First World War and the Role of Diplomacy


The First World War began in 1914 and ended in 1918.The war is believed to have begun as a result of the assassination of Archduke by a Serbian nationalist. There are, however, other factors that are believed to have contributed towards the war such as territorial, economic and imperialistic rivalries that had been at high levels particularly among countries like France, Great Britain Germany and Russia. While the French were having a hostile attitude towards the Germans, which strived to maintain its gain over France through alliances and militarism, nationalism was creating high-level tension in the Austria-Hungary Empire. Slavia was majorly faced with heightened restrictive reactions especially from its national groups and neighboring nations like Russia and Serbia were against its quest for freedom. The imperialist rivalry had further caused conflict between the great Western powers over control of Africa territories and influence over China. One the greatest factor that greatly caused much tension was the kind of strategy used by the Germans in which they opted to expand their territories. The quest to expand led to a dispute with France over the territorial lands of Morocco and furthermore the Great Britain viewed their move as a major threat to the monopolistic naval expansion it was enjoying. The tension created as a result of all these policies and strategic expansion between countries eventually led to the Great War.

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First World War Diplomacy

Traditionally, diplomacy was used to shape international relations and prevent armed conflicts through peace negotiations. During the world war, however, the aspect of diplomacy seems to have played a different role as it was particularly used to make treaties and secret agreements between different nations. At the height of the imperialist rivalry, there were few nations who were interested in the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia and only participated as a way of fulfilling treaty obligations. Even though most of these treaties signed between different nations were known to the public it is important to note that they were made and secretly signed to prevent potential enemies from knowing the consequences of their perceived actions. Furthermore, the diplomatic opaqueness between the different allies led to the Germans making early aggressive moves into the war since they believe that Britain would not participate in the war. In another context, Russia was in involved in some diplomatic agreements and secret treaties both before and in the course of the First World War. Italy further maneuvered its way through the different secret agreements to find which alliance favored her interest. The ultimate consequence was that the diplomatic maneuverings ended up driving the war to catastrophic levels.

Even though the international implication of the First World War can mainly be attributed to destruction and loss of property, it also produced some new developments. The most important international implication of the First World War can be derived mostly from the changes it brought especially in areas such as warfare, medicine politics, and social attitudes. First, the war changed the warfare nature. The integration of technological elements such as submarines, airplanes, and tanks all brought in a new dynamics of warfare. The modern art of surgery was particularly born during the First World War where military and civil hospitals were used as theaters for medical experiments. Blood banks that are internationally used in the modern days were further developed in 1914 during the war.

Treaty of Versailles

World War II can be rated as one of the worst wars in modern history. Approximately ten million soldiers from the different countries lost their lives as a result of the war. The huge number of casualties was partly as a result of the introduction of new weapons such as gas warfare and machine guns. Other factors that contributed to the loss include failure of adjustment to new tactics of warfare by military leaders and the attrition policy on the western front which resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousand lives. The Versailles Treaty was mainly imposed by victorious Western Powers, who wanted to see nations that had been defeated face certain consequences. The Germans were seen by most of the nations as the main cause of the war and, therefore, decided to place some stringent obligations upon them through the treaty. The impact of the treaty on Germany as a nation, can therefore be discussed in four different sections; military, financial, general and territorial.

Territorial: The treaty compelled Germany to concede certain territories that it had occupied during the war. The territories were given to France, Belgium, Denmark and Czechoslovakia. Other territories relinquished by Germany include the Upper Silesia and West Prussia, which were given to Poland. Furthermore, Germany’s overseas colonies became the mandate of the League of Nations including turning Danzig city into a Free City despite having the largest ethical composition of the German population. The people were however given an option of going for a referendum vote in future to decide on whether to stay in Germany or not. The land that was occupied by the Germans after the Brest-Litovsk treaty was at the same time returned to the Russians and made into new estates.

Military: The treaty further demanded a total demilitarization and Rhineland occupation. The west areas of Rhineland and other parts of the east of Rhine River were turned into a demilitarized zone whereby there was no German weapon or soldier that was to be allowed into the marked zones. The occupation army of the Allies was to remain in Rhine west banks for over 15 years. The Germans army was cut down to around 100 000 men, and the use of tanks and air force resources was banned. Besides, Germany was only given a chance to have six capital naval ships but was not allowed to use their submarines.

