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The Long And Short Term Causes Of World War One

1023 words - 4 pages

What were the long and short term causes of world war one

The Causes of World War One

Although the causes leading up to the "Great War" are many and varied, it is a controversial and perhaps impossible task to pinpoint the most important one. The most prominent cause is the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, but to truly understand how the world was tipped into chaos, one must look past the obvious, and into the conflicts and political disagreements of the many years leading up to the assassination. The actual event is just the tip of a huge iceberg that was Europe at the turn of the century.

As far back as the mid to late 19th century, war had been brewing between the major powers in Europe, but never before had the countries formed alliances with each other as they were doing now. It was these alliances that took what should have been various small, locally fought battles, and transformed them into the atrocity that was World War I. In 1882, Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary joined forces to create the Triple Alliance. Then in 1893, France and Russia formed the Dual Alliance, so that Russia would have an ally against Austria-Hungary, and France against Germany. Eventually, after the Fashoda Crises, Britain finally allied with France, after almost a century of intermittent conflict between the two nations. This agreement still stands today though it must be noted that this was an agreement, not a formal alliance.

World War I was not a choice. There was no option to sit this one out. If a small country did not make alliances with a more militarily powerful nation, they would simply be gobbled up by the rapid expansion of countries such as Russia, Germany or Britain. This explosive rise in land grabbing was called imperialism, and built a huge amount of tension between the major nations. Each of these major powers took land almost as a defence, knowing that if they just sat and waited they would soon be faced with a massive wall of enemies and no-where near enough resources to fight them off. At the beginning of the 20th century, Britain's empire had expanded over five continents, but many disputed whether she could hold such a ridiculous amount of land while still keeping a firm and steady grip. Propaganda pictures depict a British soldier spread across a world map trying to keep control of all of her territories, as if in a game of twister. Most other major powers tried to secure all countries close to them, in an effort to surround Britain with enemy forces. It was all leading to something big, though no-one would admit it at the time.

Another important cause behind world war one was the arms race, the biggest in history so far. All were fighting for dominance in the latest battlefield...

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