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PS 203 – Lecture Outline (10.16.13) – Origins of World War ILearning goals: by the end of this lecture you should be able to…1. Describe two neorealist explanations for the origins of World War I, and critique each2. Describe two liberal explanations for the origins of World War I, and critique each3. Describe one Marxist explanation for the origins of World War I, and the critique4. Describe the moral implications of each explanation5. Define the following key concepts (*) and illustrate each with an example where appropriate: internal balancing, external balancingThe Origins of World War II. BackgroundNo other war was fought at a similar scope and scale, hence the war was known as The Great War.Was fought in Europe, and also the Middle East.Involved almost all the continents – touched people all over the globe.By the end of the war - Nov. 1918, 70 million soldiers were mobilized.Most horrific war ever fought – in 4 years, 10 million soldiers and 7 million civilians died. The war claimed the lives of 2% of the population of GB, 3% of total population of Austria-Hungary, 4% of thetotal population of France, 4% of the total population of Germany, 16% of the total population of Serbia. Overall effect – wiped out generations of young men in these countries, from the ages of 18-24.Stakes were so high, but very little change (territorial change)Why?Dominant doctrine (military strategy) was defense, due to the level of technology/tactics. You were winning battles if you were defending. However, everyone thought that the dominant strategy was offense, people mistakenly believe that it was offense – hence war turned bloody.Example : Battle of Verdun in France.- Germany and France- however very little territorial change, 400K Soldiers was killed – primarily artillery battle – artillery shells fired (45 million shells in total) – fought over extremely rainy conditions meant that when soldiersdied they just disappeared – half of the 400K soldiers were never found.Why is it important to understand WWI?- Matter of moral implications – able to pin down a valid explanation on the causes of the war. Able to draw policy implications to prevent future wars of such magnitude. II. Realist ExplanationsA. Power Transition (Gilpin)1. CritiqueBritain was the established hegemon, Germany was rising power. Britain, France and Russia were aligned on one side. Germany, Austria, and the Ottoman empire were on another side. Britain feared the rise of Germany,Germany feared the rise of Russia.The Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated, and Germany launched a preventive war to knock Britain out of its position of power and to grab the dominant position in Europe.Similar to Thucydides’ preposition on the Peloponnesian War (where the Spartans were threatened by the rise of Athens etc.)Strengths to this explanation?Elegant explanation – all about the difference of growth rate in power – simple to understand.Weakness?- not clear why the Germans started the war instead of Britain. If Britain was the dominant hegemon, and Germany was rising, then why wouldn't Britain launch the war against Germany to knock it out of the system? However Britain didn't want a war on Germany - wanted peace – and if this were to happen, able to have a peaceful power transition. But Germany feared the rise of Russia so in this context Germany should just go to war. MOST FAMOUS CRITIQUE While Britain was the established hegemon in Europe, the rising challenger at the time WAS NOT GERMANY, but the US (based on capabilities). If power transition theory was a valid explanation, we would expect Britain to go to war with the US and not Germany.B. Multipolarity (Waltz)Distribution of power in the system explains the origins of WWI, specifically multi polarity in the system (more than 2 great powers in the system).1. Properties of a multipolar systema. *external (vs *internal) balancingStates have to balance externally – this means that statescan’t provide for their own security just with their own capabilities – hence forging alliances with other states to be secure. Opposite of internal balancing, where states have enough capabilities on its own to provide for its own security. Multi polar system generate A FLEXIBILITY OF ALIGNMENT and a rigidity of strategy.b. flexibility of alliances, rigidity of strategyIn a system of 5 great powers, states can combine and recombine to form different arrangements in their alliances – can form counter alliances.There is a rigidity of strategy as well – each state can’t afford to lose any of its allies and still remain secure. So states in an alliance have to please their allies, even their weakest allies. When alliance partner attacks another great power, you have to back it up – cause if it loses, alliance is weaker – balance of power is shifted against you.Its partners can neither be the weaker member or be defeated, nor to advertise their disunity, by supporting the other states even if it risks them. That’s why multipolar systems are unstable. KEY CONCLUSIONKey danger is miscalculation. c. key danger: miscalculation“In a multi polar world, dangers are defused, responsibilities are unclear, and definitions of vital interests easily obscured.”2. The 'chain gang' and WWIFor Waltz, Germany gambled that its support for Austria will cause Russia to back down, but when the Russians backed up Serbia through its partial mobilization, Germany again gambled that Britain will stay neutral. Germany miscalculated, and all the great powers in Europe lined up their alliances and came into conflict. War unfolded incredibly fast. June 28 – Serbian nationalists assassinate Archduke FranzFerdinandJuly 23 – Ultimatum was issued by Austria. Serbian response was deemed unsatisfactory.July 25- Russia prepares partial mobilizationJuly 28 – Austria declares war on Serbia. July 30 – Russia fully mobilizes Aug 1 – Germany declares war on Russia.Waltz – nature of multipolar system makes conflict very likely. 3. CritiqueLiberals say you can’t disregard idea of domestic politics. Liberals also say that is not a coincidence that all thedemocracies aligned on one side, and non democratic states on one side.Critique If Britain actually told Germany that it would back up Russia and France, war will not happen. III. Liberal ExplanationsA. Democratic PeaceBritain and France were democratic states. Germany wasn't, hence there was no mutual caution and respect.


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UW POL S 203 - The Origins of World War I

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