• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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CHAPTER XXI: THE GREAT WAR


The City of Lights Goes Dark

When the Germans assaulted their former British allies across the Orient, German troops also stormed west and swept across France in a desperate bid to capture Paris as quickly as possible. As always, Germany wanted the war concluded by Christmas. Although tensions were high and concerns apparent, French forces were also caught flat-footed by Germany’s lightning strike. French troops still stationed in Italy and across Italian North Africa could only read newspapers and listen to the rare radio in horror as their beloved fatherland was being invaded by the barbaric “Huns.”

German troops rapidly fanned across northern France and then reorganized for a concentrated assault on Paris. The French put up a noble resistance, but Paris fell on September 19 to the German juggernaut. French forces called up from North Africa were racing north and Italy, jumping for joy at the turn of events, pressed against the early British and French peace claims. Italy saw the sudden change of events as an opportunity to save its crumbling empire. The last thing that Britain and France needed now, was to continue its occupation of Italian territory across North Africa and Northern and Southern Italy. Italy petitioned for a complete restoration of the Italian homeland with only minor losses to its African holdings; both sides were happy. The allies because they needed to rapidly free up forces for the new war with Germany and the Italians because it preserved their great power status; their North African empire remained, by and large, intact. Italy was entirely preserved. And the sudden resurgence of Italian integrity warded off Austrian gazing.

AgY5BYg.jpg

Paris, abandoned as the Germans closed in on the city.

The War for Righteousness

As America declared war and joined the Allied war effort in Europe on November 19, 1914. A strong wave of anti-German sentiment that rocked the country. Although many patriotic German-Americans were among the first to sign up for the war, to prove their patriotism and loyalty to the United States, at the recruiting offices German-Americans who had last names sound “too German-like” had them changed to more Americanized (English) names. The nascent film industry and radio depicted Germany as a cruel and vindictive place. Music from men like Beethoven and Mozart were banned across America. Even German foods were renamed.

The strongest wing in American society that promoted the war effort was the American clergy associated with the pro-reform Social Gospel movement. American Protestant clergymen were quick to highlight Christ as the Suffering Servant, who would bear the iniquities of the world on his shoulders and die so that the world could be saved. This rhetoric explicitly identified the salvationist cause of Christ with the cause of the United States. It was an interesting cross of gospel and democratic politics into a new state religion. The United States should, and must, suffer so that the salvation of the twin pillars of democracy and liberalism could be preserved (it is important to remember that the development of democracy and liberalism is closely tied to the Protestant Reformation moreover than the Ancient Greeks). Thus, the power of institutional religion gave America her needed jolt to become enthusiastic about the war and fighting for the preservation of God, democracy, and an entire way of life!

vQbNQMN.jpg

The headline of the New York American joyfully proclaiming the message that the United States had declared war on Germany.

Indeed, the Great War was itself incorporated into the entire spirit and age of reform. This war, was itself, a manifestation of the reforming spirit. Now was the opportunity to reform the world from war, rid its possibility from existence. The war also posed the opportunity to reform political-societies and economies along liberal-parliamentarian and democratic lines with regulated, to be sure, middle-class enterprise the driving engine of economic growth instead of large corporations and trading monopolies.

Richard Gamble put it this way:

Primarily, these religious progressives interpreted the First World War in light of their social gospel theology. The liberal clergy were not merely lackeys in the [Roosevelt] administration’s attempt at social control, nor were they caught unaware and unprepared by the outbreak of the war; rather, these forward-looking clergy embraced the war as a chance to achieve their broadly defined social gospel objectives. In the same way that American imperialism at the turn of the century was, as historian William E. Leuchtenburg argued, not a betrayal of domestic reform idealism but rather the expression of the same expansive, interventionist spirit on an international scale, so too the progressive clergy’s enthusiasm for American participation in the Great War did not contradict their progressive theology.

In fact, all sectors of American society were mobilized by Roosevelt to guide America into the war and have her play the redemptive and leading role in democratic progressivism’s triumph. Churches, as already mentioned, were the leading champions of the war for democracy and cleansing the “Huns” and “Judases” (based on Germany’s betrayal of the allies) from Europe. Businesses and economics were reorganized along war-lines, the peace economy was only ever fairly regulated; now, the war economy would be an intimate participant with government programming and action. Nature itself was enlisted as a victim to be saved. Given Roosevelt’s conservationist policies, the Roosevelt Administration propagated imagery of nature dilapidated and destroyed at the hands of Krupp guns and German aggression. The shipping industry was also mobilized; the war and its buildup gave Roosevelt the blank check needed to formalize America’s new naval preeminence that was stymied by the Bryan Administration. The agrarian economy, long the bastion of populist politics and sentiment, could be collectivized for the war effort. The mass media too was enlisted to drum up support for the war. ENLIST! PATRIOTIC DUTY! GOD’S CALL! All such headlines swept the front pages of the newspapers. Even music, theatre, and art was called upon to send Captain America “over there!”

