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Foreword WORDS OF WISDOM

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Title: Foreword WORDS OF WISDOM


1
Foreword WORDS OF WISDOM WORLD WAR I Who takes
the blame? SINGAPORE HISTORY A case of pre-1819
amnesia? An afternoon with CHERIAN GEORGE 20th
CENTURY JAPAN the Juku Just a day at the CLAIMS
RESOLUTION TRIBUNAL
iii 5 17 20 23 28
i
2
CHRISTIANITY in the Nova Scotian Settlers
Freetown, Sierra Leone Why Know CURRENT
AFFAIRS? IS MARXISM DEAD, or Not? MY
PERSPECTIVE of Things Acknowledgements
32 41 44 48
51
ii
ii
.
3
Foreword WORDS OF WISDOM Mr. Nicholas Stephen
Miles, tutor for HACAS, pens his views on the
contents of this publication while commenting on
the significance of history and current affairs.
there was a welter of different history periods
on the syllabus to choose from, ranging from
ancient civilizations through medieval and early
modern Europe to the history of China and India
from the early 19th Century. It was even possible
to specialize in the history of Singapores
erstwhile colonial master. Todays emphasis on
apparent relevance has reduced the choice to
two papers (both compulsory) and both 20th
Century (overwhelmingly post-second world war).
The Asian paper has become a study of the very
recent history of the immediate locality of
Southeast Asia. Modern international history (and
its implicit capacity to facilitate an
understanding of current affairs) has moved from
being one of a number of choices available to
centre stage.
Unsurprisingly perhaps that an interest in
current affairs, limited to a few hard core
enthusiasts in 1997, has grown among the student
population and that HACAS range of activities
should reflect this. As indeed does its
membership which has changed from being highly
dependent on the Humanities Scholarship History
class to incorporating students from every
discipline and faculty. Were it not for the
obvious difficulty of pronunciation, the
societys name might well have been changed to
CAAHS. It remains important, however, to maintain
the balance between the two wings
The Hwa Chong History Society was founded in
1996. There was already a Current Affairs Society
in existence but its shrinking, albeit
enthusiastic, membership meant that it was
struggling for survival. In 1997 it was rescued
from oblivion by a merger with its younger but
more lusty sibling and the History and Current
Affairs Society was born. Since then, HACAS has
existed in an amicable tension between those
members attracted by the lure of the past and
those fascinated by the present. That the society
is pulled in these two directions perhaps
reflects parallel debates and developments within
Singapores junior college curriculum. When I
came to Singapore in 1986 as the first History
teacher on the Humanities Scholarship Scheme,
iii
.
4
the irony of the title was wasted on most of the
student population and its readership was, to put
it politely, a niche one. After a few years, it
died an uncomplaining death. Our Humanity
represents a more ambitious project, an attempt
to tap a wider range of authorial talent and
hopefully to garner a more diverse readership. It
seeks to balance articles on current developments
and those of obvious relevance to the Singaporean
with material that will introduce the reader to
historical episodes and debates
and to remind ourselves that a study of the past
is significant and interesting irrespective of
whether it seems to directly explain the present
and that too rigid a focus on the here and the
now can blinker rather than enhance true
understanding. Hence the publication that you
have in your hands. In its early years, HACAS
published a twice yearly journal entitled BUNK.
Reflecting the enthusiasms of its majority
membership, the articles focus on the past rather
than the present but
remote from the studies and experience of the
junior college student. In this inaugural issue,
all the articles are by ex-Hwa Chong students who
continue to have maintained their interest in
History and current affairs either through their
university studies or their subsequent
employment. The Society is grateful for their
positive response to the project and hopes that
future issues will provide the opportunity for
current HACAS members to publish their writing
alongside that of other alumni.
The HACAS Executive Committee 2007 From right,
Benjamin Chow (Projects I/C), Kylie Ng
(Treasurer), Mr. Nicholas Stephen Miles
(Tutor-in-charge), Dominic Low (Secretary), Im
Zhen Jie (President), Ong Jia Xin (Vice-President)
iv
5
WORLD WAR I Who takes the blame? Christl Li
takes us back into history to answer a most
cryptic question
The outbreak of World War One in 1914 marked the
start of a cataclysmic spiral into four years of
unprecedented carnage and destruction, leaving in
its wake a battle-scarred Europe with an altered
balance of power. Article 231 of the Treaty of
Versailles saddled Germany with sole
responsibility for starting this war and formed
the basis for intense resentment by the Germans
against this diktat. Yet, historical consensus
today suggests that all the European nations must
share some blame for having slithered over the
edge of the boiling cauldron of war. From
Sazonovs hair-trigger reaction that transformed
the Balkan Crisis into an international one to
Edward Greys ambivalence, the actions of
Europes leaders placed Europe irrevocably down
the path of war. All nations had, in 1914,
envisaged the possibility of war but their
varying degrees of willingness or eagerness to
contemplate starting war enable us to pronounce
varying judgments of responsibility on them for
the outbreak of war.
Among all the powers, it is very plausible that
Germany shoulders the greatest responsibility for
the outbreak of war due to its overt aggression
through a series of policies that antagonized
other countries and pushed Europe towards war.
However, Germanys aggression was not always
unjustified and several mitigating factors have
to be considered before we can reasonably pass
judgment on the extent of German responsibility
for war.
assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914. Without
this, Austria would not have dared to take
military action against Serbia for fear of
Russian intervention. Behind the façade of a
blank cheque, Germany was essentially urging
Austria to act fast and decisively against Serbia
namely, war. The Kaiser was kept in the dark,
while Bethmann Hollweg sought to give H. H.
Asquith, the British Prime Minister, the
impression that Germany was trying to avoid a
conflict. Also, the fact that Germany
deliberately delayed forwarding Greys proposal
for mediation in the July Crisis reveals their
desire, not for compromise, but for war.
Furthermore, after Serbias conciliatory reply
had been received, Germany went so far as to
pressure the Austrians into declaring war even
prior to Austrias complete mobilization. This
duplicity clearly points to an active approach
towards fomenting war on the part of the Germans.
