15 April 2011

What If...? A Change in WWI History

Looking for something else entirely online, I stumbled across an old discussion board thread asking what would've happened if the US had sided with Germany in WWI. Now keep in mind we're talking about WWI here, not WWII, so leave any discussions of the Nazis out of it - they weren't present in 1915 in any significant numbers.

Anyhow, some other folks were talking about the military ramifications, like Britain having to spread their fleet around the world. I threw out the following comments:

Forgetting the Western front for a second:

What happens on the Eastern Front if the Germans don't have as many forces committed to the Western front? What happens to the Balkans if the Austro-Hungarian Empire isn't hacked up after the war?

Assuming a German victory in the west, coupled with the same Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and Austria likely takes significant chunks of Italian/Yugoslavian coast, from Venice to Dubrovnik, at least. The Ottoman Empire still falls apart. Iraq/Palestine are under German influence rather than British, and the Suez Canal may change hands. Similarly, the German colonies in Africa aren't parceled out among other nations.

More importantly, while the Brits and French likely plot their revenge on Germany - and the US - the Nazi party never rises in Germany. A WWII is still likely, given the unresolved state of armistices at the time, and imminent rise of Japanese militarism. But the Holocaust doesn't happen, Israel is perhaps founded, but treated much differently because the Jews aren't scarred by the memories of the Holocaust. German domination of the Middle East from the Suez to Hormuz results in an efficient bureaucratic system layered on top of Islam that may have suppressed more radical sects like Wahhabism. Our German allies would've maintained the flow of oil from the Arabian peninsula, without the US having to guarantee the continuation of the Saudi monarchy.

What happens to the Austrian Empire is still up in the air - given the mishmash of ethnicities within the empire, it might have looked like 1990s Yugoslavia, only (a) bigger, and (b) sooner. But given the connections with Germany (such as language) it's likely that some of it would've been absorbed into a greater German co-operation sphere. Poland and Czechoslovakia never know independence, but the Baltic states don't fall under Communist domination because of the proximity of Germany's borders.

I'd love for people smarter than me about this era of history to chime in and sound off about this. What do you think? How would it develop? What circumstances would you need for the US to enter the war on the German side? What would be the endgame? How does the peace treaty look?

By: Brant

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is higly unlikely that the US would have ever come out on the side of Germany. Woodrow Wilson's idealistic foreign policy stance would not have led the US to side with Germany. Wilson may have despised French and British 19th Century imperialistic ambitions, but it is highly doubtful that the US would have ever sided with Germany. Also, it is doubtful that the Germans would have been able to hold sway over the Middle-East considering the British control over Egypt. The Ottoman Empire was already weak by the start of World War I and had difficulty maintaining control even over the ragtag group of Saudi troops led by T.E. Lawrence.