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The Ottoman Road to War in 1914: The Ottoman Empire and the First World War [Cambridge Military Histories Ser.] download ebook

by Mustafa Aksakal

The Ottoman Road to War in 1914: The Ottoman Empire and the First World War [Cambridge Military Histories Ser.] download ebook
ISBN:
0521880602
ISBN13:
978-0521880602
Author:
Mustafa Aksakal
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (December 29, 2008)
Language:
Pages:
216 pages
ePUB:
1632 kb
Fb2:
1473 kb
Other formats:
mobi rtf lit azw
Category:
Humanities
Subcategory:
Rating:
4.4

Why did the Ottoman Empire enter the First World War, months after the war's devastations had become clear? . The Ottomans of 1914 had just suffered a century of reverses and humiliations. Much of its Empire had been lost

Why did the Ottoman Empire enter the First World War, months after the war's devastations had become clear? Mustafa Aksakal's dramatic study demonstrates that responsibility went far beyond the war minister, Enver Pasha, and that the road to war was paved by the demands of a politically interested public. Much of its Empire had been lost. Neighboring states (former colonies) were thirsting for revenge.

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Why did the Ottoman Empire enter the First World War in late October 1914, months after the war's devastations .

Why did the Ottoman Empire enter the First World War in late October 1914, months after the war's devastations had become clear? Were its leaders 'simple-minded,' 'below-average' individuals, as the doyen of Turkish diplomatic history has argued? Or, as others have claimed, did the Ottomans enter the war because War Minister Enver Pasha, dictating Ottoman decisions, was in thrall to the Germans and to his own expansionist dreams? Based on previously untapped Ottoman and European sources, Mustafa Aksakal's dramatic study challenges this consensus.

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The Ottoman Empire entered World War I in early November 1914, three months after hostilities erupted between the . Swimming in a sea of military defeats, the Ottoman leadership, it seems, should have opted for less war, not more, in 1914.

The Ottoman Empire entered World War I in early November 1914, three months after hostilities erupted between the European alliances. The mobilization and concentration plans of the Ottoman general staff moved the entire mobile field army to the fringes of the empire in anticipation of combat operations against the Balkan states and Russia. The generation at the helm of the state, however, welcomed the July Crisis not as a reprieve but as an opportunity to end the empire’s international isolation.

Start by marking The Ottoman Road to War in 1914 . Other books in the series. Cambridge Military Histories (1 - 10 of 37 books). Books by Mustafa Aksakal.

Start by marking The Ottoman Road to War in 1914: The Ottoman Empire and the First World War as Want to Read: Want to Read savin. ant to Read. Mor. rivia About The Ottoman Road.

Why did the Ottoman Empire enter the First World War in late October 1914, months after the war’s devastations .

Why did the Ottoman Empire enter the First World War in late October 1914, months after the war’s devastations had become clear? Were its leaders simple-minded, below-average individuals, as the doyen of Turkish diplomatic history has argued? Or, as others have claimed, did the Ottomans enter the war because War Minister Enver Pasha, dictating Ottoman decisions, was in thrall to the Germans and to his own expansionist dreams? Based on previously untapped Ottoman and European sources, Mustafa Aksakal’s dramatic study challenges this consensus.

Mustafa Aksakal's book is the first . Throughout August 1914, the alliance partners continued to disagree over the timing of Ottoman intervention in the war, especially after the German ships were transferred to the Ottoman navy.

Mustafa Aksakal's book is the first book-length study in English that uses both Ottoman and European sources to answer the question of why the empire entered the war on the side of the Triple Alliance in October 1914, a decision that, in hindsight, was nothing less than catastrophic. Kaiser Wilhelm insisted that Ottomans join the fighting, preferably in the Near East, but Ottoman demands for supplies continued to delay operations.

The core question in Aksakal's book addresses why the Ottoman Empire entered the conflict in World War I on the side of the Central Powers and the Central Powers allied themselves with the Ottomans. His primary effort is to place the Ottoman decision for war in context, examining both the internal and external political landscapes facing the Ottomans, in the process largely debunking the widely accepted perception that Ottoman leadership was either incompetent or mesmerized by German influence.

Why did the Ottoman Empire enter the First World War in late October 1914, months after the war's devastations had become clear? Were its leaders 'simple-minded,' 'below-average' individuals, as the doyen of Turkish diplomatic history has argued? Or, as others have claimed, did the Ottomans enter the war because War Minister Enver Pasha, dictating Ottoman decisions, was in thrall to the Germans and to his own expansionist dreams? Based on previously untapped Ottoman and European sources, Mustafa Aksakal's dramatic study challenges this consensus. It demonstrates that responsibility went far beyond Enver, that the road to war was paved by the demands of a politically interested public, and that the Ottoman leadership sought the German alliance as the only way out of a web of international threats and domestic insecurities, opting for an escape whose catastrophic consequences for the empire and seismic impact on the Middle East are felt even today.
Reviews:
  • Tori Texer
This book attacks the popularly held view, at least in Turkey, that Turkey’s entry into WWI was the result of what the author refers to as “simple minded” and “below average” individuals, in particular Enver Pasha. Nor, according to the author, was Pan-Turkism a major reason. He proposes, instead, two alternative reasons. One is that there was a widespread demand in Turkish society and elites for a war and the other was that it was in Turkey’s geopolitical interests to enter the war on side of the Central Powers.

