CHAPTER REVIEW:Iron Dice: World War 1The 11th edition of Whynations go to war book written by George Stoessinger. In this book, he discussesten case studies which covers major international wars and an attempt to findout the new reason for war.The chapter has become an iconic text in the study of war and peace.
In thischapter, the focus of case study reflects the personalities of politicaland military leaders. “Ifthe iron dice must roll, May God help us”; These were the words of the Germanchancellor on the eve of World War 1. Stoessinger discourse the chapterstarting with the eminent statement to develop the interest in reader. The writertook world war 1 of 20th century as a case study and an attempt to find out thecore reason behind why nations go to war. The main thesis put forward by thestoessinger is that war breaks out because of the misperception of powerfulindividuals involved.
These misperceptions can be about their self-createdimage, and can be about the strength of their adversary.The underlyingtheory given by Stoessinger (that war reason for war is largely related to thepersonality and personal issues of the country’s leaders at the time of thewar) which is deeply flawed but its brief historical breakdowns make it for agood introduction.Stoessingerdeliberates the incentives and rationales of the world leaders that decided toturn against each other. He starts with the Kaiser in World War I. Studyingworld history before reading this book, World War I has generally beenpresented to me as being caused by large social factors like nationalism. But Author discussed World War I andthe Austro-Hungarian empire that how they go to war and discover new reasonsfor war. To me this case study is selective about the facts and really ignorethe big issues. The author focusses more on the personality of Kaiser Wilhelm,and attempt to show how it is the personality of the leaders caused the wars.
Icould not disagree more. Asfor the First World War 1, the leaders of Germany, Russia, Serbia andAustria-Hungary were perhaps not the single-minded aggressors. At that timesome leaders favored peace, rather than war, but perhaps less. In this regard, communicationsbetween the Kaiser Wilhelm and Czar Nicholas II, show the degree of efforts toavoid or perhaps contain the war between Serbia and Austria. Also, such effortswere eventually used by the Russian leadership to gain an advantage over theGermans. The factscan be arranged to show it is most anything.
In a harsh criticism of the political leadership of that time, Stoessingerdemonstrates such political leaders as either arrogant, selfish and anxiouswith their egos and ultimately avoid their responsibilities not to have theirpeople dragged into a disaster such as World War 1. What it really is, is complicated. His account there is waytoo reductionist.
This is the distinguishing feature of thechapter which remains the author’s emphasis on the pivotal role of thepersonalities of leaders who take their nations across the threshold into war.As a result, almost a generation ofEurope’s young men were defeated because of weak and often careless decisionsby leaders.Iappreciated the way the author in his analyses considered specific people andpersonalities of the events, that led up to wars and other momentous eventsrather than attributing them to “the forces of history” or some othervague concept. People start wars, not destiny or the forces of nature.
I wasespecially struck by this approach in his discussion of WWI. Wars are startedby people and leaders not ideologies. Wars are wretched excuse for exercisingpower and greed. Stoessinger createsa compelling argument that war is never inevitable, and that the ultimateresponsibility for conflict will always come down to individuals. Thelayout and execution of iron dice is impressive. Stoessinger does an excellentjob laying out the facts as well as making it clear and coherent and importantfor readers to know and remember. The author demonstrates how WW1 could havebeen avoided. He also argues how if it had, the alliance system would have beenattributed for preventing it.
By reading this chapter It gave good insight onwho was involved and get to know the leaders who start wars. I enjoyed readingthough very briefly described, which troubled to some extent, yet beautifullyconcluded. I like how stoessinger gave an entirely new perception to the causesof war, that personalities of the leader do matter and misperceptions are ofmajor importance to bring the nations to the brink of war. This book is highlyrecommended to know the history of major wars fought in the world and why. Itwas much less technical than I would have liked and seemed to contain a lot ofopinions.