An Example using the “Little Entente”
Officials of the Little Entente countries gathered in Bucharest, Romania (1936). From left to right: Prince Michael (Rom.), President Edvard Beneš (Cze.), King Carol II (Rom.), Prince Regent Paul (Yug.), and Prince Nicholas (Rom.).
My Chat with Chatty
I used ChatGPT-4 to prepare a seminar on “International Relations between the Wars.” The topic was “The Little Entente”. The task was to prepare a summary and maybe some suggestions on how to arrange PowerPoint slides.
The Little Entente was a political and military alliance of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Romania aiming to counterbalance expansionist-revanchist attempts of Hungary after World War I. In the Treaty of Trianon (1920), Hungary lost large territories to those countries.
To safeguard their new possessions against Hungarian revisionism, the three neighboring countries balanced by establishing an alliance. The alliance worked well against Hungary but had little effect when grand powers (Nazi Germany) entered the game.
I prompted ChatGPT-4 to provide a small summary of the Little Entente and was surprised about the inaccuracies it produced. Without considerable background knowledge – dear students – and several background checks, this easily leads to bad grades. This is our dialogue. You will find my thoughts about inaccuracies I did not confront the machine with later in brackets.
JD: Explain “Little Entente”
ChatGPT: The Little Entente was a diplomatic alliance formed in the aftermath of World War I, primarily by several smaller Eastern European states, with the aim of countering potential aggression from larger and more powerful neighbors, particularly Hungary and the newly formed Czechoslovakia.
(JD: What? Countering Czechoslovakia? Only diplomatic, not military? I am going to ask you about that later!)
The key members of the Little Entente were:
Czechoslovakia was a newly created state after the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was one of the founding members of the Little Entente and played a central role in the alliance.
Romania joined the Little Entente in 1921, partly to counter Hungary’s territorial claims and aggression, especially regarding the disputed region of Transylvania.
Yugoslavia, which was formed after World War I by the merging of several South Slavic states, became a member of the Little Entente in 1920. It aimed to protect its territorial integrity and maintain stability in the region.
The Little Entente was primarily defensive in nature, and its main purpose was to deter potential aggression and ensure the security and territorial integrity of its member states. It sought to counteract the influence and potential threats posed by Hungary, which had territorial claims on some of its members’ territories.
(JD: Primarely defensive in nature? Didn´t their armies occupy territories in Hungary way beyond the agreed line, even reaching the river Tisza?)
The alliance had some success in preventing conflicts and territorial disputes in Eastern Europe during the interwar period. However, it faced challenges and tensions, including differences in priorities among its member states and the changing political dynamics of the time.
The Little Entente ultimately became less significant as the geopolitical situation in Europe evolved, particularly with the rise of Nazi Germany and its aggressive expansionist policies in the 1930s. It dissolved before the outbreak of World War II, as its member states pursued different foreign policy strategies and alliances in response to the changing European landscape.
JD: Your text is contradictory with respect to Czechoslovakia
ChatGPT: I apologize for any confusion in my previous response. You are correct; my previous response contained inaccuracies regarding the role of Czechoslovakia in the Little Entente. Czechoslovakia was indeed one of the central and founding members of the Little Entente, and it was not formed in response to the actions of Hungary or Czechoslovakia itself.
To clarify, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia were the primary members of the Little Entente, and they formed this alliance primarily to counter potential aggression from Hungary. Czechoslovakia, in particular, was concerned about Hungary’s territorial claims and sought the support of Romania and Yugoslavia to deter Hungarian expansionism.
I apologize for any confusion caused by the inaccuracies in my previous response, and thank you for bringing this to my attention.
JD: Include correction in the text. Shorten text by 50%
ChatGPT: The Little Entente was a diplomatic alliance formed after World War I by several Eastern European states to counter potential aggression, primarily from Hungary. The key members of the Little Entente were Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Czechoslovakia played a central role in this alliance, primarily to counteract Hungary’s territorial claims, especially regarding Transylvania. The Little Entente aimed to ensure the security and territorial integrity of its member states and deter potential threats. However, it faced challenges and dissolved before World War II due to changing geopolitical dynamics in Europe, particularly the rise of Nazi Germany and different foreign policy priorities among its members.
