flock. But then it also suggests that with herds or flocks or groups it only takes on individual or country, acting boldly, to pull the plug on that, stop it, re-direct it or etc.

    All this then especially struck me as being interesting vis a vis what Tony Blair lent to Bush in going into Iraq.

    That is, just think if Blair had just simply said “No, it’s not in my country’s best interest,” which it clearly wasn’t.

    No England … perhaps no other Euros because of that … perhaps some actual thinking on the part of Mr. Bush…

    And perhaps what we are seeing with all these Powers talking about what to do with ISIS is relevant here too. Sure can seem like a milling herd, with no surety on the part of any what is really in their interest to do but instead watching carefully to just see which way the wind looks to be blowing.

    In any event seems to me there was a distinct and powerful group dynamic of some sort at work in the run-up to WWI. (And indeed to some lesser complex degree to WWII as well with Britain only giving its “guarantee” to Poland after, of course, the French had signed on.)

    And given the even greater prevalence of what might be called “alliance-bound” Powers now, that such group might well be the thing to watch for.

  23. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Good article.
    @ john cronin : To claim that Britain joined the Great War just to defend little Belgium is unrealistic. This is the same Britain that sold out Czechoslovakia twenty years later. This is the Britain that has invaded almost every existing country in the world in the course of the last couple of centuries.

    In 1914, Britain was the dominant global empire. It did not become what it was pursuing policies of altruism. Britain had interests and strategic goals, and it acted on those. Britain was no “democracy” in the modern sense, but a monarchy complete with an aristocracy and a financial oligarchy.

  24. In other words, if you don’t want the millions to come here, don’t roil their countries and displace them in their own lands, as is our foreign policy. Creating chaos elsewhere while enforcing homeland security stability at home only makes this seem a refuge to escape to, even as in reality our own liberties are ever more constrained and the chaos actually only held tenuously at bay by extreme undemocratic measures.

  25. SFG says:
    @Priss Factor

    “It seems the current capitalist elites prefer gayday to mayday. It’s in their interest to turn ‘progressivism’ into something that serves the vanity of the elites than the needs of the masses. Makes masses bow down before artsy fartsy gay asses.”

    I think you’ve got it. Less a matter of humiliation, though, than of co-opting the people who might otherwise fight for social change, and getting them to fight for transgender people (who are only going to want stuff like unisex bathrooms) rather than garden-variety working-class people (who will want higher wages for millions of people that will cut into corporate profits).

  26. SFG says:

    BTW, I rather enjoy Prof. Gottfried’s Germanophilia. Just because the Germans once started the bloodiest war in human history doesn’t mean they started every war they were in, or that they are always a malign force in every other case.

  27. Nice article. A blast of fresh air in what is normally stale and moldy . . . not to mention self-serving. How extensive and dominate the Neo-Con version of the 20th Century has become is amazing . . .

  28. “First, in the cultural and social sphere, the US has moved dramatically toward the left, so much so that the left center in my youth would be well to the right of where “conservatives” have placed themselves. ”

    With a ridiculous statement like that, it makes no sense to continue reading this tripe. Plus, just which “colonists” are referenced? The common people were despised by the over-worshiped founders, their opinions of no consequence whatever to them. The main goal of the local rulers was to form a country where they continued in power, with no interference from the English monarch, and the common people be damned, useful only as cannon fodder … and they had to conscript them for that purpose.

  29. Neutral says:

    You brought up the subject of bloodthirstiness and aggression, if you want to do a body count on who killed more, then the British empire easily wins. On the amount of land conquered via naked aggression, you not seriously going to dispute that one ? Britain fought a war that ultimately lost it an empire, its industrial strength and its world standing, but it kept its diplomatic credibility, clearly a fair trade.

    Also, look up the numbers that died in the Belgian Congo, its measured in the millions, strange actions coming from what is supposed to be such a poor little innocent nation that just wanted to be left alone.

    • Replies: @dfordoom
  30. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The build up to WW1 is remarkably similar to what is presently going on with the continuous vilification and provocations directed towards Putin and Russia. Why the vilifications in our current case? Most likely because Putin is advocating a monetary system that would sidestep the current domination of the American dollar. Who is behind this? Always follow the dollar.

