Imagine that your closest trading partner is also your most threatening potential enemy. Imagine, too, that this partner is building a large navy specifically targeted at yours, hence at the overseas trade vital to you. Does that sound like the current U.S. situation with respect to China? It was certainly the British situation relative to Germany a century ago, on the eve of World War I. History never repeats, but it is often instructive to look at the mistakes of the past. The worse the mistakes, the more instructive. No one looking at the outbreak and then the course of World War I can see it as anything but a huge mistake. Hopefully we can do better.
1. Michael and Eleanor Brock, eds., H. H. Asquith: Letters to Venetia Stanley (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1982).
2. Holger M. Herwig, ‘Luxury Fleet:’ The German Imperial Navy 1888–1918 (London: Allen & Unwin, 1980).
3. Nicholas A. Lambert, Planning Armageddon: British Economic Warfare and the First World War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012).
4. V. R. Berghahn, Germany and the Approach of War in 1914, second ed. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993.
5. Jack Beatty, The Lost History of 1914: How the Great War Was Not Inevitable (London: Bloomsbury, 2012).
6. David Fromkin, Europe’s Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914? (New York: Knopf, 2004).
7. Brock Millman, Pessimism and British War Policy, 1916–1918 (London: Frank Cass, 2001).