France and Russia had an alliance treaty, and a war by Germany with one of those two powers thus more or less guaranteed a war against both powers.
The Schefflin Plan, in theory, would end a war in months.
“War is the continuation of politics by other means.”
I don’t doubt those claims, I am just doubting if France would hold its end of the treaty it had with Russia if Germany or Austria attacked.
I think they would have. In fact, I think they were eager to avenge their defeat in their last war with Germany.
To be honest, I wonder if Germany would have considered any escalation in 1914 if they had known that Italy had planned all along to betray their alliance and work with France in the event a wider conflict. Italy had always had it’s eye on Austrian territory.
German plans were to knock out France quickly, before Russia could fully mobilize. With hindsight, however, we know that Russia’s forces are incompetently led, and the Western Front will favor the defensive.
The only way I see for the Central Powers to win the war is to do so in a way that prevents an extended conflict that will inevitably grind apart Germany’s allies, the Austrian and Ottoman Empires. It doesn’t have to be a fast victory, it just has to be a war that is executed more effectively.
In the unlikely event I am in control, Germany should avoid war with England at all costs. If done right, even Italy and the Ottomans can sit it out.
The idea then, is NOT to invade France. Germany was convinced any major conflict needed to be fought on French soil, and were committed to that end, but in a war that favors defense, they should have tried to maximize that advantage.
Force France to commit politically to the defense of their Russian ally.
At the beginning it is merely Germany/Austria against Russia/Serbia. If France commits to an offensive, then make limited attempts to gain more defensible ground, but stay out of Belgium, and maintain a defensive posture. Make France bleed for Russia to no gain. Keep potentially both England AND Italy out of the war, ending the issues of blockade and American complaints about German subs. American opinion may well be split in the event that Belgium maintains it’s neutrality. The Ottomans should merely bide their time, keeping the British from mobilizing or accelerating strain on their Empire.
This places all the political pressure on France.
Meanwhile, with a defensive posture in the West, Germany can focus on cutting apart Russia, hopefully without Italy distracting the Austrians.
It’s a lot of “what-ifs” politically, but it keeps the war focused on it’s winnable components. French public opinion falters in proportion to Russian military setbacks until one or the other breaks.
If Germany can defeat Russia by, say, late 1916, and France has made no gains?? Do the French continue the fight? Or sue for peace??