Was World War I Avoidable
Was World War I Avoidable
On June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, a member of the Serbian terrorist organization Gavrilo Princip killed the Austro-Hungarian archduke Franz Ferdinand. This assassination was aimed at stopping the plans of Austro-Hungary for Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, it resulted in the World War I when a month later, on July 28, 1914, Austro-Hungary declared war with Serbia (Wilmott, 2007). During the conflict, the pessimists claimed that the World War I would lead to even more deadly skirmishes due to the individual diplomacies of the countries and deadly weapons (Collins, 2008). Indeed, each of the parts of the conflict had its goals of establishing the new order in the world. As a result, the beginning of the World War I was inevitable, and it represented just a matter of time.
In fact, the peculiarities of the international relations at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century made the World War I unavoidable. In particular, while trying to maintain the established balance of power, the major European countries began introducing military and political alliances. For instance, Germany, Austro-Hungary, and Italy formed the Triple Alliance. At the same time, Britain and France signed a number of treaties, known as Entente Cordiale. Moreover, Britain began negotiations with Russia, which resulted in Anglo-Russian Convention (Wilmott, 2007). Despite the fact that the treaties between Britain, France, and Russia did not make them allies, the Britain was obliged to respond to any conflict, involving the other two countries. Russia, in its turn, had an alliance with Serbia. Thus, the established system of bilateral agreements contributed to the war beginning. When Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Russia had to respond as its ally. Similarly, the other countries joined the conflict.
The other aspect that had influence on the beginning of the global war was the arms race. At the end of the 19th century, the industrial capacities and economic development of Germany significantly increased. As a result, the government of the country invested in the arms race, especially navy expansion (Collins, 2008). The German aim was to overcome the power of the British Royal Navy. However, Britain succeeded in preserving its naval power with the introduction of the battleship HMS Dreadnought (Wilmott, 2007). Consequently, each country began to increase its military capacity to respond to the possible conflict.
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Besides this, the policies of the European countries contributed to the beginning of the war. Each of the European powers pursued imperialist goals. The nations established its spheres of influence in Africa and Asia due to the necessity to provide the economies with raw materials (Collins, 2008). However, the countries aspired to get bigger territories and expand their presence in the colonies. This policy contributed to the collision of the interests between the nations and fueled the tensions between them. With the increased militarization, these tensions would inevitably result in the conflict.
Finally, some of the scholars relate the beginning of World War I with the nationalism. Indeed, Slavic population of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not want to remain a part of Austro-Hungary. On the contrary, they wanted to join Serbia. As a result, the countries of the region became involved in the Balkan Wars at the beginning of the 20th century (Wilmott, 2007). Thus, the region was unstable, and despite the fact that the European powers were able to control it, it could transform into something bigger. Moreover, nationalist tendencies could be found in the other countries such as Germany or Austro-Hungary, which tried to prove their dominance.
Thus, the national interest of the European countries, relations between the nations, based on the mutual defense alliances, and arms race made the World War I inevitable. In case the Austro-Hungarian archduke was not killed, the conflict between the states would still begin due to the peculiarities of the established international environment.