Financial: The most humiliating aspect of the treaty was on Article 231 which forced German to shoulder the responsibility for instigating the First World War, and as such was to be responsible for the payment of all the material damages. The loss of major industrial territories such as the coal from Upper Silesia and Saar was seen as a way of inflicting a severe blow to the Germans effort to rebuild her economy. Combined with other financial penalties imposed as a result of war instigation, the Allies main intention of bankrupting Germany was very clear. To keep the country’s economic potential at a minimum level, Germany was forbidden from forming an alliance of unity with Austria.

General: The general aspect of the treaty was placed under three vital clauses. The first clause was on clause 231 which required Germany to admit full responsibility for instigating the war. The second clause required that after admitting responsibility Germany was to pay for the damages caused by the First World War with the bulk of the payment going to Belgium and France to cover for damages done to their infrastructure. The third clause majority dealt with the formation of the League Nation meant to keep world peace.

The Versailles treaty had some international implications such as the isolation of countries that were defeated in the war and creation of several alliances between different nations. The most important implication of the treaty to note is that it gave no provision to international economic recovery especially in Europe and nothing to make the defeated nation into good nations. By crippling the economic strength of Germany, the Allied powers affected international trade through export or import of products, an aspect likely to affect millions of people both in Germany and around the world.

The Great Depression and its Economic Implications

The Great Depression is a global economic downturn especially in North America and other industrialized parts of the world. The crisis began in 1929 and lasted till 1939, making it the most severe and longest ever depression to be experienced in the Western World industrialization sector. The Great Britain originally began in the United States but due to the special relationship that the US had forged with other Europeans economies after the world war, the crisis quickly turned into a worldwide slump in the economy. The US came out of the war as a major financier and creditor of the various postwar activities in the larger Europe especially in countries whose economies had been badly affected by the war and debts such as Germany and other nations that were defeated in the war. Therefore, the slump in the America economy had a direct effect on their economies as well.

Cause and economic implications

In 1929, the New York Stock Exchange experienced a major collapse in its stock markets an argument that has been majorly put forward as the origin and major cause of the Great Depression, and which lead to great economic implications. In the consecutive three years, the stock-market prices experienced a further decline and by the year 1932, the stock prices had dropped to about 20% of the 1929 value. Furthermore, despite the massive effect on the individual investors, the decline in assets value had a significant strain on the banks and other financial institutions that were holding stocks within their portfolios. In 1933, the majority of the banks within the US had already been dissolved and of the over 26000 banks that existed in the country almost 11000 were not operational. The bank’s failure coupled with the loss of confidence in the country’s economy led to reduced demand and spending that eventually affected the production of goods and services. The country’s GNP was at half the level it was in 1929, new industrial plant development fell by 90%, and the capacity at the steel plant operation was at 12%. The crisis led to a drastic fall in output level and a massive increase in the level of unemployment. The output level of the US massively declines by almost 54% with a 12 million increase in the number of unemployed. The adverse effect was in the financial meltdown that was initiated by the Great Crash of Wall Street and eventually led to the disappearance of billions of dollars in assets.

It is important to note that the depression significantly transformed the economic and political landscape of America and other countries. In America, the crisis led to major political realignments, creation of a big ethnic coalition between Southern Democrats and African Americans and to some extent interventionist government. The depression further strengthened Americas federal presence thereby producing innovative aspects such as pension payment of old people, compensation of the unemployed giving aid to dependent children and public housing. The crisis fundamentally changed the aspect of labor relation thereby producing a labor movement that was revived and a national labor policy that was very protective when it comes to collective bargaining issues. Above all the economic crisis experienced changed the United States public opinion and made the majority of the citizen appreciate the government’s effort in maintaining the well-being of its citizens. However, the most important international implication of the great depression is that it gave most countries an opportunity to develop economic recovery through regulation of their stock-market and lead to the establishment of international aspects such as the International Monetary Fund System.

Dec 19, 2019 in Informative
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