Monday, July 28, 2014

Today -100: July 28, 1914: We have stood this sort of thing for seven and a half years. It is enough.

Today’s paper is incoherent as hell, with some stories saying the chances of war have receded, but a two-paragraph last-minute report says that Austria has invaded Serbia at Mitrovicza.

British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey is proposing a conference of European ambassadors to prevent war (update: actually, it sounds like he’s only trying to prevent war between Austria and Russia, which would bring in those countries’ allies, not war between Austria and Serbia). Russia claims not to be mobilizing its army (Spoiler Alert: Russia is totally mobilizing its army. Russia is big, so it has to start mobilizing early or the war might start without it). In keeping with the theme of the NYT contradicting itself, elsewhere it says that Tsar Nicholas ordered a partial mobilization, with the words, “We have stood this sort of thing for seven and a half years. It is enough.” (To be fair to the Times, the tsar was pretty contradictory on the question of mobilization himself. Also contradictory: my use of tsar/czar).

Cossacks shoot at German army officers who were supposedly crossing the border in the wrong place.

Headline of the Day -100: In the Cologne Gazette, expressing Germany’s attitude toward Russia protecting Serbia from Austria: “Hands Off!”

A NYT editorial entitled “The Man of the Hour” thinks that Kaiser Wilhelm is the dude who could make the little local difficulty between Austria and Serbia escalate into a war involving Russia, France, and Britain, “and the civilization of Europe would give way to savagery, the greatest war of all human history would be in progress. That is too dreadful for imagining, and because it is too dreadful it cannot happen.” Pfew, for a minute there I was worried.

According to the NYT, no one’s prepared for the greatest war of all human history. “Servia Hopeless If Left Unaided,” says one headline.
“Austria-Hungary Is Not Ready For War,” says another. All true. In fact, one reason it took so long after the assassinations for Austria-Hungary to issue an ultimatum to Serbia is that many of the troops from agricultural areas were on harvest leave.

So who is prepared for the greatest war of all human history? Lloyd’s of London, which has set a premium of 40 guineas per cent. (whatever that means) against the start of a Serb-Austrian war.

Dublin crowds attack military barracks in response to yesterday’s bloodshed, but are dispersed by the police. The assistant commissioner of police who called in the military yesterday is suspended, leading the police commissioner to resign in protest. Even in John Bull’s Other Island, using the military against civilians is no small thing. Dublin municipal authorities are also not happy that they were not consulted. John Redmond tells Parliament that Catholics “will no longer be bullied and punished for conduct which is allowed to go scot free in Ulster” by Protestants. Prime Minister Asquith says “The difficulties in Ireland are due to the attempts in this House to govern a people they cannot understand by a parliament imperfectly equipped for the task” (in other words, they’re an argument for Home Rule). Tory leader Bonar Law says the government should have enforced the law in Ulster before or resigned and held a general election.

The Constitutionalist governor of Nuevo Laredo state, Mexico, Gen. Antonio Villareal decrees that the Catholic Church sucks and its activities will be limited. Foreign priests will be expelled from the state, priests will stay out of politics or be expelled, confession is banned, etc.

At the Madame Caillaux trial, Joseph Caillaux introduces what he says is evidence that Gaston Calmette took bribes from Hungary, in the form of documents given him by Count Karolyi, leader of the Hungarian Radical Party, and also Calmette’s will, showing that he left a suspiciously large amount of money. Asked by the judge how he happened to have a copy of the will, Caillaux replies, The same way Calmette got hold of my private letters. Henri Bernstein, the controversial playwright, insists on being heard. “Why certainly, random spectator,” I’m assuming the presiding judge said, “The more the merrier.” Bernstein accuses Caillaux of standing on a coffin and making a pedestal of it.

Headline of the Day -100: “War Scare May Affect Tennis.”

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