Crisis In France Over Military Service Law

wikimedia commons
wikimedia commons

The First World War was an unprecedented catastrophe that killed millions and set the continent of Europe on the path to further calamity two decades later. But it didn’t come out of nowhere. With the centennial of the outbreak of hostilities coming up in August, Erik Sass will be looking back at the lead-up to the war, when seemingly minor moments of friction accumulated until the situation was ready to explode. He'll be covering those events 100 years after they occurred. This is the 121st installment in the series.

June 6, 1914: Crisis In France Over Military Service Law 

As the European arms race accelerated in 1912 and 1913, France’s response was the Three-Year Service Law, which aimed to increase the size of the standing army by extending conscripts’ term of service from two to three years. A key victory for conservative President Raymond Poincaré (above, left) the law was bitterly opposed by the left (always a powerful force in France) for a whole slew of reasons: Socialists attacked it as a symptom of growing “militarism” and feared the army would suppress workers’ demonstrations, while the more moderate Radicals said the law was passed at the behest of France’s ally Russia, practically making France a vassal of the tsar.

In the elections of April and May 1914, the left swept to power with major victories by both the Radicals and Socialists, forcing the cabinet of center-right Premier Gaston Doumergue to resign on June 2 and setting the stage for an all-out assault on the Three-Year Service Law. But Poincaré was determined to save it, declaring in a speech on June 1 that France “needs an army … capable of rapid mobilization.” On June 3, the Socialist leader Jean Jaurès (above, center) attacked Poincaré’s speech as “frankly unconstitutional” (at that time the presidency was supposed to be a ceremonial office) and the battle lines were drawn.

Now Poincaré began a frantic search for someone—anyone—in the new Chamber of Deputies who could cobble together a new government that would uphold the Three-Year Service Law. His task was a little easier because the Radical leader, Joseph Caillaux, was temporarily out of the game following his wife’s murder of the newspaper editor Gaston Calmette—but Caillaux would return to the arena as soon as her trial was over, so time was of the essence.

On June 4, Poincaré offered the job of Premier to an inoffensive moderate socialist, René Viviani (above, right), who attempted to square the political circle by promising that the Three-Year Service Law might be revised at a later date, if “external circumstances” allowed—meaning if the Franco-Russian Alliance no longer required it. But this offended the Radical members of his proposed government, who said it just proved that France was a Russian vassal after all, and on June 6 the cabinet fell apart. 

Now Poincaré’s job became even harder thanks to his friend Maurice Paléologue, the French ambassador to Russia, who (probably not coincidentally) happened to return to France on June 5 at the height of the political crisis.  A staunch supporter of the Russian alliance, but not the most suave politician, Paléologue bluntly declared he wouldn’t return to Russia if the Three-Year Service Law were overturned at home—a bizarre and totally inappropriate statement from a serving diplomat. Outraged, the leftists accused Paléologue of using foreign policy to hijack domestic politics; Paléologue explained, a bit melodramatically, that he simply couldn’t face the Russians if France let them down.

On June 7, Poincaré went back to the drawing board, offering the premiership to five leading leftist politicians, but was turned down by every single one. Eventually a moderate, Alexandre Ribot, agreed to try forming a government even though it was a long shot—and as expected on June 12 the new Chamber of Deputies rejected his proposed cabinet amid catcalls and shouts to end the Three-Year Service Law.

With war looming, France was adrift and its alliance with Russia in peril. Poincaré had to act fast.

See the previous installment or all entries.

Whiten Your Teeth From Home for $40 With This Motorized Toothbrush

AquaSonic
AquaSonic

Since many people aren't exactly rushing to see their dentist during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's become more important than ever to find the best at-home products to maintain your oral hygiene. And if you're looking for a high-quality motorized toothbrush, you can take advantage of this deal on the AquaSonic Black Series model, which is currently on sale for 71 percent off.

This smart toothbrush can actually tell you how long to keep the brush in one place to get the most thorough cleaning—and that’s just one of the ways it can remove more plaque than an average toothbrush. The brush also features multiple modes that can whiten teeth, adjust for sensitive teeth, and massage your gums for better blood flow.

As you’d expect from any smart device, modern technology doesn’t stop at functionality. The design of the AquaSonic Black Series is sleek enough to seamlessly fit in with a modern aesthetic, and the charging base is cordless so it’s easy to bring on the go. The current deal even includes a travel case and eight Dupont replacement heads.

Right now, you can find the AquaSonic Black Series toothbrush on sale for just $40.

Price subject to change.

 

AquaSonic Black Series Toothbrush & Travel Case With 8 Dupont Brush Heads - $39.99

See Deal


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Why The Office's Jenna Fischer and B.J. Novak Got Drunk to Prepare for a Scene

Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
NBCUNIVERSAL MEDIA, LLC

The Office co-stars and best friends Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey have delighted fans with behind-the-scenes secrets and facts about the iconic series during their podcast Office Ladies, but they're not the only ones spilling some serious TV show tea. In a new book titled The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s by Andy Greene, the cast and crew dish on all things Dunder Mifflin, gifting fans with more fodder for any future The Office-themed trivia nights.

One particularly entertaining tidbit has to do with "The Dundies" episode, which fans will remember is when Michael Scott hosts his annual award show, and Jim and Pam share a very quick (and intoxicated) kiss. In Greene's book, as Showbiz Cheat Sheet reports, Fischer explained her thought process when filming, saying, "I was very nervous. I couldn’t remember what it was like to be drunk and I didn’t want to do a caricature of a drunk person."

To help alleviate her tension, her co-star and series writer B.J. Novak suggested getting in some practice on being intoxicated. "B.J. Novak suggested I go out and get drunk one night for research," Fischer told Greene. "I laughed him off at first, but then decided it was a pretty good idea." After each drink, Novak had Fischer described what she was feeling. The actress credits Novak's idea with helping her create a successful drunk persona. "I totally drew on my experience of that night when we shot this episode," she added. "I realized that when you are drunk, you laugh at stupid things, talk closer to people, get touchy, and basically act like a more obnoxious and unbalanced version of yourself. You lose control a little. So that’s what I did with Pam."

Fischer previously talked about the episode's almost-accidental smooth on Office Ladies back in December 2019, saying, "The intention was that Pam was going for his cheek, and it was one of those moments where he moved his head in a way that I wasn’t expecting and I just followed through. That was what was in my head as Pam, so I wasn’t thinking that I was intending to kiss his lips...Pam kind of doesn’t register it."

Whether or not you believe that was Jim and Pam's official first kiss, at least it's pretty clear that Fischer was seriously prepared for the scene. For more from Greene's behind-the-scenes book, you can buy it here.

[h/t Showbiz Cheat Sheet]

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