Germany should be blamed for not exploring
alternatives to war in 1914. In fact, her
Short term responsibility for war must be
assessed based on German decisions during the
July Crisis. One example of German aggression was
their pledge of steadfast support to Austria in
the wake of the
5
.
6
aggression can be dated prior to July 1914,
implying that it was not so much reactionary as
it was a manifestation of her desires for war,
stemming from her prior calculations of benefits
to be gained from war. The Schlieffen Plan was
adopted in the 1980s and essentially an offensive
military plan that prepared for a war on two
fronts. Germany did not merely stumble into
war, but was thoroughly preparing for one. Her
fixation with the Schlieffen Plan meant that in
1914 she did not thoroughly consider diplomatic
options in lieu of military solutions. Given the
traditional importance of the military in German
society, the voice of military leaders carried
more weight in the final days of the July Crisis
than the civilian government and was responsible
for getting the Kaiser to come round to the idea
of mobilization. The Kaiser finally gave in to
military action because he and the civilian
government were under immense pressure to launch
the German attack just so the Schlieffen Plan
could be executed smoothly and timely. Hence, the
inherent structure of German society and the
pre-existing military plans heavily influenced
German actions in the July Crisis and are thus
responsible for the outbreak of war.
Germanys defence in response to her supposed
aggression was one of insecurity. In some ways,
German insecurities were not unfounded. Her
geographic position was highly vulnerable. In
addition, the massive Russian arms build-up was
highly alarming, coercing Germany to go to war
while victory was still within her grasp. While
insecurity can be a mitigating factor insofar as
she genuinely suffered fears of hostile
encirclement by other powers, it does not
diminish her responsibility in causing war. The
fact remains that Germanys actions, regardless
of motivation, were antagonistic in nature and
increased the likelihood of the outbreak of war.
Furthermore, insecurity is a weak defence to
absolve German responsibility because her
insecurity was largely a result of her own
foreign policy that of Weltpolitik. Weltpolitik
sought to achieve goals such as unity of the
masses and asserting herself more forcefully on
the world stage. Ultimately, it proved to be
foolhardy, confusing and inconsistent with no
clear plan, and resulted in the antagonism of
many countries. Towards the end of the 19th
century, Britain looked to Germany as a potential
ally yet her attempts at an alliance were foiled
as
Germany foolishly tried to impose her terms on
Britain. Germanys navy was purely a weapon of
offence and very successfully aroused British
antagonism, as it appeared to rival the
domineering British fleet. Other incidents like
the Kruger Telegram galvanized Britain into
forming the Entente Cordiale with France in 1904.
This was reinforced by the annexation of Bosnia
and the Tangier and Agadir Crises, forcing
Britain, France and Russia into an inevitable
alliance. As the historian AJP Taylor put it,
Most of Europe felt overshadowed by Germany.
Hence, any fears of encirclement were self
induced and the world should hold her accountable
for this rather than mitigate her
blameworthiness. Another policy that contributed
to the outbreak of war was that of the carte
blanche presented to Vienna during the 1908
annexation. This was a repudiation of Bismarckian
policy on the Balkans as Bismarck had previously
refused to get Germany entangled in Balkan
affairs. In contrast, Germany gave absolutely
clear support to Austria in 1908. This dramatic
shift in policy implied that Germany would be
obliged to get involved in future Balkan
conflicts and this would very well involve the
escalation of
7
Serb nationalists would stir up activity in
Austria, encouraging the Slavs to break away from
Austrian rule, making Serbia a threat to Austria,
and these dictated their hostile attitudes
towards each other. Since 1903, Serbia
nationalists had become more active in
expansionist aims for a greater Serbia, and their
assertion of leadership over the pan-Slavic
moment was destabilizing. Societies like the
Yugoslav Club had started resorting to violence
and illegal activities to achieve their aims,
accentuating the threat Austria faced from
pan-Serbism. Serbia was thus accountable for
ratcheting up tension in the Balkans, which
precipitated in incidents like the first Balkan
War and the occupation of Novibazar and the route
to Salonika. Most noteworthy was the
assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by the
nationalists on 28 June, 1914, leaving Serbia
unarguably blameworthy. However, the extent of
culpability is dependent on the extent to which
Austria-Hungary went to war over the incident. As
Princip, one of the Serb perpetrators, said, If
it hadnt been me, they would have found another
some other excuse. Hence, one can view the
killing as the straw that broke the camels back
as it
provided the ostensible justification for Austria
to go to war. Furthermore, Austria might not
have pursued punitive military action against
Serbia without Germanys firm declaration of
support. Prior to executing the ultimatum,
Austria had been mindful of probable Russian
intervention in support of Serbia and sent
Germany a letter asking if Germany would support
her in military action against Serbia. Germany
eventually gave Austria her blessing, and this
was a more important factor since it provided the
basis for the war to occur, rather than the
trigger. One may argue that Serbia must accept
responsibility for having failed to give an
unconditional acceptance of the ultimatum, which
would have made it impossible for Austria to
start a war in the eyes of the world. Yet,
Sazonov, the Russian Foreign Minister, had
encouraged the Serbs not to yield an
unconditional acceptance it was under such
circumstances that Serbia rejected the anomalous
demand. Instead Serbias masterful, conciliatory
reply to the ultimatum scored her diplomatic
victory and greatly diminished her responsibility
for the outbreak of war. She accepted all the
clauses except
Germanys policy reversal in 1908 set the stage
for the next Balkan crisis to precipitate a Great
War.
any localized Balkan conflict into a larger
continental war simply by virtue of German
involvement. Hence, Germanys policy reversal in
1908 set the stage for the next Balkan crisis to
precipitate a Great War. In sum, Germany should
bear the heaviest responsibility for the outbreak
of war as the actions of her leaders and their
policies pursued were aggressive, at times
foolhardy and ultimately increased tension
leading to the outbreak of war. During the July
Crisis, Serbias responsibility for the outbreak
of war can be attributed to her conciliatory
attitude adopted when dealing with the Balkans.
Austria was had thus long been afraid that
7
.
