Structural Theory And The Power of Austria Hungary 

Category: World War I
Last Updated: 03 Nov 2022
Pages: 7 Views: 32

Structural theory is a kind of alliance ideology, which reflects the realism of the society, and considers as the main cause of the World War I. At the beginning of the 19th century in Europe, the political climate was in messy and all major power was not integrated. One major power, the power of Austria Hungary, was in decline at that time. Austria Hungary was once the most powerful empire before the 19th century, but the assassination blowed up the nation of the capital city, because the monarchy was primary institution that finally highly divided Hungarian states (lecture). As a result, this kind of division led to the declining of Hungarian power.

Meanwhile, at that time, Germany was in the dilemma and hard to find a way to break out. The conflict faced by the Germany was that the potential encirclement from other collective power of Europe, such as France, Great Britain and the Russia (lecture). It seemed that it was a kind of dangerous conditions that brought Germany into trouble. If it could not find its own way to solve this tough problem, it may fail in this contest. So, it is very crucial for Germany to escape the cross of encirclement from various directions. However, Germany was one of the major power that can resist the Russian ones. Therefore, there emerged an alliance between Austria Hungary and Germany, which was the combination of the strongest power and weakest power (lecture).

The combination of two major powers was not just a kids’ play, which could be regarded as a simple and pure negotiation. This alliance was more like gains from trade (lecture). The market exchange in the economic condition may be analogous to this political situation. Germany was highly in need of allies, for being alone was very dangerous at that messy period. But it could not join with France, Russia or the Great Britain, for their power was too close with that of Germany (lecture). Therefore , it seemed that their existence can be regarded as threat. As a result, Germany allied with Austria-Hungary, a declining power. This behavior just like gains from trade (lecture).

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The balance of power is the main topic of all the breaking point of wars and the breakdown of the balance is the cause of the world war I (lecture). Austria Hungary, which was the declining power, wanted to have wars with other. It seemed that this is the best chance for it to return back to its powerful position again. However, from the side of the rising power, the major countries would not do nothing and kept silent all the time. The rising power would attack the weaker position which against it.

There were two premises and two deductions of the structural theory, which can also explain the behavior of Austria Hungary during the 19th century (lecture). The first premise is dichotomous order, which is the hierarchy, real hegemony or anarchy ( lecture ). From my perspective, the dichotomous power can divide many powers into two major branches, which are in the totally opposite side and cannot be mitigated by simple negotiations. The two branches have opposite themes and fight with each other. Structural theory represents the realism ideology, which is quantitative and rigorous (lecture). This theory denies the stability of system, and instead, it is better to consider the structural theory a mixture of international cooperation (lecture). It is clearer when we analyze the whole condition of the European power in 1914.

The first deduction of the structural theory is the idea that the balance of the power is the balance of the conflict all the time (lecture). There is an indication that if the first premise is satisfied, then the deduction is the balance of power, even if it is in stable. There was a fierce situation is that the resource was scarce at the 19th century, but all states with the competitive power want to maximize their rights as large as possible (lecture). All of the countries were in need of military, people, land and so on. Because of the scarcity and the endless desire, there was no doubt that there might appear a conflict between 19th century Europe on territory and people. However, the competition and conflict would bring disturbance. The conflict truly appeared and became evident, and because of the realism, which mentions in the first premise, the war became inevitable in the 1914 (lecture). However, war is a double-edged sword. It may help a country obtain power and resources. On the other side, it can also destroy the economic development of a country and suffer from the complaints from the public. As a result, for a policy leader, he will always be ready for a war, but will also try his best to maintain the peace.

The second premise of the structural theory is the unitary factor, which means that the state under the condition of anarchy must act as rational individuals (lecture). In order words, if one state threats with war, just as Austria Hungary did in the 19th century, the other states would be unify around the common policy, which is the insistence on the peace of the war . The main consideration before the start of a war is always the motivation to keep peace. Moreover, there was no any states who could have a chance to decide whether to divide internally or the other. This behavior just like select in and select out (lecture).

