Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Today -100: December 13, 1916: The empire is not a besieged fortress

German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg announces proposals for peace talks. And, er, that’s it. No proposed date, no proposed truce, no proposed peace terms. Germany is making a big deal of this. The Central Powers believe this is a good time for it, what with the conquest of Romania upsetting the Entente’s strategy on the eastern front. B-H says, “The spectre of famine, which our enemies intended to appear before us, now pursues them without mercy” thanks to the u-boat campaign. This is what the war has come to: bragging about starving out civilian populations. “The empire is not a besieged fortress, as our adversaries imagined, but one gigantic and firmly disciplined camp with inexhaustible resources.”

No one thinks this is much more than a PR stunt aimed at neutral nations, or that anything will come of it. One theory: when it’s rejected by the Entente, Germany will pretend to be justified in removing all restrictions on submarine warfare. Another theory: Austria’s new emperor is behind this.

Headline of the Day -100:

Well, there’s nothing Germans enjoy more than a good death grapple. Except maybe a Snapple.

France names a war council, consisting of Prime Minister Aristide Briand, Finance Minister Alexandre Ribot, War Minister Hubert Lyautey (former governor of Morocco - he’ll have to get to France by submarine – and born in the Lost Province of Lorraine), Marine Minister Rear Admiral  Marie-Jean-Lucien Lacaze, and Minister of Armaments Albert Thomas (a socialist).

The US Senate alters the wording of the immigration bill to ban Japanese and Indians without mentioning race or nationality, only geographic origin, in order not to insult Japan and provoke it into ending the “gentlemen’s agreement” whereby Japan prevents emigration to the US. Sen. James Reed (D-Missouri)’s amendment to ban African negroes loses 37-32.

The Postmaster General wants to discontinue the use of mail tubes in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and St Louis. Those cities object because “mail tubes are fucking awesome, dude!”

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