Assess The Causes Of The First World War

1168 words - 5 pages

This essay will assess the causes of the First World War. The outbreak of the First World War (1871-1914) was a culmination of the short term crisis such as the Balkan crisis, Germany’s world policy and German aims and the July crisis, the more important issues remain to be long-term factors such as Industrialism, Militarism, Alliances, Nationalism and economical disputes.The First World War was the culmination of a long-term problem within the European system which had unfolded as a result of the short term crisis.Dugdale believes that the foreign policy of the new Germany, dominated by Otto von Bismark, the first chancellor of Germany from 1871 to 1890, was designed to reassure Europe that Germany was a ‘satisfied’ power, with no intentions of disrupting the delicate European balance of power. George further explains that in 1872, the ‘League of the Three Emperors’ consisting of Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary, was formed. This was followed by the ‘Dual Alliance’ in 1879 between Germany and Austria-Hungary which promised assistance against Russia. Bismark believed that the agreement would help restrain the aims of the Austria-Hungary in the Balkans, but it had an opposite effect, and encouraged Austria-Hungary to take a bolder stand against Balkan nationalism, this point being considered by Brandenburg. The Bulgarian crisis had revealed the complexity of the Balkan problem, which evolved around nationalist’s demands for self-determination, the gradual decline of the Ottoman rule and the designs of Russia and Austria-Hungary. It showed how easily problems in the Balkans could create a delicate international situation. More importantly, the Bulgarian Crisis had put an end to the League of the Three Emperors; severely weakening Germany’s role as the so-called ‘honest broker’ in the Balkans; and killed the Re-insurance Treaty.Brandenburg explains the attempt to balance the irreconcilable differences between Austria-Hungary and Russia was really an exercise in crisis management rather than a real solution to the conflict between the two powers in the region. This conflict may have helped triggered the war, but Bismarck’s fall from power in 1890 is still viewed as the turning point for war. Bismarck’s cautious policy was successful in the short term, but he was already coming under increase pressure of adopting a popular aggressive and expansionist foreign policy before his abrupt dismissal by young Kaiser Wilhelm II. Paradoxically, the fact that Bismarck’s alliance diplomacy had placed Germany in such a strong diplomatic position actually encouraged other, less shrewd German figured in the aristocracy, army and navy to push for a bolder and more expansionist foreign policy.Fay suggested that it was not only the swift rise of Germany which created a climate of tension in European affairs. Another development was to have an equally profound impact: the sudden and unexpected...

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