World War I: Deciding Factors

Figure 1.--

Many wars are won or loss by brilliant military commanders and tactical moves on the battlefield. History is full of such figures: Alexander, Caesar, Geghis Kahn, Marlbourgh, Frederick the Great, Lee, and others. hey have enabled small armies to defeat much larger forces. This would not be the case in World War I. It would be aar decided by faulty German political leadership and the material strength of the Allies. Germany was the single most powerful country in Europe with an efficient army and a Europe's largest industrial base. The German Army nearly won the war in the opening months. They defeated two Russian armies which allowed them to pursue the Schliffen Plan, although the Russians forced them to weaken the force driving through Belgium toward Paris. Only the fabeled Mircle on the Marne stopped them. The war of movement both sides expected bigged down into the static warfare of the Western Front. This turned the War into a war of attrition, a development that did not favor the Germans. And while the Germans were the single most powerful nation, they did not exceed the Allies (Britain, France, and Russia) in population, resources, and economic strength. Nor did the have a navy thst could chsllenge the Royal Navy blockade that over time could strangle the country. The German war plan was fundamentally flawed from the beginning in taking on the other three major European powers in a two-front land war and without the ability to challenge the British at sea. And the Allied naval blockade exacerbated a serious German weakness, industrialized Germany could not feed itself and unlike Britain which controlled he seas, coukd not import food. Austria-Hungary proved a week ally. Conscriotion to expabd the military further weakened the agricultural sector and production of food. The Allied naval blockade in a war of attrition proved to be the deciding factor of the War. Not only was it diffiucult to import food, but also raw materials needed by industry. The coillapse of Tsarit Russia gave the Germans another opportunity to win the War, but the Germans opted no only for a great Western offensive, but to break the Allied blockade by knocking Britain out of the War. The Kaiser decided that America was not a serious threat and launched unrestricted submarine warfare. This gave the Allies why they deperately needed--the United states to join the War. Britain unlike Germany understood from the beginning the importance of the United sttes. The result was by the time the Germans launched their long-awaited war-winning Western offenive, the American Expeditionry Force had joined the British and French in the trenches of the Western Front. And the American infantry would prove to be be the deciding factor in the War.


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Created: 5:47 AM 2/25/2012
Last updated: 5:47 AM 2/25/2012