In one sweeping move, the progressives finally had the opportunity to orchestrate the reorganization of the United States along the progressive, urban, middle-class, internationalist, and industrial lines long sought but prevented by their populist and agrarian foes. The “new nationalism” would be the middle-class urban, forward-looking, social Protestantism championed by America’s intelligentsia and embodied by the spirit of Roosevelt himself. “We stand at Armageddon, and battle for the LORD!”[1]


[1] In real life, Roosevelt said this quote during his convention speech in 1912 when standing as the Progressive Party candidate for the Presidency.

SUGGESTED READING

Richard Gamble,
The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation
 

diskoerekto

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how strange is the catastrophe in Europe is causing this major overhauling of the American empire. Let's see how the society will shape up according to the change of the economy
 

BigBadBob

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America: Germany, how dare you!? The scheming, back-stabbing... naked audacity of the thing!

Britain and France, desperately cleaning away evidence of their own scheming: Yeah... Germany... How could you?

This should be interesting. With no Russian front, and Paris under their control already, Germany must surely think they have it in the bag. I suspect they've severely underestimated the extent to which their sudden, but inevitable, betrayal has mobilised the Allies. Pearl Harbor on a multinational scale.
 

DensleyBlair

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One wonders what effect exactly this buffed up association between America and Christus Patiens will have in peacetime, if indeed it carries over. The American imperial mission gaining a renewed sense of divine self righteousness is, well… frightening.

The note on Roosevelt's mobilisation of natural imagery is interesting, too. A strange sort of incipient econationalism on the way?
 

volksmarschall

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how strange is the catastrophe in Europe is causing this major overhauling of the American empire. Let's see how the society will shape up according to the change of the economy
Strange war, and shall be a strange finish! :eek:
America: Germany, how dare you!? The scheming, back-stabbing... naked audacity of the thing!

Britain and France, desperately cleaning away evidence of their own scheming: Yeah... Germany... How could you?

This should be interesting. With no Russian front, and Paris under their control already, Germany must surely think they have it in the bag. I suspect they've severely underestimated the extent to which their sudden, but inevitable, betrayal has mobilised the Allies. Pearl Harbor on a multinational scale.
God bless propaganda! :cool: And America being on the British and French side! ;) We'll write the history books, with the exception of this one, of course, without detailing that stuff about backstabbing the Germans from the British and French side...
One wonders what effect exactly this buffed up association between America and Christus Patiens will have in peacetime, if indeed it carries over. The American imperial mission gaining a renewed sense of divine self righteousness is, well… frightening.

The note on Roosevelt's mobilisation of natural imagery is interesting, too. A strange sort of incipient econationalism on the way?
Is there any better brand of nationalism than frontier econationalism? :p

Well, the 1916 election is still coming. And perhaps like 1945 in the UK, there will be a big battle -- pardon the pun -- over "winning" the peace. But we still have to get there.
 

volksmarschall

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CHAPTER XXI: THE GREAT WAR

IV

“Over There”

As mentioned, America’s entry into the Great War after the German Betrayal of the allies afforded the Roosevelt Administration and the progressive forces in American politics to burry the populists and complete their reformation of the United States along techno-urban lines akin to what Alexander Hamilton—their hidden god—had always envisioned. This didn’t just mean political economy. It also meant culture.

Cities are, of course, the great repositories of culture. Cities, thus, are always on the front line of the battle between civilization and barbarism. Cities house the priceless works of art and culture that manifested the spirit of any and all peoples. The Great War, therefore, opened up the possibility of an American cultural renewal and rebirth. Enter George Cohan.

George Cohan was one of America’s most celebrated entertainers and composers. After George Gershwin, Cohan was one of America’s foremost musicians and rockstars in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Born in Rhode Island on July 3, 1878, Cohan hailed from a Catholic family making him an important figure in the ingratiation of Catholics into the Anglo-Protestant American establishment. Originally writing skits for vaudeville and minstrel shows, Cohan emerged as a crafty lyricist with his popular songs “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy.”

As one of America’s foremost popular lyricists, Roosevelt, in leading the United States into war—a war “to save Europe and civilization itself”—he reached out to Cohan (among many other members of America’s growing cultural scene) to enlist their services for artistic propaganda. So Cohan, in the White House, was given a commission to draft a song to inspire young men to enlist and fight in Europe. Cohan, ever the creative genius and upbeat melodist, crafted that indelible B-flat song sending young men off to war with gaiety and clouding the mechanical horror of war that the United States should have known all too well from its own Civil War:


Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun.
Take it on the run, on the run, on the run.
Hear them calling you and me,
Every Son of Liberty.
Hurry right away, no delay, go today.
Make your Daddy glad to have had such a lad.
Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy's in line.

