July 1914, Sir Edward Grey and World War I
June 1, 2020. [laptop-built, view on narrow browser window]
"And, on the contrary, it is seen that when princes have thought more of ease than of arms they have lost their states.
And the first cause of your losing it is to neglect this art..."
[italics added](1)
Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince, Chapter XIV: That Which Concerns A Prince On The Subject Of The Art Of War.

By 1914, with the adults HM Queen Victoria and the Architect of the European Peace Otto von Bismarck(2) out of the room, a number of European/British leaders and their officials had become not the masters of gov't, but more resembled masters of an upper-class timeless leisure, whose role seemed to be playing at gov't."

Page 2: Foreign Secretary Edward Grey: Balkans Crisis Arbitration 1903-1914
1914: A general willingness to believe "war was something that was not going to happen in Europe."
Page 3: "Caught Looking": Physical Working Models
of European/British Response to June 28-July 1914 Crisis

Historians on Causes of World War I
Foreign Secretary Edward Grey: Delayed Telegrams June-July 1914
Foreign Secretary Edward Grey on the June 28-July 1914 Crisis
Winston Churchill on the June 28-July 1914 Crisis
Ambiguous Defensive/Offensive Military Preparations
June 29th-July 1914, Wagons-Lits to the French Riviera
Switzerland: Europe's Strongest Neutral Armed-Power and the June 28-July 1914 Balkans Crisis

By 1914, Europe had become an armed camp. Each Great Power was literally sitting right next to each other, practically in each others' laps. Millions of soldiers, industrial-strength heavy artillery and revolutionary water-cooled, belt-fed Maxim machine-guns could via shiny new railroads be ordered to the Front at the drop of a hat.

The challenge was, the colossal scale of stockpiled armaments with opposing vast next-door armies of millions of soldiers had pushed, or, less imprecisely, petrified European/British govt's into fancying they possessed a political stability that in reality bordered on Fentanyl-strength science fiction.

So when local-but-fierce crises did erupt (1904-1914 here, here, & here)(4), to suggest a proposal for prompt crisis arbitration "...too early was to court refusal on the ground that a Conference was unnecessary and premature."(5)

It was like an elephant stepped on an aluminum beer can. In just 3 decades (1914-1945), the Austria-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian, Italian, German, French and British Land/Sea Empires crumpled into dust and vanished into the history books forever.



The June 28-July 1914 Crisis that ignited World War I.

From Sunday, ≈ 11:30am June 28th through all July 1914, European/British govt's were hurled into the most destructive political meltdown in human history, millions of times worse than 5 days of total disbelief and and "absolute chaos" inside the atomic-reactor control room during a bolt-out-of-the-blue Loss-Of-Coolant-Accident (LOCA) at 4am March 28, 1979 at Three Mile Island.

Nobody died at TMI, but July 1914's European/British gov't leaders and their officials - presumably the same ones responsible for preventing large-scale European war - ended up in a fierce 3.5-5-week-long political squabble over a local crisis in the Balkans, and with every side deploying revolutionary Maxim machine-guns like battlefield lawnmowers alongside relentless overhead industrial-scale heavy-artillery bombardment, slaughtered an estimated 9 million soldiers & 6 million civilians.(6)

June 28-July 1914's European/British political collapse ignited WWI, destroyed the Austro-Hungarian, Russian, German & Ottoman Empires, uncorked a tumultuous Middle East, left the French and British Empires dead-men-walking, spawned the Russian Revolution, and paved the way for the rise of Communism & Fascism, the sprawling Soviet Union, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, World War II, the Cold War, and the Atomic Age.

"I also want to highlight that in Austria-Hungary, [June 28, 1914] there is very much a sense of genuine popular outrage. Although Franz Ferdinand was not a beloved figure with most of the population, his death, and particularly the murder of his wife, was a sincere outrage."

