Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Guns of August: A death knell for the promise that free trade delivers peace?


Our friends at the Auckland Uni Economic Group are scraping scraping the last barrel with their guest speaker this Thursday evening. Here’s their update …

Amid all the commemorations of the centenary of the First World War, one question has largely remained unanswered.  One that, with free trade deals very much on the agenda - even with dictatorships -  still resonates today.
    It was said by classical advocates of free trade like Frederic Bastiat and Richard Cobden that trade itself is a civilising influence - that “if goods don’t cross borders, then armies will.” Yet it would be fair to say that in the year of 1914 when the guns of August began roaring, that creed was proved spectacularly wrong.
    Because, at that time, never before had so much been traded with so many. With the network of world trade exporting the industrial revolution to every corner of the globe, the degree of ‘globalisation’ enjoyed then has still not been surpassed a century later. Never before in the history of the world had there been more goods crossing more borders -- yet, when Germany invaded France and Britain entered the war, the German army became at war with her country’s two largest trading partners.

So, were the Guns of August also the death knell for the promise of free trade delivering peace?

In this provocative presentation, Peter Cresswell offers a novel answer to this important question.

   Date: Thursday, 14 May
Time: 6-7pm
Venue: Room 040C, Level Zero, Business School Building
                      (NB: plenty of parking in the Business School basement, entrance off Grafton Rd.)

All welcome. We look forward to seeing you there!


PS: Keep up to date with us on our 2015 Facebook page.


  1. Peter,

    Are you familiar with the concept of "issue linkage" in foreign policy? If not, and to summarise, it argues among other things that security partners preferentially trade amongst themselves and vice versa. This was an axiom of the foreign policy literature during the Cold War, although its applicability now is debated.

    It may be an item worth considering as you reflect on your presentation.

    1. Thanks Paul. Yes, I can see it as a factor in the Cold War, but apart from some limited examples (French investment in Russian railways perhaps the strongest instance) it doesn't seem as relevant for the pre1914 world. I'll read around it though and investigate. Thanks.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.