Here is a 1 hour 40 minute debate on the issue of whether Britain should have stayed out of the First World War.
I'm very surprised by this outcome. British people, apparently, can be moved by debate. This is in contrast to my own hypothesis that debate accomplishes nothing. What is also interesting is that 10% of the audience did not vote the second time.
Britain should not have fought------19-------27
Britain should have fought-----------40-------62
The speakers who thought Britain should have fought constantly made reference to WWII and tried to conflate the Kaiser to Hitler and the Nazis, because the position would have been untenable otherwise. They say that the Germans executing 7000 Belgian civilians was the worst atrocity ever until the Holocaust and was more than enough justification for Britain to go to war, but ignore the millions of Congolese the Belgians murdered under King Leopold's reign. I have no sympathy for the Belgians. They were horrible people in 1914 and they're still the absolute moral anus of the entire universe in 2016. The Belgians are the most immoral people who have ever lived, and if 7000 had to die to assure a quick, largely bloodless war between Germany and France in a repeat of 1870, then so be it. Had the BEF not stepped in at the Marne in 1914 there would have been no WWI. The Ottomans and Italy would not have entered, France would have been defeated in a few months (the German army was very close to Paris in September), and Russia, having lost all its allies, would have sued for peace.
France and Russia have always been the historical enemies of Britain. Russia, in particular, under the Tsar, was the most repressive state in Europe at the time. They were much worse than the Germans, who had the highest standard of living, the highest concentration of scientific and artistic geniuses, and the most freedom of any of the peoples on the continent.
The only allegedly bad thing the Germans did was engage in a very brief arms race in the building of warships, with an explicit goal of far less than the British navy. The Germans never wanted to be a threat, and they quickly abandoned the aim of expanding their own navy. Really, Germany just wanted its own place in the sun. The ancient regimes of Europe had already established their own global empires, and Germany, barely 40 years old by that point, wanted a little something for itself. They didn't want to conquer the world, or even Europe, they didn't want to depose Britain's rule of the sea, they didn't want lebensraum or to exterminate people, the Germans were not a threat to Britain. And if the Germans had political domination Europe in 1914, would that really be such a bad thing? Not for Britain. Germany would have in a stroke defeated Britain's two chief rivals. France would no longer be posturing in Africa, and Russia would no longer be trying to make inroads in Afghanistan. Britain would have come out on top had Germany won a brief European war in 1914!
Furthermore, had Germany won in 1914 the great problems of the 20th and 21st centuries would likely not have happened, certainly not to the scale that they did. The collapse of the European colonial empires led to massive problems that continue to this day. You can't expect to introduce cavemen to the 20th century and have them become modern people in a single generation. Because the colonies in Africa had lasted for such a brief time there was no chance for the African peoples to modernise sufficiently to allow for self-rule in a modern global society. You give modern weapons to cavemen you're going to have a bad time. The Europeans introduce guns and a global economy and then after a generation they leave. It's no surprise Africa is so fraught with corruption and genocide today, the natural violent tendencies of peoples who have been slaughtering one another for millennia had now been given geopolitcal legitimacy and modern weapons.
The partition of India was a disaster. The British knew it would have happened, and they just drew a line on a map, threw up their hands, and left. For 500 years the Muslims had brutally subjugated the Indians. In a free and democratic India, with Muslims outnumbered 10 to 1, their grip on power would evaporate and fear of reprisal loomed. Rather than take responsibility like adults, the British instead split India into Muslim Pakistan, and Everyone else India, and then left knowing 2 million people would be killed in the mass exodus that was to follow.
And let us not forget Arabia. You kick the Turks out and promise the Hashemite dynasty self-rule and then you stab them in the back, give half the land to the French who did absolutely nothing to deserve it, and renege on your promise to defend the Arabs from the vicious, repressive, theocratic Saudi clan who swept in and took control, introducing Wahhabism to the region, creating the second moral anus of the universe and sewing the seeds of global Islamic terrorism.
And that's just the colonies! Had Germany won in 1914 there would never have been a Holocaust. The Nazis would have never taken power and Hitler would have starved on the streets of Vienna. Lenin would have never escaped his exile and communism would never have taken hold in Russia, leading to the disaster of tens of millions of dead and the terror of Stalin. There would have been no Second World War that left 60 million dead if Germany had won in 1914. Without communism in Russia there would have been no rise of Mao in China, with the 500 million dead in the wake of the most repressive regime in human history. Tibet and Turkestan would be free. There would be no Cold War, no divided Korea, no Vietnam, no war in Afghanistan, or in Iraq. Had Britain stayed out of the war and allowed Germany to have a quick victory hundreds of millions of people would not have been murdered and the world would be a far safer place today.