The First World War (WWI) was a global war started in Europe from 1914 until 1918 that killed over 9 million soldiers as according to Van Tol, Ottery & Keith (2012). This huge, bloody war was caused by many different factors, such as colonial rivalries, militarism and the alliance system which centred in Europe. Most importantly, the July Crisis in 1914 – began with the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand – was the immediate cause of World War One. Nonetheless, the two major causes were nationalism and imperialism – jingoism and greed for power plus wealth – that directed the countries to war, as will be explained further in this essay.
Firstly, nationalism that identifies extreme form of patriotism made people nationalists during the period of World War One. According to Van Tol et al. (2012), the war was mainly caused by nationalism throughout Europe when every country wanted power and dominance. For example, the war originated from Serbians’ desire to take over Bosnia and Herzegovina which were annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908. Van Tol et al. suggest, the Serbians’ rising nationalism caused them to seek independence due to the political domination of Austria-Hungary, which then caused retaliation and led to war.
Secondly, imperialism defines the action of colonising other states to acquire additional territories for the nation while expanding their power and wealth. Imperialism increased because countries sought to develop their empires as every country desired new markets and natural resources during the Industrial Revolution (Van Tol et al. 2012). Moreover, European nations that were already industrialised sought colonies to extend their influence in the world that was full of competition. Due to the tense competitions in the market, nationalism started wide spreading as confrontations between countries and colonies increased – gradually pushing the world into World War One.
Preceding the war period, there were conflicts in terms of colony, politics and economic between the European nations that led up to war. Prior to the 20th century, European powers had the greed for domination and prosperity. However, most of them had acquired a huge number of colonies in Africa and parts of Asia after 1870, as stated by Poon (2007). England, Italy and France had immense grips of African lands, which helped evolving these countries’ reputation and economies. As a result of these powers fighting over colonies and resources, catalytic occasions such as “scramble of Africa” – annexation of African territory – became part of inducing World War One, as explained by Wikipedia (2013). Moreover, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany sparked the First Moroccan Crisis (1905-1906) to distort the Anglo-French Entente by issuing Morocco’s political blunders. As a result, the relations between Germany with France and the United Kingdom degraded – which worsened tensions between colonial countries (The First Moroccan Crisis, 2013).
Militarism denotes the certainty that a...