"It was very much like the climate after 9/11 in the United States. It was an act of terror, which the Austrians knew the Serbian government was behind."[italics added](7)
John Schindler [Professor of National Security Affairs, U.S. Naval War College, formerly NSA]


July 16, 1945: Trinity
Effects of Atomic Detonations: Hiroshima, Nagasaki
Japan: Feasibility of Atomic Demonstration-Test in 1945
USAF Boeing B-52 Stratofortress


This 1914 website adheres to the Rules of War as articulated by Karl von Clausewitz, Napoleon Bonaparte, Niccolo Machiavelli & Sun Tsu, and we believe those Rules of War are generally strong enough to pull apart July 1914's political collapse. We believe substituting novel theories in place of the Rules of War has caused immense confusion about July 1914's ignition of WWI.

As for Sir Edward Grey, the iconic British Foreign Secretary was widely considered the single most influential official guiding British foreign policy during the June 28-July 1914 Crisis. The longest-serving Foreign Secretary in British history, Sir Edward Grey had been instrumental in arbitrating a previous Morrocan Crisis & several Balkans Crises under the watchful eye of the Great Powers'. In his memoirs the Foreign Secretary concedes he was indeed the man "...at the centre of affairs..."

We agree. The taciturn Foreign Secretary delivers a sometimes alarming but laser-speed entry-point into July 1914's political collapse.

  • Introduction: Foreign Secretary Edward Grey on Great-Power Crisis Arbitration:
The Foreign Secretary arbitrating a 1912-1913 Balkans Crisis:

"If the Conference could not get an agreement Austria might launch an ultimatum, or even take peremptory action against Serbia. Then the whole prestige of Austria and Russia in the Balkans would be at stake, and so would the peace of Europe.

"The details with which we dealt were insignificant — in themselves mere sparks; but we were sitting on a powder-magazine.

"The Conference was allowed to dissolve. We seemed to be safe. In reality it was not so; the set of the current was the same, and in a year’s time we were all swept into the cataract of war."[italics added](8)

As Sir Edward Grey put it: "[W]e we were sitting on a powder-magazine... We seemed to be safe. In reality it was not so.." The outbreak of World War One was preceded by an intense crisis in the Balkans region. The crisis began in Sarajevo with the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand (and his wife Sophie) on Sunday morning, ≈ 11:30am, June 28, 1914, and accelerated rapidly throughout July 1914.

The Balkans Crisis' sudden expansion into World War I was enabled - driven - by long-distance electric telegraph cables. The June 28-July 1914 Crisis could not have gotten out of control so quickly with messages carried only by horseback or steam-trains across so many timezones to distant European capitols:

"In earlier centuries, wars took months or years to develop, with the exchange of demands and warnings protracted by the slow speed of communications.

"But the diplomatic crisis leading to the First World War spun out of control within a few days.

"It was the exchange of telegrams and telephone calls that enabled that terrifying acceleration."[italics added](9)

As the foreign secretary [right] put it:

"The week ending with August 1 [1914] had been most exhausting. The strain for every member of the Cabinet must have been intense...

"Communications vitally important at this moment were daily being received through Foreign Ambassadors in London, verbally, or through British Ambassadors abroad by telegram.

"These, however critical, had to be considered and dealt with promptly, for every hour mattered."[italics added](10)

"[F]or every hour mattered." The foreign secretary is quite right, but it was only near THE VERY END of the June 28, 1914 Balkans Crisis that it became one of extreme urgency.

And it is here that a problem arises. Paying such close, highly-detailed hour-by-hour attention only AFTER crises become large is precisely what the famous political analyst Niccolo Machiavelli warned gov't rulers to avoid at all costs:

  • Niccolo Machiavelli:

On affairs of state (or medical conditions), Machiavelli wrote:

"... in the beginning of the malady it is easy to cure but difficult to detect, but in the course of time, not having been either detected or treated in the beginning, it becomes easy to detect but difficult to cure.

