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An alternate history I haven't seen - Input Junkie
February 22nd, 2010
02:46 pm

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An alternate history I haven't seen
I'm reading Le Guin's Gifts, Voices, Powers trilogy[1], and I've gotten to the point where some careful thought is being done about the best way to deal with a dictatorial invader.

I don't think there was a peaceful way of getting a good end to WWII, but is it conceivable that there could have been a negotiated peace much earlier in WWI?

[1]Excellent books so far, and with beautiful covers, but the order of the books isn't indicated anywhere on the covers that I can find-- I had to use the copyright dates.

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From:autopope
Date:February 22nd, 2010 08:04 pm (UTC)
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WW1 was unlikely to end well; too much pent-up hostility at the outset, and everybody got more committed to it the longer the slaughter continued.

On the other hand, if the German general staff under Ludendorf and Hindenberg hadn't lost their collective nerve in September 1918, the war might have rolled on into 1919 ... at which point the allies would have been able to put Plan 1919 into effect.

In the wake of a successful execution of Plan 1919, there would have been no room for the dolchstosslegende to take root -- and consequently no second world war.

(Plan 1919 was the prototype for blitzkrieg; armoured spearheads fighting a war of maneuver with dive bombers replacing artillery and radio used to coordinate the advancing armies. It was due to kick off in spring 1919, and it would probably have ended with British and American tanks parked in the ruins of Berlin by late summer. There wouldn't have been an armistice -- the central powers would have been comprehensively defeated.)
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From:green_knight
Date:February 22nd, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
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too much pent-up hostility at the outset

Which is exactly why I can imagine a different outcome - you'd have to initiate the changes much, much sooner - small changes from the 1860s onwards, so you'd still get an outbreak of WWI that looks similar but that isn't resting on the same foundations.

An early negotiated end to WWII would have to involve the assasination of several of the driving personalities; there are people who cannot be negotiated with; much less once they are in a position of power.
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From:richardthinks
Date:February 22nd, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
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is it conceivable that there could have been a negotiated peace much earlier in WWI?

Sigh. From a practical perspective, sure: I don't think anyone was getting any capital out of the war after, say, 1915, and everyone would have been better off backing down. The animosity could in some large measure be accounted for, I think, by the need to keep the various war machines going in order to keep fighting the war. Given the personalities involved, OTOH, probably not. It sounds stupid, but I believe that nobody had the political will to stop it.
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From:nancylebov
Date:February 22nd, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
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I don't know how things are going to work out in the Le Guin novel, but that story has gods involved.
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From:richardthinks
Date:February 22nd, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)
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Perhaps Le Guin's gods will take the sort of active and vocal role that it's difficult to write multiple interpretations of. Otherwise, I'm afraid, such gods are liable just to be caught up like everyone else in the propaganda machine.
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From:nancylebov
Date:February 23rd, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
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There's a somewhat ambiguous oracle and a chance for people to do The Right Thing. That's why we call it fiction.
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From:orangemike
Date:February 22nd, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
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Like Charlie says, too much accumulated animosity.

The popular culture of both sides (even significant elements of the Left) was too emotionally invested in the most absurd sort of bullshit patriotic drivel, demonizing the other side and believing the most idiotic propaganda about the nun-raping, baby-killing EVIALLLLL!!!! monsters of the OtherSideFolk, so different from Our Noble Boys In Uniform. Even the saner elements of the civilian and military commands on both sides was populated by a large contingent of folks who believed all that crap. Look at what was done to anybody in the United States who dissented from this consensus reality, such as the Socialist Party of America!
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From:nancylebov
Date:February 23rd, 2010 12:03 am (UTC)
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IIRC, the left was trying to put together an internationalist coalition of workers, but what they called "war fever" made it impossible.
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From:orangemike
Date:February 23rd, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
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There were anti-war elements in all the major social democratic and radical socialist parties; but in each country, larger or smaller portions of the parties went along with "war fever"; and the elements who resisted (such as our comparatively-conservative Socialist Party of America) were treated basically as traitors. Victor Berger was jailed and excluded from Congress, a number of Socialist legislators were removed or excluded from their seats, etc.

For those who admire a certain slick-talking Yankee jurist: the line about how There is no right to falsely cry fire in a crowded theatre was part of a majority ruling in a case in which the US Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a man who had violated a World War I espionage act by handing out leaflets opposing a military draft; i.e., that there is no legal right to counsel draft resistance once Congress has passed a conscription act.
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From:sethg_prime
Date:February 22nd, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
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Aside from the reasons others have mentioned, once the Ottoman Empire entered the war, the British began salivating over the prospect of creating a chain of friendly countries protecting British supply lines all the way to India.
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From:richardthinks
Date:February 22nd, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
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or herniating over the Russian Threat to same. But they'd been toying with the idea of messing up the Ottomans and/or Russians at least since the Crimea. I wouldn't push historical inevitability here.

Desire, fear. So often the same in statecraft.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 22nd, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)

alternate peace?

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If the British Expeditionary Force had been killed along the canal between Kaisershaven and the Baltic? Germany wins a pitched battle fought with high explosives in their own territory. If that had happened in fall 1914 I could see a negotiated peace in 1915.

This is standard 1980 gr0gnard BS, invented to avoid trying to outthink both the Prussian General Staff and the Brits without knowing the turf like they did. It's simple, it uses hindsight to look smart, and nobody at the time ever considered it.

Bruce
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From:nancylebov
Date:February 23rd, 2010 12:06 am (UTC)

Re: alternate peace?

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I've seen a distinction made between the sort of increased intelligence which consists of having more time to think vs. being able to think of things that the current you couldn't imagine. Top physicists are usually cited as examples of the latter.
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From:bradhicks
Date:February 22nd, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)
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About the only more-favorable outcome I can imagine to WWI would have been if the US had stayed out of it, or done what we should have done and sided with Germany. With France in ruins, and the UK defeated, Russia and its allies could conceivably have been brought to the bargaining table earlier (settling on a deal not terribly unlike the Iron Curtain, only slightly farther east and therefore economically weaker). This would have left us allied with the Ottoman Empire, which could have gotten awkward if the Young Turks had still come to power, still allied with the fascists in Italy. And we would still have had to deal with Japan in the long run, because they weren't going to put up with our economic embargo indefinitely. But it would have spared us the Versailles Treaty and thus Nazism. On the other hand, it would have started the Cold War even earlier.
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