    Mike Rivero of the whatreallyhappened.comwebsite constantly tries to drive into the consciousness of his his readers his axiom that “All wars are bankers’ wars.” They are now and they always have been. Unlike merely easily funded local skirmishes, large wars simply cannot be fought unless they are funded from outside the government. This is because there is never enough money to quickly fund these massive endeavors out of a government’s current accounts or even proposed taxes. The need for money to fund wars is so great that the only source for such relatively quick funding is international bankers (who then essentially make these funds up out of thin air before loaning them back to governments.) In other words: no banks, no (large) wars. Bankers are the main beneficiaries of wars and are therefore have also been their main advocates for hundred and hundred of years.

    Cui bono. One has only to see who benefits from wars to see who had initially pushed them. Bernard Baruch, previously merely a stock speculator, pushed for war after being mysteriously named in 1916 to be the very important head of war preparedness by Woodrow Wilson. Baruch was also doing double duty by also at the same time being instrumental in encouraging the setting up of the the copper cartel (among other cartels) headed by his close crony Solomon Guggenheim. The copper cartel was notable for its large scale plundering of the US taxpayer before, during, and even after the war ended when the government’s only option was to sell its excess copper back to the cartel.

    Baruch, along with his banker cohorts, was also secretly instrumental in pushing the punitive measures directed towards Germany of the Versailles Conference. This conference was a sham notable because elected officials like Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clemenceau were simply ignored by the bankers who controlled it then attempted to do their best to rob Germany of whatever remaining assets it had. The Versailles Conference was also notable because it saw German bankers joining with their internal banker colleagues to fleece their fellow Germans. The German bankers apparently weren’t about to let mere patriotism get between them making money.

    Whenever I hear people praising Winston Churchill, I remember the rumors that because he was such a terrible spendthrift * throughout his life and so desperate for money in the 1930s that he had allowed himself to become essentially a paid agent of the Rothschild interests.

    From Wikipedia: “The Focus: A secret pressure group called The Focus started giving slush money to Churchill in the 1930s. Churchill was the center of this group. The group was mostly dissident politicians, people who were out of office and wanted to get back in and willing to go to any lengths to do it, including overthrowing the government and putting Churchill in their place. They were funded by rich Jews in London, but the group was not entirely Jewish and also had Marxists. The group used its significant influence to put him (Churchill) in power as well.”

    At this point let me insert an interesting bit of war time trivia. Why was the rather lackluster Eisenhower appointed by FDR to head the war effort in Europe in World War Two. By doing so Eisenhower jumped over 200 far better qualified generals with actual combat experience and actual and often very impressive large scale organizational experience, neither of which Eisenhower had.

    Answer: Probably because he was recommended to FDR by the shadowy and immensely powerful Bernard Baruch. (Baruch and Eisenhower had supposedly become friends in the early 1930s after working together at some sort of military conference.) FDR was apparently just as much under the thumb of Baruch 9and the bankers) as Woodrow Wilson had been. Eisenhower was later to be directly complicit in the disappearance and apparent death of 1.3 million German prisoners of war held by America and its western underlings in the years after the war ended (1945-1948). (Wikipedia curiously acknowledges this disappearance but labeled them as missing in action even though there was no “action” because the war had already ended before they disappeared. John Sack writes about this genocide in this book “An Eye for An Eye.”)

    *Churchill, because of primogeniture had no real inherited funds of his own. Despite this, in the 1930s Churchill lived at his at his large country estate Chartwell with approximately twenty five servants and no real source of money to pay their salaries. Throughout his life Churchill was always on the verge of bankruptcy. As a result, he became more and more than willing to be on the receiving end of massive amount of funds from people want who wanted to influence him. In 1946 a group of businessmen rescued him yet again by giving him enough money to allow him to remain living at Chartwell. In the 1950s his large London hotel and drinks bills were apparently paid by movie mogul and arch Zionist Alexander Korda.

    • Replies: @john cronin
  31. michael says:

    Yale Press-Hmmmm? i See your Billy Krystal and Holocaust and Raise you a Lazar Kaganovich and Holodomor don’t pass up the opportunity to forget that Prussic acid(precursor to ZyklonB) was invented by a very loyal German Jewish citizen Fritz Haber- what for i should say? churchhill was 1/2 American

  32. @Anonymous

    Again, changing the subject does not make an argument. Britain abandoned Czechoslovakia because it had no realistic way of defending it. Also because after the losses of World war One, public opinion was still fairly isolationist and pacifist and Chamberlain was anxious as to whether public opinion would go to war over a 2faraway country of which we know little.”

