The Causes of World War I
The Causes of World War I
World War I was the result of chain-reacting events; originated from the Crises in the Balkans which led to the Collapse of Bismarckian Alliances. The creation of The Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance further escalated the tension contributing to the outbreak of the war. Increase in international tension, caused by the division of Europe into two armed camps, provoked fear of war and prompted military alliances and an arms race.
The system maintained the balance of power in Europe after the creation of German Empire was Three Emperors’ League, established between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. This alliance guaranteed each other that when any one member state took military action against a non-member, particularly France or the Balkan nations, the other two would remain neutral. However, this system did not last long. At the Congress of Berlin, the peace conference concluding the First Balkan Crisis; Britainconcerned that growing Russian power at the expense of the Ottoman Empire would tilt the balance of power in Russia’s favor, and secured Constantinople and the Balkans away from Moscow’s dominion.
Subsequently, during the Second Balkan Crises, Russia warned it was ready to occupy Bulgaria if it did not yield to Serbian claims, at which point Austria-Hungary stepped in to support Bulgaria. As a result of Russia’s obvious political losses at the Congress of Berlin, and Germany’s decision to support Austria- Hungary instead of Russia at the Second Balkan Crises, Russia felt betrayed by Germany. Russia abandoned its alliance with Germany in the Three Emperors’ League, and concluded an alliance with France. Unfortunately, the breakdown of Three Emperors’ League damaged the balance of power and became the initial cause of the war.
Bismarck getting fired by Kaiser William II in 1890, made the situation even worse. The traditional dislike of Slavs kept Bismarck’s successors from renewing the understanding with Russia. This gave France an opportunity to ally with Russia. At any rate, we can see that the menace of the hostile division led to an arms race, in the increase in military expenditure between 1890 and 1900.
However, the direct cause of the war was Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war on Serbia after Assassination in Sarajevo in 1914. At the very beginning, Russia ordered a partial mobilization only against Austria-Hungary in support of Serbia, as the leader of the Slav nations. Yet eventually, this escalated into a general mobilization. Although, German, who feared that she would face attacks from both Russia and France, asked to demobilize, Russia refused to do so. Soon after that, German declared war against Russia and France, who also refused Germany’s request to stay neutral, and the First World War had begun.
In summary, Three Emperors’ League was a worthy system to prevail the balance of power, and it could have properly maintained Europe’s relations among the Ottoman’s dominion over the Balkans. To put it more concretely, Assassination in Sarajevo could not have caused the “World War” if this system was still functioning.