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In the late 19th centuries and early 20th century, world nations and countries had alliances especially in Europe. These associations came into play due to shared defense agreements whereby if an ally nation or state was attacked by the enemy, the associate will come in to defend or help in fighting the enemy (David,). Before the World War 1 the following alliances were in place: Russia and Serbia, Germany and Austria-Hungary, France and Russia, Britain and France and Germany, and Japan and Britain. For instance, the big economies then were countries like, Britain, Germany, France and Russia (David,).
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The International alliances mentioned above in the first place are one of the recipes that precipitated World War 1. In addition, when Austria Hungary declared war on Serbia, the immediate ally of Serbia; Russia, sought to defend Serbia. Consequently, on seeing Russia mobilizing its resources to fight Austria-Hungary, Germany declared war on Russia (Martin). France being a close ally to Russia, was triggered to fight against Germany and Austria Hungary. Germany on the other hand, fought France back through Belgium thus invoking and pulling Britain in the war. Japan went in to help Britain and later United States and Italy were pulled into the war taking the side of their allies.
Superiority and imperialism is another factor that caused World War 1. During late 19th and early 20th century, most European countries wanted to increase wealth and power by getting additional colonies and territories under their control overseas. For instance, Africa and Asia were the focal points of contention amongst the European nations. Raw materials and cheap labor was sourced from these two continents. The increased competition and the urge for bigger and greater empires overseas, led to increased conflict that eventually resulted into World War 1.
The beginning of the 20th century was the time that European Countries were rushing for making more sophisticated arms (militarism). Germany, in this case as early as 1914 had the larges arsenal in the world. In addition, Germany and Great Britain had greatly developed navies. These improved military establishments especially in Germany and Russia influenced immensely on public policy. Increased militarism and ego amongst the European nations pushed them into rivalry that culminated into World War 1.
Another critical origin of the war is also based on Nationalism, where the desire of Slaves in Bosnia and Herzegovina wanted to be part of Serbia rather than Austria Hungary. This contributed to increased rivalry between Austria-Hungary and Serbia which directly led to the war (Nicholas). In fact, nationalism in amongst the European countries not only contributed to the war but also propagated the war throughout Europe. Each country was after showing off its dominance and power (Martin).
The immediate cause of the War is attributed to the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. A Serbian nationalist in 1914 assassinated Archduke Franz of Austria-Hungary together with his wife in Sarajevo Bosnia which was part of Austria-Hungary. The assassination was a protest against Austria-Hungary being in control of this region as Serbia wanted to control Bosnia and Herzegovina (Nicholas). With regard to this, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. In relation to this, Russia being an ally to Serbia began to mobilize itself against Austria-Hungary, eventually, Germany declared war on Russia. The war started to spread and expand throughout Europe and eventually the whole world with regard to the mutual defense alliances (Nicholas).
In conclusion, the desire for more colonies overseas by the European countries was the main cause of World War 1. The adventure, to get new colonies exposed these nations to insecurity as each one of them was greedy to amass raw materials and cheap labor from slaves. The insecurity feeling led to the formation of alliances between these nations. The increased competition and the urge for bigger and greater empires overseas, led to increased conflict that eventually resulted into World War 1.The alliances on the other hand precipitated rivalry and conflict among these countries in that when one country was attacked, the ally will be provoked to protect and fight for her. The assassination of the Archduke only helped to actualize all that had already been planned to settle scores of power and superiority rivalry amongst the European nations.
David A. Copeland. The Greenwood Library of American War Reporting: World War I & World War II, the European Theater. Greenwood Press. 2005.
Martin Kelly. Top 5 Causes of World War 1. About.com Guide. Retrieved on 31/1/2011, from; http://americanhistory.about.com/od/worldwari/tp/causes-of-world-war-1.htm
Nicholas Atkin. Themes in modern European history, 1890-1945 New York: Routledge 2009 p-117
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