    Also Czechoslovakia is not 40 miles from the Channel coast. As someone above said: “Look at a f***ing map.”

    Britain had to stand by Belgian neutrality, or see a hostile expansionist Germany occupying the entire English Channel. That was the point of guaranteeing Belgian neutrality. The atrocities committed by the Germans were not British propaganda. They would probably have behaved similarly if they ever got a foothold in the south of England.

  33. Sam J. says:
    @Ronald Thomas West

    I read the first link and have common sense question. If the Nazi’s, Catholic Church and Tea Party types are so powerful why don’t they run anything? Why is everything they value denigrated? It’s Christen Nazis that run the world? Christen Nazis are responsible for the war in Iraq? Please.

    Have any of you noticed that there’s all kinds of conspiracies lately about the Catholic Church running everything? Here’s my favorite. Karen Hudes a Jewish former official of the World Bank says that the Jesuits are in league with Homo Capensis (“coneheads”). These guys:

    and some recent ones found in Mexico:

    They apparently get all the profits from the FED and give part to the City of London and the rest to the Jesuits and the coneheads. The coneheads run the World.

    I don’t believe any of this. It’s just smoke and mirrors. Like the Chinese lady who said the world is turtles all the way down; It’s Jews all the way down.

    The coneheads are really interesting though. They don’t appear to be this way from binding; they’ve found mummified babies with coneheads. They are said to have much higher brain capacity and DNA test have shown them to have different mDNA than all other humans. Karen Hudes says they were the top human race during the ice age. As with most Hasbara propaganda they have to tell a little truth with the lies so this may be true or not. These coneheads have been found all over the Earth and for some reason such a great abnormality gets no serious study.

  34. @Sam J.

    There are lots of mad people in this world.

  35. Matra says:

    Cui bono. One has only to see who benefits from wars to see who had initially pushed them.

    Only to the intellectually lazy with a preference for simplicity over complexity.

    I wonder how much of Gottfried’s Germanophilia is just a reaction to the neocons’ Germanophobia.

    These days it seems like all US conservatives have a foreign country (Israel, Russia, Serbia, Germany) whose geopolitical interests and historical narratives (at least the nationalist ones) they’ve embraced as their own.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  36. @Matra

    The difference is that some people advocate for active support for a foreign country (Israel), like sending them billions of dollars and shiploads of weapons, all the while waging wars on their behalf. While the Germanophiles and Russophiles etc. merely propose not to interfere with them, or, in the case of Professor Gottfried vis-à-vis Germany, retrospectively regret that the US interfered with them.

    I think this is a marked difference.

    Regarding the article, yes, Professor Gottfried is totally correct in that we might be heading towards a world war. People think it cannot happen, but it is only impossible as long as people believe it to be possible. Once strategists start to think it cannot happen, they will blunder their way into situations where they push a nuclear armed opponent into a corner from which it will find no way out. And THEN nuclear war becomes a possibility.

    • Replies: @Matra
  37. pyrrhus says:

    I would add that the Wilson administration knew that the British food blockade was starving millions, but didn’t even protest;knew that the Lusitania was regularly carrying contraband arms making it a legitimate target, but did nothing; knew that the British had cut all 6 transatlantic cables to isolate Germany, but said nothing; knew that British propaganda about poor little Belgium (which had genocided 10 million Congolese before the war) was largely false, but did nothing.

    • Replies: @john cronin
    , @Jordan
    , @Oldeguy
  38. Hepp says:

    Germany found itself at war with Russia and so decided to march through Belgium and then knock out France. It’s one thing to make a war more likely; it’s another to actually take the step against nations that haven’t even given you a cause. To me, that fact alone makes Germany primarily responsible.

  39. @pyrrhus

    British propaganda about Belgium was entirely accurate.

    The German blockade came close to starving Britain.

    The Germans killed thousands of British civilians in (militarily pointless) Zeppelin raids and naval bombardments of the East Coast.