8
the contentious one demanding participation of
delegates of Austria-Hungary in the investigation
of the assassination. Both Edward Grey and the
Kaiser felt that taking further military punitive
action against her was excessive and unjustified,
as she had virtually exhausted diplomatic means
of avoiding the outbreak of war. Instead, Germany
and Austria decision to press on with war must
account more heavily for the war. While Serbian
nationalism gave Austria-Hungary cause for war,
Austria-Hungarys long term responsibility for
war lay mainly in the Annexation of Bosnia in
1908 and her role in the Balkans while her short
term responsibility for war lay overwhelmingly in
mishandling of the July Crisis.
Austria-Hungarys role in the Bosnian Crisis was
a long term cause as it fomented great tension
and hostility among the Serbs. This outcome of
Aehrenthals ironically well-intended annexation
was devastatingly counterproductive to his aims
of fostering Slavic loyalty and commitment to the
Austrian empire. The tension provoked an increase
in Serb nationalist, while societies like the
Narodna-Obrana flourished, and in term was
responsible for the assassination
which precipitated in the July Crisis.
precipitated in the July Crisis. Austria-Hungary
s mismanagement of the July Crisis caused a
localized Balkan crisis to escalate into a world
war. She was guilty of narrowly focusing on Serb
nationalism, failing to see how her actions would
have wider European implications.
Austria-Hungarys ultimatum was problematic
firstly, she did not consider the possible
reactions of other powers secondly, she
foolishly failed to include evidence of the
Serbian governments complicity in rooting out
guilty Serb officials. Resultantly, Serbias
stance as a victim of undue Austrian aggression
was justified, giving Russia more reason for
intervention. Furthermore, Austria delayed her
action against Serbia the ultimatum was not
delivered until a month after Sarajevo. Had the
Austrians taken swift retaliatory action in
Belgrade, a European war may have been averted
because Austrian action would be justified as a
punitive response to the killing. The time wasted
seemed to reflect hypocrisy on part of the
Austrians, and thus allowed other issues to
crystallize, compared with which Serbia became a
minor item. If the aggressiveness of the Austrian
ultimatum shocked Europe, the rejection of
Serbias conciliatory reply was
by far more shocking. The Serbian reply had been
a masterpiece of diplomatic language, accepting
all but one Austrian demand. Superficially, it
would seem that the Austrians were totally
responsible for being so unreasonable and for
aggressively declaring war on Serbia even in the
face of this conciliatory reply. However, it may
be argued that it was Austrias intention all
along to declare war on Serbia and deal with the
dangerous nest of vipers once and for all.
Alternatively, was Austria forced into taking
such drastic military action by Serb nationalism
itself? Or, was Austria unwittingly pushed and
prodded down the warpath by an aggressive
Germany? Military preparations for action
against Serbia had existed long before the July
Crisis, suggesting that Austria always had the
option of dealing with Serbia in mind. Conrad,
the Austrian chief of staff, had for years talked
of the need for preventive war against Serbia.
Arguably, Austria was ready to take the first
chance which presented itself for an attack on
Serbia one which took the form of the 1914
assassination. However, the existence of military
plans does not necessarily equate their execution
the war involved such high stakes that Austria
9
aggression, did Austria present such a demanding
ultimatum. To a significant extent, Austria acted
not out of her own free will but under pressure
from Germany. One could argue Austrian
responsibility for war because she went ahead
with her declaration of war even after Bethmann
Hollweg sent them Telegram 323, urging them to
halt their actions. If at this stage, Germany was
truly willing to limit the scope of military
action to an occupation of Belgrade, then Austria
must shoulder responsibility for bringing Europe
into war through her intransigence and rejection
of a chance to prevent war. However, Germany was
sending her mixed and confusing messages
Germany intentions were not at all united in
support of the Pledge Plan and even
contradictory. When Berchtold was considering
Bethmanns proposal for a halt in Belgrade,
General Conrad was told by Moltke that any delay
in Austrias mobilization would be disastrous.
Austria guilt appears heavy in her desire for
punitive military action against Serbia, but
Germany must shoulder as much, if not greater
responsibility for bringing on war. Without
Germany, Austria would not have had the
must have had very good reasons and been under
great pressure to do so. In 1908, Austria was
also on the brink of war, but ultimately her
hesitancy prevented war from erupting. Even at
the height of this standoff, Austria did not
succumb to war because strong opposition had led
Aehrenthal to the conclusion that war was
imprudent, even if justified. Hence, the argument
that Austria is responsible for war because it
merely used the assassination as a convenient
excuse to wage war on Serbia is a plausible,
albeit improbable. Was Austria then forced
into a war by Serbian aggression? Although Serbia
had, prior to 1914, been responsible for tension
in the Balkan region through growth or her
nationalist organizations, she did little in the
July Crisis that unnecessarily provoked war.
Furthermore, the fact that that Baron Giesl was
under orders to reject anything less than an
unconditional acceptance of the ultimatum greatly
weakens the argument that Austria was forced
into a corner. Besides, Austria did have
alternatives to war. Grey had proposed mediation
between Austria and Serbia but his proposal was
badly received by Austria, who did not deign to
negotiate with Serbia. Hence, after the
German aggression and pressure on Austria to
take more drastic military action to resolve the
disputes also mitigates her responsibility for
war.
ultimatum, war could have been avoided but
Austria-Hungarys pride snubbed this chance for
peace. German aggression and pressure on
Austria to take more drastic military action to
resolve the disputes also mitigates her
responsibility for war. Austria was initially
hesitant about considering punitive military
action against Serbia for fear of a Russian
reprisal. Only with Germanys firm declaration of
support, and her actively pushing Austria towards
9
.
10
Russias role in the outbreak of war was her
involvement in the creation of the Balkan League.
confidence to wage war single-handedly against
Serbia and possibly also face the wrath of Russia
and the Entente Powers by doing so. Austria was
urged to war, but Russia blundered her way into
it and must take responsibility even if she did
not pursue a deliberately aggressive agenda that
fomented war. Her immense economic and military
size meant that any actions on her part took on a
magnified significance as they had potentially
devastating ramifications for European nations.
