Essay on Chickering's Characteristic of Total War

Essay on Chickering's Characteristic of Total War

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Roger Chickering, a prominent Historian at Georgetown University in the United States of America, argues that total war is “distinguished by its unprecedented intensity and extent. Theatres of operations span the globe; the scale of battle is practically limitless… Total war requires the mobilization not only of armed forces but also of whole populations. The most crucial determinant of total war is the widespread, indiscriminate, and deliberate inclusion of civilians as legitimate military targets " , moreover Chickering reasons that total war “directs attention to techniques of modern warfare at every level of combat” and that “The wholesale involvement of civilians in war, as active participants and as victims, is one of the most significant hallmarks of total war” . Chickering’s comprehensive definition lays a foundation to show how the French did indeed fight a total war during 1914-1918. The French military effort throughout the First World War is an illustration of total war: the development in military hardware, for example the development of air power from reconnaissance aircraft to bombers; the mass mobilization and the mass produced warfare that created a vast amount of casualties suffered in battles such as Verdun, all demonstrate one hallmark of total war in the French Republic. Additionally, the French home front, which facilitated the war economy, further validates the argument that the French did fight a total war between 1914-1918. For example, the Dalbiez law of June 1915 exemplifies that the French did not solely fight the war on the battlefield, like previous wars, such as the Franco-Prussian war, showing its extensity, concentrating on both industrial mobilization and the military. Moreover, Government polic...


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...inated a war economy within the first year of the First World War. Moreover, state intervention into industry demonstrates Chickering’s aspect of total war discussed above. Due to the state of emergency implemented in the French Republic “the Viviani Government set up the Direction de l’Artillerie du Ministère de la Guerre” The Artillery Management of the Ministry of War was put under the direction of the socialist Albert Thomas, who seemingly combined market principles of free trade and profit with centralized planning. Centralized planning ensured “every single French company was to be enlisted” and the “conversion of the entire industrial structure of France to war manufacturing” demonstrating the centralized state coordinating the mobilization of the industrial population towards warfare, a fundamental aspect of total war according to Chickering’s definition.

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