  40. KA says:

    The question the conservatives should be asking is why the Brtish government did not agree to German offer of armistice and instead kept on trying to get US involved and should be asking how Britain got America involved . Brandeis,Balfour,Lloyd ,Weizman and US financial houses were involved in many ways to dupe American . They used the media to start antiGerman propaganda and used the connections to treasury ,justice,and state departments to mount the pressure,change necessarry laws,and make new legislation though Brandeis
    In the summer of 1917 the main purpose the Zionist was trying to get US into the war could have become an irrevecocably lost and could have been gutted if the plan by the non Zionist Henry Morgenthau went through as intended . Wilson was veering to the Zionism’s stance on Palestine but not quite so yet . Wilson government was trying secretly to get Turkey out of the war and ex Turkey ambassador Morgenthau was negotiating . He was about to leave for Turkey . But Brandeis by placing his student Harvard Law Prof and ardent Zionist Felox Frankfurter on the diplomatic team was able to destroy Wilson’s plan. ( The Brandeis / Frankfurter C.O.N.N.E.C.T.I..O.N . The Secret Political Activities by Two Supreme Court Justices by Bruce A . Murphy page 58)

    • Replies: @KA
  41. Jordan says:

    The Congo Free State’s population decreased by about 10 million between 1885 and when Belgium took over (1908). Belgium annexed the Congo after Leopold’s misrule (or genocide) became known. That “10 million” had nothing to do with Belgium and cannot be laid at Belgium’s feet. Leopold was not king in 1914.

    Now do you want to talk about German atrocities in South-West Africa?

  42. KA says:

    ” Knowing of Louis Brandeis ‘s enormous influence with the Wilson Administration Weizmann decided to involve this acknowledged leader of the American Zionist in his effort. This was not the first effort to co- opt Brandeis. Earlier some Zionists had even hoped that the justice might be able to convince President Wilson to bring the US into war to further the prospects of securing a Jewish homeland in Palestine”
    The Brandeis/ Frankfurter C.O.N.N.E.C.T.I.O.N- page 56.

    Brandeis and the Zionists knew that the withdrawal of Turkey in 1917 from the war would have compromised the plan to wrest Palestine from Ottoman -Page 58 Ibid
    It would have been fatal to the transatlantic and intra European conspiracies by the Zionist .

  43. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Look at a MAP! Belgium is an invasion port if held by a continental Hegemon.

    • Replies: @john cronin
  44. @Anonymous

    Precisely. Don’t want to repeat myself again, but if Germany had not violated Belgian neutrality, it is possible, nay probable, that Britain would not have declared war. The majority of the cabinet would have been against, and it is hard to see how they could have sold it to public opinion.

    After all, Britain did not declare war on Prussia in 1870, because Bismarck was sensible enough not to invade France through Belgium: and was also sensible enough to pull out fairly quickly, having taken Alsace-Lorraine, levied a massive war levy on the unfortunate Frogs, and left em to have their civil war in the Commune, which probably killed more Frenchmen than the war itself.

    Germany would probably have beaten France fairly easily without invading Belgium a la 1870, but in 1870, they did not have the problem of a war on two fronts. So they had to go for broke, attempt to knock out France in weeks a la 1940, and gambled on defeating the French forces before the British forces could mobilise. it was a gamble which nearly came off, but once they realised it hadn’t, they really should have accepted an armistice by the end of 1914 and saved everyone a lot of trouble.

    Incidentally, when is Gottfried gonna show us his sources for his assertion about the Brits planning to land Russian forces on the coast of Germany? This is just making stuff up.

  45. @Sam J.

    Well Sam, I think you watched the Dan Akroyd movie and it lodged in your frontal cortex (do your coneheads have those?) But I actually do have a conspiracy theory:

    ^ This is probably why people such as yourself ignore history (such has had been provided in the link you state you read), because in some sense that is undetectable to yourself, you’re like the personality Jesus (supposedly) spoke of, saying ‘forgive them, for they know not what they do.’

    Sorry I can’t come up with better explanations, but I do ok with satire:


  46. There has rumor circulating for almost a hundred years that Woodrow Wilson was being actively blackmailed by pro Zionists because of an affair he had had with a fellow professor’s wife while at Princeton. The story is that afterwards this wife, in need of money, sold the incriminating love letters he had written to her.

    Benjamin Freedman describes what happened here. Freedman wasn’t just anybody. He had been had been Samuel Untermeyer’s assistant and had at one time been very close to Bernard Baruch.

