In 1908, Austria-Hungary officially annexed Bosnia igniting outrage in Serbia and Russia. Austria-Hungary invaded and took over the former Turkish province of Bosnia. This caused tension in Serbia as they felt Bosnia should belong to them. Austria-Hungary viewed Serbia as a threat. This was largely due to Serbia's desire to unite the Slavic people, including those living in the southern parts of the empire. Serbia then threatened Austria-Hungary with war. Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Greece declared war in October 1912 seeking to take advantage of the weak situation in the Ottoman Empire. Because of this, the Ottomans lost almost of their European lands because this combined force overwhelmed them. The Treaty of London in May 1913 effectively ended this, but the conflict led to issues and raised tensions among the victors as they battled over the spoils. All countries involved here have territorial gains in common, which shows that territorial gain was what motivated them to go to war and not fear in this case.
Another important factor of the events leading up to World War 1 was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a member of the Serbian Black Hand as he wanted to bring Serbia into Austria-Hungary. The Serbs thus assassinated him due to the fear of Serbia being integrated into Austria-Hungary. This obviously caused uproar in Austria-Hungary and the Austrians saw this as an opportunity to crush Serbia. The Austro-Hungarian government sent Serbia an ultimatum detailing 10 demands for them to meet. If Serbia failed to meet all of these demands, Austria Hungary would declare war on Serbia. Austria-Hungary expected Serbia to reject the ultimatum, which would give Austria-Hungary an excuse to invade. However, the Serb government did not reject the ultimatum. Instead the Serbian government agreed to everything except part of demand 6, Austria-Hungary at this point wanted any reason to attack Serbia and saw this as one and thus declared war on Serbia. Therefore, this factor was as a result of fear and played an important role in the beginning of World War 1.
Another important factor are the alliances formed between the European powers. After the Austria-Hungarian army declared war, Serbia turned to their ally, Russia for help. However, Russia did not want to enter the war as they were fearful that a war would destroy Russia. However, as Russia had already let down Serbia in the Bosnian crisis of 1908, Tsar Nicholas decided to mobilize his army. Germany thus could not allow Russia to mobilize against them without responding as they were afraid that Russia would be able to mobilize quickly and overpower them. Thus Germany mobilized their army and declared war on France. France in turn then mobilized her army because of fear of being undefended when Germany was to go to war against them. Thus, these states went to war largely because of fear.
Another factor leading up to World War 1 was the Arms Race, or Militarism. The growing European divide due to the two separate alliances had led to an arms race between the European States. The armies of both France and Germany had more than doubled between 1870 and 1914 and there was fierce competition between Britain and Germany for control of the naval power. One reason for Britain participating in the war was the fact that they wanted to weaken Germany’s naval power. The Kaiser believed that Germany should mount a naval challenge to Britain and thus started a naval arms race in order to gain the upper hand in mastery of the seas. The British then introduced the 'Dreadnought', which made all other battleships obsolete. Britain also responded to this threat to their naval supremacy by allying with Japan and forming an entente with France. Which increased tensions between Britain and Germany. The Germans soon followed suit by introducing their own battleships.
However, the reason for Britain wanting to weaken Germany’s power was motivated by fear. Britain was fearful of Germany’s rapidly expanding fleet and military power. They then ordered the construction of more battleships which again increased tensions between Britain and Germany. As said before, with the introduction of the ‘Deadnought’ a battleship that rendered others obsolete, it nullified their historical advantage which resulted in a ‘naval scare’ in Britain. Britain’s willingness to go to war owed a lot to the tensions and fear caused by the naval race. This indicates that the reason for the naval race and in turn B’s participation in the war was motivated by fear.
As seen through some of the various factors leading up to World War 1, the major motivator for the majority of the States to go to war was largely due to fear stemming from tensions between the various European states rather than motives for gain.