Diplomatic Preliminaries Of The Crimean War, by Bernadotte E. Schmitt
One of the more interesting aspects of understanding how it was that the Crimean War began is that it provides insight into understanding how it was the World War I began. Although the Crimean war took place sixty years before World War I, its start and the conditions of its start had repercussions that continue to be relevant today. For example, those who claim that Russia was not demanding much from the Ottomans neglect that Russia sought in the Crimean War to put the Ottoman Empire in the position that Austria-Hungary sought to put Serbia in, and in both cases that proved unacceptable. Similarly, the preservation of peace in the context of 1854 would have required a greater degree of finesse than most foreign services were capable of with Russia’s unwillingness to see that its intransigence would lead to war, Britain’s division between peace and war wings, France and Piedmont-Sardinia’s desire for prestige, and Turkey’s desire to have foreign help against Russia all combined to bring a terrible war into existence that ultimately resolved little and served to destabilize Europe going forward and to endanger the well-being of all of its imperial states.
This particular book is made up of a historical article that shows the author closely looking at the diplomatic positions and maneuvers of the various foreign offices, coming to the sound conclusion that the grounds for peace were simply not present because too many people wanted war or at least preferred it to dishonor. When there is little agreement between political leaders and diplomats and little attention to matters of strategy or logistics, although these tend to fall outside of the purview of this particular essay. The author praises the skill of the Turks in winning the sympathy and therefore the support of an alliance of European powers to prevent it from collapse against Russia, but unfortunately the Ottomans were unable to keep this up, and Russia and the Ottomans were unable to convince others that their own well-being was necessary for the security and well-being of Europe as a whole in an atmosphere or rising mistrust. Disentangling that mistrust is a worthwhile task for a paper like this one, and if you like detailed diplomatic history in a small package there is a lot to appreciate here.