CHAPTER REVIEW:

Iron Dice: World War 1

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The 11th edition of Why
nations go to war book written by George Stoessinger. In this book, he discusses
ten case studies which covers major international wars and an attempt to find
out the new reason for war.

The chapter has become an iconic text in the study of war and peace. In this
chapter, the focus of case study reflects the personalities of political
and military leaders. “If
the iron dice must roll, May God help us”; These were the words of the German
chancellor on the eve of World War 1. Stoessinger discourse the chapter
starting with the eminent statement to develop the interest in reader. The writer
took world war 1 of 20th century as a case study and an attempt to find out the
core reason behind why nations go to war. The main thesis put forward by the
stoessinger is that war breaks out because of the misperception of powerful
individuals involved. These misperceptions can be about their self-created
image, and can be about the strength of their adversary.
The underlying
theory given by Stoessinger (that war reason for war is largely related to the
personality and personal issues of the country’s leaders at the time of the
war) which is deeply flawed but its brief historical breakdowns make it for a
good introduction.

Stoessinger
deliberates the incentives and rationales of the world leaders that decided to
turn against each other. He starts with the Kaiser in World War I. Studying
world history before reading this book, World War I has generally been
presented to me as being caused by large social factors like nationalism. But Author discussed World War I and
the Austro-Hungarian empire that how they go to war and discover new reasons
for war. To me this case study is selective about the facts and really ignore
the 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. I
could not disagree more.

As
for the First World War 1, the leaders of Germany, Russia, Serbia and
Austria-Hungary were perhaps not the single-minded aggressors. At that time
some leaders favored peace, rather than war, but perhaps less. In this regard, communications
between the Kaiser Wilhelm and Czar Nicholas II, show the degree of efforts to
avoid or perhaps contain the war between Serbia and Austria. Also, such efforts
were eventually used by the Russian leadership to gain an advantage over the
Germans. The facts
can be arranged to show it is most anything.
In a harsh criticism of the political leadership of that time, Stoessinger
demonstrates such political leaders as either arrogant, selfish and anxious
with their egos and ultimately avoid their responsibilities not to have their
people dragged into a disaster such as World War 1. 

What it really is, is complicated. His account there is way
too reductionist. This is the distinguishing feature of the
chapter which remains the author’s emphasis on the pivotal role of the
personalities of leaders who take their nations across the threshold into war.
As a result, almost a generation of
Europe’s young men were defeated because of weak and often careless decisions
by leaders.

I
appreciated the way the author in his analyses considered specific people and
personalities of the events, that led up to wars and other momentous events
rather than attributing them to “the forces of history” or some other
vague concept. People start wars, not destiny or the forces of nature. I was
especially struck by this approach in his discussion of WWI. Wars are started
by people and leaders not ideologies. Wars are wretched excuse for exercising
power and greed. Stoessinger creates
a compelling argument that war is never inevitable, and that the ultimate
responsibility for conflict will always come down to individuals.

The
layout and execution of iron dice is impressive. Stoessinger does an excellent
job laying out the facts as well as making it clear and coherent and important
for readers to know and remember. The author demonstrates how WW1 could have
been avoided. He also argues how if it had, the alliance system would have been
attributed for preventing it. By reading this chapter It gave good insight on
who was involved and get to know the leaders who start wars. I enjoyed reading
though very briefly described, which troubled to some extent, yet beautifully
concluded. I like how stoessinger gave an entirely new perception to the causes
of war, that personalities of the leader do matter and misperceptions are of
major importance to bring the nations to the brink of war. This book is highly
recommended to know the history of major wars fought in the world and why. It
was much less technical than I would have liked and seemed to contain a lot of
opinions.

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