Your question on my use of the word "inevitable" in my previous post made me pause for thought, but I still stand by it. It also had me thinking about the need to have an opinion or just leave it to the professors?
"Bad history can be lethal!" are the final words of Michael Portillo in the second part of this excellent radio programme. I smiled as I thought of the recent comments by his own biographer, a certain Michael Gove, who has shown us in my opinion, how not to wade into this unsettled and hotly debated argument with a biassed and narrow minded view to suit his own political agenda of the day.
And with that in mind, I then applied Mr Portillo's comment to the views provided by Professor Bognador's examination of the handling of the July 1914 crisis and pondered his pupil David Cameron's understanding of past dealings and the weight he places on his own use of historical precedents to deal with current crises?
In this context, maybe it shows why these arguments on events of 100 years ago may still have such relevance to us all.
I, personally, try to frame all this scholarly work of the experts, using a somewhat subjective feeling that I have for how the mindset ran at the time. For me, as a product of the public school system, the Officer Training Corps and having held a Commission, I know how a perceived sense of honour and belief in a system into which you were wholly immersed during your formative years can really influence all thought on all things.
Thus, in this sense, my "subjectivity" is a useful tool to me, in that I feel that the Imperial and militaristic ambitions of the new Germany were such a vital driving force behind the inevitability of a war sooner rather than later in that period, due to the all the various reasons proposed and also the British reaction in terms of being honour bound not to stand aside.
For me this is best summed up by H.G. Wells in my original copy of "The War Illustrated" dated 22 August 1914 where in the first Article entitled "Why Britain Went to War" he includes such insight as:
"If the Germans had not broken the guarantees they shared with us to respect the neutrality of these little States we should certainly not be at war at the present time"
"We had to fight because our honour and our pledge obliged us."
"No power in the world would have respected our Flag or accepted our national word again if we had not fought."
"There can be no diplomatic settlement that will leave German Imperialism free to explain away its failure to its people and start new preparations."
"We have to smash the Prussian Imperialism as thoroughly as Germany in 1871 smashed the rotten Imperialism of Napoleon III. And also we have to learn from the failure of that victory to avoid a vindictive triumph."
"We know that we face unprecedented slaughter and agonies;"
All the above was written only two weeks into the war. Unfortunately, perhaps it was the ability of Germany to alter the view of history as Michael Portillo described that actually allowed it to "explain away its failure to its people and start new preparations" ?
At any rate on one point H.G. Wells was wrong when he wrote: "This, the greatest of all wars, is not just another war - it is the last war!"
However, I suppose it depends on your use of the word "last" !
Anyway, these are my own opinions, whether they are "bad history", I will leave up to you!