The Long Fuse
In Laurence Lafore's book titled The Long Fuse he discusses the conflicts of World War I and describes how Austria-Hungary was considered to be the "Second Sick Man of Europe". During a time when Europe seemed to be moving faster towards progressive ideas and towards the sweeping away of old institutes, Turkey was the original Sick Man of Europe, mostly caused constitutional and national problems. The European order was based upon the assumption of nations in 1871, a kind of mutual protection, and as Austria was not a nation, it was in line after Turkey to become the second Sick Man of Europe. The term "Sick Man", in referring to a nation, according to Laurence Lafore, would be in circumstances that could lead to a type of national failure. Austria-Hungry was on a path to destruction for multiple reasons, one being that their constitution was shared between two countries, which led to slow and indecisive results. All of the Powers were based upon a foundation of nationality, but to this, Austria-Hungry was the exception. This Habsburg Monarchy, which was a Dual Monarchy, also consisted entirely of minorities. It was harder to inaugurate new or important policies in Austria-Hungry, or take action at time of crisis. In Hungary, the evolution was toward an oppressive control of Magyars; in Austria, toward quarrels, confusion, and mounting demands among nationalities (pg. 63).
The system of a Dual Monarchy created more problems than it solved and could have led to pushing Austria-Hungary into the very bad positions they were in. The system enabled the Magyars to oppress Serbs, Croats, and Rumanians which weakened their loyalty to the Monarchy. Overall, their system did work, and had it not been in an unsuccessful war, it may have still been working today, according to Lafore. The circumstances that arose and the political and military decisions that were made during this European era is what led Austria-Hungry to become the Second Sick Man. It...
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