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To Fight or Not to Fight: Britains Dilemma and the Great War - Essay Example

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Like any issue in World history, Britain's entrance into World War I has many causes, all as valid as each other. The land scramble following the Balkan Wars, a sense of and simultaneous need for nationalism, British hubris, and Germany's inability to remain content with their minor role on the European playing field all contributed to Britain's necessity to entering World War I…
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To Fight or Not to Fight: Britains Dilemma and the Great War
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To Fight or Not to Fight: Britains Dilemma and the Great War

Download file to see previous pages... If Britain wanted to remain a major world player, she had no choice but to participate in the largest and most major conflict the world had ever seen.
Britain's navel supremacy had firmly placed her among the superpowers of Europe, but by 1905, Germany's naval superiority over France and Russia gave Britain reason to distrust her continental neighbour1. After Germany's unification, Kaiser Wilhelm sought to make Germany's navy join its army as the best in the world. "[Kaiser] Wilhelm undertook the creation of a German navy capable of threatening Britain's century-old naval mastery"2. While Germany presented a competitor for the British fleet, but Britain did not fear the German fleet expansion. Though these two formidable fleets stood together in the Crisis of 1914, the knowledge that Germany had
such impressive sea power must have had a psychological effect, no matter how small, on the British pride who had dominated the naval world for so long. Germany planted the seed of distrust, however, three years earlier in Morocco. After the French sent troops into Morocco without the consent of its allies, Germany sent in a naval ship, the Panther to Agadir3. The sending of naval ships served as an insult to Britain, who felt she supplied the alliance with naval might. "Germany had deployed sea power beyond the purlieus of its immediate geographical waters; this was a direct threat to the premier navy in the world"4. Germany appeared to be testing the waters within the alliance to see how much the other countries would allow before retaliation. They would not have to wait long. If Germany had used her established prowess in land combat, Britain would not have reacted as strongly as they did, but it seems deliberate on the part of the Germans to send a message to Britain that her days as the dominant superpower in the alliance would not last.
Germany had sent a signal to Britain that had clearly gone to the heart of British Naval pride. After Germany sent her ship to Morocco, prominent politician David Lloyd George warned that Britain needed retain her supremacy within the superpowers at all costs. "'I am also bound to say this-that I believe it is essential in the highest interest, not merely of this country, but of the world, that Britain should at all hazards maintain her place and her prestige amongst the Great Powers of the world'"5. This fatal statement encapsulates the attitude in Britain during this time period. British pride could not allow her to remain neutral or silent. The Industrial Revolution had turned Britain into a proud
Clausen 3
nation that knew its navy had no equal. For Germany to suggest otherwise forced Britain into a position where she could not allow Germany's challenge to go unanswered.
A smaller, but equally significant incident that caused Britain to suspect German intentions involved only one man. Winston Churchill suggested an armistice on the naval arms race, presumably as a show of good faith to the Germans. His attempt to ease the tension between the two nations served only to increase his distrust of the Germans. They did not reply to his proposal and in the end Churchill did not pursue the matter; rather, he saw it as a warning sign that the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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