"...what all prudent princes ought to do, who have to regard not only present troubles, but also future ones, for which they must prepare with every energy, because, when foreseen, it is easy to remedy them; but if you wait until they approach, the medicine is no longer in time because the malady has become incurable...

"Thus it happens in affairs of state, for when the evils that arise have been foreseen (which it is only given to a wise man to see), they can be quickly redressed, but when, through not having been foreseen, they have been permitted to grow in a way that every one can see them, there is no longer a remedy."[italics added](11)

Machiavelli's rule is of stratospheric importance for the June 28-July 1914 Crisis. By following Machiavelli, it's already easier to see how WWI could have started. In the beginning, when the June 28th Balkans Crisis struck, most European/British gov't leaders and their officials brazenly ignored it.

By a wave of the hand, virtually every single European/British leader/official dismissed well-known warnings from perhaps the most formidable political/military analyst ever.

Machiavelli had warned repeatedly in the strongest imaginable terms that the most favorable time to deal with crises is when they're small & manageable; under no conditions wait until they become large. Nevertheless, almost 5 weeks later, at the very end of the July 1914 Crisis, the diagnosis - a likely European catastrophe on a colossal scale - became so imminent that, as the foreign secretary put it, "...every hour mattered."

When the June 28, 1914 Balkans Crisis booted up, there was a big flap in the European/British newspapers for a couple days. Then nothing, relegated to page 7 in the Daily Telegraph and Le Temps (Paris).

Three and a half weeks later, by the time anybody in a position to step in and arbitrate it did notice, the Balkans Crisis had already widened into a much larger crisis involving several Great Powers, with a tremendous momentum that proved too strong to stop.


  • The Foreign Secretary:

The Foreign Secretary continues:

"... the constant friction, rising on the slightest provocation to quarrel and hostility, between Great Britain and France or Russia. The ground-swell of ill-will never ceased.

"British interests touched those of France and Russia in many parts of the world; and where interests touch, an atmosphere of ill-will is always dangerous.

"The blackest suspicion thrives in it, like a noxious growth under dark skies in murky air. The most simple and straightforward acts of one Government are attributed by the other to sinister motives; the agents of each Government on the spot prick and stir their Colonial Office at home with accounts of what the agents of the other Government are doing...

"...the smallest incident may assume proportions that threaten the peace between great nations."[italics added](12)

"...where interests touch, an atmosphere of ill-will is always dangerous." The trenchant foreign secretary puts his finger straight on the problem:

The commercial/territorial interests of the British, Russians, French, Germans and Austria-Hungarians touched in many areas of Europe or the world. So when the June 28 1914 Balkans Crisis booted up, the heavily-armed Great Powers may well have been reluctant to act promptly to arbitrate it because every European arbitration carried an additional formidable danger of "the blackest suspicion," whipsawing "the smallest incident" to outrageous proportions, and possibly igniting a wholly unintended general showdown amongst the Great Powers themselves.

[(right) French Ambassador Paul Cambon 1898-1920, stationed in London. Paramount figure in greatly improving French-British relations, worked closely with the foreign secretary during London Conferences to arbitrate Balkans Crises.]

So, in short, it seems every local European crisis may have posed not one, but two potentially lethal dangers:

#1, if nobody offered to arbitrate it, the possibility of the local crisis expanding and dragging in one or more of the Great Powers, which could threaten the peace of Europe.

#2, if the Great Powers did offer to come in and arbitrate it, the possibility the arbitration itself may re-ignite previous fierce territorial disputes (e.g. Alsace Lorraine) between the Great Powers, or disturb where Great Power commercial interests "touch," such that "the smallest incident may assume proportions" which could threaten the peace of Europe.

This seems a useful approximation of what the governments of France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia & Britain were then facing at the time the June 28, 1914 Crisis struck. Every European crisis confronted European/British govt's with having to estimate whether the lesser risk was with intervening, or with sitting on the sidelines - and they had to be right every time. The alternative was facing the prospect of a catastrophic European War.(13)

  • Switzerland as an Armed-Neutral Arbitrator:

Since, as the foreign secretary straightforwardly admits, the Great Powers themselves were sometimes too unstable to be relied upon to arbitrate local crises, why did the Great Powers not call upon the political stable, armed-but-neutral Switzerland to host local European crisis arbitrations?

