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Detente and Deterrence AngbGerman Relations, 1911-1914 Sean M . Lynn-Jones IPolitical scientists often have cited the First World War as an example of inadvertent conflict caused by unduly bellicose foreign and military policies. At least four variations on this theme have been prominent. First, some authors argue that the war was the result of mutual incentives for preemptive attacks or rapid mobilizations.’ A second school of thought suggests that the war arose from rigid organizational routines, especially in Germany and Russia, that restricted the freedom of political decision-makers by requiring wide mobilizations and, in the German case, early attack once mobilization had taken place.*A third interpretation, related to the first two, attributes the war to a An earlier version of this article was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Political Science Association, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 14-16, 1985. The author wishes to thank Robert Beschel, Karl Lautenschlager, Joseph Nye, and Scott Sagan for their helpful comments and suggestions. He is grateful to Harvard University’s Project on Avoiding Nuclear War for support during the research and writing of this article. The author remains responsible for the views expressed here. Sean M. Lynn-Jones is a Harvard MacArthur Fellow in International Security at the Centerfor Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and a doctoral candidate in Harvard’s Department of Government. 1. For prominent examples of this interpretation, see Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960), p. 362; Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), p. 224; George H. Quester, Offense and Defense in the International System (New York: Wiley, 1977), pp. 110-111; Richard Ned Lebow, Between Peace and War:The Nature of International Crisis (Baltimore:Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 238-242; Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 94; and Jervis, ”Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma,” World Politics, Vol. 30, No. 2 (January 1978), p. 192. Kahn sees “pressures toward pre-emptive action” influencing statesmen in the July crisis. Schelling claims that ”being fast on the draw appeared decisive,” and Jervis agrees that “the continental powers believed that the side that struck first would gain a major military advantage.” Quester writes that: “Everyone in 1914could still have preferred peace to war, but everyone surely now preferred war on the offensive, to any war of defense in which the other side had been allowed the first blow.” 2. There is a voluminous literature on this question. Barbara W. Tuchman, The Guns of August (New York Bantam, 1980) offers one of the best-known accounts of the development and role of European mobilization plans before 1914. See also A.J.P. Taylor, War by Time-table (London: MacDonald, 1969);Paul M. Kennedy, ed., The War Plans of the Great Powers, 1880-1914 (London: Allen & Unwin, 1979);Kahn, On ThermonuclearWar, pp. 357-375; and Graham T. Allison, Albert Carnesale, and Joseph S. Nye, Jr., eds., Hawks, Doves, and Owls:An Agenda for Avoiding Nuclear War (New York: Norton, 1985), pp. 210-211. For a recent example that offers a sophisticated analysis of the ways in which mobilization plans may have influenced the origins of the war, International Security, Fall 1986 (Vol. 11, No. 2) Q 1986 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and of the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology. 121 International Security I 122 widespread belief in the dominance of the offense in warfare and the concomitant adoption of offensive military doctrines by the continental military power^.^ The fourth view sees the war as the product of a spiral of hostility that pervaded relations between Germany and the other European powers in the years before the war. Proponents of this view claim that the British, French, and Russian responses to the rise of German power were seen as manifestations of hostility and that Germany’s essentiallydefensive reactions were perceived as further manifestations of aggressive intent, thereby creating the climate for the crisis and confrontation of July 1914.4 seeJackS. Levy, “Organizational Routines and the Causes of War,” lnternational Studies Quarterly, in press. 3. See Stephen Van Evera, ”The Cult of the Offensive and the Origins of...


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