The second deduction is composed of three parts, which are rational self-interest, rational self-help and rational distrust (lecture). People are selfish and we all have self-interest when we are making a decision. This idea also exists in the behavior of a state. There is no doubt that all states will try to maximize their profit and power under any time on any conditions. According to the theme of rational self-interest, there is no state would like to sacrifice for nothing, unless there are greater benefits and returns than pure sacrifice.

In the principle of rational self-help, it is clear that self-help is always the best strategy for any states (lecture). In other words, having the ability to self-help means that you can build your own military and protect yourself alone. It is a representation of power. However, at the 19th century of Europe, when all the ability of all the power was on average, self-help was hard to finish. Forming the alliance seemed to be the second best strategy for the states to work on. Considering about the behavior of Austria Hungary, it was purely done with the basics of self-interest (lecture). Therefore, Hungary fell in the idea of self-help later. As a declining power, self-help was difficult for it to solve any problems. So, the decision to ally with Germany to obtain the power it wanted was the most effective way for Hungary to choose at that period. For Germany, we predict that if it could breakthrough the encirclement of France, Great Britain and Russia and become invulnerable, it would absolutely give up to work with others and choose to work alone. However, the behavior Germany made was to ally with Hungary, collaborating with each to resist the other major power.

According to the principle of of self distrust, I think it is another definition of self-interest. In anarchy, you could not trust any states (lecture). In other words, we can analyze that you cannot trust any states will always be on your side and support your behaviors all the time, for self-interest may change. How to run a power under disturbance, and how to maximize power and profit was the first question of every states. Considering the alliance of Hungary and Germany, they could help each other because of the great disparity in power. Meanwhile , both of them were able to obtain numerous benefits from their collaboration. They were nominal “friends” during the period of alliance, but , this alliance would destroy instantaneously if they had conflicts in the recognition of any strategic decisions. Maybe they would be friend today, but enemy tomorrow.

According to the structural theory, war begins because of the destabilization of the power (lecture). In other words, the balance breakdown will make states become vigilant. Some power would be afraid that the threat will weaken their current position. Therefore, one major cause of the war in European landmass is the rise of hegemon (lecture). The reason of the war in the 19th century of European was that the other rational states balance to block the surging of hegemon. No states were willing to controlled by the other one. Therefore, if one hegemon appeared, all the other states would be anxious and wanted to change this bad situation. Then, the war began. In Europe, before 1914, there were two conditions met coincidentally. Austria Hungary, which was the declining power, wanted to start a war to restore its relative position in the past. And Germany, which was the rising power, was almost hegemonic at that time.

Because of the immination of war, many major powers in the 19th century were in survival threat (lecture). That is to say, if any states are threatening to survival, then the alternative to war many not be available. That was the situation of 1914 Hungary. There was no obvious way for it to respond to the threat from other rising power. There was a gamble for it to consider: one is to threaten Serbia, the other is not to trigger assistance while war (lecture). However. For Hungary, it had no way without attacking Serbia. But, the behavior to attack Serbia represented the decision to engage Russia. And then France, the Great britain came, and then Germany engaged as well. As a result, all the major powers were linked by the actions of Austria Hungary, not only by trade. All major power were linked in the system of alliance and formed an alliance polarization(lecture).

The final desire of Hungary was to maintain its weakening power and afraid of being broken up. To keep its position successfully was to demonstrate domestically to the various ethnic rules that constituted the Austria-Hungary and were able to provide it with better security and greater help (lecture). That is to say, under this kind of negotiation, at least benefits exceeded the cost. For Germany, it was better for it to be the side of the Hungary than being alone. Therefore, survival threat is very critical. All in all, according to the principle of Structural Theory, the balance of power is not the origin of a war. It is the absence of the balance of power causes the beginning of a war. For Germany, it needs to break the encirclement. For Hungary, it is a declining power with a urgent desire to be strong and regain its former status.

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