Uneasy Coalition: The Entente Experience in World War I

By Jehuda L. Wallach | Go to book overview

2
PREWAR PLANNING BETWEEN ALLIES AND POTENTIAL ALLIES

In his essay "Military Coalitions and Coalition Warfare over the Past Century," the Canadian historian Paul Kennedy remarks that "it is important to understand that many of the difficulties encountered by states in a wartime coalition were themselves consequent upon the circumstances which existed and the decisions which were taken when particular alliances were formed before the conflict." 1 He draws attention to the fact that in the fast-changing European wars of the eighteenth century, coalitions were rather short-term expedients and almost exclusively formed for wartime purposes. In many instances they were even broken off in the course of the conflict, such as in 1762, during the Seven Years' War, when the British abandoned their Prussian coalition partner for their own raison d'état. Another example is the first three coalitions against revolutionary and Napoleonic France, which broke up because some of the partners found the enemy pressure unbearable. It is also a matter of record that the coalition formed during the Crimean War dissolved immediately at the end of the war. The armed conflicts that occurred after this latter war, namely the Austro-Prussian War, the Franco-Prussian War and the Russo- Turkish War, were what Kennedy calls "one-to-one conflicts."

One must therefore ask why this situation changed, and peacetime coalitions began to evolve. It is an established fact that after the signing of the Austro-German Alliance in 1879, Europe was divided into two coalitions whose respective partners pledged to render military support to each other under certain specified circumstances. These coalitions were formed by their members in order to escape from isolation when faced by

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Uneasy Coalition: The Entente Experience in World War I
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Military Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • 1 - Suggestions for a Typology of Wartime Coalitions 1
  • 2 - Prewar Planning Between Allies and Potential Allies 7
  • Notes 19
  • 3 - Particularistic Interests in the Coalition 21
  • Notes 41
  • 4 - Human Relations 45
  • Notes 70
  • 5 - Coordination Conferences and Coordination Bodies 75
  • Notes 97
  • 6 - General Reserve and Unified Command 101
  • Notes 117
  • 7 - Amalgamation of Forces 119
  • Notes 129
  • 8 - Logistics and War Finances 131
  • Notes 149
  • 9 - Alliance on the Peace Path 153
  • Notes 167
  • 10 - Conclusions and Lessons 169
  • Notes 176
  • Appendix A Members of the Alliance 177
  • Appendix B Sessions of the Supreme War council (SWC) 179
  • Appendix C Inter-Allied Committees 181
  • Bibliography 183
  • Index 187
  • About the Author 193
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