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Why did Peace Fail in 1914 - Essay Example

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The eruption of the First World War occurred after a sustained period of remarkable events in European countries in late 19th and in the early 20th centuries. Before the war outbreak, European continent had been undergoing significant economic and political changes that threatened to undermine the balance of power that existed in the world at the time and cause large scale war. …
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Why did Peace Fail in 1914
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Download file to see previous pages The main European countries that had developed considerable power in the continent included Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy and Russia (Keegan, 1999, p38-39). This paper explores various factors that made it virtually impossible for peace to prevail during the First World War. First World War broke out shortly after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the Hapsburg throne by Serbian terrorists in 1914. However, the incident was not the cause, but a catalyst for large scale conflict that had been looming in Europe for a long time. Various factors had contributed significantly to the gradual build up of the war in Europe. Joll and Martel (2006) indentified economic rivalries, increased nationalism, imperialism, and militarism in addition to formation of alliance systems as the major causes of First World War. Economic rivalry among European powers had become intense in the late 19th century and at beginning of the 20th century. According to Kennedy (1988, p72), economic competition for overseas markets, especially between Great Britain and Germany had reached epic levels. According to David (2005), Great Britain was the undisputed economic power in much of the 19th century and its strong military forces had galvanized the country’s position as the leading superpower in Europe and in the world. However, unification of Germany into a nation state accompanied by ambitious economic policies stimulated unprecedented development, which challenged Great Britain’s influence in the continent. One of the major causes of economic rivalry was trade disputes, arising from tariffs imposed on goods of competing countries in the overseas markets. According to Fussel (2000), tariff disputes emerged not only between Germany and Britain, but other growing economies in the region, such as Italy and France, Serbia and Austria, in addition to Germany and Russia among other trading partners. The subsequent economic competition resulted into tense and suspicious relations between concerned countries, making war inevitable. Large-scale militarisation was one of the major consequences of increasing competition between rival countries in Europe. According to Keegan (1999), each country attempted to build and strengthen its military power leading to arms race in European continent. Between 1870 and 1914, David (2005, p107) noted that military expenditure among the competing countries in Europe increased by 300 percent. Most countries introduced mandatory conscription of all citizens above eighteen years into the armed forces. Development of Germany’s military was particularly phenomenal. According to Kennedy (1988, p69), the country had over 8 million soldiers compared to Britain’s 750,000 in 1913. Although Britain had one of the best trained and equipped military, the growth of Germany’s defence forces was a major cause of tension in Europe. According to Fussel (2000), Germany’s military power was vastly superior to France, one of Great Britain’s allies. In addition, Germany naval expansion presented a real threat to Great Britain’s security. Germany’s rapid economic growth and superior military presence aggravated its quest for more power and influence in Europe. Germany’s military build up and consistent aggressive rhetoric indicated that the country was prepared for large-scale war, with an intention of challenging other powers in the continent. The period before eruption of First World War was characterized by stiff competition for colonies in other continents especially in Africa and Asia. Industrial revolution in Europe necessitated the need for more natural resources, and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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