The Influence Of Imperialism On The Outbreak Of World War I

1312 words - 5 pages

To what extent was imperialism a cause in the outbreak of World War I
World War I, also known as the Great War, was a global war centered in Europe that lasted from July 28 1914 to November 11 1918. After the war the British Empire started to unravel and the German and, Austro-Hungarian empires were broken up. Imperialism was one significant cause in the outbreak of World War I because it started the major powers on a path of conflict. Equally significant were the alliance systems, which split Europe into two, and nationalism which created a desire for world recognition among people and nations.
Imperialism was an important factor in the outbreak of World War I because it created conflicts among European powers and led to a suspicious European environment. In the late 19th century European powers had established their political, military, economical, and cultural dominance in both Africa and Asia. Attracted by gold and diamonds, many European countries began to colonize Africa. Eventually, the British made their way into the Transvaal, disturbing the lives of the Boers who lived there. The result was resentment and raised hostilities between both sides. Finally, in 1899, the allied Boer States of the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State declared war on Great Britain. Seeing this as an opportunity to strengthen their own position in Africa, Germany provided the Boers with superior weaponry that allowed them to fight until their surrender in 1902. Shortly after the Boer War, fearful of German interference in her overseas possessions, Britain abandoned her policy of Splendid Isolation and signed a naval treaty with Japan. In 1904, Russia’s attempt to colonize Japanese controlled Korea led to Japan’s declaration of war on Russia. Although their army and navy outnumbered Japan’s, Russia’s inefficient Far East command led to disastrous decisions. By the time of their surrender in January 1905 Russia had lost thirty-five battleships. Because their only remaining fleet, the Black Sea Fleet, could not get out of the Bosporus Straits, the Russian government had to expand their influence in the Balkans and gain control of the straits. Since Austria-Hungary also had an interest in the Balkans, the two countries had competing ambitions and fears of the other. Relationships between the countries were especially strained after the triumph of Russian-backed Pan-Slavism during the two Balkan Wars. With help from Russia, Serbia had become the most powerful nation-state in the Balkans and now posed a threat to Austria-Hungary. As a result, Russia was eager to maintain the status quo in the region. In October 1913, the Turkish government concluded a military agreement with Germany. Through their help in the reformation of the Turkish army, the German Kaiser and his government hoped to “Germanize” Turkey. Russia, however, feared German influence on Constantinople. In addition to the being vital to the Black Sea Fleet, the Bosporus Straits was also...

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