    More about Freedman here

    Here is Freedman’s amazing 1961 speech:

    • Replies: @KA
  47. Matra says:
    @reiner Tor

    The difference is that some people advocate for active support for a foreign country (Israel), like sending them billions of dollars and shiploads of weapons, all the while waging wars on their behalf. While the Germanophiles and Russophiles etc. merely propose not to interfere with them

    I don’t see how that is relevant. The people reading here aren’t influencing policymakers. I’d say most of us are genuinely curious about historical events and present-day realities. Biased writers can still be valuable ( I’ve been reading Gottfried for over 20 years) as long as we keep in mind that their agenda will often lead them away from the truth.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  48. German_reader says:

    @John Cronin

    “Incidentally, when is Gottfried gonna show us his sources for his assertion about the Brits planning to land Russian forces on the coast of Germany? This is just making stuff up.”

    Apparently from Konrad Canis, Der Weg in den Abgrund: Deutsche Außenpolitik 1902-1914, p.621-623:

    If you can’t read German, no idea where to look for this, sorry.

    • Replies: @john cronin
  49. @German_reader

    Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsche, danke.

    This does not actually make any point at all. Fifth time: German war aims in 1914 were basically the same as in 1940: knock out France, take their industry in the north, then invade the East and gain lebensraum. The Germans won on the Eastern Front in 1917,primarily because of Russian war weariness and sending Lenin to Petrograd on the sealed train in order to foment internal troubles

    (gotta hand it to German military intelligence)

    The treaty of Brest-Litovsk basically gave the Baltic states to younger sons of the Prussian nobility to play with: direct annex to Germany – and took the Ukraine from Russia to provide a breadbasket and colonisation area for Grossdeutschland. The Germans won (temporarily) in the East in 1917. And gave the world some idea of their objectives. Do not feel too sorry for them over the Treaty of Versailles. If the boot were on the other foot…..

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  50. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Lots of disinfo and mainstream media kool-aid slurping especially from ‘john cronin’, an anglo-establishment fable weaver and lackey if ever there was one.

    England’s traditional enemy was France, which had never managed to invade across the Channel in centuries of intense conflict, so this was not a serious military consideration; whoever controlled the entire Channel coast, the island was militarily near impregnable. The ports of France and the Low Countries did all come under enemy i.e. Germand control in ww2, and even then invasion was wildly impractical, a non-starter. Belgian neutrality was the pretext and only the pretext, used for the involvement, for PR purposes and chosen, yes chosen as the justification long in advance, formally in 1909, years before the actual ‘breach’. Russell Grenfell’s Unconditional Hatred, published in the 1950s, makes it crystal clear that Britain would send forces to the continent to support France against Germany, come what may and Belgium, in reality had nothing whatsoever to do with it. Britain had become committed to and had been preparing for war with Ottoman Turkey and thus inevitably with Germany, since 1906.

    The ‘guarantee’ to Belguim dated from the 1830s and it was only that Belgium’s territorial integrity would ideally be restored after any continental war, it did not envisage or require any action in the event of such a breach, as was claimed in 1914. Britain then proceeded to breach Belgian ‘neutrality’ itself.

  51. @Anonymous

    Er, explain to me how Britain had been preparing for war against Turkey? For a century, Britain had been propping up Turkey, not because of any great love for the Turks, but to prevent the Russians from taking over the Turkish Empire, and thus upsetting the European balance of power. You might have heard of the Crimean War?

    • Replies: @john cronin
  52. Oldeguy says:

    I’ve never quite “bought” the picture of Wilson as a hopelessly idealistic Utopian tricked by those Evil Europeans. The resignation of William Jennings Bryan over the Lusitania note and other un-neutral actions by Wilson ( e.g. the enormously important decision to allow Wall Street to extend unlimited credit to Great Britain ) tell a different story. Until 1917 Great Britain’s interests were better served by a technically neutral U.S.A. industry running full blast to supply the Allied war effort and delivered safely by U.S. flag ships that Germany had agreed not to attack. It was only when the Russian Steam Roller had obviously permanently stalled, hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers simply walking away from the trenches and the remainder on the verge of mutiny, did it seem that British interest’s would be better served by direct U.S. intervention. Wilson’s brutal crushing of anti-war dissent is one of the most disgraceful pages in our history.

