FYI July 26, 2018


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On This Day

1914 – July Crisis: Edward Grey, the British foreign secretary, proposes that Britain, France, Italy and Germany mediate between Austria-Hungary and Russia.
The July Crisis was a series of interrelated diplomatic and military escalations among the major powers of Europe in the summer of 1914 that was the penultimate cause of World War I. The crisis began on June 28, 1914, when Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian and Yugoslavic partisan, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. A complex web of alliances, coupled by miscalculations by many leaders that war was in their best interests or that a general war would not occur, resulted in a general outbreak of hostilities among every major European nation in early August 1914.

Austria-Hungary viewed the irredentist movements of South Slavs, as promoted by Serbia, to be a threat to the unity of the nation. Following the assassination, Austria sought to inflict a military blow on Serbia to demonstrate strength and so Serbia would be more cautious about supporting Yugoslavic nationalism. However, it was wary of the reaction of the Russian Empire, who were a major supporter of Serbia, so sought a guarantee from its ally Germany that it would support Austria in any conflict. Germany guaranteed its support, but urged Austria to attack quickly, while world sympathy for the murdered heir was high, in order to localize the war and avoid drawing in Russia. Some German leaders believed that growing Russian economic power would change the balance of power between the two nations, that a war was inevitable, and that Germany would be better off if a war happened soon. However, rather than a quick attack with available military forces, Austrian leaders deliberated into mid-July before deciding that it would give Serbia a harsh ultimatum on 23 July and would not attack without a full mobilization of its army that could not be accomplished before 25 July 1914.

Just prior to the Serbian reply to the ultimatum, Russia decided that it would intervene in any Austro-Serbian war and ordered a partial mobilization of its armed forces. While Russian military leadership acknowledged that Russia was not yet strong enough for a general war, Russia believed the Austrian grievance against Serbia was a pretext orchestrated by Germany and that it needed to show strength by protecting its Serbian ally. This mobilization was the first major military action not by a direct participant in the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia; it increased the willingness of Serbia to defy the threat of an Austrian attack and greatly increased the alarm in Germany about masses of Russian troops being assembled near its borders. Previously, the German military predicted that Russian mobilization would be slower than that of its French ally on Germany’s opposite border; therefore, German military strategy in any conflict with Russia was to attack through Belgium to avoid French fixed defenses and quickly defeat France in the west before turning to face Russia in the east. France was aware that it would have to act together with its Russian ally to defeat its German rival, so escalated its preparations as tensions along the Russian border increased, which in turn further alarmed Germany.

While Great Britain was aligned with Russia and France, it also had relatively friendly diplomatic relations with Germany, and many British leaders saw no compelling reason to involve Britain in a Continental war. Britain repeatedly offered to mediate, using the Serbian reply as the basis of negotiation, and Germany made various promises in an attempt to ensure British neutrality. However, Britain decided that it had a moral obligation to defend Belgium and aid its formal allies, becoming the last major nation to formally enter the conflict on 4 August. In early August, the ostensible reason for armed conflict, the dispute between Serbia and Austria-Hungary over the murdered heir, had already become a sidenote to a general European war.



Born On This Day

1890 – Daniel J. Callaghan, American admiral, Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1942)

Daniel Judson Callaghan (July 26, 1890 – November 13, 1942) was a United States Navy officer who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. In a career spanning just over 30 years, he served his country in two wars. He served on several ships during his first 20 years of service, including escort duties during World War I, and also filled some shore-based administrative roles. He later came to the attention of US President Franklin Roosevelt, who appointed Callaghan as his Naval Aide in 1938.[1] A few years later, he returned to command duties during the early stages of World War II. Callaghan was killed by an enemy shell on the bridge of his flagship, the USS San Francisco (CA-38), during a surface action against a larger Japanese force off Savo Island. The battle ended in a strategic victory for the Allied side.




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