M7A1: Project 2 Research Paper
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The ethical ramifications of unlimited submarine warfare
The submarine was one of the new aspects of the Great War. It was a deadly and silent weapon which made the interrelationship between warfare and the technology, especially with regard with the World War I. In the First World War, the armies that possessed great and modern weapons would be able to accumulate a significant victory over their enemies. On January 9, 1917, Germany had announced the use of unrestricted submarine warfare in World War I. It was a remarkable event that forced American to join the war. The invasion of America in World War I showed that unrestricted submarine warfare had a major impact on the war. German Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg was well aware of the fact that using unrestricted submarine warfare would definitely provoke an American response. It is notable to mention that Germany used three types of U-boats in World War One, U-boats, UB, and UC class boats. The consequences of the unrestricted submarine warfare led to the inclusion of the US in the war and helped the allied forces to the victory. Japan and the Pacific Islands faced somewhat more than the other allied nations, as the German forces were fully focused on occupying these territories. The given crisis discussed shows that World War 1 has its impact on world politics still and that the laws and rules were made on the first fought war.
It is noteworthy to mention that the war was not going well for Germany on the Western Front. Thats why Germany resort to use unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917. It was in the intention of Germany that if the results of U-boats were shocking and spectacular enough so such tactics might keep America out of the war. It was made clear by the Battle of Jutland that the Royal Navy is far more powerful in comparison to the German Navy. It was not reasonable to attack British merchant ships by German surface fleet (McClung Ross, 2017). Consequently, any attacks on the lifeline of Britain of shipping from the United States must have done by any kind of submarine in order to make a particular attack successful. German Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg decided to go with the unrestricted submarine rather than do this piecemeal. Germans overestimated the impact of U-boats. A high profile victory was grabbed in the initial days of using U-boats against British naval targets however, the success became rare with the passage of time. Germans had high expectations of the ability of the submarine. In 1915, the commercial targets were attacked firstly by the unrestricted submarine warfare, but it was a piecemeal campaign (Fenrick, 1987). The Bethmann was held back due to the sinking of the neutral ships. The United States of America enjoyed a significant profit at the start of World War I. American was engaged in providing supplies for the Allies by legally crossing the Atlantic.
The main aim of the German U-Boats was to disrupt the enemys ability to operate at sea level and conduct trade with other countries. Germans were not ready to deploy a handful of boats in the sea in order to gain victory. They were ambitious to fill the sea with their U-boats to combat the aggressive tactics of their opponents in the war (Talbott, 1984). The unrestricted submarine warfare declined the stronghold of the enemy at sea and effectively minimized the efficiency of their naval boats. At that time, the trade facilities were being enjoyed by the allied forces. However, the U-boats helped Germany to dominate the sea routes (Talbott, 1984). U-boats effectually gained control of the sea after deploying their U-boats, which threatened even America. The loss of life was nearly guaranteed if the unrestricted submarine warfare were to sink ships without giving them any warming. The U-boats had the ability to determine the neutrality of the ship in a nearly perfect manner. This quality of U-boats made them relatively more dangerous than any other naval ship during the World War I. It is notable to mention that U-boats had the capability to submerge in water in order to deceive their enemies that a neutral ship might be sunk by mistake.
The unexpected and thoroughly frightening triumph of the unrestricted submarine warfare forced the western coalition to re-think about their war strategy against Germany. The western coalition began to re-evaluate their strategy in order to combat the submarines of Germany. Western coalition admiralty had been convinced that effectively minimizing the threat of submarines is dispersion instead of concentration of shipping. Moreover, Germany publicized that they would start a commerce war against countries who were engaged in any kind of trading with Britain. Americans were furious at that time, and they sent their message in hard words to Berlin that if any of American ships were sunk, they would be fully responsible for that. These words of America was threatening for Germans as they were not ready to face America while fighting with the other western nations. Germans could not afford to provoke a situation in which they provoke America to get involved in World War I (Herwig David, 1971). British liner Lusitania was sunk on May 7, 1915. There were 128 American citizens who were died due to the sinking of that ship. These events outraged the American public, but President Woodrow Wilson decided not to take part in the World War. He was agreed to declare war on Germany.
