Do you know why WWI became a global war, and not just a European war? (I think I do, now.)

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Jun 14 in News & Informations ⌨ by Virginia (7,565 points)

It's in this YouTube video, which Other Tink found...it's because Britain's greatness rested on her empire, but at the same time Britain's empire was where it was most vulnerable! So there were battles in many parts of Africa, and (in the episode after this one) you learn how the Germans and Turks tried VERY hard to foment rebellion in India, so envious they were of this "jewel in Britain's crown"...!

So, The Christian Science Monitor article I found (May 26, 2014) calls WWI "a cynical clash of empires," rather than all the noble motives soldiers believed they were sacrificing so much for. 

Oh, also in this series...capitalism...Kaiser Wilhelm did NOT like capitalism, and wanted to use the war to prevent its spread. However, although I don't really understand how, it seems that WWI actually spread the influence of capitalistic economic systems...oh wait! Maybe that is because the USA emerged from the rubble of WWI as a great power, and we are so totally capitalistic? I have read that around 1922 or so, the center of finance moved from London to New York, and Britain was never so influential again...


3 Answers

TheOtherTink Jun 14

Yes, it was a clash of empires, even involving East Asia.  The Japanese were given the German Pacific island colonies north of the equator in return for making war on Germany there and in China, which in no small measure encouraged Japanese expansionism in that part of the world.

And I am not surprised that Kaiser Wilhelm was not crazy about capitalism.  One of the few things that Marx got right was that capitalism spelled the end of feudalism.  And as Virginia has correctly pointed out, that led to democratization.

And btw, some of the most advanced social programs (healthcare, pensions) in the world at the time were advanced in Prussia by Bismarck. (There's that clever fellow again. ;) )

Tink!!! That video series WWI that you found is showing some of those dynamics with Japan...a place in China called maybe Sintao? Germany had a remarkable cluster of battleships there, and somehow Japan got pulled in...anyway, all that set the stage for Pearl Harbor, as Japan indulged its own imperialistic yearnings...(obviously I am NOT absorbing all of this accurately...will prolly go through the series again...)

* * *

And btw, that German fleet...talk about courageous...those battleships left Sintao and went out into the world, inflicted huge damage on the Allies...they had authorization from the Kaiser to make their own decisions, and it looks to me they just fought until they were spent, basically sacrificing themselves...the captains were very brave, very noble with captured prisoners/passengers...bravery/nobility is where you find it. One of the captains who was killed, he had two sons on other ships, both of those ships lost and sons killed...all I could think of was Mom and loved ones back at home.

Yes, Virginia, Admiral Spee and his two sons went down with their ships in the Battle of the Falklands.

Ironically, the Graf Spee, the pocket battleship named after him was damaged and scuttled in a WW2 engagement not too far away.

(Trigger warning...) Tink, are you an historian in your non-virtual life? Your knowledge AND your ability to pull the knowledge together into evaluations is quite remarkable...Rooster can do that with WWII, you seem to do it over a wide range of world events. (Actually, maybe Rooster can do it with WWI too, and is just very busy with real life!)

The "warning" of course is that I notice you don't post much personal information online, and not wanting you to feel nudged into doing so...8-)...you prolly kinda irritate folks on other sites with them famous limericks :D maybe purposely extra cautious via Internet...

* * *

But yes! It was Admiral Graf von Spee...I had heard of the WWII battleship, and now know the history behind the name.

No, I'm not a historian, Virginia, but I have studied German history fairly extensively.  My grandmother (from whom I learned German) lived through the 20s and much of the 30s in Germany, brought up by her mother and aunt, both of whom were WW1 war widows. They left Germany in the mid-30s, by which time the criminal nature of the regime was beyond any doubt.

A valuable heritage, O'Tink, for which your family paid dearly...and you are certainly making fullness of use thereof.

Rooster Jun 15

Yes but was it actually the first Global war? There is so much that led up to it and during it that you can watch all the videos and read a dozen books about it and they all tell a different story. This brief story doesn't get into the politics of it but tells it like it was.

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28057198

Virginia Rooster Jun 15

Rooster, that article is fascinating...has several pieces of the puzzle I am attempting to ponder, i.e., how did we (the USA) get in this mess economically/philosophically, and how can we get out...

Namely WWI was NOT the first global conflict, but after 1945 it was recognized as more the first one so industrialized. '...the first of a particular type of international conflict - the world's first industrialised "total" war - which had been followed by a second industrialised world war of this kind - 1939-1945.'

Also, the changing global attitudes that (apparently) began to take hold after WWI ... "The Japanese called for a clause on the equality of all races to be inserted into the League of Nations covenant after the war - they were unsuccessful,...The war's legacy was new global ideas about the right of peoples to self-determination and the need for a global system of international co-operation, which was embodied in the League of Nations."

Rooster Rooster Jun 16

@Virginia: I'm sorry but I don't really study the politics but mainly the mechanics and weapons and tactics used during these wars. The blunders and mistakes and lost opportunities are mind boggling.

Virginia Rooster Jun 16

Rooster, at some point I am going to see if there is a YouTube biography for von Clausewitz...you and Tink have shown me what kind of understanding is possible for wars, and i am thinking von C took that to a high art...maybe more than anyone else, or a few others like Frederick the Great, maybe Bismarck?

Do we have any USA generals who were in their category, do you think?

Rooster Rooster Jun 17

@Virginia: Only a couple I can think of but they were no where close to the Germans you mentioned. This is just off the top of my head at the moment

Robert E. Lee

Ulysses S. Grant

John J. "Blackjack" Pershing.

Dwight Eisenhower 

George S. Patton.

Douglas Macarthur

But I really don't think any of these men had the pull and magnetism that Bismarck and the others did. Nor the charisma except Macarthur and Eisenhower. You would have to go back to George Washington and study many Generals and such to really find one.

Virginia Rooster Jun 17

Rooster, have you studied the Revolutionary War? George Washington was without doubt a great man...was he also a great general, a great warrior?

Rooster Rooster Jun 18

@Virginia: Yes, he actually was. Not only a great man but a great leader in all ways. He was a fierce warrior and a brilliant tactician. He took the tiny army of conscripts and with his subordinates, trained them into a fighting force to finally beat the mighty British. He was first noticed as a leader in the French-Indian War. Also where he met Daniel Boone.

Virginia Rooster Jun 19

Received Rooster, ty

Kninjanin Jun 24

It was the first global war.

Kninjianin, I think the Seven Years' War was also global, was it not?

Kninjanin Kninjanin Jun 25

Yes.

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