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Friday, June 24, 2011

causes of world war one

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Causes of World War I


World War I was a result of leaders’ aggression towards other countries, which was supported by the rising nationalism of the European nations. Economic and imperial competition and fear of war prompted military alliances and an arms race. This further escalated the tension that contributed to the outbreak of war. Nearly 10 million troops were killed during the war. World War I involved more countries and caused more destruction than any other war except World War II. The leader of the Russian Communists Vladimir Lenin once put it well by describing World War I as an “imperialist struggle.” He believed the inevitable result of competition among the capitalist nations to dominate the world’s markets.


There was rising nationalism in the European nations. At the settlement of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Germany and Italy were left as divided states. This angered strong nationalists, and they began to start movements and revolutions. These led to the unification of Italy in 1861 and Germany in 1871. The Franco � Prussian War of 1870-71 also helped solve these problems. Conflicting national groups in Austria � Hungry and the Balkans raised tensions for war.


Imperialism was a large factor in the increase in rivalry in Europe. The Industrial Revolution caused an increase in manufacturing. As a result to this rise in manufacturing, Great Britain, Germany, and France needed foreign markets. These countries competed against each other for economic expansion in Africa. The clash of Germany against Great Britain and France in North Africa caused several crises that foreshadowed the war. The crumbling of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East gave hope to Austria- Hungry, the Balkans, and Russia.


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After the Franco � Prussian War, there were two opposing alliances developed by Bismarckian diplomacy. The Three Emperors League was formed in 187 to diplomatically isolate France. Bismarck formed this alliance with Germany, Russia, and Austria � Hungry. Bismarck formed the Triple Alliance in 188 with Germany, Italy, and Austria � Hungry, to take advantage of Italian resentment towards France. Italy had pledged that they would stay neutral if war broke out between Austria � Hungry and Russia. Germany and Austria pledged to keep Italy safe from France if Italy stayed neutral. Austria � Hungry and Russia began to be suspicious of each other over conflicts in the Balkans. Bismarck repaired the damage it had done to its alliances by making a Reinsurance Treaty with Russia, allowing both to stay neutral if the other was at war.


These Bismarckian alliances collapsed in 180, when Kaiser William II fired Bismarck. Great Britain, France, and Russia formed an informal coalition known as the Triple Entente. This group now countered the Triple Alliance of Germany, Italy, and Austria � Hungry. International tension was greatly increased by the division of Europe into two armed camps.


The tension resulting from the division of Europe resulted into an arms race. Germany was the leader of military organization and efficiency, and many countries copied their techniques. Technological and organizational developments led to the formation of general staffs with precise plans for attack. France and Russia were allies, France being weaker than Russia. The German von Schlieffen Plan was to attack France before Russia in the event of war with Russia. This drew more countries into the war than necessary. Armies and navies were greatly expanded. The standing armies of France and Germany doubled in size between 1870 and 114. Naval expansion was extremely competitive between Germany and Great Britain. International rivalries caused the arms race to continually feed on itself.


Friction between the armed and divided European countries resulted in several crisis in Morocco and the Balkans that nearly ended in war. Germany announced its full support of independence for Morocco. Morocco was an African colony that Britain had given France in 104. With the help of Britain war was avoided, and France was allowed to make Morocco a French protectorate.


The rising economic problems in Europe caused tension. Asia and the Near East had economic and diplomatic pressure. There was economic concessions and extra �territorial privileges. Some examples of this were the Ottoman Empire and China that were the most vulnerable. Japan was modernizing rapidly and India was firmly in British hands. Europe was determined to keep a strong economy. Economy gave colonial rule a reproach to democracy. Economy encouraged feelings of national and racial superiority. There was now materialism in technology and science. These changes in economy caused corruption in European countries.


Another conflict was created by the Austria � Hungarian annexation of the former Turkish province of Bosnia in 108. Serbia threatened war on Austria � Hungry as a result of the Greater Serbian movement. Russia joined with Serbia, and Germany joined with Austria � Hungry. The beginning of World War I was postponed because Russia backed down. This incident greatly strained the relationship between Austria � Hungry and Serbia.


A changing society began to cause problems throughout Europe. Human Welfare had increased drastically. Surgery and anesthetics had been perfected. The average human life span was now longer. Victorian middle class morality was at a steady decline. Literacy was becoming more common, and spreading rapidly. Many peace movements were being created. The imbalance of society played a key role in the lashing out of people. The Aristocrats were the highest social class and had a sense of power over lower class citizens. The working people were constantly neglected. Society now had problems that could not be easily resolved.


A second Moroccan crisis occurred in 111 when Germany sent in warships to retaliate upon French supremacy in Morocco. Germany claimed that France was violating the agreement at Algeciras. Britain again backed France and gave Germany stern warnings. Germany agreed to let France rule Morocco in exchange for part of the French Congo. The Balkans Wars went on from 11-11, between the Balkan States and the Turks. Tensions between Serbia and Austria � Hungry increased when Austria � Hungry forced Serbia to give up some of its gains.


Europe had finally reached its breaking point when Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia. He was the heir to the Austria � Hungarian throne. A Serbian nationalist belonging to an organization known as the Black Hand assassinated him. The Black Hand was a secret, patriotic society known as the Narodna Odbrana. The group was founded in Serbia in 108, and its intent was to strengthen a spirit of nationalism. Immediately following the assassination Germany pledged its full support to Austria � Hungry. Germany pressured Austria � Hungry to declare war on Serbia. France strengthened its backing of Russia. Austria � Hungry was now convinced that the Serbian government had conspired against them. Austria � Hungry issued Serbia an unacceptable ultimatum. Serbia consented to this almost entirely.


This consent did not satisfy Austria � Hungry. Austria Hungry declared war on Serbia on July 8, 114. On July , Russia ordered a partial mobilization of their troops only against Austria � Hungry and in support of Serbia. This escalated into a general mobilization. The Germans threatened war on Russia on July 1, unless Russia agreed to demobilize. France declined Germanys’ ask for help in the event of war between Germany and Russia. France said that they would act in their own interest and began to mobilize. On August 1, Germany declared war on Russia. Two days later, Germany declared war on France. Germany invaded Belgium to attack France. This violated Belgium’s official neutrality. This prompted Britain to declare war on Germany. World War I had now begun.


After the war had ended, all the countries involved had their own reasons for why they entered the war. The Allies claimed that war had been “imposed upon them” by German aggression. The Germans defended themselves by saying they had been gradually encircled by hostile powers and they declared war to avoid being crushed. These are just speculations, but the true fault cannot be put on one single country. The whole European system is responsible for World War I.





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