Switzerland, located in the center of Europe, had excellent telegraph lines and railways. There is every logical and logistical reason arrangements could have been made to assist in arbitrations of the 1905-1914 Balkans Crises. Priceless arbitration experience could have been systematically acquired, so by the time the June 28, 1914 Crisis struck the ever-punctual and alert Swiss would be ready and waiting to receive the Balkans disputants.

  • The Foreign Secretary:

[(right) British King Edward VII, 1901-1910. Possibly the gold standard in post-1900 British diplomacy. The single most important figure in opening - in sudden & flamboyant fashion - British-French relations after centuries of fierce rivalries/wars.]

The Foreign Secretary:

"The settlement [The Treaty of Bucharest] after the second Balkan War was not one of justice but of force. It stored up inevitable trouble for the time to come.

"To make peace secure for the future, it would have been necessary for the Great Powers to have intervened to make the settlement of Bucharest a just one.

"This they did not do. They dared not do it, being too afraid of trouble between themselves."

"They were afraid to move lest they should come in contact with each other..."[italics added](14)

Here the foreign secretary states in plain English that the Great Powers interevening to arbitrate the Treaty of Bucharest carried a higher danger of a European war breaking out than sitting on the sidelines and leaving the Balkans to sort it out.

When the June 28, 1914 Balkans Crisis struck, the Great Powers seemed to follow the same strategy they used in the Treaty of Bucharest. They sat on the sidelines and declined to intervene, leaving the patently chaotic & violent Balkans to sort it out.

And after many years of quite successfully intervening/not-intervening in intense Balkans disputes, for the first time the Great Powers had guessed wrongly.

The June 28, 1914 Balkans Crisis grasped the wait-and-see approach and wrangled it upside down in just 3.5 weeks, booting up the worst catastrophe of Western Civilization. In great part due to the lightning-speed of European/British telegraph cable messages, the June 28, 1914 decision to sit on the sidelines booted up a near-instantaneous path to World War.

  • The foreign secretary: "One false step, one indiscreet or incautious word, one necessary word delayed or unspoken at the critical moment, and the result might have been fatal."
The Foreign Secretary on the 1909 Algeciras Conference:

"As one looks about, and sees all the perils that there were, how little belief nations have in each other, how prone they are to disbelieve and to suspect it, it seems almost a miracle that the Entente survived.

"One false step, one indiscreet or incautious word, one necessary word delayed or unspoken at the critical moment, and the result might have been fatal."[italics added](15)

The Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill:

"A sentence in a dispatch, an observation by an ambassador, a cryptic phrase in a Parliament seemed sufficient to adjust from day to day the balance of the prodigious structure [European/British alliances/ententes]. Words counted, and even whispers. A nod could be made to tell."(16)
The acerbic foreign Secretary describes European/British foreign policy as if occasionally crossing and re-crossing a knife edge.

The Great Powers fear of coming "in contact with each other" every so often came at a very steep price: in an intense European crisis, no one could be as sure of each other's motives. The British phrase was "splendid isolation." The sharp, ever-present fear of each other kept the Great Powers from establishing in peacetime anything resembling healthy relationships, and so in intense crises the mutual confidence required to sincerely resolve them had practically vanished.

  • Karl von Clausewitz: Speed And Secrecy To Achieve Surprise Is The Foundation of All Military Undertakings:
Regarding the occasional spectacular risks associated with conducting foreign policy via electric telegraph cables, the Foreign Secretary himself cites a previous period of tranquility that within hours electric telegrams describing virtually inconceivable military maneuvers halfway around the globe had momentarily so destabilized British/French govt's as to defy all conceivable political logic:

"It seems incredible that two great European nations should have become nearly involved in war about anything so ephemeral... "...two incidents that, for twenty-four hours, were thought to make war between Great Britain and France inevitable....[italics added](17)
Foreign Secretary Edward Grey.