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming
The drums rum-tumming everywhere.
So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware –
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back till it's over, over there.

Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun.
Johnny, show the “Hun” you're a son-of-a-gun.
Hoist the flag and let her fly
Yankee Doodle do or die.
Pack your little kit, show your grit, do your bit.
Yankee to the ranks from the towns and the tanks.
Make your Mother proud of you
And the old red-white-and-blue.

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming
The drums rum-tumming everywhere.
So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware –
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back till it's over, over there.


Cohan’s song, itself, was the perfect embodiment of the new progressive optimism. The song itself is optimistic. It marches to an exuberance and liveliness unlike the sadness of older Civil War era songs. The world was open to the progressives. It was theirs to be won. Theirs to be literally conquered and shaped into a new mold. Everyone had a role to play.

*

With French and British forces on the run, American forces began landing in Brest in March of 1915. The task of the American Expeditionary Forces was to strengthen the depleted allied front line that had stabilized itself in the Centre-Val de Loire along the Loire Valley. The magnificent chateaus of the ancien regime still stood. Imposing historical structures reminding everyone what the allies were fighting for—or so they told everyone.

jzRHpLc.jpg

American soldiers landing in Brest, spring 1915.

The American forces, by mid-April, had entrenched themselves with the battered but not yet defeated French troops who were still hanging on by a thread. The spring would see a renewed effort of the German High Command to strike at the heart of the allied forces and break through to Nantes and La Rochelle and cut France in half, isolating the American gathering point at Brest from the depleted French and African forces in the south. It was a race against time. The beaten and sick French, British, and colonial troops in France were teetering on the verge of complete exhaustion and morale degradation. The pride of France, Paris, was occupied by Germans. The Arc de Triomphe no longer saw the parade of proud and, we must admit, overly self-conceited, French soldiers march beneath it. Instead, German soldiers marched beneath it off to the front as if mocking everything the French associated with the monument.

As the first 120,000 American soldiers took their places along French and British soldiers during the Easter lull of 1915, it wasn’t much longer until a new baptism by fire was to be unleashed. Over 800,000 German troops, exhausted and tired to be sure, but crack, experienced, and enthusiastic, were about to unleash their torrential downpour of artillery, grenades, and rifles into the allied lines. When the Germans unleashed their attacks, a young officer named Ernst Junger recalled during the early morning surprise attack that broke the allies to flight:

A bloody scene with no witnesses was about to happen. It was a relief to me, finally, to have the foe in front of me and within reach. I set the mouth of the pistol at the man’s temple – he was too frightened to move – while my other fist grabbed hold of his tunic, feeling medals and badges of rank. An officer; he must have held some command post in these trenches. With a plaintive sound, he reached into his pocket, not to pull out a weapon, but a photograph which he held up to me. I saw him on it, surrounded by numerous family, all standing on a terrace. It was a plea from another world. Later, I thought it was blind chance that I let him go and plunged onward. That one man of all often appeared in my dreams. I hope that meant he got to see his homeland again.[1]

The countdown to the apocalypse had begun. As American soldiers would taste their first lick of combat in the Old World armageddon, many a soldier went into battle with the words of Psalm 91 on their lips:

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.


[1] Ernst Junger, Storm of Steel.
 

DensleyBlair

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Fantastic update, @volksmarschall ! I am a sucker for cultural references so what a joy to get a treatment of “Over There”. (Incidentally, having never before heard the tune, I was unaware that it was this song that a certain British insurance comparison website had pilfered it for their own, rather more irritating jingle!)

One hopes for the sake of the lads at the front that Tin Pan Alley will not be switching mood to this for a while yet :D

 

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Fantastic update, @volksmarschall ! I am a sucker for cultural references so what a joy to get a treatment of “Over There”. (Incidentally, having never before heard the tune, I was unaware that it was this song that a certain British insurance comparison website had pilfered it for their own, rather more irritating jingle!)

One hopes for the sake of the lads at the front that Tin Pan Alley will not be switching mood to this for a while yet :D
Ha! This is great! Thanks for sharing Densley. Too bad, if I might reveal disappointment on the high seas, that I did not share a major battle with the RN against the Germans. If so, I would have to write a chapter about the heroics of an imaginary HMS Thunderchild! Most famous ship that never existed.

(It's my favorite track, followed by the Spirit of Man):