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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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Introduction

"To what extent can it be said that the First World War was caused by the alliance system?" The First World War took place between 1914 and 1918. Although the conflict began in Europe, it ultimately involved countries as far away the USA and Japan. Historians still disagree over the fundamental causes, as there are numerous factors contributing to the outbreak of war. Although it was set off by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by a Bosnian Serb nationalist in Sarajevo, World War 1 was a result of leaders' aggression towards other counties, which was supported by rising nationalism of the European nations. Imperial competition and fear of war prompted arms race and military alliances, which further escalated the tension contributing to the outbreak of war. The alliance system was a cause of mistrust and belligerent attitudes in Europe. By the summer of 1914 Europe had been divided into two distinct groups: The Triple Alliance, that incorporated Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy and The Triple Entente, that consisted of Franco-Russian Alliance with Britain as an entente partner of both. The alliance system was also responsible for the military plans that led to the spread of war. ...read more.

Middle

The alliance system therefore had a considerable effect on the outbreak of war. The military plans also prevented countries from reconsidering their actions. Once implemented they were virtually unstoppable as Germany found in 1914 when deciding that diplomatic victory would suffice as opposed to war. During June and July of 1914 the alliance system proved to be influential on the way in which countries acted. After the assassination of the archduke Ferdinand on the 28th of June 1914, the Austrian government was split. The Chief of Staff urged war while the Count Stephen Tisza and the Hungarian minister were opposed to war and still members of parliament hesitated about the actions that should be taken. However these attitudes changed on the unprecedented arrival of a German unconditional support of Austria's actions. Similarly Russia received full support from France in the event of Austrian invasion of Serbia. This support offered by the alliances influenced the declarations of war. The menace of hostile division that led to arms race was another cause for the First World War. Armies and navies were greatly expanded. The standing armies of France and Germany doubled in size between 1870 and 1914. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the Middle East, the crumbling Ottoman Empire was alluring to Austria-Hungary, the Balkans and Russia. Imperialism and nationalism had influenced the declarations of war to a great extent, however they still cannot be the central causes of World War One. In conclusion it is evident that the alliance system was only one of the most significant causes of the First World War. However it can be said that the mobilisation plans of the allies played a significant role in the spread of war. Nonetheless the organisation and function of the alliance system may remind one of the world of Alice in Wonderland: "I don't think they play at all fairly Alice began, in rather a complaining tone and they all quarrel so dreadfully one can't hear oneself think - and they don't seem to have any rules (Lewis Carroll)." At the outbreak of war that countries such as Italy, Britain, Germany and France were in fact not following a set of rules but were reacting to events around them. The priority given to maintaining trade and bonds that were created emphasise the superficial nature of the alliances. There were other significant causes such as the arms race, nationalism and imperialism that undoubtedly led to war. Olga Sherlygina 10-1 ...read more.

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