And the July 1914 Balkans Crisis had not just two but FIVE Great Powers using electric telegraph cables (six if counting Italy).

Besides its use in organizing a conference for settling crises, or accidentally amplifying small misunderstandings up to the point of great 1,000-year-old European empires clashing, the electric telegraph could also be used to invite distant-but-heavily-armed allies to join in, which without warning could boot up a vastly wider, more dangerous conflict.

Regarding the actual speed of European/British telegraph cables, according to British Documents on the Origins of the War, 1898-1914, at 5:00pm, June 29, 1914, J. F. Jones, British Vice-Consul in Serajevo, sent a telegram received by Foreign Secretary Edward Grey at the British Foreign Office in London at 5:45pm, 45 minutes later.(18)

British Vice Consul Jones' telegram traveling ≈ 1800Km in just 45 minutes to Foreign Secretary E. Grey in London indicates - starting Day-1, 11:30am, June 28, 1914 - just how quickly very angry or very frightened (or both) radical military/political elements in the Balkans/Vienna might have reached sympathetic Great Power allies asking for all kinds of military support:

"We say, surprise lies at the foundation of all [military] undertakings without exception...Secrecy and rapidity are the two factors in this product..."[italics added](19)
Karl von Clausewitz

von Clausewitz [right] states speed and secrecy to achieve surprise is the foundation of all military undertakings.

Thus, British Vice-Consul Jones' speedy Sarajevo telegram to London's Foreign Secretary Edward Grey shows that possibly as early as ≈ 12:30-1:00 PM, June 28, 1914, the same day of the regicide, heavily-armed Russia, Germany and/or France could already have been in receipt of urgent Balkans/Viennese telegrams pleading for tens of thousands of military weapons, rifles, Maxim machine-guns, millions of rounds of ammunition, industrial-scale artillery and shells.

Or even sooner:

In 1911, a telegram "...left the dispatch room on the 17th floor of the Times building in New York at 7 p.m. on August 20. After it traveled more than 28,000 miles, being relayed by 16 different operators, through San Francisco, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, Bombay, Malta, Lisbon and the Azores–among other locations the reply was received by the same operator 16.5 minutes later."[italics added](20)

Sending a telegram 28,000 miles, or 45,000Km in 16.5 minutes is over 2,700Km a minute, ≈ 163,620Km/hr. That would slice the optimal speed of Sarajevo's Consul Jones's telegram to London's Foreign Secretary E. Grey to something like 40 seconds.

[The archduke was assassinated just beyond the north end of the Latin Bridge (right). The telegraph office was just ≈ 450 meters west, along the river and inside the newly-built (May, 1913) Sarajevo Central Post Office, "Posta Obala" (left)](21)

Given the fantastic speed and reach of European/British telegraph cables, applying Karl von Clausewitz's Rules of War to the Balkans indicates starting Day-1, ≈ 11:30am, June 28, 1914, adding 2-3 minutes by car to Sarajevo's Central Post Office's telegram station, and a few moments to write a telegram, ≈ 40 seconds to ≈ 45 minutes later the so-called"local crisis" in the Balkans could have expanded into a wider conflict involving one or more of the Great Powers.

The famed Chinese strategist Sun Tzu on speed and secrecy to achieve surprise:

"Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy's unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes..."

"O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands."[italics added](22)
Sun Tzu: The Art of War

  • Scutari's Fall Alarms Europe (Aug 1913): "Otherwise this question would already have led to a world-war...":

The point made here is regardless of whether or not all 1914 Great Powers at that moment had actually preferred peace (and only they know), the operational fact that after the June 28, 1914 Balkans Crisis struck, radical military/political elements in the Balkans/Vienna could very easily hi-jack long-distance electric telegraph-cables, and within as little as ≈ 40 seconds to ≈ 45 minutes push the Crisis into a wider conflict. Such a post-June 28 situation would seem a colossal danger to the peace of Europe.