  53. @john cronin

    “Lots of disinfo and mainstream media kool-aid slurping especially from ‘john cronin’, an anglo-establishment fable weaver and lackey if ever there was one.”

    Name some “disinfo” in any of my posts. Name a single “fable”. As I said earlier, changing the subject does not constitute a counter argument. Neither does posting irrelevant abuse. Try to stick to the subject and make some counter arguments.

  54. @john cronin

    The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk created an independent (at least nominally so) Ukraine, Belarus, Baltic states, and Poland. Obviously they were influenced by Germany and had German military presence (which they needed in any event against a Russia ruled by a crazy Bolshevik government). Now are you arguing that these states having economic agreements with Germany and nominally independent governments dependent on Germany economically, militarily and politically are the same thing as the Lebensraum as imagined by Hitler? How would it be different if you changed the word “Germany” to “EU and US” or something like that? Just wondering.

    • Replies: @john cronin
  55. @Matra

    Yes, we have no power, but I think it’s highly relevant whether someone is advocating for active military, political and economic aid to someone or simply non-interference, and for obvious reasons.

  56. Why did Professor Gottfried’s column disappear from his archive? Apparently nothing can be found there after September 2013…

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  57. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Not to defend Belgium, but to keep a hostile military force from docking or barracking there. Simple.

  58. Ron Unz says:
    @reiner Tor

    The design of the system somewhat distinguishes between his regular columns and blog posts and his major articles, with the link you used being to the former. If you just click on his name anywhere, you’ll get all his collected writings, including the most recent ones:

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  59. Matra says:

    it’s highly relevant whether someone is advocating for active military, political and economic aid to someone or simply non-interference, and for obvious reasons.

    Maybe the Sovietised people of Hungary think that way but there are plenty of us in the English-speaking world who care first and foremost about the truth. Once the the truthful facts are established then we can come up with opinions on whether or not to advocate intervention but not before then. My original complaint was that there are an increasing number of American conservatives who’ve made up their minds on issues not because of the facts but because of a predisposed bias in favour of another country. They’ve given up on their own country and out of bitterness and/or misplaced loyalty have adopted the nationalist narratives of other countries with barely a passing concern for the facts.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  60. KA says:

    Didn’t same happen to Bill Clinton ? He was told by Israeli PM ” We have destroyed the tapes”[sex tapes] around the time negotiations was going on between Israel and Palestine in US .

  61. @Anonymous

    It’s not about keeping the Belgians sacrosanct. It’s about keeping a Hegemon out of Antwerp and the Scheldt.

  62. @Ron Unz

    That’s what I got from clicking on his name on the right tab, the same place from which I manage to reach for example Peter Frost’s or Steve Sailer’s columns (although most of the time I start browsing Steve’s posts by having his page as a favorite in my browser, sometimes I leave his page and then decide to go back, then that’s what I use). And other than that, I’m not aware of any way to get to his blog posts. It doesn’t seem very convenient that first I have to click on his name on the right tab and then click on his name under one of his major articles.

    Although now I know that I can get within three clicks here, I can reach other recent articles from other authors within two clicks. I guess there could be a number of better solutions, for example featuring two Paul Gottfried links on the right tab, or something like that.

    Unless, of course, the goal is to suppress Professor Gottfried’s articles, but then why not just not feature him at all? 🙂

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  63. @Matra

    I don’t think I have to debate whether or not my thinking is Sovietized in any way, since this is up to the readers of my comments to decide on that, but let me remark that from where I stand it appears that currently free debate is more permissible in mainstream Hungarian outlets (not much more permissible, but at least a little bit so) than in any mainstream English language outlet. (This site, of course, is freer than either mainstream Hungarian or English language outlets.)

    Yes, in the context of finding the truth, any bias is worse than no bias, but let me point out that being patriotic is also a sort of bias, and especially when applied retrospectively (e.g. “we attacked Germany, therefore it must have been The Good Thing to do”), it can also hamper understanding. Maybe free debate would sort out different biases of different people, wouldn’t it?

    And then again, I think conflating these two types of biases (the one advocating for non-interference and the other one advocating for active and very far-reaching support) obscures some important aspects of reality, which is why I reflected on that. You have, of course, every right to feel otherwise.

