Ukraine and WW1: They fought on because they thought they would win

Ukraine and WW1: They fought on because they thought they would win. By Srdja Trifkovic.

Why there was no peace deal in WW1 for four years:

The Germans were aware that the Allies enjoyed an advantage in resources. With its armies in possession of enormous enemy territory in both the east and the west, and with the Allies apparently unable to break through their lines, no German leader saw reason to offer major concessions to the enemy.

Until September 1918, the military situation of the Reich never looked desperate. Naval leaders promised in 1916 that a campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare would force Britain to negotiate on German terms within six months. They dismissed the effect of America’s entry into the war, trusting that the war would end before the U.S. could make its weight felt. …

From the fall of 1914 until the very end, the Allies thought the balance of power was in their favor because they had access to greater resources than the Central Powers. Russia dropped out of the war in 1917, but America came in, which effectively made defeat unthinkable.

To the French leaders, the early successes of the Germans in the West indicated that if France succumbed, the Germans would annex French coal and iron mines and demand huge war reparations. To ensure mere survival, they saw as minimum goals the return of all occupied territory, the restoration of an independent Belgium, and the return of Alsace and the Lorraine.

For the British, Germany wanted to dominate Europe and it would succeed in this if it retained control over Belgium, crippled France territorially and financially, and reduced it to the status of a second-rate power. Britain would face an unassailable enemy on the eastern side of the Channel, which was unacceptable by definition. British leaders, including both Asquith and Lloyd George, considered any peace short of Germany’s defeat to be an unacceptable risk.

Diplomacy failed in 1916 because the minimum conditions of the warring sides were incompatible.

Defeat was unthinkable, because until the fall of 1918 neither side considered an outright victory beyond reach. Both sides believed that they had the prospect of winning and would be able to impose their terms on their opponents. Under such circumstances, the costs of continuing to fight seemed more acceptable than the costs of accepting compromise peace which was — in both sides’ view — tantamount to defeat. The war, therefore, continued until the German military leadership realized that defeat was imminent: the home front was collapsing and the reserves of manpower were exhausted. …

The strong parallels with the Ukraine war are obvious:

In the United States, the unholy alliance of global hegemonists and the military-industrial-congressional complex has a vested interest in continuing the war to the last Ukrainian on the battlefield and to the last German, Italian, and Frenchman in their deserted factories and unheated homes. …

In Russia, any acceptance of Kissinger’s notion of Ukraine linked to NATO (“however expressed”) is tantamount to defeat. To Putin and to anyone likely to replace him, this is more important than territory. No Russia, under Putin or under any likely successor, would ever be able to “find a place in such an order.”

The war in Ukraine is most unlikely to end in a negotiated compromise because a mutually acceptable agreement is structurally impossible. It will continue until one side concludes that its continuation is not worth the cost. That was the reality of Europe in 1916. No less tragically, it is also the reality of eastern Europe as we approach 2023.

At the moment, the war is delicately poised. There is talk of a new Russian offensive in weeks from the north, east, and south. There is also talk of huge numbers of Russian casualties — the US now says 188,000 to date. But in war, most everyone lies. Perhaps the role of propaganda in prolonging the war has been overlooked?