The Great Powers' June 28th decision to sit for 3.5 weeks on the sidelines amplified that risk by many orders-of-magnitude. Whether or not the Great Powers themselves wanted peace at that moment is separate from the irrefutable point that Germany, France and Russia had deliberately built up the largest land-armies on earth, and Britain had built the most militarized fleet on Earth.

In reality, the Great Powers, with giant industrial-scale weapons' stockpiles and vast armies, practically sitting in each other's laps, radiated very little (if any) long-term stability. As the foreign secretary put it:

"British interests touched those of France and Russia in many parts of the world; and where interests touch, an atmosphere of ill-will is always dangerous.

"The blackest suspicion thrives in it, like a noxious growth under dark skies in murky air. The most simple and straightforward acts of one Government are attributed by the other to sinister motives; the agents of each Government on the spot prick and stir their Colonial Office at home with accounts of what the agents of the other Government are doing...

"...the smallest incident may assume proportions that threaten the peace between great nations."[italics added]

As for the "stability" of the Great Powers in 1914, one has only to fast-forward a couple decades and like an elephant steppping on an aluminum beer can - July 16, 1945 - the last of all 6 empires had utterly imploded and vanished into the history books forever.

So in a 1914 European local-but-intense crisis, with ubiquitious telegraph cables able to instantly accelerate the smallest misunderstandings to national proportions, it may have taken not much more than the slightest of pushes to tilt the very heavily-armed, already-suspicious, sitting-in-each-other's-laps Great Powers into a crisis amongst themselves:

"[1913] On all questions we took sides with Austria and Italy — about Albania, a Serbian port on the Adriatic, Scutari, and also about the delimitation of the frontiers of Albania...

"Thus with his [foreign secretary Edward Grey] assistance it was possible to coax King Nikita [Montenegro] out of Scutari again. Otherwise this question would already have led to a world-war..."[italics added](23)
Prince Lichnowsky, German Ambassador to Britain [stationed in London].

  • Victorian-Educated European/British gov't officials mis-identify the June 28-July 1914 Balkans Crisis:

Starting June 28, 1914, whomever in the Balkans/Vienna could reach St. Petersburg, Berlin or Paris the quickest stood a chance of getting a hearing for gaining the support of millions of soldiers/Maxim machine-guns/industrial heavy-artillery.

The problem facing Europe/Britain was they used the telegraph primarily for commercial, non-military purposes. The Americans had gained extensive experience with the telegraph in the 1860's Civil War. 1914 European/British gov't officials had less in-depth, years-long experience with how quickly the telegraph could accelerate the dynamics of an intense political/military situation.

So when the June 28th Crisis struck, relative technological newcomers, aka, European/British gov't officials, all born in the Victorian mid-to late 1800's, mis-identified the onset of the June 28, 1914 Crisis as just a "geographical local crisis," that is, one that could be confined locally, with the result that it was not taken seriously and promptly stopped in it's tracks.

[(right) European/British telegraph cables, 1903](24)

The June 28th Balkans Crisis should only safely have been considered a "local crisis" if none of the parties involved had potentially highly-motivated, very sympathetic, industrial-strength Great Power allies capable of mobilizing millions of soldiers at the drop of a hat.

Considering that lightning-fast European/British telegraph cables were spilling out of the Balkans in every direction, as for any realistic basis upon which the Victorian Great Powers expected it to be confined to a "local crisis," they curiously never seemed to get 'round to explaining:

The Foreign Secretary:

"There is the strongest desire between the Great European Powers, who are most directly interested in the Balkans, and whose frontiers would be most affected by war in that region, to see peace preserved; and this is, I trust, a guarantee that, if the peace is broken in the Balkans, none of the Great European Powers will be involved in war."[italics added](25)
House of Commons Debates, 07 October 1912.
  • Lightning-Fast European/British Telegraph Cables:

When the June 28th 1914 Balkans Crisis struck, each of the Great Powers attempted to conduct life-and-death foreign policy maneuvers while sitting behind telegraph cables.

