A few thoughts. First, the "if" of this thread has apparently been dropped and it's become a straightforward rating of Nicholas II on the whole. Fine by me. But then we should ask, compared to who? What's the standard? Compared to his fellow monarchs and heads of state? of the WWI era? of all history? And how much is a monarch, even an autocrat, truly responsible for? For the actions of every minister?, state functionary? general? provincial clerk? soldier? For his successor heads of government? For the mistakes of the Provincial Gov't? For the Bolshevik coup and subsequent terror? I think that much of the criticism of Nicholas has been unrealistic and couldn't have been made at the time of the events involved.
Many of the events contributing to his lesser reputation he was not responsible for, starting with the Khodynka Meadow disaster. Likewise the Bloody Sunday kiillings, committed in his absence and by the overreactions of others.
Unlike the militarists in Germany and Austria-Hungary and Serb nationalists, he sought to avoid hostilities, knowing Russia was unprepared. Russia was targeted and had to respond. As monarch he was responsible for Russia's unpreparedness, but even his critics mostly acknowledge properly modernising the Army,Navy, and entire transport system of the whole country was a herculean task not accomplished by any of his predecessors.
But what I find most unfair in criticism of Nicholas is that it contradictorally comes from both directions, i.e., that he was somehow simultaneously weak and vacillating , both in his personal relations and with ministers, senior officers, and bureaucrats, while at the same time being condemned as the total autocrat, controlling and responsible for any and all wrongs occurring over twenty-three years ,in the world's biggest country, with 130 million population.Talk about a lose-lose situation. He's been damned for not acting with a stronger hand, for not cracking down harder, in short for being weak, but if he had ruled more forcefully(and in those few occasions where he actually did) those same critics would have savaged him(and did) for any harshness rigidity and illiberalism.
This is, if not a classic double standard, an almost impossible one to meet.