With respect to the proposition, the author does a very good job at supporting his view that it was not only the desire of Enver Pasha and a small pro-war clique that desired war but that this desire was held by a considerable proportion of Turkish society. This was so for a number of reasons. One was the desire for revenge for recent military defeats by the “minor” Balkan states and Russia. Just before WWI Turkey suffered a number of humiliating defeats by these powers. These had, in the views of Turkish society, had to be avenged. Never mind the fact that most of these wars were anti-imperialist in that the goal, at least of the minor Balkan powers, was to liberate more of their respective nations from Turkish occupation (i.e., in very few, if any, of these lost lands did Muslims make up the majority of the population). A second involved the false lessons learned through the Balkan war of 1913. There Turkey was able to win a rare victory albeit only against minor Balkan opponents. Apparently many derived the “lesson” that this implied that Turkey could regain lost territories and defend its interests only via war. Never mind the fact that the victory was only against minor powers and, in all probability, could not be repeated against major powers like Russia, France and Britain. The fact that Turkish society, the economy and the military were in pretty a horrendous state did not pass the minds of the Turkish elite or society. Revenge and regaining past glory and “honor” seems all that mattered.

With respect to the geopolitical situation, the author makes the point, justifiably, that if Turkey had allied with the Entente powers it would have been at their mercy afterwards. Not a particularly pleasant situation. On the other hand Germany would not pose a threat. Plus it offered the opportunity to possibly to retake some of the “lost” territories. Hence if war was the way to go logic pointed in the direction of the Central Powers. This is not exactly a revelation and one does not really need to have read this book to have come to this conclusion albeit the author’s research of German and Entente power archives sheds some light on these not so dark shadows.

The above are the strengths of the book. Unfortunately the book also has many weaknesses. One is that many alternative reasons for war are not even mentioned. For example, Sean McKeekin, in his “The Russian Origins of the First World War”, puts forth the hypothesis that the Turkish Pearl Harbor undeclared strike against the Russian fleet was a pre-emptive strike against a Russian attack. Not that Dr. McKeekin was the first to propose this hypothesis, it has been around a while. Yet not even a mention by the author, Dr. Mustafa Aksakal. As a matter of fact there is no other alternative explanation of the war put forth or examined by him with the notable exception of Enver Pasha’s Pan-Turkism as a motivating factor. Dr. Aksakal believes that this was not a significant factor though his discussion is, at least in this reviewer’s opinion, rather weak. The author negates this with only a relatively (and too small) amount of analysis and discussion.

Lastly, Dr. Aksakal leaves many questions regarding the topic unanswered (or not discussed). For example, why has it been the view of Turkish society, for so long, that the war was due to Enver Pasha’s (and his clique’s) “simple mindedness”? Why has this view been promulgated for so long? Could there be some need to blame, in some simplistic intellectual framework, a “fall guy”? This is a particularly interesting question given how obvious it was that joining the Central Powers was much more in Turkey’s interest than joining the Entente. In addition it ignores the role that Turkish society had placed in bringing that nation into the war to begin with.

Dr. Aksakal also makes mention of various opinions raised by previous writers, particularly Turkish, that he just does not address in sufficient depth. For example, he mentions a Turkish historian who put forth that the Turkish attack on Russia was “accidental” as opposed to a planned coordinated attack. Why was the logic behind this view? Dr. Aksakal examines many other views but simply provides little if any elaboration.

In this reviewer’s opinion most of these problems stem from the fact that the book is too short, at only about 190 pages, to perform the needed job. A book that needs to properly examine Turkey’s entry in the First World War simply needs to be more than that. One hundred ninety pages is enough to put forth the views that the Turkish public’s clamoring for war along with geopolitical realities necessitated Turkey’s entry into the war on the Central Power’s side but it is not enough to thoroughly refute commonly held views such as Pan-Turkism as a cause, never mind seriously analyze other factors.
  • Whiteseeker
This is an interesting and enlightening book. I saw a review of it in the Hürriyet Daily News (an English language Turkish newspaper) or otherwise would have missed it. The author, Mustafa Aksakal, has written the first book I have found to take a comprehensive and believable look at the entrance of the Ottoman Empire into World War I.

Most books take one of two approaches: either the Ottomans were duped by an expansionist Germany, or Enver Pasha manipulated an incompetent Ottoman government into the war. By delving deep into the records of Turkey, Germany, France and Russia (which have been depleted by war, disinterest and, sometimes, deliberate cleansing) Aksakal has thrown light and understanding on the events of 1914.

"The Ottoman Road to War" shows that a myriad of conflicting self-interests prodded the several nations towards a result that was neither inevitable nor planned. Anyone with a bit of knowledge of the period and the region will find this book imminently believable. It is an excellent example of scholarship.

Most histories are filtered by hindsight. Aksakal has reviewed the documents that are available, evaluating them in terms of what was known and believed by the various parties at the time the decisions were being made. In doing so, he has shown that nations with conflicting interests can find themselves led into situations that are, with hindsight, both foolish and self-destructive.

The Ottomans of 1914 had just suffered a century of reverses and humiliations. Much of its Empire had been lost. Neighboring states (former colonies) were thirsting for revenge. Seen as the "Sick Man of Europe", the remains of the Empire were preserved largely because the great powers each feared that the others might gain too much by its final dismemberment. The Turks, proud and humiliated, saw war as the only means by which to re-enervate themselves.

This is one of the best books I have read, both for its style and its treatment of the subject. My only reservation is that a reader with little or no knowledge of early 20th Century Balkan relationships ought to read a general history of the region before tackling "The Ottoman Road to War in 1914". I recommend "The Balkan Wars: 1912-1913", by Jacob Gould Schurman, which I have read twice and is available for free on Kindle books.
  • GoodLike
This book is well documented and convincing. The degree of cynicism and deception used by Europe's nations at the outbreak of the war is a timeless lesson for today's policy makers.