Even though many countries in Europe, before the emergence of aggression in July 1914, had featured an intense political and ideological rivalry between socialist and liberalist "parties of movement" and conservatively affiliated "parties of order" the societies tended to move together in support of the state's defense once it was apparent that war had irrupted it. The region experienced far reaching effective declarations in agreement to stop pressing their domestic affairs and effectively acknowledge that the "parties of order" had to be delegated the arrangement of states involvement in the emergent conflict. Consequently, the respective combatants' government had to make diplomatic arrangements to come up with their war policy in line with the traditions of diplomacy of "Balance of Power". This paper will therefore discuss the role of diplomacy in World War I (WW1), with particular reference to the effects, both positive and negative, diplomacy had on WW1.
Higham & Showalter (2003) observe that the First World War commenced on 4th Aug. 1914 and was a halted in 11th Nov. 1918, this has implies that it lasted for four and a quarter years. WW1 saw sixty sovereign states taking part and in the end, four empires including Hapsburg Empire, Russian Empire, German Empire and Turkish Empire were overthrown. It also took the lives of ten million combatants, left more that 30 million others wounded, gave birth to seven new countries and cost almost £ 35, 000 million. The developments of the WW1 paved the way for diplomatic arrangements prompting all the governments who participated to come up their war policies. The diplomatic efforts entailed peace treaties and peace conferences such as the Paris Peace conference of 1919 that witnessed 32 states in attendance to come up with the peace treaties. Diplomacy is a very significant aspect of the WW1 because of the impact it made after the ending of war in 1918.
Positive influence of Diplomacy
Within all the belligerent nations, diplomacy during the WW1 resulted to great increases in the state power. Countries like France and Britain made great attempts to hold peace treaties but with a view of benefiting in the end as a result of the tradition in Europe that allowed the winners of the war to be entitled to seize territories that belonged to the losers. As a result "nations attempted to all their resources-human, industrial, financial, and intellectual-to meet he demands of the peace deal...." (Tucker & Roberts, 2005), the mobilization in turn strengthened them.
Diplomacy also brought a somewhat long-term solution as some countries; especially Germany was disarmed following a decision reached at the Paris Peace Conference by the Allied and Associated power in 1919 to devise a post-war settlement. The issue of Germany disarmament was crucial among the involved nations to broker a lasting peace solution. Future peace in the continent heavily relied on the allied territories as Shuster (2006) observes, "Territorial questions involving the Rhineland, Upper Silesia and the Polish Corridor along with the issue of reparations, were important factors in the future peace of Europe.
Another positive influence of diplomacy in the WW1 was a symbol of worldwide corporation the prominent figures within the peace treaties, the President of the United States of America; Woodrow Wilson being notable, developed policies that led to formation of the League of Nations. This symbolize the commitment and vision of the diplomacy to establish "....an international organization to prevent war and foster worldwide cooperation" (Shuster, 2006). This was also as a result of the appreciation that modern war was not only a threat to Europe but to the rest of the world and the existence of civilization. The negotiations aimed at ensuring that all individuals in the world unite and stop warring.
Negative effect of diplomacy on World War 1
Diplomacy during the World War 1, contributed negatively to the war in a number of ways. First, in trying to strike a treaty between Germany and Austro-Hungary, the Germany representatives made deliberations that let to heightened tension leading to a more serious war in 1914. The Germany representatives advised the leaders of Austria Hungary to be offensive and absolutely irrational in its business with Serbia. This led to Serbia reacting in a manner leading to escalation of the conflict into major war. (Mills, 1964)
United States Diplomacy by then president Woodrow Wilson had a bad view of other leaders the countries they foster democracy. They perceived leaders of others countries of knowing little. Consequently, this did not please their counter parts and let to deepening of the animosity. The so called the missionary diplomacy failed in this way.
Additionally, this diplomacy led to no positive change in Latin America. It was be based on the selfish interests of the United States government; they only pretended to be for democratic system and the rule of law in Latin America. Wilson the pioneer and champion of the missionary diplomacy, lost focus along the way and became a typical dictator
Mills (1964) noted that another diplomatic move by the United States through then president Wilson supporting the pan American Pact that would bring about political autonomy, mediation of disputes, territorial honor and having power over arms control among others turned out to a disadvantage to the whole region as it was seen to promote hemispheric peace. The efforts to ensure the pact work failed. The failure of this pact was due to rejection by other larger states like Chile on the basis that the pact had overlooked other many disputes that had existed before.
Diplomacy in 19th up to 20th century had no moral aspect that was very crucial in fostering global affairs in a more peaceful manner. Due to this approach in diplomacy during the World War 1, the outcome of any diplomatic outcome was determined by power in terms of military efficiency among other factors. This was detrimental to efforts to end the World War 1. (Tucker & Roberts, 2005
About.com. (2010) stated that diplomacy in the times of World War 1 failed to follow international law which was already in place. Diplomacy was anarchic in a way. There were many disputes among warring countries that could not be solved since there were no means by which these countries were forced to operate within the international law. Mills (1964) "......The Germany military regarded Belgian neutrality as impractical and artificial and the treaties guaranteeing that neutrality as "scrap of paper". From the British perspective, going to war was the only way to call Germany to account for this violation of international law and commitments...." Diplomacy was mostly driven by anarchic interests other than other more uniting factors like morality.
Additionally, Mills (1964) observed that diplomatic arrangements also had more negative effects than they had at times been expected to. These came about as a result of most of the diplomatic meetings between concerned parties taking place in confidential places. Also confidential in the sense that the opponents did not know of such meetings and the opinion of the people was not taken into considerations. During the early days of the war, peace seeking solutions were sought in crude and secrete manner. Mills (1964) "......The Germany Reichstag adopted the plans of the Pan -Germans to create MittelEuropa and MittelAfrika. The allies entered into a series of secret agreements among themselves about what they planned to do with the Ottoman Empire, German colonies and so on as well as making some very extensive promises to Italy (to give large chunks of territory along the Dalmatian coast) to induce the latter to enter the war on the Allied side. This kind of diplomacy only worked negative to the war by propagating it further.
Higham & Showalter (2003) argues that diplomacy among various countries that took part in World War 1 led to the formation of joint defense alliances. It is these alliances that pushed these countries into war at most times. Examples of the alliances that existed were Russia and France, Serbia and Russia, Britain and Japan and Austria-Hungary and Germany. When one country declared a war on another country, others supporting the attacked country also came; more countries on the side of the country attacking the other also came. These escalated minor disputes into a major war. About.com (2010) "........The Japan entered the war. Later, Italy and the United States would enter on the side of the allies"
In conclusion, World War 1 involved countries across Europe. The causes of this are more complex than many people think. During the World War 1, measures thought to end the war were put in place. These were in form of diplomacies which came with both negative and positive effects on the status of the war. It has been observed that diplomacy had positive effects among them being the generation of treaties that led to ending of the war. For example, the Paris peace conference that came up with decision to disarm Germany. However, diplomacy also worked negatively; led to formation of defense alliances among countries taking part in this war. When two countries fought, their allies joined the war in order to defend the interests of their war partners. This led to the spread of the war across Europe.