Western Civilization Essay

1. How did developments in the Balkans lead to the outbreak of the war? What was the role of Serbia? Austria? Russia? What was the aim of German policy in July 1914? Did Germany want a general war? The Balkans is the historic name given to the states in southeastern Europe. Only five states in the Balkans were free from being ruled by Turkey. The people that lived in these areas were considered Slavs. Once Turkey stopped ruling these five states, they wanted to save the remaining states under Turkish rule. The movement was called the Pan-Slavism movement.

This movement wanted to unite all of the Slavs including Russia, and break down Turkey and Austria-Hungary. Because Austria wanted to disable the movements of Slavs, they annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Balkan Wars prepared the way for World War I by satisfying some of the aspirations of Serbia and thereby giving a great impetus to the Serbian desire to annex parts of Austria-Hungary; by alarming Austria and stiffening Austrian resolution to crush Serbia; and by giving causes of dissatisfaction to Bulgaria and Turkey (“Balkan Wars” 2007)

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In July 1914, Germany sought war and started what we called now the World War I. The German policy at that tome was centered on the following: a. )illustrating Russia as the aggressor, b. ) an Austrian ultimatum to Serbia had to be designed to preclude a negotiated settlement, c. ) Italy had to be convinced to join the German side through whatever means and d. ) as many secret military measures as possible had to be taken to facilitate mobilization once it was announced. Generally, Germany with its goals was evidently setting the stage for a successful general war (Copeland 2001 pp. 5-87). 2. Assess the settlement of Versailles. What were its good points? Bad points? Was the peace too harsh or too conciliatory? Could it have ensured peace in Europe? How might it have been improved? The Treaty of Versailles seemed to satisfy only the “Big Three” which are Britain, France and America. For France, it appeared as if Germany had been smashed; for Britain, it was satisfied that enough of Germany’s power had been left to act as a buffer to communist expansion from Russia ; and for America, it was just happy that the proceedings were over.

They kept Germany weak yet strong enough to stop the spread of communism. They kept the French border safe from another German attack and created the organization, the League of Nations, whose was to end warfare throughout the world. However, it left a mood of anger throughout Germany as it was felt that as a nation Germany had been unfairly treated. Above all else, Germany hated the clause blaming them for the cause of the war and the resultant financial penalties the treaty was bound to impose on Germany. Those who signed it became known as the “November Criminals”.

Many German citizens felt that they were being punished for the mistakes of the German government in August 1914 as it was the government that had declared war not the people. On the other hand, the Treaty of Versailles brought forth peace settlements to materialize all over Europe particularly in Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. But because of the harsh conditions of the treaty, Germany’s acceptance of the provisions did not last. In 1933, Hitler refused to pay the reparations. This instigated the rise of power of the Nazis (Trueman 2008). 3. Discuss France’s foreign policy problems after the Versailles Treaty.

By what means could it best obtain security? Was the invasion of the Ruhr wise? Should France have signed the Locarno pact? Should it have made an alliance with Soviet Russia? French defense policy right through the inter-war decades (1919–39) was consistently defensive and non-aggressive – consistent with France’s status as a territorially satisfied ‘status quo’ power. The Versailles Treaty caused a financial imperative in which dominated France’s foreign policy through-out the twenties, leading to the 1923 occupation of the Ruhr in order to force Germany to pay the reparations required under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

The occupation of the Ruhr led to a collapse of the German economy. There was massive inflation and large increase in unemployment. Germany was unable to pay, and obtained support from the United States. Thus, the Dawes Plan was negotiated after President Raymond Poincare’s occupation of the Ruhr, and then the Young Plan in 1929. The French occupation of the Ruhr had swung German opinion to the Right. It encouraged Hitler and his Fascists in Bavaria that somehow led to World War II (Price, 1969).

More so, French pursuit of economic cooperation with Germany from 1919-1922 was perceived as “an initial stage” of “an important strain — in some respects the dominant strain–in France’s postwar foreign policy” (Blatt, 2001). Meanwhile, the Locarno pact led to the improvement of the relationship between France and Germany wherein series of treaties of mutual guarantee and arbitration were signed that guaranteed the common boundaries of Belgium, France, and Germany as specified in the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 (“Locorno Pact, 2007).

Furthermore, France’s leaders were aware, however, that she could not defeat Germany alone. Therefore, French foreign and defense policy in 1936–39 was heavily determined by a quest for a firm British commitment to underwrite French security. This, however, was not obtained until February 1939. Another problem was the French need to find a counterweight to Germany in Eastern Europe. This had traditionally been Russia (through the Franco-Russian alliance of 1894). That union had foundered, however, on the ideological hostility of French political conservatives to Russia’s Bolshevik regime after 1917.

This diplomatic problem was compounded by geo-politics: Russia had no common frontier with Germany after the territorial adjustments of 1919 had re-created Poland. Thus, even the French Left’s desire for an updated Franco-Russian (Franco-Soviet) defensive alliance was not self-evidently the answer to France’s strategic exposure, if faced by further German aggression as seen in 1914 (Evans &Godin. 2004). 4. How was Hitler able to defeat France so easily in 1940? Why was the air war against Britain a failure? Why did Hitler invade Russia?

Why did the invasion fail? Could it have succeeded? Hitler was able to swiftly defeat France because of the German’s strategic boldness and operational dash. Actually, the French forces could have been able to fight the German offensive that opened on 10 May 1940 to a standstill because they have more superior design and more combat capabilities. But because the forces were deployed all over France, their defenses were easily breached. However, the air strikes of Germany in Great Britain did not experience the same victory as it had with its first conquest.

