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World War I was an intense conflict between several countries in the european region. The outbreak began in July 28, 1914 all the way until November 18, 1918. There were two prevalent alliances in the war. The triple alliance consisted of Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary, and the triple entente consisted of Russia, Britain and France. The triple alliances’ secret agreement between Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary was formed in 1882 and was renewed at a 5 year interval. The triple entente was formed in 1907, an agreement between Russia, Britain and France, which arose from the Franco-Russian alliance.
There were so many alliances and treaties formed that each country on either alliance system were ongoing conflict with another or has deals with another, which made it that as soon someone announces and declares war to another country everyone else was thrown into war and battles as well. The alliance system was the leading cause of world war 1 because of the expansion and formation of the alliances, the loyalty and dedication of the alliances to each other, and the coalition between major powers and their hostility between one another.
The first reason as to why the alliance system was the most significant cause of WW1 is because of the expansion and formation of the alliances. “In 1879 Germany and Austria-Hungary agreed to form a dual alliance. The triple alliance then expanded in 1882 to include Italy. The three countries agreed to support each other if attacked by either France or Russia. It was renewed at five year intervals.” This shows the quick and efficient formation and expansion of the triple alliance as it first started as a dual alliance, and in a matter of 3 years, it included Italy, which then made the complete triple alliance. (Spencer C. Tucker, 74-75)
Another example is shown in the same book, “The formation of the triple entente in 1907 by Britain, France and Russia reinforced the need for alliance.” This supports the main thesis as it shows that the triple entente was formed to reinforce the need for alliance, also it developed from the Franco-Russian alliance, to counterbalance the threat that the triple alliance gave towards the Franco-Russian alliance at the time, which why it reinforced the need for alliance. This indicates that the formation and expansion of the alliances was a significant reason for a cause of the outbreak of WW1 because without it the conflicts would have been restricted to only the countries directly involved.
The second reason as to why the alliance system was the main cause of WW1 is because of the loyalty and dedication of most the alliances towards one another. Agreement among France, Great Britain, Russia and Italy providing for Italian naval and military cooperation with the allied powers and making certain territorial and other arrangements. This shows the that the triple alliance made decisions as a whole, instead of having secret agreements with other countries. “The unconditional support of Germany for Austria-Hungary for whatever course of action it would decide concerning the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.”
The reason as to why this supports my point is because Germany, without a doubt, was supportive towards Austria-Hungary as it agreed to invade Serbia. Austria-Hungary would have never went to war without Germany’s support. This proves that the alliances were loyal to each other as they were all supporting each other which expanded the size of the war because of the tension that was prevalent before the war began.
The final reason as to why the alliance system led to the outbreak of WW1 is because of coalition between major powers and their hostility between one another. “In 1914 the six most powerful countries in Europe divided into two opposing Alliance. The Triple Alliance consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy which was formed in 1882. The Triple Entente included Britain, France and Russia which was formed in 1907. Each country was heavily armed and each one had reasons for distrusting each other’s countries in Europe.” This shows how all the countries and alliances were ready for war, as they were are heavily armed, and the alliances were supporting each other for their own benefit.
Another example is, “Austria declared war on Serbia, the Russian army got ready to help Serbia defend itself against the attack and Germany sends a demand to Russia ordering it to hold back from helping Serbia. Then Germany declared war on Russia. The French army is put on a war footing getting ready to fight a German invasion. After all of that Germany declares war on France and invades Belgium, Britain orders Germany to withdraw from Belgium and the Germans did not listen.” This proves how all of the countries involved in the war we’re backing up different countries, therefore, playing a role in making this war a world war, rather than a conflict between two countries.
This system of two rival alliances is the key to explain the relevance of impersonal factors in the triggering of WWI because the decision to make war was the response of the alliances’ leaders in their “struggle” to secure the balance of world power. The significance of bipolar division in creating the war is that polarization reflected corresponding interests as well as conflictive ones. Due to the “power vacuum” that the breakup of the Concert of Europe could pose, the same forces that were supposed to serve to “keep the peace” automatically transformed the war into a general conflict once it erupted. Additionally, the presence of secret alliances and the absence of an informal arbitrator revealed cracks in the international anarchic system that increased the probability of magnitude, duration and severity of the war.
Each alliance system believed that they were more superior than the other, and capable of more. This made the Austro-German alliance so aggressive leading up to the war and all the way through the Bosnian crisis in 1909. The germans each group of alliance thought they were powerful enough to take over. Such an alarming thought made the Austro-German alliance so aggressive within the decade before the war and up till the Bosnian crisis in 1909. German government’s guarantee to offer aid to Austria-Hungary, and Russia’s danger to counter if Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia made the alliance together framework an instrument for animosity. As proven by the evidence, the hostility between certain powers was uncontrollable therefore causing the outbreak of WW1. All in all, the main cause that led to the outbreak of WW1 was the alliance system as it created hatred between each other and drove the nations into war.
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