JD: It makes no sense that you emphasize Czechoslovakia and Transylvania, as Transylvania is in Romania
ChatGPT: You are absolutely correct, and I apologize for the oversight. Transylvania is indeed a region within Romania, and my previous response contained inaccuracies regarding its status within the Little Entente context. Thank you for pointing that out. Here is a corrected and shorter explanation of the Little Entente:
The Little Entente was a diplomatic alliance formed after World War I by several Eastern European states, primarily Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia. The main goal was to counter potential aggression, particularly from Hungary. This alliance aimed to ensure the security and territorial integrity of its member states. However, it dissolved before World War II due to changing geopolitical dynamics in Europe, including the rise of Nazi Germany and differing foreign policy priorities among its members.
JD: So, was Czechoslovakia a key member? Why?
ChatGPT: Czechoslovakia was indeed a key and central member of the Little Entente. It played a significant role in the alliance for several reasons:
1. Territorial Disputes with Hungary: Czechoslovakia had territorial disputes with Hungary, particularly regarding the region of Slovakia and the area known as Subcarpathian Ruthenia (now part of Ukraine). Hungary had claims on these territories, and Czechoslovakia sought support from neighboring states to deter Hungarian expansionism.
2. Strategic Location: Czechoslovakia was strategically located in Central Europe and shared borders with both Hungary and Germany. Its involvement in the Little Entente helped strengthen the alliance’s position and deter potential threats from these neighboring countries.
(JD: The last paragraph is typical ChatGPT blabla, that transports hardly any value added. I often find such paragraphs in the papers of my students. I hope they are aware of it!)
3. Economic and Military Strength: Czechoslovakia was one of the more economically and militarily powerful states in Eastern Europe at the time. Its inclusion in the Little Entente brought military and economic resources to the alliance, enhancing its overall capabilities.
4. Common Interests: Czechoslovakia shared common interests with Romania and Yugoslavia in countering potential aggression and maintaining stability in the region. These common concerns made Czechoslovakia a key partner in the alliance.
Overall, Czechoslovakia’s participation in the Little Entente was motivated by its desire to protect its territorial integrity and stability in the face of Hungarian territorial claims and broader regional challenges. As a result, it played a central role in the alliance’s efforts to deter aggression and maintain peace in Eastern Europe during the interwar period.
JD: Point 4 makes no sense to me, as this is true for all three members. For point 2: Does the geographic location not increase vulnerability?
ChatGPT: You raise valid points, and I appreciate your feedback. Let me clarify and provide a more accurate explanation:
Common Interests: You are correct that all three members of the Little Entente had common interests in countering potential aggression and maintaining regional stability. This shared interest was a fundamental reason for their alliance.
Geographic Location: While Czechoslovakia’s geographic location did make it vulnerable to potential aggression, it also made it strategically important within the context of the Little Entente. Its position allowed the alliance to have a stronger presence in Central Europe and to act as a buffer against potential threats from Hungary and Germany. So, while it faced increased vulnerability, its role within the alliance was essential in mitigating those vulnerabilities and deterring aggression.
I appreciate your patience and the opportunity to provide a more accurate explanation.
JD: What about your previous point 4 and my criticism that you bring that up?
ChatGPT: You are absolutely right, and I apologize for the confusion in my previous response. The point about “common interests” in my previous explanation was indeed applicable to all three members of the Little Entente, and it didn’t specifically justify Czechoslovakia’s key role. I appreciate your clarification, and I’m here to provide a more accurate explanation.
Czechoslovakia’s key role in the Little Entente can be attributed to several factors, including:
Territorial Disputes: As mentioned earlier, Czechoslovakia had significant territorial disputes with Hungary. The inclusion of Czechoslovakia in the alliance was instrumental in addressing these disputes and countering Hungarian territorial claims.
Economic and Military Strength: Czechoslovakia was economically and militarily stronger compared to its neighbors in Eastern Europe at the time. This strength made it a valuable member of the Little Entente, providing resources and military capabilities to the alliance.
Strategic Location: While its geographic location did increase vulnerability, it also placed Czechoslovakia at the crossroads of potential conflict in the region. Its strategic location allowed the alliance to better coordinate and respond to potential threats from Hungary and Germany.
In summary, Czechoslovakia’s involvement in the Little Entente was significant due to its territorial disputes with Hungary, its economic and military strength, and its strategic position in Central Europe, which collectively made it a key member of the alliance.
(JD: This is where I stopped; I do not seem to be able to squeeze a more coherent analysis out of him/her.)
Dear students, use it for doing research but don´t let the machine write your texts and always bifurcate your information.