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The First World War was the result of a badly mismanaged Balkan Crisis in the summer of 1914 rather than the product of long-standing rivalries between the Great Powers.

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Introduction

The First World War was the result of a badly mismanaged Balkan Crisis in the summer of 1914 rather than the product of long-standing rivalries between the Great Powers. In July 1914 the Austrian-Hungarian heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated by Serbian rebels. From this the Great War emerged. However royal assassinations were not uncommon so how did this local problem eventually involve all the Great Powers to the extent that they brought forth World War One? Diplomatic mismanagement of the situation deserves a lot of the blame but it is the long term rivalries and the tension they caused between the Powers that allowed the conflict to intensify so much, just as some of the Powers desired. By 1914 Franco-German antagonism had existed for nearly half a century, dating back to the Franco-Prussian war where Germany emerged as the victor and took French territories. Originally the vengeful French was not considered a threat thanks to Bismarck's idea of isolating France. However the new policy of Weltpoltik began to upset Germany's potential allies and drove away her original ally, Russia by rejecting the renewal of the Reinsurance Treaty in favour of an alliance with Austria-Hungary. This move sparked off the long-term tension between Russia and Germany which eventually led them to fighting a war against each other. ...read more.

Middle

Even Britain who attempted to keep out of the conflict had a vested interest of getting rid of her naval rival and protect her colonies. Each country wanted revenge for something and July 1914 created the perfect opportunity for this to happen. All the powers had interest in the outcome of the war, although Germany, it seemed had the most. Not only did she want to become free of enemies all around her, she also wanted to, in the process, gain control over South-east Europe, and turn France and Russia into second rate powers. Russia had similar interests - she too wanted more authority in South-East Europe, and to weaken Germany's only ally, Austria-Hungary. Germany's self-interests seem to be another reason why war happened, since had she tried to slow Austria-Hungary down, she would have been successful. However because Germany wanted so much, and was so fearful of what the alliance between the other Powers could mean for her eventually she was ready to go to war. If the Balkan Crisis of 1914 had not been so badly mismanaged perhaps war would have been delayed until the next great crisis. As it were, however, the series of mismanagements were so great that war did happen as a result. The largest mismanagement of the crisis was the delay of the ultimatum to Serbia from Austria-Hungary concerning the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. ...read more.

Conclusion

However Germany needed to be prepared for battle before Russian troops were for the Schleffien plan to work, so therefore any mobilisation by Russia, both partial or full, was considered a threat and made any negotiations redundant. Her failure to realise what her actions would do meant that finally the Great War began and would last for four years. Overall we can see that the Balkan Crisis was badly mismanaged, growing from a local war into an international crisis, thanks to the meddling and diplomatic negligence of Russia, Austria-Hungary and most of all Germany. However since Bismarck's downfall in the late nineteenth century and Germany's new policy of international interference the division amongst the European powers was so great. Added to Germany's aggressive diplomacy was the self-interest of each Great Power involving the desire for supremacy in Europe and revenge on their enemy for whatever long-term action had done what they felt was an injustice to them. The alliances they had built to protect them from conflict ended up helping cause the war rather than keep it at bay. The long term rivalries, alliances and tension meant that by 1914 came round each power felt rewards were worth the risk of fighting. The short-term causes acted as catalysts for the long-term causes, allowing the build up of tension explode, and world war one to begin. Imy Jacobs AS history c/w Dec 2005 ...read more.

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