Hence, Russia should be blamed for inept
personnel that comprised a confused
administration which, in turn, produced muddled
policies, inadvertently drawing Russia and other
countries into war. Her role in the Balkans must
also take centre stage because it provided the
vital link that led to Russian involvement in the
war. Russias role in the outbreak of war was
her involvement in the creation of the Balkan
League. Russias long-term ambitions in the
Balkans had put her at odds with Austria-Hungary,
who did not wish to see the region destabilized
by the pan-Slavic movement. By the end of the
19th century, the makings of great power rivalry
and tension
already existed between Russia and
Austria-Hungary, exacerbated by the creation of
the Balkan League. The development could be
traced to Russias renewed interest in the Balkan
region, which saw the appointment of Nicholas
Hartwig, a rabid Pan-Slav, as Russian Minister in
Serbia in 1909. He encouraged Serb nationalist
operations and secret societies, taking active
steps to create an offensive alliance against
Turkey, culminating in the Balkan League. The
first Balkan War in 1912 was a stunning military
success for the Balkan League, giving Austria
legitimate justification for waging war on
Serbia, given that she and her allies were guilty
of aggression. The first Balkan War led to the
second Balkan War, where Russia abandoned them
and decided not to go to war on their behalf. Her
failure to fulfill her promise to the Serbs
produced an even stronger sentiment on the
importance of Russia helping Serbia. This
cemented the sentiment among Russians that they
had to support Serbia at all costs in the next
conflict, failing which their status and prestige
derived from being the protector of the Slavs
would surely be eroded. Russias strong
ideological commitment to pan-Slavism hence
necessitated this
commitment to Serbia. Given that the Tsar took
into account the public mood in
his decision-making, the Russian people
indirectly caused war by willing Russian support
of Serbia. Thus, Russias eventual backing of
Serbia meant that the next conflict involving
Serbia would be a flash point that greatly
increased the likelihood of a general war. In
1908, Russia backed down in the Bosnian Crisis
and war was averted. Between 1912 and 1913,
Russia adopted a pacifist policy following the
Balkan Wars and war was averted. In 1914,
however, a renewed Russian resolve to support
Austria coincided with the outbreak of the
First World War. Evidently, this was one of the
major causes of war. During the July Crisis, in
the wake of the ultimatum, Serbia would most
probably have accepted it unconditionally in the
absence of pledges of Russian support. Arguably,
an unconditional acceptance was the only way that
Austria would have been placated and hence
Russias support was an important link between the
11
ultimatum and war. Ultimately, Russias
responsibility for the outbreak of war lay with
her incompetent leaders, whose lack of a clear
stand and direction precipitated confused and
muddled policies being adopted in the July
Crisis, causing Russia to stumble into war.
Izvolsky, a Russian foreign minister, foolishly
pledged Russian support to Austrias annexation
of Bosnia in the hope that Austria would in turn
support Russias case for the opening of the
Dardenelles. This episode is significant as it
was the first major instance of Russia having let
Serbia down, and thereby strengthening Russian
resolve to help Serbia in future conflicts. In
addition to the heightening of tensions between
Russia and Austria, the Bosnian Crisis also
vastly increased Serb discontent and led to the
flourishing of many nationalist groups such as
Narodna Obrana, whose splinter group the Black
Hand directly brought about the later
assassination of Archduke Franz
Ferdinant. Sazonov, the Foreign Minister during
the July Crisis, was a volatile character who,
through his hair-trigger reaction to Austrias
ultimatum,
transformed the Balkan crisis into a world one.
In his fit of rage, he proposed
mobilization against Austria as a form of
pressure or deterrence. Although this was
proposed with no concrete intent for war, his
ignorance of the implications of mobilization had
severe repercussions. At the time, once one
neighbour started mobilization, all others were
practically obliged to do for fear of being left
defenceless in the face of an enemy poised for
attack. Even partial mobilization would have
compelled Austria to order general mobilization,
invoking the Austro-German alliance and Germanys
subsequent mobilization. Sazonov was inexcusably
naïve and ignorant of this, as his question to
the Germany Ambassador on 26 July demonstrated,
Surely mobilization is not equivalent to war
with you either, is it? Even though mobilization
was changed to a Period Preparatory to War, the
danger of the situation had been driven home.
Furthermore, after Serbias reply to the
ultimatum, Sazonov turned down Greys proposal
for a conference of ambassadors, thinking he
could settle the matter with Austria himself. His
meeting with the cooperative Austro-Hungarian
Ambassador, Count Szapary, had left him
confident of Russias ability to diffuse the
situation. Sazonov then foolishly quoted the
Count as the basis of Austria-Hungarys stand.
However, not only was Szapary unauthorized to
make or accept definite proposals, he was also
ignorant of the happenings in Austria. This
mistake meant another chance for peace, through
Greys proposed conference, was rejected and
Russia must take responsibility for this.
Ultimately, Russias responsibility for the
outbreak of war lay with her incompetent leaders.
Tsar Nicholas II was also blameworthy, for his
lack of control over the military and government.
His indecision led to considerable confusion
within the civilian government and his decisions
swayed in accordance with influential ministers,
who comprised mainly hardliners with no desire to
steer Russia away from war. His weak and
vacillating character rendered him incapable of
exercising control
11
.
12
over military planning, making Russian military
and strategic thinking characterized primarily by
confusion. Russia was also the first to consider
military action after Austrias ultimatum, having
kick-started the military processes that
culminated in war. She was the first to mobilize
besides Austria and Serbia, thus sparking off a
chain reaction from Germany, France, and finally
England, proving the phrase mobilization is war,
to mobilize is to oblige your neighbour to do
so. Russia may not have instigated war, unlike
Germany, but her responsibility for war is also
heavy because of her lack of salient reasons for
heading towards it. Austria wanted war to protect
her vital interests and national honour Germany
wanted war as she stood to gain much and stood to
lose much by not doing so. With Russia, war was
foolhardy and an inexplicable decision in terms
of national interests she had nothing to gain
but much to lose. Her interests in the Balkans,
though a plausible issue to go to war over, did
not represent irrecoverable vital interests that
might have justified war. She could have exhausted
diplomatic pressure first, with war as a last
resort. Moreover, it was illogical that Russia
should mobilize first, since it was to her
advantage to delay it until the Austrian army had
been bogged down in war against Serbia. As with
Russia, France was responsible for the outbreak
of war for indirect contributions, as she too was
not an aggressor like Germany. Frances
involvement in war via her Entente relationship
with Russia makes her responsibility seem small
however, her role is far more significant than
that. French support for Russia in 1914 gave her
the confidence she needed in giving full support
to Serbia. Frances support for Russia must be
contrasted with that of 1908, where Russia
received no backing in the Bosnian Crisis, due to
Frances traditional reluctance to get involved
in Balkan affairs. This lack of support meant
that the Crisis did not escalate to a European
war in 1908, even when the Russian case for war
was much more compelling. While Russia received
no support in 1908, in 1914 they were fully
convinced of French support for a war in the
Balkans and this strengthened Russian resolve to
back Serbia.
