The Instigator
H501
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
3_LITTLE_birds
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

World War One was Morally Ambiguous

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/24/2016 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 496 times Debate No: 91786
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (0)

 

H501

Pro

I believe that the Germans are unfairly portrayed as "evil" in World War One. While this was certainly true in World War Two, WW1 had no "good and bad" sides. Please note that the argument is on the topic of WW1, aka the Great War. I don't want people saying "Oh, but the Germans killed Jews!"
3_LITTLE_birds

Con

I will not argue what you believe or don't believe unless I can hook you up to a polygraph machine ; ) however I will argue that the Germans were unfairly portrayed as evil in WWI. One must recognize that the Germans and Austro-Hungarians were the aggressors in the war, as they invaded first.

Invading other nations is evil. Germany invaded Belgium, Luxembourg, and France in WWI. Therefore Germany was evil.
Debate Round No. 1
H501

Pro

Thanks for accepting. Yes, that is true. Germany did invade all those nations in WWI. However, you can't say that the invasion of France was evil. War between France and Germany had already been declared when the invasion began. Had the Germans not invaded France, they would have found themselves fighting on their home turf. The invasion of Luxembourg can't be defended, but there was never any plan to invade Belgium. The Germans sent the Belgians a note. The gist of it was "We believe that the French are planning to invade. Therefore, we request your permission to advance through your country and attack them. We do not need you to help us, we only ask you to not hinder our passage. If you refuse, you will be seen as an enemy." An invasion by France was highly unlikely- but not impossible. Belgium was a key strategic point, and the French and the Germans both realized this. The French were hoping the Germans would invade, so that they could rush to Belgium's aid and attack Germany through Belgium. The Belgians refused to the note, so the Germans invaded. To the Germans credit, sending the Belgians the letter was a very gentlemanly thing to do. They could have just invaded without warning. After all, it was almost certain that the Belgians would refuse to allow them passage. But they sent a note that practically told the Belgians "We're going to invade." Therefore, the Belgians were ready, and inflicted serious casualties on the German army.

And as for Austria-Hungary, they were not aggressors, even though they invaded Serbia. The Serbian Secret Service supplied the Black Hand (The organization that killed the Austria-Hungarian archduke) with weapons, funding, and training. in fact, some think (And this may or may not be true), that the Black hand was a top secret branch of the Secret Service. Think about it. If the KGB shot Obama in cold blood, that would be tantamount to a declaration of war.
3_LITTLE_birds

Con

It is pure speculation to say that the Germans would have been forced to fight a defensive war against France had they not struck first. Giving a declaration of war, as France did, is in accordance with ethical just war theory, however preemptive strikes are not. The Germans were not any less evil for providing notice to Belgium that they would be bringing their military through their country whether they liked it or not. That's just a larger, stronger country bullying a smaller one. This debate is not about the Austro-Hungarians, I shouldn't have brought them up. Clearly, many European countries were building up their militaries and tensions were rising, however the fact remains, that the Germans followed their ally into an offensive, throwing the first punch so to speak. According to just war theory, it is not morally defensible to join an ally in an attack if the enemy has not started hostilities first.
Debate Round No. 2
H501

Pro

On the contrary, Austria-Hungary is highly relevant. The match that set off the "bomb" of war was the Austria-Hungarian declaration of war against Serbia. And the Serbians lit this match themselves by shooting the archduke. After the French and the Russians declared war on Austria-Hungary, the Germans were obligated to follow the terms of their treaty with Austria Hungary. The invasion of France was not evil, and since France and Germany were at war, it isn't "pure speculation" that the French would have invaded Germany. As for your comment "That's just a larger, stronger country bullying a smaller one." Maybe that's true. But that's what history is all about. You're a big bad country- prove it. The Americans attacked the Spanish in the Spanish-American war and the British invaded America in the war of 1812. You can't use invasions to support your ideas. Maybe the invasions were wrong, but the Serbians shot the archduke, both sides used chemical warfare, some British commanders killed German sailors who tried to surrender, etc etc. As William Tecumseh Sherman said "War is hell". When declaring someone "the bad guys" in a war, you must move beyond minor war crimes and focus on ideology. For example, the Germans in World War Two were certainly the bad guys. We know this because of the Holocaust, their "master race" ideas, and their murder of any dissents. The Japanese were also the bad guys in the Second World War, because of murder and torture of POWs, etc. In order to declare someone the bad side, you have to have strong evidence that they committed atrocities. Otherwise, we could call the US the bad guys for dropping Little Boy and Fat Man on Japan. Do you have such evidence?
3_LITTLE_birds

Con

The Germans did not attack either Serbia or Russia first, which they should have done per their treaty with Austria-Hungary--this also is one of the reasons the central powers lost the war. The Germans violated the Hague Convention of 1907 multiple times in the war, first by killing thousands of Belgian civilians and second by raiding undefended English coastal towns. I don't accept your assertion that there is such a thing as a "minor" war crime. Intent or ideology is often difficult to determine. Consequences of actions are not. Actions such as using weapons "evil in themselves" such as chemical weapons or failing to discriminate between civilians and soldiers is unjust or evil.

World War 2, the Japanese, and the nuclear bombings have nothing to do with this debate, however I will point out that the USA are "bad guys" for dropping the nuclear bombs on Japan, as military advisers did not recommend doing so, and it wasn't until two days after the bombings, when the Soviet Union's army joined the war against Japan, that Japan decided to surrender.
Debate Round No. 3
H501

Pro

Germany was at war with all three of those countries- Russia, France, and Serbia. Since Serbia had a weak military and Russia was still mobilizing, Germany attacked France, the bigger threat. However, this debate is over morals, not military tactics.

I realize that in my earlier argument, I chose my words badly. Instead of "minor", I should have said "The type of war crime that both sides committed. Look at this article: https://en.wikipedia.org.... The first table is dedicated to World War One, and the Allies and the UK are on there. Does this make them evil? No!

Also, I want to point out another thing. If invading another country is evil, then why did British and ANZAC forces invade the Gallipoli peninsula in WWI?
3_LITTLE_birds

Con

Any commission of a war crime is evil, independent of which side the perpetrator is on. I grant you that all sides used poison gases, and this makes them all evil. The invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula was particularly immoral because they knew that they had very little chance of succeeding--they knew many lives would be wasted with no change going in. I am not convinced that the Germans were any more evil than the other nations involved in the war, nor do I think the way they were treated after the war was just, but they were as guilty as any other country.
Debate Round No. 4
H501

Pro

Then you concede defeat. I don't think that all sides are squeaky clean, I believe that the war was morally ambiguous, meaning that no one side was worse than the other. Or, as you said "They were as guilty as any other country." Thank you for debating me!
3_LITTLE_birds

Con

3_LITTLE_birds forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by brant.merrell 9 months ago
brant.merrell
Great topic.
Posted by CleaverBeaver 9 months ago
CleaverBeaver
Correction: the name is actually "This No Case of Petty Right or Wrong"

http://www.warpoetry.co.uk...
Posted by CleaverBeaver 9 months ago
CleaverBeaver
I would say that "This is No Petty Case of Right or Wrong" is a good piece of literary support for this
Posted by XVIII 9 months ago
XVIII
some still believe that if President Wilson wasn't obsessed with the English another president may have sided with Germany.
Posted by DavidMancke 9 months ago
DavidMancke
Uhh, yep. I suppose one could argue all belligerents were villains, which is ultimately morally abiguous anyways.

This is a truism.
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