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  #1  
Old 05-17-2005, 05:09 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Why did the Allies impose democracy on Germany after WW1

After WW1 a democracy was imposed on Germany, and obviously after WW2 democracy was imposed in Italy, Germany and Japan. Why was a democracy imposed instead of another strongman leader after WW1?

After the Napoleonic wars Britian brought back the monarchy to France, they didn't impose a democracy. When did the idea of replacing foreign governments with democracies after a war start? Why did the UK replace Napoleon with a monarch in 1815 but in 1918 they replaced the Kaiser with a democracy?

What benefits do democracies offer over authoritarian governments? Are they more vulnerable to foreign influence (foreign governments can fund and encourage friendly parties), are they too paralyzed by internal infighting to pose a military threat to neighbors? What was the motive for imposing this new type of government? I doubt it was done out of a feeling of 'the right thing to do', there had to be some strategy to that.
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  #2  
Old 05-17-2005, 05:33 PM
jimmmy jimmmy is offline
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The short answer is that the Allies did not impose democratic Government on Germany after WWI - it was already there.

The Weimar Republic was the first “democratic” government in Germany and is the term used to describe the German government that lasted from 1919 until 1933. The republic was established after workers and troops revolted in early 1918 against the Kasier-led government's refusal to end the First World War. Kaiser Wilhelm fled the country and a provisional government was formed by Friedrich Ebert. The new parliament met in Weimar (because Berlin was in the Hands of the Communists), and drew up a constitution that established Germany as a democracy. There were two houses of parliament, the Reichstag and the Reichsrat. Ebert was elected first president of the new republic.

It was the new provisional German Government that acceded to Versailles and the unfavorable (to Germany) Peace settlement.

What the allies at Versailles “imposed” on Germany was:

stripped of its colonies
had to accept blame for starting the war
had its European boundaries revised unfavorably
lost most of its army, navy and had severe resctrictions on re-arming
was to pay reparations of £6.6 billion.

But no new, much less democratic, government was imposed
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  #3  
Old 05-18-2005, 03:05 AM
Mops Mops is offline
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The Wikipedia article on the Weimar Republic has a good section on how the republic got established, by revolution not external imposition.
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  #4  
Old 05-18-2005, 05:24 AM
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater Dr. Kenneth Noisewater is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark
After the Napoleonic wars Britain brought back the monarchy to France, they didn't impose a democracy.
However,
Quote:
Louis [XVIII] was forced by Talleyrand [Napoleon's old foreign minister] and the Napoleonic elites to grant a written constitution, the Charter of 1814, which would guarantee a bicameral legislature. The Charter created a hereditary/appointive Chamber of Peers and an elected Chamber of Deputies, although the franchise was extremely limited.
A parliament was elected in 1815.
More info here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_XVIII_of_France

FYI Britain was not the only force in the Sixth Coalition against Napoleonic France nor the only country partaking in the Congress of Vienna.
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Old 05-18-2005, 09:02 AM
Eurograff Eurograff is offline
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Exactly. As for the OP, you cannot compare the situations of 1813-1815, 1918-1919 and 1945, they are so different. Read a few books about French Revolution and Napoleon to get the whole picture of the era. Britain did not defeat France alone, it was only a part of the massive coalition that included practically all the European powers, and even though after many years they managed to weaken the French enough to get Napoleon out (twice) and put Bourbons back to throne, the winners could never have occupied France or otherwise influence it enough to reform its political system even if they had wanted to do that. And why would they? Of the major participants in Wien Council only English were something that can remotely be called moving towards democracy, most of the others were strict absolutist monarchies. Why would such a bunch of kings and emperors want to install a free democracy based on liberté, egalité, fraternité in between of them in the one of the most powerful countries of the world, when they had just spent a better quarter of a century fighting against it? That'd be more than ridiculous.

On the other hand, in fact after 1789 when revolutionary French started invading other mainland countries, one of the main objectives of its leading democrats was to overthrow the corrupt and absolutist goverments of the occupied countries and replace them with an actual democratic rule. Although this was thwarted by the rise of Napoleon and his empire, it can also be argued that if he'd been more successful, the French Empire under an enlightened monarch could've lead continental Europe to a somewhat utopist union of free democratic states in the mid-1800s. Anyway, when Napoleon was finally out, it was in the best interest of other European powers to meddle in French affairs as little as possible and just try to help restore the status quo of the ancien régime.

Democratic Weimar goverment in Germany was not the result of outside imposion either. What happened to Axis powers in 1945 is vastly different from these earlier examples. When Germans had lost the war, they were totally defeated. Whole country was in ruins and occupied by victors, there was no trace of previous government and no way the Allies would've given the Germans themselves the power to make up a new gov't straight away. Same was true to a lesser extent in Italy and Japan. Axis countries were occupied and Allies wanted to make sure that their own, trusted and tested, political systems were put in place to crush the horror of fascism. Occupation was lifted only when it was made sure that the new rule works. Obviously this meant that West Germany became parliamentary democracy while East Germany suffered under stalinist dictatorship but that was the deal.
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Old 05-19-2005, 09:21 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Another response would be to say that after winning a war, the victor tends to impose it's own form of government on the losers.