This change in French policy dated from 1912,
where in a turnaround of traditional French
policy, Poincare announced that if Germany
supported Austria, France would march. The talks
held between Poincare and the Russians just prior
to the issue of the Austrian ultimatum gave
Russia the impression of full French support,
without which Russian confidence to pledge such
strong backing of Serbia would be
debatable. France urged Russia to think
strategically in terms of an offensive against
Germany while strengthening herself militarily.
Due to her own demographic weaknesses, Russian
manpower was vital to the preservation of France
against Germany. Thus, any hopes of a French
victory over Germany was becoming increasingly
reliant on an alliance with the other Entente
powers, Russia included. Arguably, France did not
try hard to avoid war (as in the case of Britain,
who proposed mediation among powers) but instead
decided to plunge into war, knowing full well
that Russian support was vital to her survival.
Even when Germany issued her Double Ultimatum to
France and Russia, it was still possible for the
French not to get involved by withdrawing her
support.
13
In rejecting it, France failed to halt the slide
into war. Yet, French responsibility is
mitigated by the existence of the Schlieffen
Plan, since Germany was bound to attack France
and her best option was to let Russia mobilize so
she could help France fend off the Germany
attack. A great deal of Frances responsibility
for war lay in her leaders, whose unilateral
action during the July Crisis paved Frances path
to war. Maurice Paleologue, the French Ambassador
in St. Petersburg, told Sazonov that France
would not only give Russia strong diplomatic
support but would, if necessary, fulfill the
obligations imposed on her by the alliance. He
pursued his own agenda of assuring the Russians
of French support despite the absence of official
instruction, hence indirectly getting both France
and Russia entangled in war. Joffre, the French
Commander in Chief, was also culpable for pushing
for mobilization and military preparation. In the
absence of Poincare and Viviani, he had taken
some preliminary measures of military
preparation, and pressured them to authorized
mobilization on their return. His Plan XVII,
which led them to believe a swift French
victory over Germany was possible, was based on
faulty intelligence and this was perilous as it
provided the military with a false sense of
confidence.
conflict. A consideration of Frances long-term
role in causing the outbreak of war includes how
France shored up the Ententes and made them a
much tighter alliance. As a result of Poincares
1912 visit to Russia, there was a perceptible
shift towards a military alliance that bound
France to mobilize if Russia did. France was thus
responsible since she created a system that
dragged in various countries into itself simply
by virtue of these alliances. The nature of
alliances, coupled with that of mobilization,
made for a very dangerous situation, as all other
member countries were inextricable from war
should any member of the alliance mobilize. By
committing herself so, France supplied the
additional link in the chain of events linking
Europe to the Balkans, making France responsible
for turning a localized Balkan conflict into a
continental one. This shored up Entente made
countries like Germany very insecure and gave
credence to her fears of encirclement. Because
Germany justified the war as a pre-emptive one
waged against hostile encirclement, France should
take part of the blame too. Last but not least,
the British were also involved in the
France failed to halt the slide into war.
France was also responsible for bringing the
British into the war. They exerted moral pressure
on the British in order to persuade their entry.
French leaders like Poincare and Cambon helped to
remind Britain of their moral duty to help France
through blatantly emotional rhetoric. France was
also careful to play consistently the part of a
victim and not an instigator, ensuring that the
British would have a moral justification to enter
the fray. This was achieved through a series of
low-key precautionary defensive measures instead
of immediate mobilization in support of Russia.
Considering that Britains fear of moral
bankruptcy impacted her decision, France
shoulders guilt for getting the British involved
and further escalating the
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14
outbreak of war. This was characterized by a lack
of involvement as well as the absence of a clear
and definite stance on the issue of war. This
ambivalent and ambiguous stance arguably misled
Germany into increasing her confidence of winning
the war, as they believed the British would not
intervene in such a dispute. It seems doubtful
that British actions impacted the outbreak of war
since Britain was not one of the key players in
the disputes leading to war, and all involvement
was peripheral. However, the British government
made several costly mistakes that led to
war. The British did not maximize
their Great Power status to bring strong pressure
to bear on Germany. It is argued that if Britain
had threatened Germany with British participation
on the side of the Entente Powers in the event of
any European war, Germany might have capitulated,
or been at least more circumspect towards Russia
and France. In this respect, British
responsibility for the war is large since a
substantial degree of Germany confidence stemmed
from their belief that Britain would stay out of
war. This can be traced to domestic politics,
whereby pressures for peace from a war-averse,
liberal cabinet meant that Grey would have had a
very difficult time trying to convince the
cabinet of war. The British cabinets indifferent
attitude imposed genuine constraints on Grey and
explains much of his deliberately ambiguous
foreign policy that enabled war to break out.
Thus, Britain failed to make her stand clear,
forfeiting her chance to secure peace for the
European continent. In the end, Britain joined
the war because not joining the war effort on the
side of the Entente Powers would have rendered
her morally bankrupt in her allies eyes. The
costs of not being involved in the war
were great for Britain. If a Franco-Russian
victory precipitated, the Entente would break up
and Britain would be left once again without
allies, in a state of diplomatic isolation. More
importantly, if a German victory ensued, its
consequent seismic shift in the balance of power
in Europe was not a pretty prospect that Britain
wanted to contemplate. This real reason for
involvement was stated in The Times on August 6,
1914, where intervention was an elementary duty
of self-preservation. When we analyse how large
the costs of not getting involved in an imminent
war was for Britain, then the British cabinet
should be blamed for its failure to take a
decisive stance early in the July Crisis even
more. If they had realized the inevitability of
their involvement in war, they would then have
gone all out to maximize their only real chance
to preserve the peace by adopting a stricter
foreign policy and frightening Germany out of
war. As it turned out, they did not try hard
enough. Britain also increased tension in Europe
by deciding that the British fleet should remain
active instead of returning to peacetime basis.
