In case you were including me in your jab at "intellectuals", I voted for
Reagan in 1984 (I voted for independent John Anderson in 1980). That said,
it's been my experience that many conservatives worship Reagan and view any
questions of his performance as sacrilege.
By "... accomodationism of decades... are you speculating on what-if
there had been no Reagan?
World War I - A few years ago I read Europe's Last Summer by
David Fromkin. While he readily accepts contextual realities, he argues
Helmuth von Moltke started the war and did so deliberately.
- The German officer class, as a whole, believed Russia's economy and
military would eventually overtake Germany's.
- While it was still able, Germany should take Russia down.
- Since France was Russia's ally, it would have to be fought. (As you know,
they devised a plan for fighting both Russia and France)
- It was also believed that the German people would not support a preemptive
war. Consequently, the German officer class waited and worried.
Meanwhile, the Austro-Hungarian Empire (Austria) worried the new Serbian
state set a bad example for some of the Empire's subjects. Maybe the Serbs
needed to be taught a lesson?
Austria saw the assassination of the Archduke as an opportunity to smack
down Serbia, but they also felt they needed Germany's backing. Moltka and
company also saw an opportunity: If Austria declared war on Serbia, then
likely Russia would declare war on Austria. Since Germany was Austria's
ally, Germany would be able to attack Russia in the guise of defending
However, there was still France to consider and here the assassination was
mot helpful. If Russia attacked Austria, then it would have less forces to
threaten Germany allowing Germany to first take France out of the war.
There's the irony: Austria wanted Germany's backing to keep Russia out of a
Serbo-Austrian war, but Germany intended to use Austria's attack on Serbia
as a way to elicit a Russian attack allowing Germany to gain the German
people's support for a war. And as a bonus, Austria would draw some of the
Russian forces away from Germany.
Summary: Many of the German elite believed they had to take down Russia
before it became too strong, but the German people would not support an
aggressive war. The assassination of the Archduke created an opportunity to
trick Russia into attacking and Austria into providing a temporary shield.
A few notes:
1 - Kaiser Wilhelm was actually a force for peace and had to be worked
2 - France went to war, because it was attacked.
3 - The British people believed the Belgium had to be defended and Germany
punished. The British elite believed France could not fall to Germany.
4 - While Germany was using Austria, it did believe the Austro-Hungarian
Empire needed to survive.