To what extent was the alliance system responsible for the outbreak of World War One in 1914

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To what extent was the alliance system responsible for the outbreak of World War One in 1914?

        In the Treaty of Versailles after World War One, the Triple Entente immediately placed blame on Germany's aggression and scheming tactics for the outbreak of war. However, over time, the causes behind the war began to become more obviously complex. One of the most commonly citied reasons is the alliance system. Prior to the war, the countries of Europe had formed complex alliances and, with their empirical statuses, this apparently created a chain that a single trigger (the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand) would set into inevitable motion. But how important was the pre-1914 alliance system in causing World War One?

        Firstly, we must come to understand exactly what the alliance system comprised of. Indeed, many of these 'alliances' were not really alliances at all, but mutual agreements in relation to trade or colonial territories. One of the most prominent and important alliances was that of Russia to Serbia. Russia had promised to protect the Serbian people and their rights. Austria-Hungary had control over areas where Balkan people were prominent, conflicting Russian policy and ultimately leading to war. Another vital alliance was that of Austria-Hungary and Germany. In July, 1914, Germany had given a Carte Blanche to Austria-Hungary, promising unconditional support in case of war. This encouraged Austro-Hungarian aggressive policies, contributing to the problems in the Balkans. France and Russia had numerous agreements, many financially based. These treaties turned anti-German as war became more and more plausible, and tied Russia and France together. The final alliance that needs mention is that of Britain and Belgium. The British public saw it as their duty to protect the Belgian people1 and, following the execution of the Schlieffen Plan in 1914, the British Government saw it as their duty to follow their agreement on protecting the neutrality of the country and joined the war.

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        The effects of the alliance system are apparent to the observer. The agreements between France and Russia left Germany encircled. Despite claims that this was purely for defence purposes2, the German government believed that it was necessary to create the Schlieffen Plan. This was a plan designed in order to remove the threat of French forces prior to the mobilization of Russia. Immediately, the alliance system had set German mindset into one of inevitable warfare. The numerous alliances also caused rivalry and tension between nations. In the Balkans, Austria-Hungary felt the need to display her dominance. Italy had broken free ...

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This is a well balanced and thorough response that stays focused on the question throughout and demonstrates excellent knowledge. The author should avoid asking rhetorical questions and advance judgments at the start of paragraphs instead. 5 Stars.