This step towards taking military preparations
contributed to the
the British government made several costly
mistakes that led to war.
15
prevailing mood of military armament, with other
countries deeming it necessary to take military
precautions. Even though many such measures were
merely basic preparatory military measures, as in
the case of France, they nevertheless heightened
insecurity in Europe and brought it closer to
war. Still, in a fair assessment of her overall
responsibility, the dispersal of the fleet was
undertaken by an individual and did not
constitute a political decision of mobilization,
hence the government should not be totally
responsible for the war. The British military
engaged in an arms race with Germany,
representing a movement towards war that rendered
it inevitable. It resulted in increasing military
armament that further raised tension, such as
Britains tit-for-tat response to Germany via the
introduction of the Dreadnought in 1906 and
increasing the rate of her naval build-up. Her
obstinacy and refusal to give up superiority in
the face of the German challenge meant there was
little possibility of the naval race being
halted. This is outlined by Winston Churchills
encapsulation that
he must explicitly repudiate the suggestion that
Great Britain can ever allow another naval power
to approach her so nearly as to deflect or to
restrict her political action by purely naval
means. Her refusal to allow Germany to obtain
political concession in exchange for naval
disarmament meant there was no dimunition of
either the underlying antagonism or the arms
race. In essence, the naval race created
political and psychological attitudes that
contributed to the mood of 1914. If not for
British stubbornness, Germany could have backed
down and both countries would not have then
accelerated their naval preparations for war to
such a great extent.
The British military engaged in an arms race
with Germany, representing a movement towards war
that rendered it inevitable.
In conclusion, it would be too simplistic to
blame Germany solely for World War One, yet
absolving her of built and blaming the aggressive
encirclement of the Entente is also an inadequate
explanation.
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16
The multi-causality of war would mean that in any
hierarchy of responsibility constructed, Germany
should be at the top for being the most
instrumental in her involvement, through
Weltpolitik and her latent aggression in the
handling of the July Crisis. Russia, though not
an aggressor, is responsible for overreacting and
muddling her way through, with catastrophic
consequences. Serbian nationalism is responsible
for fomenting tension in the Balkans that
engendered Austrian intervention, though
virtually faultless during the July Crisis.
Russian intervention on part of her protective
pro-Slavic policies in turn invoked the Entente
arrangements, dragging France and Britain into
war as well. Although France may have
played a part in goading Russia into war, Russia
still bears greater responsibility for actually
entering it. Lastly, although Britains opacity
of her foreign policy and involvement in the
naval race may have allowed Europe to drift
closer to war, British involvement alone would
not have been enough to stifle German aggression
or cause her to abandon the Schlieffen
Plan. Without Germany, Austria would not have
confidently declared war, single-handedly,
against Serbia. This sparkplug that invoked
Russian intervention and consequent Entente Power
participation was a result of Germanys explicit
support for war, and thus she must bear the brunt
of responsibility for having caused World War
One.
17
SINGAPORE HISTORY A Case of Pre-1819
Amnesia? Wee Liang En writes about the
historical roots of Singapore
vital for them to know? To begin with, it is
evident that Singaporean history does not begin
with Raffles landing in 1819. The brevity of
this article does not allow for an in-depth
discussion of pre-1819 Singapore/Temasek but it
is common knowledge that there was indeed a
settlement on Singapore island before Raffles
arrival. The settlement (also known as Temasek)
was certainly no small fry in the politics of the
region, from the 14th to the 16th century.
Indeed, in the late 14th century Temasek served
as a one-time base for the Palembang prince
Parameswara (who killed Temaseks ruler and
established himself there), and it was only after
a Siamese counterattack that Parameswara moved
northwards to establish the city of Melaka (which
would later grow into a powerful sultanate,
holding territory on both sides of the Straits of
Melaka and was the dominant power in the Malay
Archipelago at the time of the Europeans
arrival). In 1613, the Portugese (who had
established themselves in the region by
conquering Melaka in 1509), burned down the
settlement at the mouth of the Singapore River
because they feared it would be a threat to them.
For both Melakas founder and Melakas eventual
conquerors to pay Temasek such attention suggests
that Temasek must have been of some significance,
over a sustained period of time. When Raffles was
drawn to Singapore in 1819, then, he was not
attracted to a terra nullius, but rather to an
island he knew had played a significant role in
the Malay Archipelago.
The inspiration for this article came as I was
flipping through my old history textbooks,
preparing to consign them to cold storage at the
back of some storeroom. Of course by old
textbooks I mean the definitive textbook that
most Singaporean students should have encountered
at some point or other Understanding Our Past-
Singapore From Colony to Nation. With the
approval of MOEs Curriculum Planning and
Development Division, the account of Singaporean
history as published here should be the
definitive version the version that every
Singaporean should know. What struck my eye,
though, was the very first phrase at the
beginning the story Singapores covers the
period between 1819 and 1971. Does Singaporean
history really start only in the year 1819? More
importantly, are most Singaporeans aware of a
pre-1819 past and if they arent, why is that
so? Is it
It is evident that Singaporean history does not
begin with Raffles landing in 1819
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18
However, in the minds of most Singaporeans,
Singaporean history does begin only after 1819,
when Sir Stamford Raffles founded the modern-day
settlement of Singapore. Raffles name is widely
remembered in modern Singapore so much so, that
streets, companies, buildings and institutions
all bear his name. With two statues (one in front
of Victoria Concert Hall, one by the Singapore
River) and much else besides to commemorate his
name, Raffles is obviously more well-known than
Temaseks legendary founder, Sang Nila Utama.
Apart from the story of Sang Nila Utamas
sighting of a lion (and his christening of the
city as Singapura, Lion City), nothing else about
him resonates with Singaporeans. The only
reminders of Temasek in modern Singapore are the
Governments investment arm (Temasek Holdings),
and a handful of schools. With regards to
Parameswara, nothing about his sojourn here is
recorded in our history textbooks. Again,
this pre-1819 amnesia is not due to a lack of
information about early Singapore. To give
Understanding Our Past a measure of credit, a
small (4 out of 250 pages) section does talk
about early Temasek, albeit with little detail.
