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Carinaponcho's avatar

How would one blame France for being the cause of World War I?

Asked by Carinaponcho (1381points) March 11th, 2013 from iPhone

Blame for the start of WWI can be placed easily on the shoulders of Germany, Austria-Hungary, England, Serbia, and Russia. In what ways could the blame be put in whole or partially on France? Please provide reliable sources.

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17 Answers

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josie's avatar

Only by being bound by treaty to Russia, who was bound by treaty to Serbia.
But this would not be a cause as much as a reason for their entry into the war.

WestRiverrat's avatar

The short answer is they wanted revenge for the beat down they took in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.

dabbler's avatar

Besides the treaties that @josie mentions which would explain “technically” why France was obliged to jump into the fray, the biggest reason for France, alongside Russia and everyone else in Europe except Germany, was to keep Germany from getting straightforward access to oil in Iraq, as well illuminated by Robert Newman in History of Oil.

Carinaponcho's avatar

@WestRiverrat On the same theme of revenge, is it possible they also wanted revenge because they recently paid a large indemnity to Germany I believe. Or perhaps they wanted to regain the territories of Alsace and Lorraine?

Carinaponcho's avatar

@dabbler Thank you! That is a point of view I have yet to research.

phaedryx's avatar

Napoleon/France destroyed the Holy Roman Empire, which led to the formation of the countries of the central powers.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

If someone could find sources for this ridiculous argument I would think they would be easily dismissed. Sounds like revisionist history, probably with a political bias.

The assassination at Sarajevo gave the lascivious Wilhelm II (literally a student and friend of Bismark in his later years—a devotee) the excuse he needed to take troops south into Serbia ostensibly to support Franz Josef for which he was treaty bound to protect. Russia was treaty bound to protect Serbia and France was treaty bound assist Russia.

The idea that France would instigate a war at this time is ludacris. Their military leadership was totally corrupt (this was illuminated by the detailed ancillary investigations into the Dreyfus Affair) , starved of allocations for years, undermanned and ill-equipped (proven when they were attacked in 1914 and the French military had to comandeer the whole Parisian taxi fleet to ferry men to the front for lack of enough military transport and trains, weaponry from the 1870–71 war, and almost no machine guns.) and in no shape to combat a united, prepared, post Bismark Germany at the front or over oil in some far off desert or anywhere else.

The purely defensive and extravagant Maginot Line was built in order to economize on troops and guns by strategically placing both under bulwark protection in fixed positions. The Line was incomplete, had been under late construction for years due to hesitant allocations, and way over budget due to corruption. The French people did not wish to spend any more, even on their own defense.

The very reason the French government starved their military was because of the anti-war sentiment of the people over what happened starting in 1870. The memory was as close to them as the Viet Nam War is to us—only much, much worse.

The rash, egotistical behavior of the dilettante Emperor Napoleon III that got them into the 1870 war with Bismark, Napoleon’s capture at Sedan, the protracted siege of Paris and the resultant bloody conflict with fellow Parisians known as the Communards, political upheaval, deep economic depression, and the end of the Second Empire and the Belle Epoc—was still in living memory. Nothing short of a full-out threat of a million well-equipped, well organized German troops crossing the borders through Belgium to the north and on the Alsace-Loraine/French border to the east could get the French to fight.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Ooops. Scratch the Maginot Line part. That was WWII. Brain fart. The rest stands.

Carinaponcho's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus What if my school assignment was to blame France from the point of view of the other countries. The idea is to provoke bias. The only reason I asked this question here was to see if anyone could bring up some points that were new to me.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@Carinaponcho that is why I didn’t go into too much detail. We can help with homework here on a limited basis, but we can’t do it for you. I just gave you a point to start from.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Wow. That’s a tough one. France blamed for letting herself get involved in a disastrous set of treaties? I mean what was the motivation for her treaty with Tsarist Russia beyond fear of another incursion by Germany? France definitely wanted Alsace-Loraine back, but, really they knew they couldn’t take the Kaiser at that time and they could never get the general population behind it—not even the people of Alsace, more than half of whom considered themselves German. France allowing herself to become such alluring prey while living next door to a German Kaiser devoted to militarism and blind faith in his divine right to rule Europe?

I’ll go with @WestRiverrat‘s oil thing. Around 1890, military around the world began to realize the economy of oil and gasoline-powered engines in ground and sea transport of tonnage versus horsepower, wood, and coal. Gasoline and oil could generate much more energy by volume and were much lighter in weight than other fuels and therefore much more economical to use in cargo movement. Horses needed to be cared for and fed. They also shit 20 pounds a day each. Coal and wood are heavy and bulky and the cost difference and efficiency of transporting one ton one mile on land in 1890 with coal or wood as fuel is enormous compared to the lighter, more efficient oil or gasoline. I can’t remember the exact stat, but it is quite impressive and makes it obvious why there was a mad dash by nearly every government to the Middle East at the time. He who could wrest oil from the naive tribes of the middle east, such as those led by old man Muhammad bin Saud, could control the future. There was also a dash to the southern Russian provinces.

What sadist gave you this assignment? Good luck. Please let me know how it goes.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

This sounds like it could be an excellent academic assignment. If it is, should not the work be done by the student?

Carinaponcho's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Do you think it could be possible that France’s role in shattering the Concert of Europe during the Crimean War could ultimately have effected the outcome of WWI?
@Dr_Lawrence I don’t see anything wrong with discussing my ideas of the assignment with people. I’m still the one actually writing the paper.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Excellent. I do believe you’ve found a good argument. As a staunch supporter of Republicanism and anti-monarchist, I would have supported France during this period—and be assbitten later. Yes. Pursue this. And thank you. I learned something today. Please let me know how this turns out.

Welcome to Fluther.

mattbrowne's avatar

France wanted that war like all the other countries. The country’s politicians had the same chauvinist mindset.

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