[(right) German telegraph(26)]

Telegraph communications sometimes had to be translated from each Great Power's native language into English, or Russian, German, French, Italian, etc., and back again. Continuously accurate word-for-word translations of radically different languages is not possible.

Yet consider the foreign secretary's blunt remarks:

"One false step, one indiscreet or incautious word, one necessary word delayed or unspoken at the critical moment, and the result might have been fatal."

What a paradox. Nevertheless, starting Day-1, June 28, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian, French, German, British & Russian Great Powers went ahead and attempted what appears to be the equivalent of a 3.5-5-week-long "high-wire Karl Wallenda balancing-act" atop lightning-fast telegraph cables. As the foreign secretary put it: "One false step..."

The 5 heavily-armed Great Powers attempted this world high-wire electric-telegraph performance precisely because, as the foreign secretary put it, they were "afraid to move lest they should come in contact with each other", and risk possibly igniting a general European showdown amongst themselves.

[(right) K. Wallenda, 1972]

And after 3.5-5 weeks the 5 Great Powers also fell off the high wire; however instead of losing 5 high-wire artists, make that 15 million soldiers and civilians, and the catastrophic unravelling of 2,000-year-old Western Civilization via Fascism/Communism, WWII and the atomic/ballistic-missile age.

"But you must not judge the Balkan States as if they were so vastly different from the great European States. What they have done has been based upon causes for war very much greater than the comparatively slight causes which have often led to war between the Great Powers."[italics added](27)
Mr. Noel Buxton, War in Balkans: House of Commons Debates, Aug. 12, 1913.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte: "The secret of war lies in the communications.":

Initially, the Balkans Crisis was split into two opposing but very unequal factions: the major one sitting on the sidelines hoping the local crisis would stay localized & blow over, because if it didn't they had the greatest catastrophe on Earth staring them in the face. And a very minor faction was equally determined to widen the Crisis by hi-jacking European/British electric telegraph cables to drag one or more of the Great Powers into it.

"The secret of war lies in the communications."
Napoleon Bonaparte

1914 Europe was a ferociously armed camp. The argument pressed forward here is starting Day-1, 11:30am June 28, 1914, every single day that passed dramatically raised the immense danger of radical military/political elements in the Balkans/Vienna gaining sympathy, influence and possibly military backing from one or more of the Great Powers.

"War is the province of chance.

"In no sphere of human activity is such a margin to be left for this intruder, because none is so much in constant contact with him on all sides. He increases the uncertainty of every circumstance, and deranges the course of events..."[italics added](28)
Karl von Clausewitz, On War.

And those radical elements in Europe quickly succeeded because the Great Powers apparently never thought to take the elementary first step and apply von Clausewitz, Napoleon, Machiavelli and Sun Tzu's fearsome Rules of War to the June 28, 1914 Balkans Crisis:

"We say, surprise lies at the foundation of all [military] undertakings without exception."[italics added](29)
Karl von Clausewitz, On War.

"All warfare is based on deception."(30)
Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

Note the wording of the foreign secretary's 1925 account:

"...we were all swept into the cataract of war."(31)

The foreign secretary is exactly right. The virtually complete dismissal of the June 28th Balkans Crisis left the Great Powers, in effect, stranded at the starting gate, stumbling around in veritable pitch blackness as to how suddenly the June 28th local Balkans Crisis could expand, as radical European military and political elements took advantage of the Great Powers' indifference, and by applying Machiavelli, Napoleon, von Clausewitz & Sun Tzu's Rules of War to the Balkans Crisis, quickly tumbled all the Great Powers into the European catastrophe.

Page 2