And artefacts like the Singapore
Stone are exhibited in the National History
Museum there are excavations on Fort Canning,
the old home of Temaseks rulers the old Istana
at Kampong Glam, where Singapores Sultan once
lived, is now a museum. But early Temasek is not,
for some reason, at the forefront of modern
Singapores consciousness. Instead, a number of
vague myths and neatly packaged stories have
taken its place that Temasek was a sleepy
fishing village, for instance or Sang Nila
Utamas lion encounter, which has been nicely
packaged for tourist consumption in the persona
of todays Merlion, half beast and half fish.
Significantly, as we seek to build a Singaporean
identity, why have we not played up the history
of pre-modern Singapore?
An independent history of only 40-odd years makes
us a toddler by any standards- an extremely young
nation indeed. History, in turn, is one of the
main glues that hold any nationalism together-
the longer the history, the stronger the glue.
The interesting question, then, is in our
attempt to create a national identity, why have
we not claimed pre-1819 Temasek as our own? My
answer to this question, of course, is mere
speculation. But I suggest the reason why we (and
the powers that be) have not played up pre-1819
history is that ancient Temasek was always part
of one regional empire or another- an important
part, certainly, but still a part. In its section
on Temasek, Understanding Our Past states that
during the 14th century, the Siamese and the
Javanese took turns to attack Singapore because
they wanted to make it part of their own
empires. The outcome of those attacks- and the
identity of Singapores eventual masters- is
omitted, conveniently or otherwise. But
historians are not mealy-mouthed about facts- and
the fact is that ancient Temasek was, at
different times, part of Srivijaya (the
Indonesians), a vassal of Majapahit (the
Javanese) and of Siam (the Thais), and eventually
a
The history of pre-modern Singapore is crucial to
building a Singaporean identity
Certainly, in this city founded by rootless
immigrants, our lack of a coherent national
narrative has been a handicap.
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national narrative- its history, past and
present, and how it came to be. From pre-1819
Temasek, to the communist-PAP struggle,
Separation and Independence- it is my hope that
future Singaporean students can appreciate that
the narrative of Singaporean history is not a
monolithic one, but rather a weaving together of
disparate threads. History has many views and
different interpretations- and it is worthwhile
that all of them be heard.
Malaysian possession, under the Sultanate of
Melaka and finally Johore. Only in 1819 was
Singapore transferred to the British, and no
longer under the thumb of an indigenous power.
Of course in the turbulent times of Separation
and early Independence there was no time or need
to investigate the history of pre-modern
Singapore. But things are certainly different
now, and since we have quite a good picture of
early Temasek, there is no reason why this part
of history should not be reclaimed as part of our
national consciousness. History, as the ancient
Chinese put it, is like a mirror and the lesson
we learn from Temasek should not be that
Singapore must always be dominated by its
neighbours but rather that modern-day Singapore,
like its predecessor, cannot survive without the
region. The US and Japan are not our only major
trading partners Indonesia and Malaysia are,
too. This pre-1819 amnesia should thus be
addressed.
The important lessons of our history, even
pre-history can and ought to be applied to
Singaporean society today
In closing, Singapore has grown, matured and
prospered over the past few decades. While in
1965 Singapores continued existence as an
independent entity remained uncertain, today it
is an accepted fact. The turbulent times of
Independence have also given way to stability and
unity. This maturation of Singaporean society
should also be accompanied by a reexamination of
Singapores
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20
An afternoon with CHERIAN GEORGE We sit down to
have a casual interview with acclaimed alumnus,
Cherian George
with newspapers, readers never revisit your
predictions to check if you got them right! But
seriously, what strikes me now about the items on
that list is that they've become conventional
wisdom.   One other major shift that may affect
Singapore's political culture is the rise of
China and India. This is having a paradoxical and
unexpected effect. It was once assumed that the
"Asian century" would be accompanied by the rise
of "Asian values", like respect for authority and
an emphasis on harmony. But when we meet the new
Chinese and Indians now  or, for that matter,
the new Indonesians, Vietnamese and so on  many
of these fellow Asians don't seem to conform to
our old stereotypes. They are self-confident and
independent. They are not waiting for their
governments to tell them what to do, and they are
not afraid to hold their own views or show
initiative. They are redefining what it means to
be Asian. If we continue to
What inspired you to write the book "Singapore
The Air-Conditioned Nation"?   The essays were
mainly developed from columns I'd written for The
Straits Times. Newsprint has fairly immediate
impact but is awfully short-lived. I'd put a lot
into those newspaper columns, and wanted them to
last just a bit longer. It worries me a little,
though, that the book has lasted as long as it
has. Most of the essays could have used more
polishing, and I can't read them now without
feeling slightly embarrassed.   In "Singapore
The Air-Conditioned Nation", you predicted that
four factors would necessitate a paradigm shift
in Singaporean society and government post-LKY
politics, administrative fragmentation, a
maturing economy and the digital revolution.
Seven years on, how well has this prediction held
up? Are there other factors that could
fundamentally change Singapore Civil society? Oh
boy, this is one reason it's safer to stick to
newsprint
It's not about following the West, but about
recognising that certain values, like democracy,
have become universal.
believe that being "Asian" means being
deferential, passive and with no sense of
self-efficacy, then we will end up being the only
Asians who fit that stereotype! But I think
Singaporeans are already sitting up and taking
notice of these changes. It's not about following
the West, but about recognising that certain
values, like democracy, have become universal, as
the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has noted.
21
Overall, compared with 10 years ago, the
establishment is readier to concede that it's not
the source of all wisdom, and more receptive
towards civil society participation. Of course,
there are still causes that are frowned upon. For
example, there's a small campaign against the
death penalty that is being tolerated, but
barely. Campaigns that might complicate
Singapore's foreign relations are also extremely
sensitive. And no matter how innocent the cause,
you have to make sure your tactics are legal, as
the "white elephant" campaign reminded us.   In
Singapore, what do you feel is the mainstream
media's responsibility towards society?   To
circulate information and ideas that help us
figure out for ourselves how to live together on
one crowded planet without going crazy, killing
each other, or melting the ice-caps and drowning.