There were several reasons for this defeat of Hitler, including the superiority of the British Spitfire over German fighters and limited fuel supply. The main factor that caused the German’s strategy. In the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe concentrated on attacking the British air fields. Despite British superiority in aerial combat, their air fields were being steadily degraded and were damaged. If the Germans kept were able to constantly attacked the British air fields, the would have gained the upper hand in the battle.

But Hitler’s order of attacking British cities, to terrorize the British people into submission have caused the British air force’s to secure their air fields and gain tactical advantages. (“The Beginning of World War II”). Hitler suffered a major military and political problem in his quest for the invasion of Britain. He was dubious about his own plan. The ideological reason why Hitler was not fully committed to invading Britain was for him, it would have been a distraction. Britain contained neither the space, nor the raw materials, that he believed the new German Empire needed.

But for Hitler’s point of view, there was an alternative to invading Britain: he could invade the Soviet Union. Both Hitler and his military planners knew that Germany’s best chance of victory was for the war in Europe to be finished swiftly (Rees, 2001, p. 1). At first, the Soviet invasion was successful because of their German Blitzkrieg technique that cause annihilation in Russia (Rees, 2001, p. 2). The tables were turned when Hitler set in motion one of the bitterest conflicts of the 20th century – the Battle of Stalingrad. In the spring of 1942, he launched a two-pronged attack.

The ferocity of the fighting at Stalingrad shocked the Germans, who were used to the relative ease of their Blitzkrieg tactics (Rees, 2001, p. 4). The Germans could not have won the battle because Stalin did everything he could to prove to the Germans that they will not back down from the German’s power. He utilized every Soviet to defend their territory. 5. Trace the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. How important was Gorbachev in transforming the political and economic atmosphere of the Soviet Union? Why did he fail? How did things change under Boris Yeltsin? What problems still face Russia today? On the night of November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall—the most potent symbol of the cold-war division of Europe—came down. The collapse of the Berlin Wall was the culminating point of the revolutionary changes sweeping East Central Europe in 1989. Throughout the Soviet bloc, reformers assumed power and ended over 40 years of dictatorial Communist rule which was called the “Revolutionary Wave” that started in Poland followed through by Czechoslovakia, Romania and other eastern European countries.

In 1985, the assumption of power in the Soviet Union by a reformer, Mikhail Gorbachev, paved the way for political and economic reforms in East Central Europe. Gorbachev abandoned the “Brezhnev Doctrine” — the Soviet Union’s policy of intervening with military force, if necessary, to preserve Communist rule in the region. Instead, he encouraged the local Communist leaders to seek new ways of gaining popular support for their rule (“Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, 1989”).

However, Gorbachev’s “balancing act” between reform and hard-line Communist forces within the Soviet Union helped create a power vacuum which unleashed forces that destroyed the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union from within. Ultimately, Gorbachev’s failure to lead and inability to act decisively brought about his own downfall(“Tear Down This Wall: The Fall of Soviet Communism in Central and Eastern Europe,” 2008). After the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin became the freely elected leader of Russia. During his term, there was incoherence in the party and Yeltsin had a debilitated hold on the Russian people.

His leadership was erratic and often crude, and the democrat often ruled in the manner of a czar. He showed no reluctance to use the power of the presidency to face down his opponents, as he did in a showdown in 1993 when he ordered tanks to fire on the parliament, dominated by openly seditious Communists, and in 1994 when he embarked upon a harsh military operation to subdue the breakaway republic of Chechnya. That costly and ruinous war almost became his undoing, and it flared ferociously back to life in 1999, continuing to rage long after his resignation (Berger, 2007, p. ). Generally, modern Russia is still experiencing an economic crisis and many social problems caused by costly mistakes committed by their leaders. There is a large number of unemployment that resulted millions of Russians to live in poverty. With this kind of living condition, Russian are incline to have short life expectancy (“Troubled Times – political, economic and social problems in Russia” 1999). 6. How do you account for the continued vitality of Christianity in a secular age? What role should the church play in the modern world?

Should it involve itself with the political affairs of the world? In this regard, discuss John Paul II’s papacy. Will Church and State come into conflict again? The Church is a living community, lay and ecclesiastical, dedicated to the moral and spiritual education of its followers and the whole modern Western society in general. The Church is one of the great transmitters and mediators of the whole moral and spiritual wealth of the past into the present-day world, a mission which transcends sectarian divisions and particular formal moral and theological beliefs.

Its teaching mission calls for not merely preserving the ideals and beauties of the past, but vigorously translating them into an idiom for the modern world . For centuries the Church has exerted a profound and incalculable spiritual and cultural influence in many parts of the world, helping to shape men’s minds, and the motives which govern their actions. In terms of meddling in political affairs, the Church has the role of peacemaker. A number of religious leaders particularly the Pope encourage a more favorable climate for the peaceful diplomatic settlement of disputes.

A Pope can use its moral prestige to mobilize public opinion in behalf of peace and its diplomatic apparatus to encourage conciliation (Rostow, 1968). This role is clearly seen during the papacy of Pope John Paul II from 1978 to 2005. During his term, he had met with various political leaders such as Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat and Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union. He facilitated these talks to ensure that these leaders are not abusing their power and most importantly that they are doing their jobs to protect and serve their constituents.

However, the Church should not push further its participation with political matters so as not to aggravate these political leaders. The Church should act as facilitators of peace and order and not as implementors because that is the role of the government. Doing the latter would mean that Church is bypassing the function of the government that would eventually lead to a conflict. In simpler terms, the Church deals with the eternal order that pertains to eternal salvation while the State deals with the temporal order, which is concerned with the here and now, the material well-being of citizens (“The Role of the Church in Society” 2007).

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