Imperialism, Militarism and Alliances in World War I

Imperialism, Militarism and Alliances in World War I
On Sunday June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo, Princip, a member of the terrorist group called the Black Hand, shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand, It could be argued that this event was the immediate cause of World War I, however this war was caused by numerous other reasons, these were imperialism, militarism, and alliances. Imperialism is when one country tries to dominate another country or territories. Marxist historian James Joll believed that colonial imperialism was a definite origin of war. Imperialism caused many countries to fight over land, especially in places like Africa. Britain and France already had control of many overseas lands and had created large empires. Germany also wanted to expand overseas and saw Africa as the place to do it. The ?scramble for Africa? pitted many countries against each other, all wanting to occupy more territory than the other. All the fighting over territories led to bad feeling towards each other. For example Germany and France avoided a two front war with each other over claims to Morocco on two occasions. Both of which they managed to settle, however the compromises both countries dissatisfied. This caused an underline hatred and distrust for each other, causing them to be enemies. Militarism also had an effect on the outbreak of the war. Militarism is the glorification of armed strength.
The Military in all European countries began to grow in the 1900s. Germany, for example, tripled naval construction in order to challenge Britain?s control of the seas. They were trying to compete with Britain who at the time had the best navy in the world. Britain in turn began to realise what Germany was doing and started to build up their own navy with the construction of the dreadnoughts. German leaders strongly believed that only the use of force could solve problems among nations and thought that a strong military nation usually got what it wanted. This led to a feeling of superiority and fear in other countries. As international rivalries grew, more European countries believed it necessary to keep their armed forces stronger. Due to this belief armies grew larger, and World War I became a way of testing the new technologies out such as tanks, and guns. One of the other origins of World War I was the alliance system that existed throughout Europe at that time. Alliances are agreements between two or more countries to give each other help and support to one or another when needed. Many countries between 1879 and 1914 had signed a number of alliances, but some were still verbal or simply from years before. The two of the most important alliances being the Triple Alliance, which was between Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy and the Triple Entente, which was France, Russia, and Great Britain. German historian I. Geiss believes that the Triple Alliance was a German attempt to become a world power, not a world peacekeeper. Although these alliances were not militarily binding, they did place a ?moral obligation? upon each other in time of war. This was to become very important because it would mean that some countries would have no option but to declare war if one of the countries they were allied to was threatened. It was thought the alliances would support peace, thinking that each country would be protected. However as you can see that was proven wrong. In conclusion imperialism, militarism, and the alliances system played a major role in the development of World War I. We see that imperialism was already dividing up the countries before the turn of the century. Also militarism caused people to think that violence and force was the only way to solve problems and disagreements, and finally the alliances system would draw many nations into a large-scale war. These reasons are in no way the only reasons for the outbreak of war but this essay has only chosen to cover the three above.

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