  64. @reiner Tor

    Sixth time. Changing the subject does not constitute a counter argument.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  65. @john cronin

    I didn’t change the subject. You stated that German war aims were “basically the same as in 1940”. I stated the obvious: just try looking at the map of Eastern Europe a hundred years later, and you will find very similar borders to those drawn at Brest-Litovsk, except for the Polish-German border and Kaliningrad. (As opposed to German war aims in 1940, which couldn’t have been more different from present borders, basically creating a huge Mega-Greater-Germany up to the Ural or even further East.) Now, the present Western consensus view seems to be that these borders are by and large quite reasonable and do not in any way represent any kind of Western expansionism. I also stated the obvious that Hitler’s aims in 1940 were far more sweeping (for example including Russia up to the Ural) and that Hitler wanted to enslave those countries, not give them nominal independence. (Nominal independence tends to become real independence over time. Even nominal federalism has this tendency. Just look at the histories of Yugoslavia and the USSR.)

    So the German war aims in 1914 were far more modest, and would have put Germany into a far more complicated situation, where it would have needed to govern these areas roughly in accordance with the wishes of its subject peoples, which again would have made fighting further wars of conquest far less possible.

    • Replies: @john cronin
  66. Ron Unz says:
    @reiner Tor

    The system does separate Paul Gottfried’s older, regular columns and blog posts from his major articles, but the compendium of all his works is actually quite easy to access. Just click on his name-link, available on each of his individual articles as well as all his article links on both the Home, Category, and Column Archive pages. Also, you can click the Author Archive link in the blue bar near the top of a Column Archive.

    So the Author Archive for anyone, including Gottfried, is actually available within a single click from lots of different places.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  67. @reiner Tor

    Nominal independence for Ukraine and the Baltic states would have been nominal indeed. They had already nominated the minor German princelings to govern Lithuania Latvia and Estonia.

    “They would have needed to govern these areas roughly in accordance with the wishes of its subject peoples, which again would have made fighting further wars of conquest far less possible.”

    Hmmm. Tell that to the Belgians. The Germans, would, I think, have treated any uppityness on behalf of the population of the Baltic States or Ukraine by large scale massacre and expulsion. They took those areas by force of conquest, and would have held on to them if 1918 had turned out differently.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  68. @john cronin

    You are conflating wartime behavior with peacetime behavior. You also cannot be serious when pretending that German atrocities in the Great War – however horrendous – might be comparable to Hitler’s goals. Just to give you one small example, all but the first few years of primary education in Poland were abolished by Germany, with the intention of never reviving it. The same thing happened in Ukraine, although many collaborationist Ukrainian professors would have been happy to teach a German-friendly curriculum there. Instead, they were forced to an anti-German stance.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  69. @Ron Unz

    OK, perhaps your site was designed to be accessed from the main page, and not from the isteve blog… 🙂

  70. @reiner Tor

    Just to give you one small example, all but the first few years of primary education in Poland were abolished by Germany, with the intention of never reviving it. The same thing happened in Ukraine, although many collaborationist Ukrainian professors would have been happy to teach a German-friendly curriculum there. Instead, they were forced to an anti-German stance.

    Just to clarify, this was referring to WW2, i.e. Hitler’s Germany.

  71. I wonder if Professor Gottfried might be generous enough with his time and knowledge to elaborate on the comparative democracy between the Entente and the Central Powers. So Germany had a relatively freer press (at least during the war?), lower taxes, and a functioning civilian government. I have read somewhere (I cannot recall where) that the right to vote was shared by a larger percentage of the German population compared to the British. Weren’t there some property restrictions even on the right to vote for House of Commons members in Britain?

    I have serious doubts about how wonderful “democracy” is, especially in our current predicament with a large, multicultural country. The reason I bring up this point is that I am a former conservative movement intern that used to encounter other hacks that would espouse the “democratic peace theory” rubbish. Basically, that democracies don’t vote to go to war with each other, etc. It seems that the neoconservative professors inculcate this view to justify current American foreign policy in its goals of “exporting democracy,” preemptive war, etc.

  72. dfordoom says: • Website

    if you want to do a body count on who killed more, then the British empire easily wins.

    Would you like to back up that claim with some figures?

  73. @john cronin

    Quod erat demonstrandum.

    Been reading too much propaganda by Neocon scum? Lies and more lies.

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