Jack Snyder is an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department, Columbia University.
Robert Jervis, William McNeill, Cynthia Roberts, and Stephen Van Evera provided helpful comments on this paper, which draws heavily on the author's forthcoming book, The Ideology of the Offensive: Military Decision Making and the Disasters of 1914 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1984).
1. Gerhard Ritter, The Schlieffen Plan (New York: Praeger, 1958), p. 60, note 34; A.A. Polivanov, Voennoe delo, No. 14 (1920), p. 421, quoted in Jack Snyder, The Ideology of the Offensive: Military Decision Making and the Disasters of 1914 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984), chapter 7.
2. One reason that the war did not happen until 1914 was that Russian offensive power did not seriously threaten Germany until about that year. In this sense, the fact that all the powers had offensive strategies in the year the war broke out is to be explained more by their strategies' interactive consequences than by their common origins.
3. Snyder, Ideology of the Offensive, chapters 1, 4, and 5. I have profited greatly from the works of Barry Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984), and Stephen Van Evera, "Causes of War" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1984), who advance similar arguments.
4. Snyder, Ideology of the Offensive, chapters 2 and 3. See also Samuel Williamson, The Politics of Grand Strategy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969).
5. Snyder, Ideology of the Offensive, chapters 6 and 7. See also A.M. Zaionchkovskii, Podgotovka Rossii k imperialisticheskoi voine (Moscow: Gosvoenizdat, 1926).
6. Van Evera, "Causes of War," chapter 7, explores these questions briefly.
7. The best and most recent expression of this view is Robert Jervis, The Illogic of American Nuclear Strategy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984).
8. Even the usually crystal-clear Thomas Schelling is a bit murky on this point. See his Arms and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), pp. 221-225. For a critic, see Stephen Peter Rosen, "Nuclear Arms and Strategic Defense," Washington Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Spring 1981), pp. 83-84.
9. Ulrich Trumpener, "War Premeditated? German Intelligence Operations in July 1914," Central European History, Vol. 9, No. 1 (March 1976), p. 80.
10. Russia, 10-i otdel General'nogo shtaba RKKA, Vostochnoprusskaia operatsiia: sbornik dokumentov (Moscow: Gosvoenizdat, 1939), especially p. 62, which reproduces a Russian General Staff intelligence estimate dated March 1, 1914. Van Evera's quotations suggest that decision-makers in all countries exhibited more concern about being preempted than seems warranted by actual circumstances. One explanation may be that the military oversold this danger as a way of guarding against the risk of excessive civilian foot-dragging, which was clearly a concern among the French military, at least. Another possibility is that there was a disconnect between the operational level of analysis, where it was obvious that no one could disrupt his opponent's concentration, and the more abstract level of doctrine, where the intangible benefits of "seizing the initiative" were nonetheless considered important. See Snyder, Ideology of the Offensive, chapters 2 and 3.
11. The Germans saw the planned 40 percent increase in the size of the Russian standing army as a threat to Germany's physical survival, not just a barrier foreclosing opportunities to expand. This is expressed most clearly in the fear that the power shift would allow Russia to force a revision of the status quo in the Balkans, leading to Austria's collapse. See especially Fritz Fischer, War of Illusions: German Policies from 1911 to 1914 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1975; German edition 1969), pp. 377-379, 427.
12. This is argued in Snyder, Ideology of the Offensive, chapter 4.
13. Gerhard Ritter, The Sword and the Scepter: The Problem of Militarism in Germany (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1969; German edition 1954), Vol. 1, p. 196, citing Das Volk in Waffen (5th ed., 1889), p. 129.
14. Ritter, Schlieffen Plan, p. 66.
15. Louis Garros, "Préludes aux invasions de la Belgique," Revue historique de l'armée (March 1949), pp. 37-38; French archival documents cited in Snyder, Ideology of the Offensive, chapter 4.