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To what extent was the system of alliances and ententes responsible for Britain entering the First World War?

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Introduction

´╗┐To what extent was the system of alliances and ententes responsible for Britain entering the First World War? The alliance system was partly to blame for Britain entering the war. Since 1880 Britain had been trying to avoid war. Initially Salisbury had tried to create a concert of Europe where all the European powers could discuss their grievances and sort them out amicably. When this failed mainly because Russia would not co-operate over the Balkans and because the Kaiser refused to negotiate with the British, the British attempted to achieve a balance of power between the European powers so that tension over Alsace-Lorraine, colonies in Africa and the Balkans would not lead to war. ...read more.

Middle

However, by 1914 this approach had also failed. Both the Alliance and the Entente believed that in the event of war Britain would support them. The Germans did not believe that the British would support the French, who were their main rivals in Africa or the Russians, who were interfering so annoyingly with trade with China that the British had made an alliance with the Japanese in 1902. On the other hand the French did not believe that the British would support the Germans who were their main trading and naval rivals. ...read more.

Conclusion

Others say that they were carried along by the jingoism of the British public, which had forgotten the horror of the last war Britain had fought in Europe over fifty years previously ? the Crimean War. The alliance system clearly played a major part in the outbreak of war and Britain did have influence in this, but for Britain it was probably not the most important reason. Fears of German power and arrogance and internal considerations played just as big a part in the decision to join in. ...read more.

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