Read e-book online The Russian Origins of the First World War PDF

By Sean McMeekin

ISBN-10: 0674072332

ISBN-13: 9780674072336

The disaster of the 1st international battle, and the destruction, revolution, and enduring hostilities it wrought, make the problem of its origins a perennial puzzle. because global struggle II, Germany has been considered because the basic wrongdoer. Now, in a massive reinterpretation of the clash, Sean McMeekin rejects the normal notions of the war’s starting as both a Germano-Austrian preemptive strike or a “tragedy of miscalculation.” in its place, he proposes that the major to the outbreak of violence lies in St. Petersburg.

It used to be Russian statesmen who unleashed the battle via wide awake coverage judgements in keeping with imperial targets within the close to East. not like their civilian opposite numbers in Berlin, who may have most well liked to localize the Austro-Serbian clash, Russian leaders wanted a extra normal warfare as long as British participation used to be guaranteed. The battle of 1914 was once introduced at a propitious second for harnessing the may well of england and France to neutralize the German possibility to Russia’s target: partitioning the Ottoman Empire to make sure keep an eye on of the Straits among the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

Nearly a century has handed because the weapons fell silent at the western entrance. yet within the lands of the previous Ottoman Empire, international struggle I smolders nonetheless. Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Jews, and different nearby antagonists proceed battling during the last scraps of the Ottoman inheritance. As we search to make feel of those conflicts, McMeekin’s strong exposé of Russia’s goals within the First global warfare will light up our realizing of the 20th century.

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The saga of the British dreadnoughts contracted to Turkey—even while a British Naval Mission was modernizing the Ottoman navy and British firms were upgrading the naval port facilities of Constantinople— illustrates, as nothing else could, just how precarious were the strands of the strategic “alliance” between London and Petersburg. It was almost as if, during the Cold War, a close American ally (say, Britain) had decided to sell nuclear weapons to the Soviet ­Union, and to send a team of advisers to show Soviet engineers how best to deploy and target them.

The first is that, at the last planning conference of Imperial Russia’s leading civilian and military of­fi­cials before the July crisis, there was no mention of Serbia and only passing reference to the mobilization timetable against Germany and Austria-­Hungary. The strategic issue of the day was clear and unambiguous: Constantinople and the Straits. The second point is that, despite all the hue and cry about Russia’s Army Great Program of October 1913, and the (soon to be announced) Naval Program of March 1914—neither of which would be completed before 1917 at the earliest—Russia’s leaders were under no illusion that they would be able to wait that long before going to war.

Krivoshein was a notorious Germanophobe: the French loved him. 53 In view of Russia’s increasing export-­economy vulnerability and burgeoning Germanophobia in the Council of Ministers, it is not hard to see why rumors about the imminent appointment of Liman von Sanders (and forty-­odd other German of­fi­cers) to command the Ottoman Straits defenses in November 1913 struck Petersburg like a thunderclap. Already on high alert lest the ungrateful Bulgarians usurp Turkish authority in Constantinople, Russia was now faced with the frightening prospect that her most powerful enemy would soon possess a chokehold at the Straits over her export economy, on which depended ev­ery­thing else.

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The Russian Origins of the First World War by Sean McMeekin

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