  How did your education and experiences in Hwa
Chong shape the perspectives you hold today, or
influence the career choices that you
made?   Being surrounded by very
With Singapore's aim for a population of 6.5
million people, and a more complex
racial/cultural mix, what are some of the more
important effects that this would have on
Singapore society and its national
identity?   Different people will have to make
different adjustments. As for me, I grew up in
decades when the majority of people in Singapore
were Singapore-born  and that's going to change.
Singapore-born Singaporeans like me will make up
the minority of adults. Things that we grew up
caring about, like Singaporean culture and
heritage, may matter less to the new Singapore,
just as they didn't matter throughout Singapore's
early history when most immigrants felt more
connected to their ancestral homes. The
Singaporean economist Linda Lim puts it this way
some of us want Singapore to be a "nation", but
economics only demands that Singapore be a
"place". It's depressing, but accurate, I think.
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being extremely
knowledgeable and 1 completely unaware, how would
you rate the average Singaporean's grasp of
current events/global trends and how they affect
him? Do
you think that Singaporeans should be more aware
of what is happening not just in Singapore, but
also in the world at large?   I'm reading the
book The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, which is
all about how mass-anything is less relevant now
than niches. In that light, your question really
isn't meaningful. Does it matter what the
"average" Singaporean thinks? Who is that anyway?
I don't know. What I do know is that there are
enough Singaporeans with a 9 or 10 rating to make
a significant difference in the world, if they so
choose. You can try to persuade the 7s and 8s to
join you, and link up with fellow 9s and 10s in
the region and around the world. What you
absolutely shouldn't do is to use the 1s and 2s
around you as an excuse for inaction.    Do you
feel restrained in your civil society
involvements in any way? Are there still certain
political areas that remain taboo? My main civil
society project right now is publishing a current
affairs newspaper for children. I've been
pleasantly surprised by the support we've
received for this cause.
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22
smart and talented students and teachers gives
you touchstones of excellence that can remain
with you for a long time. At the same time, Hwa
Chong is not Raffles, so there's a healthy
underdog spirit and less of a sense of
entitlement (I'm being totally biased here, of
course).   I've always felt more comfortable as
an outsider than subjecting myself to the tyranny
of belonging, so I think being a non-Chinese
student in a Chinese JC in a Rafflesian-dominated
society fit me perfectly! I don't aim to be
different for the sake of being different, and in
most ways I think I am pretty mainstream in my
choices. But on those occasions when I find
myself in the minority because I'm being true to
myself, it tends not to bother me. We live in a
diverse world, and we can't expect everyone to
understand us all the time.
Assistant Professor Cherian George is acting head
of journalism at the Wee Kim Wee School of
Information, Nanyang Technological University.
His second book, Contentious Journalism and the
Internet Towards Democratic Discourse in
Malaysia and Singapore, was published in 2006.
23
20th CENTURY JAPAN the Juku Nadia Angrainni
takes us into the world of Japan as she expounds
on the negative social impacts of Jukus (cram
schools) on middle/junior high school students in
Japan
When asked to recall our childhoods, most of us
would look back on the times spent playing games
with our friends, watching TV at home, and
weekends spent with family. Unfortunately, a
worrying number of Japanese students today
probably cannot say the same. Instead, they are
likely to remember spending a significant portion
of their childhood in after-class cram schools,
also known as jukus, and this trend is likely to
become even more prevalent in the future. A
study conducted in 1999 showed that a staggering
71.8 of Japanese students who attend public
middle schools also attend jukus. Jukus are
private institutions that offer students remedial
or enrichment help, and act as supplements to the
public education system. A typical Japanese
child spends up to twenty hours each week at a
juku, and these numbers are only likely to
increase as the child goes up to the next grade
and the high school entrance examinations loom
closer. Though this juku phenomenon is by no
means new to Japan, there is still
much ongoing debate regarding the social impact
of the juku system on Japanese children. Some
authorities argue that jukus play a large role in
causing social problems such as increased stress
levels and academic inequality, while others
claim that there are no direct causative links
between the jukus and these social ills. This
paper will provide a balanced analysis of the
ongoing debate on the social costs and benefits
of the juku system as a whole.
high school), and 3 optional years of high
school. Even though high school is technically
optional, since the 1970s over 90 of students
from each cohort has chosen to attend (Roesgaard,
2006), and hence it could almost be said to be
compulsory. Following high school, students
can then choose to enter university, vocational
schools, or move directly into the working world.
In a country whose citizens are mostly well
educated, and where the majority chooses to study
at levels above the compulsory middle school
education, it is unsurprising that academic
competition is often intense.
Studies have shown that 71.8 of Japanese
students who attend public middle schools also
attend jukus.
Like many of its Asian neighbors, Japanese
society places high value on a persons degree
and the school from which he or she graduates.
This further puts pressure on students to enter
the so-called elite institutions that will
guarantee them a secure job in the future. These
elite institutions not only comprise colleges,
but also middle schools and high schools. This
paper, however, will focus
Before proceeding further, it is necessary to
provide a general outline on the Japanese school
system, as well as make certain distinctions with
regards to the typology of jukus. Firstly, the
education system in Japan consists of 6 years of
compulsory elementary education, followed by 3
years of middle school (sometimes known as junior
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24
truth there are many different types of jukus
that carry out different functions, exam
preparation being only one of them. Blumenthal
broadly divides the various jukus into three
categories shingaku juku, which focuses on
preparing students for entrance examinations,
typically into the more prestigious schools
hoshu juku,
specifically on middle school children preparing
for the high school entrance examinations. Since
entrance to high school is determined solely on
examination grades, schoolchildren are often
under a lot of stress to perform well in these
make-it-or-break-it exams, whether they are
aiming to get into good high
class size, and cost these different factors
would lead to different social impacts on the
middle-schoolers. For the purposes of this
essay, I will focus mainly on the shingaku jukus,
which are the most widely known internationally
and the most oft criticized for Japans
burgeoning social ills.
The single most obvious criticism of the shingaku
juku is its purported causative role in
increas
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