It is noteworthy to mention that America made some policies regarding the submarines in the sea. However, the German government was not ready to accept these policies. They claimed that the simple act of a submarine coming to the surface was not safe for the whole crew as some of the merchant ships were reinforced with covered weapons. These weapons were crucial for the life of the crew. On June 6, 1915, it was made aware by Wilhelm II that no one should attack the large passenger liners, despite the fact that whether they are nonaligned or not. Germans changed their naval officer. The new naval officer ordered that cruiser system of warfare must be adopted by all the U-boats (Herwig David, 1971). The new strategy was to come to the surface in order to attack a ship. The military and Bethmann did agree that unarmed and armed merchant ships were shot down without any warning in the designated war zone. However, the old orders would be applied in the areas outside the war zone. Sussex was torpedoed without warning, and some of the American citizens died. The whole incident made Americans furious, and they sent threatening words to Germany due to which the U-boats stopped their campaign in British waters. In May 1916, Germans assured America that they would adhere to the international laws regarding warfare. Germany had 46 large submarines that had the capability to operate in deep water. It is obvious to say that Germany was in a better position regarding the submarines during World War I. Germans navy also comprised of 23 unrestricted submarine warfare known as U-boats, which had the capability to perform an operation on the coastal level as well (Burns, 1971). By March 21st, Germans succeeded in sinking six merchant ships of America. In response, Americans got furious, and Congress was summoned by Wilson. On 6th April 1917, American decided to enter the war in order to humiliate Germany military.
Japan was also making aggressive moves during World War I. Japan was a restless and ambitious nation at that time, and they wanted to grab the power by destroying the western coalition. Due to the aggressive moves by Japan, the focus of naval officers in Washington crooked towards the Pacific sea. Naval officers in Washington were aware that they would have to defend the interests of America in the Pacific against their enemy Japan. It was made clear by Capt. Thomas C. Hart, head of the newly created submarine section of Navy that the submarine will be an extremely valuable weapon for defeating Japan (Schulz, 2018). In order to defeat Japan, the only way is to cut off its sea communications, which would effectively force them to retreat. Additionally, the submarine warfare was regulated before and during the outburst of World War II. The United States used the strategy of unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan in order to combat their aggressive desires. It is notable to mention that humanity could have led to a severe crisis due to the impact of unrestricted submarine warfare, but with the help of rules and regulations, humanity got saved.
The unrestricted submarine warfare was the interrelationship between warfare and technology. Armies possessing better military equipment and war crafts are more likely to win a battle in comparison to the one with less developed military equipment. Technologies were not only used on the land, but they were also used under water. The unrestricted submarine warfare had created a new image of war in the mind of the entire world. These submarines got submerged in water and shot their target without even giving any alarm, which made them one of the deadliest weapons on the planet. It is obvious that the submarine became one of the decisive weapons of the conflict, which changed the way of naval warfare. Germans were drowned in the dream of getting power and dominating the whole world. It made aggressive operations against the western coalition to accumulate more territory. Germans were focused on occupying new territories to claim their dominance over the region. It is noteworthy to mention that the use of unrestricted submarine warfare proved to be effective for the German nation as it helped them to achieve victory in many circumstances.
At first, America was legally travelling in the Atlantic to provide supplies for its allies. However, when Germans sunk some of the ships having American citizens on it, made America violent. American under the presidency of Wilson declared war on Germany by keeping in view the interest of its people and allies. The inclusion of America in war completely changed the circumstance of war. Germany was at the verge of securing victory when America stepped up in war. Germany got defeat by America and western coalition due to the modern tactics and new naval strategies. Current laws of the submarine warfare were made after the introduction of U-boats in World War I.
In a nutshell, the inclusion of America of America in World War I was the consequence of the use of unrestricted submarine warfare. The use of unrestricted submarine warfare proved to be effective for the German nation as it helped them to achieve victory in many circumstances. German refused at many levels to obey the international laws of submarine warfare, which made America concerned regarding their inclusion in the war. Japan also got defeated due to the submarine tactics by American naval forces. These first fought wars truly changed the complexion of world politics and made new rules and regulations regarding the use of unrestricted submarine warfare.
Burns, R. D. (1971). Regulating Submarine Warfare, 1921-41 A Case Study in Arms Control and Limited War. The Journal of Military History, 35(2), 56.
Fenrick, W. J. (1987). The Exclusion Zone Device in the Law of Naval Warfare. Canadian Yearbook of International Law/Annuaire canadien de droit international, 24, 91-126.
Herwig, H. H., David, D. F. (1971). The Failure of Imperial Germanys Undersea Offensive Against World Shipping, February 1917October 1918. Historian, 33(4), 611-636.
McClung, B., Ross, J. (2017). UNDERWATER AND UNDERSTUDIED UNTERSEEBOOTEN IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR. Southwestern Economic Review, 44, 21-43.
Schulz, M. (2018). Prize Law and Contraband in Modern Naval Warfare. In Operational Law in International Straits and Current Maritime Security Challenges (pp. 211-243). Springer, Cham.
Talbott, J. E. (1984). Weapons Development, War Planning, and Policy The US Navy and the Submarine, 1917-1941. Naval War College Review, 37(3), 53-71.
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