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Monday, June 16, 2014

www.WeeklyHubris.com - Sanford Rose: My Last (Well, Not Quite Last) Column on World War I



3

My Last (Well, Perhaps Not Quite Last) Column on World War I




Sanford Rose banner
. . . Britain agreed, at least initially, to look the other way if Austria-Hungary temporarily occupied Belgrade . . . .”—By Sanford Rose
Dolors & Sense
By Sanford Rose
Tisza: An unwelcome moderation.
Tisza: An unwelcome moderation.
Sanford Rose
KISSIMMEE Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—5/22/2014—Since the centennial of World War I approaches (July-August, 1914), I thought I’d do a summary of the viewpoints and culpability of the principal parties.
David Lloyd George, who became Britain’s prime minister two years into the war, argued that the major countries “slithered” into the conflict, and there is evidence to support that viewpoint.
Germany did not want a war–certainly not a major one. It wanted to punish Serbia, to be sure. But what the kaiser envisioned was a limited “police action.” Interestingly, Britain agreed, at least initially, to look the other way if Austria-Hungary temporarily occupied Belgrade as a surety for its demands that Serbia punish the assassins of the Austrian archduke and also curb anti-Austrian propaganda.
Austria-Hungary was a moribund state that presided over ten nationalities. Austria’s major problem was Hungary, its co-equal (and often more than co-equal) partner in the so-called Dual Monarchy. The Hungarian magnates oppressed their minorities (mostly Croats and Rumanians) with a singular disregard for their inevitable disaffection. Had it not been for this attitude, the Dual Monarchy might have proved marginally viable.
Still, Hungary had no desire to go to war over the assassination of an Austrian archduke who hated Hungarians. Its leader, Istvan Tisza, tried to slow the march toward war.
Ironically, this moderation made matters much worse. Had Austria-Hungary acted with celerity to occupy Belgrade in support of punitive demands that were both limited and well-publicized, as the German kaiser wanted, the world would have been presented with a fait accompli, acceptable, as noted, to the British, before Russia had a chance to announce its mobilization.
Russia ostensibly elected to mobilize in support of Serbia. But that was just a charade. Russia hoped that war would allow her to seize the Turkish Straits and thus protect her agricultural exports. When Turkey closed the Straits a few years earlier for just a couple of weeks, during the Italo-Turkish War, Russia’s exports were sufficiently disrupted to jeopardize the funding of vitally needed industrial imports.
France, in the person of its president, Raymond PoincarĂ©, goaded Russia into action. PoincarĂ© was a most remarkable man, perhaps the ablest European politician since Bismarck. But he was also a committed revanchist, eager to harness his country’s “national awakening” to his life’s goal of retaking the provinces of Alsace and his native Lorraine, which had been detached by Germany after the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.
Once Russia began mobilizing, global war was inevitable. The announcement of Russian mobilization triggered German mobilization, and German mobilization triggered the infamous Schlieffen Plan. This required Germany to defeat France before taking the field against Russia, which allegedly could not complete its mobilization, even with a head start, before either France or Germany.
Well, I thought this would be the last column, but there’s much more to be said.
When I was writing articles on banking some twenty years ago, I overheard one banker ask another whether he had read Rose’s last article. The reply shot back: “I hope so.”
I trust that readers of this series do not share these sentiments.


About Sanford Rose

Sanford Rose, of New Jersey and Florida, served as Associate Editor of Fortune Magazine from 1968 till 1972; Vice President of Chase Manhattan Bank in 1972; Senior Editor of Fortune between 1972 and 1979; and Associate Editor, Financial Editor and Senior Columnist of American Banker newspaper between 1979 and 1991. From 1991 till 2001, Rose worked as a consultant in the banking industry and a professional ghost writer in the field of finance. He has also taught as an adjunct professor of banking at Columbia University and an adjunct instructor of economics at New York University. He states that he left gainful employment in 2001 to concentrate on gain-less investing. (A lifelong photo-phobe, Rose also claims that the head shot accompanying his Weekly Hubris columns is not his own, but belongs, instead, to a skilled woodworker residing in South Carolina.)
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One Response to My Last (Well, Perhaps Not Quite Last) Column on World War I


