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Militarism Within European Countries Was Responsible For Wwi. To What Extent Do You Agree With This Statement?

1839 words - 8 pages

There are four factors which could be held accountable for World War I; militarism, alliances, imperialism and nationalism. Militarism is the expansion of armies and navies, alliances refer to the webs of pacts and agreements that countries made with each other, imperialism is the taking over of other countries, and nationalism is the promoting of one’s own country and propaganda against either other countries or countries which were opposition of your allies. All of these four factors were partially responsible for causing the war. Militarism could be blamed for causing the war, because the growing competition between the European powers meant that countries were desperate to show their ...view middle of the document...

Between 1870 and 1914, military spending by the European powers increased by 300%. In 1906, Britain launched a battleship called HMS Dreadnought. Its speed, range and firepower were far superior to those of any other existing battleship at the time. Building this battleship, though Britain was unaware of it at the time, basically nullified Britain’s vast naval advantage over the other powers in Europe. The Dreadnought class made all other battleships obsolete, and Britain had unknowingly taken the naval race back to square one, and their traditional numerical advantage was lost. All competitors could now build similar battleships and catch up with Britain. This situation triggered a ”Naval scare” in the winter of 1908-09, as fear grew concerning Germany’s rapidly expanding fleet. The British government responded by ordering the construction of eight battleships in 1909. This changed the mood in Britain. Cartoonists now portrayed Germany as the new enemy instead of Russia or France. Also, growing military interest meant that countries spent longer carefully planning out their war plans. According to AJP Taylor and his theory of war by timetable, this further increased the chance of war, because the fact that countries had these elaborate war plans made them more likely to use them. Also, the ”use it or lose it” mentality meant that countries would be less hesitant to mobilize their armies. An example of a war plan is Germany’s Schlieffen Plan. Schlieffen assumed that it would take Russia six weeks to mobilize, and thus worked out a plan that involved invading France first. James Joll lists this as one of his personal forces which were man-made. Germany having this plan meant that other countries made counter plans, which massively increased tensions in Europe shortly before the war.

Alliances were the main contributor towards the start of war in Europe in 1914. This corresponds with James Joll’s opinion that the war was mostly created by what he calls ”Impersonal Factors”, one of which is alliances. On the other hand, Joll says that alliances was a factor that couldn’t be controlled by man, and it just happened. It could be argued that alliances were the work of the leaders of countries, and it is their fault that the alliances fell to pieces and created the ideal conditions for a war. Throughout forming these alliances, Germany’s main concern was avoiding a war on two fronts, and it was this concern that made the system of alliances so weak. Germany didn’t mind so much who they were allies with as long as it provided them the security they needed. Firstly, Germany joined with Russia and Austria-Hungary in the Dreikaiserbund of 1873. This established the first tensions in Europe concerning alliances, as other powers got slightly nervous about the establishment of such an alliance. No later than 1879, the first signs of cracks in the alliance system were showing; the Dreikaiserbund fell apart after conflict over events in the Balkans. In its...

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