Daniel Halliday
Jun 16 · Last update 11 days ago.
What can we learn from the First World War?
The First World War ended 100 years ago this year, and was one of the deadliest conflicts in history. What can we learn strategically, politically and diplomatically so that tragic events such as these do not repeat themselves in the future?
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It is dangerous for political powers to drag their feet when it comes to war
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Wars of attrition are a pointless waste of life
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Not to impose unrealistic sanctions, reparations, or tariffs on a country to damage their economy
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0 disagrees
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It is dangerous for political powers to drag their feet when it comes to war

America’s reluctance to get involved with WW1, in what it saw as Europeans destroying themselves, allowed the war to spiral out of control from 1914 to 1917. It wasn’t until America intervened in August 1918 that German Forces were pushed back, leading to an armistice later that year. In the current global climate, with brutal civil wars and bloody disputes being fought all over the world, it would seem that failing to act decisively when it comes to war is still an issue that plagues international diplomacy today.

This is especially important in modern times were examples of diplomatic and militaristic feet dragging are so common place. The conflict in Syria has been raging since 2012 and is becoming one of the worst humanitarian and refugee crises in recent history. While there is no simple situation by any means, a unilateral response has been thwarted by China’s veto of the Unite Nations’ action in this matter. Consequently, the lack of any other adequate action has lead to Russia helping to prop up an autocratic regime, guilty of war crimes and a terrible human rights abuses. This solution doesn’t promote a quick or clean solution to the problem and will probably contribute to an increasingly authoritarian future for Syria.

Likewise in Yemen, there has been accusations of a failure to adequately take action or even denounce war crimes that have transpired as a result of the Civil War. Both the UN and suppliers of Saudi arms have been criticised for diplomatic feet dragging, as accusations have gone as far as Saudi chemical weapons attacks. Diplomatic and military solutions should be multilateral and organisations who’s framework leads to prolonged indecision should be dismantled, this should be clear from many historical wars, including World War I.

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 8
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DH edited this paragraph
Likewise in Yemen, there has been accusations of a failure to adequately take action or even denounce war crimes that have transpired as a result of the Civil War. Both the UN and suppliers of Saudi arms have been criticised for diplomatic feet dragging, as accusations have gone as far as Saudi chemical weapons attacks. Diplomatic and military solutions should be multilateral and organisations who’s framework leads to prolonged indecision should be dismantled, this should be clear from many historical wars, including World War I.
Wars of attrition are a pointless waste of life

Attrition warfare is the concept of trying to wear down the enemy forces until they can no longer continue to fight. This may be caused by an overwhelming economic loss or devastating loss of life to an enemy that causes them to surrender or be unable to fight. This disastrous non-strategy is the one of the worst elements of warfare that considers combatants as expendable and regards loss of life as acceptable and sustainable as long as the enemies levels of both are worse.

Improvements in weapon technology but a lack or advancement in communications and mobility complicated this matter further and made attrition fighting more common. Military commanders were sometimes forced to carry on fighting in this large scale war that they were technologically not prepared for. This state of affairs lead to the First World War being known as a hollow victory, as the widespread devastation was so vast and casualties so high, that even the winning parties had lost more than they achieved.

In tragically violent circumstances such as this the perceived value of human life almost reaches zero, and wars of annihilation can often hide vicious war crimes. This can be seen during World War I with the mass atrocities and genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire against Christian Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians. However, as this pattern can be noted in later wars such as the Korean War and Vietnam War, it proves that the link between wars of attrition and war crimes is an important lesson to keep in mind.

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 8
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DH edited this paragraph
In tragically violent circumstances such as this the perceived value of human life almost reaches zero, and wars of annihilation can often hide vicious war crimes. This can be seen during World War I with the mass atrocities and genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire against Christian Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians. However, as this pattern can be noted in later wars such as the Korean War and Vietnam War, it proves that the link between wars of attrition and war crimes is an important lesson to keep in mind.
Not to impose unrealistic sanctions, reparations, or tariffs on a country to damage their economy

The Treaty of Versailles was the treaty signed at the end of the WW1. Article 231 of the treaty forced Germany to limit its military capabilities, give up its colonies and some territory, and to pay massive reparations to the Allied Forces. The German government were not allowed to take part in the negotiations of the treaty, and there was large-scale disappointment with the treaty in Germany. It was seen as the cause of German post-war hyperinflation by the German population, and did contribute to it considerably.

There was widespread blame being thrown around during this period in Germany, and anyone who benefitted from the new Weimar Republic or had anything to do with the military strikes that lead to Germany’s sudden loss of the war were seen as having stabbed Germany in the back. This lead German nationalism to smoulder, and through the nazi's antisemitic propaganda program of the 1930's, facilitated the reintroduction of anti-Jewish sentiment in Germany for the first time since the Jewish emancipation of 1848.

To further complicate the Treaty of Versailles allowed the Japanese to continue to colonising of China and South-East Asia, breading massive resentment in the region (especially in China), and set the stage for the coming events of World War II. Reparations such as these or similar economic sanctions breed isolation, backwardness and contempt, and should be used as a last resort as they only worsen international relations.

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Daniel Halliday
Nov 8
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DH edited this paragraph
There was widespread blame being thrown around during this period in Germany, and anyone who benefitted from the new Weimar Republic or had anything to do with the military strikes that lead to Germany’s sudden loss of the war were seen as having stabbed Germany in the back. This lead German nationalism to smoulder, and through the nazi's antisemitic propaganda program of the 1930's, facilitated the reintroduction of anti-Jewish sentiment in Germany for the first time since the Jewish emancipation of 1848.
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