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"The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 grew out of a short term crisis in the Balkans, but any attempt to understand

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Causes of the First World War "The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 grew out of a short term crisis in the Balkans, but any attempt to understand its origins must take into account a number of long standing developments." (McDonough). To discuss this judgement, we must investigate the causes of the First World War, the consequences of these actions, and to what extent were they responsible for the start of the war. A long term and economical cause was colonial rivalry between the major European superpowers. Other long term political causes include the Anglo-German naval race, both of the Moroccan crisis, which all, among other things heightened the tension within Europe, eventually leading to war. Another long term ideological and political cause is the alliance systems which is responsible for the turning a possibly localized war into a world one, while another long term ideological and economic cause was the Balkan problem: disagreements on what the fate of the 'sick man of Europe' ought to be. Last, but not least, the spark of the war was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, which, if not for the aforementioned factors, would have a much smaller consequence than a world war. In fact, if not for the tension which was built and maintained for around the last three decades, this last cause may not even be a cause for war. So, yes, I agree with McDonough: I believe that although it was this last event that sparked war, it would have had no significant effect if the long term causes had not taken place. ...read more.


The First Moroccan Crisis (The Tangier Crisis, 1905) came about because the Kaiser felt threatened by the dual entente of England and France, he wanted to test the true strength of France, and see if she would declare war on Germany. Another motive was that the Kaiser wanted to test the nature of the Dual Entente (he had a suspicion France and England had a secret military agreement which aimed to encircle Germany). So, in 1905, just when France was ready to make Morocco into one of her colonies, Germany stepped in and demanded to have a say in this matter. The Kaiser arrogantly arrived in Tangier (Morocco's main city) in an act designed to provoke. The consequence was that the other countries felt threatened by Germany, and therefore brought about military conversations between England and France to discuss how France would be protected if attacked by Germany. This clearly divided the European powers into two main sides. So, contradictory to the Kaiser's intentions, this exercise only served to strengthen France and England's relationship, caused them to become anti-German and alerted the other European powers to Germany as a threat. It caused tension to rise, almost causing war to break out there and then. Instead, England and France had promised mutual military aid against Germany. Not only did this guarantee that if there was a war involving either countries, it would be big, involving both countries' numerous colonies, but it also exacerbated Kaiser's fears, causing him to interfere yet again, now that he knew (caused) ...read more.


Serbia, who wanted to negotiate, consented to most of the terms, but was rejected by Austria who wanted immediate agreement to all of the demands. On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, prompting Germany, France and Russia to get involved. Later, Britain also got involved to ensure Belgian neutrality. Thus, the First World War began. So it was not the colonial rivalry or the problems in the Balkans, nor was it the rising tension due to the Anglo-German naval race that started the First World War. It was the cumulative consequences of the all the aforementioned events. It was tension and the nationalism created by colonial rivalry; it was fear of the German Weltpolitik, the international tension it created and the push towards alliance systems that it provided; it was the chain reaction guaranteed by the alliance systems; it was the heightened tension resulting from the Moroccan crisis as well as the Anglo French military promises that came as a consequence of mutual fear of German attack; it was the problem of German encirclement and what she would do to escape her fear; it was the tension caused by the Balkan problems, and last but not least, it was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, which was the spark Europe needed to embark on the war that was ready to begin. So, in conclusion, World War I "grew out of a short term crisis in the Balkans, but any attempt to understand its origins must take into account a number of long standing developments." Without all the aforementioned causes, the July Crisis 1914 would merely be a localized war, if even that. ...read more.

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