Kagan argued that it is possible for the First World War to be avoided. The general reason can be found on the arbitrariness of the alliances created before the First World War. It can also be argued that the complexity of the alliances were, in fact, slump in its orientation. Countries of both camps held suspicious views of each other, and thus, unsupportive at times. The implication: it is possible for diplomacy to succeed in mitigating the war itself. The probability, though, that war seemed imminent was not appreciated by many people during that time.
Ministers of the British Government often remarked that a peace settlement could be reached if Germany withdrew intentions to invade the Neutral countries. The Russian monarchy also held such view. If Germany withdrew rom the alliances, there was a chance that the war between the Austrian Empire and the state of Serbia might not erupt into a global conflict. For a layman, it is always right to assume that the ultimate cause of any war is the immediate cause itself. Take, for instance, the First World War. Many students would argue that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the immediate cause of the war.
They failed to realize the complexities of the event; complexities that can only be discovered by a thorough examination of facts. There is also another problem in analyzing historical facts. The emphasis on cause and effect became more and more significant as contrast to other historical methods. Researchers emphasize such for three reasons: 1) its ability to analyze facts within a short time frame, 2) its ability to generalize, and 3) its general appeal to the laymen. Many historical methods were neglected.
The implication: it is possible that the “whole” picture of history may be incomplete and even distorted. Historical distortion is a situation wherein an event is rippled by a factor or series of factor. In short, historical distortion is the main “crime” for any historian. There is an alternative method to analyzing historical method. This is called “probabilistic historical analysis. ” In simple terms, it is a method that measures probabilistic conditions in a given event. For example, what is the probability of avoiding World War I if Franz Ferdinand was not assassinated?
In short, this method measures the relative effect of a variable when it is absent on an event. This method is popular among British historians, who employed the technique in creating historical models and perspectives. In order to analyze the extent to which the First World War could be avoided, the method above will be used. Kagan argued that WWI could be avoided if the great military alliances of Europe never existed. The impression that these alliances made on the peoples of Europe was exhilarating. There was, of course, the question of nationalism and imperialism.
The whole question of military alliances, according to Kagan, was intricately connected to many issues. It was impossible to isolate the effects of those “alliances” on the war itself, without taking into account other factors. However, would it suffice to say that if those “alliances” never existed, then there would be no WWI? The answer is yes. The existence of the event itself could not be denied. What the researcher is interested was to give probability if another event (which is tied to the first event) did not occur.
Now, Kagan argued that the means to resolve this seemingly difficult problem was to assume that the sub event is injected to the main event. In that way, one would know its effect when it is present and absent. One can argue then that the causes of the WWI may be viewed as both the “present” and “absent” events. If they did not occur, then the First World War could be possibly avoided. Work Cited Kagan, Donald. On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1987. Outline I. Possibility of the Avoidance of the First World War
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