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Military observers, eurocentrism, and World War Zero

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Chapter Summary

On the night of 8/9 February 1904, Japan attacked Russia’s Pacific Squadron in the Port Arthur roadstead to end speculation on the likelihood of war in the Far East. Since 1648, the rules, laws and conventions governing all aspects of inter-state relations had reflected the evolving practices of Europe’s Great Powers. The international system rested on the assumptions that “Europe was regarded as the most important of all the continents,” and that “Great Powers were greater than the Small Powers.” Europe’s nation-states and transnational society had melded monarchical-aristocratic traditions with more modern nationalist forms to form what has been called a “club” into which the entry of outsiders was at best, difficult. The development of the regular military attaché system shared similar roots and paralleled that of the plenipotentiary emissaries just mentioned.

Keywords: Europe’s Great Powers; Far East; international system; Japan; military attaché; Port Arthur



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