Danny M Reed says:

Don’t stop now!!!

www.The WeeklyHubris.com - Sanford Rose: Teuton vs Slav



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Teuton vs. Slav




Sanford Rose banner
In acting against Serbia . . . Austria-Hungary and its ally, Germany, felt they were defending their Teutonic empires against . . . malevolent Slavs.”—By Sanford Rose
Dolors & Sense
By Sanford Rose
Franz Ferdinand: a thirty-year war over him?
Franz Ferdinand: a 30-year war over him?
Sanford Rose
KISSIMMEE Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—6/9/2014—The anniversary of the most important event of the last hundred years draws near.
On June 28, 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand, and his wife, Sophie, were gunned down in Sarajevo, Bosnia, by a Serb.
Five weeks later, Europe was at war, a conflict that lasted, with a 20-year interruption, until 1945.
Why did the murder of these two people produce such an apocalyptic result?
After all, heads of state and kings were being routinely dispatched in the early years of the last century. The fallen included, among others, an American president, McKinley, and the kings of Italy, Portugal, and Serbia itself.
What made this particular assassination so portentous?
The answer is that it dramatized the most basic national and racial cleavage in European society of the day—and indeed of at least the first half of the century.
That cleavage is encapsulated in the dominant reaction to the murders in Austria-Hungary and to a lesser extent in Germany:
“Here was a Teuton assassinated on Teutonic soil by a Slav.”
The perception is, of course, slightly erroneous. Bosnia was not Teutonic (Austrian) soil. It had been Turkish soil from 1463 to 1908, although its people were Slavs.
But the Congress of Berlin had assigned its administration to Austria-Hungary in 1878, and the Austrians had become so used to considering Bosnia theirs that they formally annexed it 30 years later.
So in their minds, the heir to “their” throne was killed on “their” soil by a member of one of “their” subject nationalities.
This was not to be tolerated.
Independent Serbia had already aggrandized itself in the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913. It posed a growing threat to Austria-Hungary, a country of 24 million Slavs ruled by a slightly smaller number of Germans and Hungarians.
If the Southern Slavs posed a real threat to Austria-Hungary, Russia, the patron of all Slavs, posed a perceived threat to Germany, Austria’s ally.
Germany’s chancellor, Bethmann Hollweg, greatly overestimated Russia’s military and industrial muscle, and his forebodings filled the ear of the German sovereign, Kaiser Wilhelm, who was mindful of the fact that Serbian terrorists reportedly had earmarked him for the same fate as had befallen Franz Ferdinand.
In acting resolutely against Serbia about a month after the assassination, Austria-Hungary and Germany felt they were defending their Teutonic empires against an imminent danger from malevolent Slavs.
Ironically, their action led directly to the dissolution of the empires they vainly sought to preserve.

About Sanford Rose

Sanford Rose, of New Jersey and Florida, served as Associate Editor of Fortune Magazine from 1968 till 1972; Vice President of Chase Manhattan Bank in 1972; Senior Editor of Fortune between 1972 and 1979; and Associate Editor, Financial Editor and Senior Columnist of American Banker newspaper between 1979 and 1991. From 1991 till 2001, Rose worked as a consultant in the banking industry and a professional ghost writer in the field of finance. He has also taught as an adjunct professor of banking at Columbia University and an adjunct instructor of economics at New York University. He states that he left gainful employment in 2001 to concentrate on gain-less investing. (A lifelong photo-phobe, Rose also claims that the head shot accompanying his Weekly Hubris columns is not his own, but belongs, instead, to a skilled woodworker residing in South Carolina.)
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2 Responses to Teuton vs. Slav


  1. Danny M Reed says:
    Hard to believe that former world prior to 1914 was governed by three houses:
    Romanov, Hapsburg, and Hohenzollern. I look at Renoir and other Impressionist’s paintings as snapshots and portraits of a world where the potential for peace and security was more real than ever. The Great War was supposed to be so globally horrific that surely it would end War altogether. All the people of that day are dead. I truly appreciate your 100 Year Anniversary Series. May I Reblog your work, sir?


  2. S. Rose says:

    Of course you can reblog.
    Best
    S. Rose

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