I. Origins of the Crisis in Europe and the Middle East
A. The Ottoman Empire and the Balkans|
1. By the late nineteenth century the once-powerful Ottoman Empire was in decline and losing the outlying provinces closest to Europe. The European powers meddled in the affairs of the Ottoman Empire, sometimes in cooperation, at other times as rivals. 2. In reaction, the Young Turks conspired to force a constitution on the Sultan, advocated centralized rule and Turkification of minorities, and carried out modernizing reforms. The Turks turned to Germany for assistance and hired a German general to modernize Turkey’s armed forces.| B. Nationalism, Alliances, and Military Strategy
1. The three main causes of World War I were nationalism, the system of alliances and military plans, and Germany’s yearning to dominate Europe. 2. Nationalism was deeply rooted in European culture, where it served to unite individual nations while undermining large multiethnic empires. Because of the spread of nationalism, most people viewed war as a crusade for liberty or as revenges for past injustices; the well-to-do believed that war could heal the class divisions in their societies. 3. The major European countries were organized into two alliances: the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy) and the Triple Entente (Britain, France, and Russia). The military alliance system was accompanied by inflexible mobilization plans that depended on railroads to move troops according to precise schedules. 4. When Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914, diplomats, statesmen, and monarchs quickly lost control of events. The alliance system in combination with the rigidly scheduled mobilization plans meant that war was automatic.| II. The "Great War" and the Russian Revolutions, 1914–1918. |
A. Stalemate, 1914–1917|
1. The nations of Europe entered the war in high spirits, confident of victory. German victory at first seemed assured, but as the German advance faltered in September, both sides spread out until they formed an unbroken line of trenches (the Western Front) from the North Sea to Switzerland. 2. The generals on each side tried for four years to take enemy positions by ordering their troops to charge across the open fields, only to have them cut down by machine-gun fire. For four years the war was inconclusive on both land and at sea.| B. The Home Front and the War Economy
1. The material demands of trench warfare led governments to impose stringent controls over all aspects of their economies. Rationing and the recruitment of Africans, Indians, Chinese, and women into the European labor force transformed civilian life. German civilians paid an especially high price for the war as the British naval blockade cut off access to essential food imports. 2. British and French forces overran Germany’s African colonies (except for Tanganyika). In all of their African colonies Europeans requisitioned food, imposed heavy taxes, forced Africans to grow export crops and sell them at low prices, and recruited African men to serve as soldiers and as porters. 3. The United States grew rich during the war by selling goods to Britain and France. When the United States entered the war in 1917, businesses engaged in war production made tremendous profits.| C. The Ottoman Empire at War
1. The Turks signed a secret alliance with Germany in 1914. Turkey engaged in unsuccessful campaigns against Russia, deported the Armenians (causing the deaths of hundred of thousands), and closed the Dardanelles Straits. 2. When they failed to open the Dardanelles Straits by force, the British tried to subvert the Ottoman Empire from within by promising emir Hussein ibn Ali of Mecca a kingdom of his own if he would lead a revolt against the Turks, which he did in 1916. 3. In the Balfour Declaration of 1917 the British suggested to the Zionist leader Chaim...