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To what extent can it be said that the First World War was caused by the alliance system?

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To what extent can it be said that the First World War was caused by the alliance system? Many historians have debated about the main causes of World War I. The importance of the alliance system, which was developed in Europe in the decades before, as a cause for the war is still an important topic that historians debate today. The alliance system was the division of two armed camps between the European major powers: the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) and the Triple Entente (Britain France and Russia). This system was a major proponent of the war, because it had created unnecessary tensions, was unable to resolve long-term problems, and created expectations among the nations involved. However, it being the sole reason for the cause of the war only goes so far as to an extent. Other problems played a role too, such as imperialism, the arms races, domestic factors and nationalism. The alliance system was a sole factor for the cause of the war for many reasons. It created many unnecessary tensions throughout Europe. The fact that there were two alliances had led countries to frame their foreign policies according to the situation in which they faced. ...read more.


N. Medlicott felt that it 'had made a deadlock and called it peace'. Thus, the example of the lapse of the Reinsurance Treaty is an example which clearly demonstrates that the alliance system is the brainchild of one man - Bismarck - and because he was dismissed, his policies and system had failed, thus unable to resolve long term problems, which is a cause of WWI. The alliance system was only one of the causes among others that had helped contribute to the outbreak of WWI. One such cause was the arms race. The arms race was a cause of WWI because it was a threat to peace which built up tension and fear among the Great Powers. Europe was viewed as an 'armed camp' from 1870-1914 - increased armaments' expenditure by an European power before 1914 was viewed as a threat by its perceived rival, and thus created an atmosphere of mutual fear and suspicion, which played a major part in creating the mood for war in 1914. An example of this would be the tension that was heightened by a naval rivalry (the Anglo-German naval race) ...read more.


The Greater Serbia Movement contributed to the outbreak of war; Serbia wanted to unite with Bosnia and Herzegovina by encouraging the Slavs in the Dual Monarchy to overthrow the Austria-Hungarians, who ruled their country.Historian Mayer argues this as well. It was nationalism that encouraged the Serb assassin Givriolo Princip to shoot Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 - which became an immediate cause of WWI. The example of the Greater Serbia Movement and the assassination of the Archduke clearly demonstrate that nationalism was an explosive force which finally exploded into war following Sarajevo in 1914, thus a major cause of WWI. In conclusion, tt can be said that the alliance system contributed to the growing tensions of the proceeding period. The alliance system had its flaws; it was unable to resolve unnecessary tension, long-term problems that occurred after the dismissal of Bismarck and expectations of its allies when a country launched into war. Nonetheless, the system's influence on the cause of the war was only to a certain extent because there were other vital reasons as well, such as domestic factors, imperial rivalry, the arms race and nationalism. All of these contributed to the outbreak of the Great War - the alliance system was simply only one of the many of them. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rachel Wong October 30, 2005 ...read more.

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