World War 1 Situational Irony Analysis

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Literary historian Paul Fussell observes that “Every war is ironic because every war is worse than expected. Every war constitutes an irony of situation because its means are so melodramatically disproportionate to its presumed ends.” Situational irony occurs when an outcome is different than what was expected, and the events of August 1914 followed by a four-year stalemate undermined all expectations of a limited war. Even more ironic is that despite evidence to the contrary, men continue to believe that there are inalienable certainties that exist in war, that measurable principles executed in operational lines and masses govern its science. Antoine de Jomini was one such military theorist who believed that war “’is controlled by invariable…show more content…
The Germans predicted that the French go on the offense to take Alsace-Lorraine, thus leaving Paris and the French army’s flank exposed. Helmuth von Moltke, the Chief of the German General Staff, and General Count von Schlieffen, architects of the invasion plan and students of Clausewitz, placed great emphasis on the decisive, short victory. By applying, it is possible that they oversimplified their mentor’s ideas regarding the offense. Consequently, when Germany launched the invasion in August 1914, the High Command expected a decisive victory that would quickly degrade the French army’s initiative and allow the German army to pivot east to deal with…show more content…
Even after Moltke issued a change to the plan to Kluck and General von Bülow, commander of the Second Army on Kluck’s left, Kluck willfully ignored the directive and began to cross the Marne River with Paris in sight. Clausewitz notes, “A battalion is made up of individuals, the least important of whom may chance to delay things or somehow make them go wrong.” If a man of minor importance can have a strategic effect, then a field general’s impact may be catastrophic. Indeed, Kluck’s decision proved costly for the First and Second German Armies since the French not only took advantage of the gap between the armies but also launched a surprise counter-offensive that would prompt the Second Army to retrograde. As the beleaguered French and British armies attempted to pursue the Germans, the efforts on both sides to out-maneuver the other would result in the stalemate of entrenched warfare on the Western
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