Thus after Napoleon, the victors (led by England) imposed a British-type monarchy on France.

After WWI & WWII, the victors (led by the UK & US) helped set up a democracy in Germany & others.

Even back in B.C. times, when the Romans conquered a land, they imposed a roman-style government on top of whatever previous government they had.
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Old 05-19-2005, 12:56 PM
flurb flurb is offline
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As has been noted, the Allies did not impose democracy on Germany after WWI, not being in much of a position to do so as they never actually set foot on German soil. When it became obvious after the failure of the Spring Offensive of 1918 that Germany would lose the war, the military government there decided to create a civilian government that could take the fall for Germany's defeat. A parliamentary, constitutional monarchy was officialy created in October, but things began to spin out of control when mutinies and uprisings across the nation threatened to create a wider revolution as had occured in Russia. Rival Republics were proclaimed as the Kaiser split town, with the Social Democrats eventually managing to come out ahead through nimble manuevering and a pact with the army. The Weimar Republic was born out of a subsequent consitutional convention that created a mixed President/Parliamentary system.

Although democracy wasn't "imposed" on Germany, one of the interesting things about World War I is how the war goals and acceptable outcomes of the Allies changed dramatically. The war was initially fought on "balance of power" principles -- the rise of Germany as a dominating force on the continent (and increasingly on the seas) needed to be redressed. When America entered the war, Wilson brought an entirely different argument -- that the Allies were fighting to make the world "safe for democracy", and that the root cause of the conflict wasn't an imbalance of power but the inherent wickedness of non-democratic regimes. By the end of the war, Wilsonian principles had a lot of resonance with the Allied publics. A lot of the weaknesses of the Treaty of Versaille arose from its inability to square traditional European realpolitik with the Wilsonian principles of self-determination and democratic values.
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Old 05-19-2005, 06:58 PM
Eurograff Eurograff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net
Another response would be to say that after winning a war, the victor tends to impose it's own form of government on the losers.

Thus after Napoleon, the victors (led by England) imposed a British-type monarchy on France.
Closer, but still not exactly correct, I'd say. It's true that the events following the Battle of Nations led to Napoleon's unconditional surrender, and that the new French government was different from its predecessor. But while it's also true that the coalition powers had main influence in restoring the Bourbon regime, this all wouldn't have been possible without France's own royalists' support. And it was essentially a restoration of the old rule, even though it was now a constitutional monachy with more freedoms than under either the Empire or especially the pre-revolution monarchy. But Napoleon's rule had already been more free than what the majority of coalition countries had, and while Talleyrand and others managed to make the monarchy of Louis XVIII even more free, it still wasn't modeled after a British-style monarchy nor did the Brits want to impose such in France.
Quote:
After WWI & WWII, the victors (led by the UK & US) helped set up a democracy in Germany & others.
Again, the main difference here is that after WWI the Central Powers who lost the war, still weren't occupied by Allies; thus the influence the western democracies had in what became the new governments of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey was only of the outside kind, as others have explained. On the other hand, after WWII the Axis three were solidly under the command of victorious Allies who saw it as their responsibility to bring democracy to the defeated fascist countries. On a related note, after WWI both UK and France played a big part in aiding the White Russians to fight the civil war and try to establish democracy on the former czarist country, but ultimately this failed and bolsheviks won.
Quote:
Even back in B.C. times, when the Romans conquered a land, they imposed a roman-style government on top of whatever previous government they had.
But that's quite a different matter. The Romans were on conquest; of course they applied the Roman rule wherever they went, since they planned to stay there for good.
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  #9  
Old 05-20-2005, 01:34 AM
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater Dr. Kenneth Noisewater is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark
What benefits do democracies offer over authoritarian governments? Are they more vulnerable to foreign influence (foreign governments can fund and encourage friendly parties), are they too paralyzed by internal infighting to pose a military threat to neighbors?
Depending on your outlook, authoritarian governments are probably harder to deal with. Dictators answer to nobody, and if they don't like you, they don't like you. Royal monarchies I would bet differed a little, as they had a bit of manner to their inner dealings, and monarchs were often related (in Europe at least). Democracies, for reasons discussed elsewhere, have a tendency to get along. Like prefers like, but that's the answer you were looking for.

And what makes you think there's no infighting under authoritarian government? Everyone wants to be leader, and the use of corrupt measures is hardly an obstacle.

Quote:
I doubt it was done out of a feeling of 'the right thing to do', there had to be some strategy to that.
Why do you doubt this? If you had your sister's last husband had to be committed or jailed because he tried to kill you, would you set her up with another nutjob?

Besides, what do you do when you have a country without a government, because you have forcefully disposed of it? Do you ask the people? What if they don't believe in democracy? How do you know their true feelings on the subject of government or what is best for them?

I don't want to politicize this, but take a look at Iraq. Had the U.S. not been campaigning with the intent to 'spread freedom and democracy,' but only to remove the dictator and destroy the weapons, what would they have done in the end? Let chaos ensue? Installed a new dictator? A viceroy? Allowed the people to choose their government? Stinks a bit of democracy, I'd think.

Finding an objective answer to what to do with a defeated, leaderless country is difficult. You've already made one step to control the territory, but how far do you follow through?
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