The most prominent factors which led to World War 1 were nationalism, militarism, imperialism, the Balkan and Morocco crises, and the alliance system. As luck would have it, these factors either started in response to, or because of each other. The alliance system was one of the last factors to emerge before the war. The alliance system was a main cause of World War 1; it came into play because of a few factors, and did not cause the war alone.
Nationalism, the love and support of one’s country, has always existed. During this time, nonetheless, it took part in the culmination of one of the most famous wars in history. As so much pride was devoted to countries, it made the potential for peace between past rivals less likely. It also meant that most nations, particularly the great powers, would rather fight a war than back down from a rival’s diplomacy. Since no country felt easy about fighting in a war alone, nationalism was a contributing factor to the alliance system. Allies provided a lot of ease with the growing militaries in almost every country.
Militarism, a policy of aggressive military preparedness, in this period of time gave all countries great reason to feel the heavy weight of a looming war. Great Britain had a naval policy to have the largest military force hands down. That, along with the predominate feeling of war, provided countries with a strong reason to create an incredibly strong military force. This led to an arms race, which made the impending war seem certain. The military planning in some countries also caused an increased fear of war. Military machines were being developed; each country was appointing a staff of experts. The greatest problem with this was the fear that the expert would precipitate war under a looming timetable. The alliance system was born from these two factors. If two or more countries are allied with each other they have a better chance of defeating their common enemy if war was declared. They also have a higher likelihood of winning if they have alliances providing support.
Imperialism is defined as the control of people by another politically, economic exploitation, or the imposition of culture on another group. This not only played a large part in the creation of the alliance system, but it also created enemies for many countries, which were grounds for war. For example, Austria wanted to dominate the Balkans in order to check for propaganda coming from Serbia. Germany supported Austria in its Balkan policy because it wanted to exploit the rich resources of Asia Minor, and had to have a peaceful route through the Balkans to get there. In this way, it led to the alliance of Germany and Austria when war was in the near future. Imperialism led countries to have conflicting national interests as well, which also led to war. Each country thought they were right and wanted to convert other cultures to be more like their own.
With nationalism, militarism, and imperialism all showing a large presence at the same period, a solid ground was formed for the alliance system to build itself on. The Dual Alliance between Germany and Austria was formed, the Triple Alliance between Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy was created, and the Triple Entente was created between France, Russia, and Great Britain. Although the Triple Entente was not an official alliance, they all maintained a very close understanding, and were viewed by many as a threat.
The crises in Morocco and the Balkans had a devastating result because it was one right after the other. The 3rd Balkan crisis led to what most would say was the immediate cause of the war. It was what caused the most damage, possibly only because it was followed soon after the first two. On June 28, 1914, the Black Hand, a Bosnian revolutionary, assassinated the heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke Francis Ferdinand. In retaliation, Austria decided to end the South Slav separatism, and issued an ultimatum.
Austrian officials must be allowed to collaborate in the investigation and punishment of the assassinators. Austria, with the support of Germany, then declared war against the Serbs, since they had refused the ultimatum. Then, on August 1, 1914, Germany demanded that Russia’s military mobilization cease, and when Russia refused, Germany declared war. Russia then declared war on France, convinced that it would enter anyway. Germany was devastated when Great Britain entered the war.
As one country declared war on another all alliances were brought into the war, and the First World War soon took place, thus, the alliance system holds the greatest responsibility for the breakout of a world war. However, the alliance system might have never occurred had it not been for nationalism, militarism, and imperialism. Furthermore, the Morocco and Balkan crises did not directly cause the war, but they were used as justification for the war to begin. That’s why, many factors contributed to the formation of the alliance system, which led to tension between enemy countries, and the third Balkan crisis paved the way for the Great War to begin.
Western Civilization: Since 1500, Chapters 13-29, Vol. 2 : Jackson J. Spielvogel (Paperback)Wikipedia