The First World War is generally accepted to be the first conflict to bring warfare to a global scale. The four years of worldwide hostilities were brought on by a synergism of both domestic and international issues. Although both factors played a significant role in the outbreak of war, the international issues contributed more to the eruption of conflict than did the domestic. The international landscape leading up to World War I was marked by imperialism, high economic competition, and the colonization of lands in Africa and South America. This competition for foreign lands, and the resources and strategic positioning accompanying them, created a tense international atmosphere. Rather than competing over regional borders, European nations intensely jockeyed for power around the globe. European borders, while not set in stone, were less disputed at this time than they had been in the past. However, the imperialistic attitudes of these nations seemed to rekindle old tensions as leaders vied to expand their economic and military power around the world. Central to the international causes for war was the series of European alliances that vaulted nations into war in the event that an ally was attacked. The Dual Alliance was formed in 1879 between Germany and Austria, with Italy joining in 1882. France allied with Russia in 1894, effectively trapping Germany between two imposing powers twenty years before the outbreak of war. The Entente was formed in 1904 when Britain allied with France, and it soon became the Triple Entente when Russia joined in 1907. Additionally, Russia allied with the Slavs, whose effective eastward push against the Ottoman Turks created a power vacuum in the region and allowed for the rise of Serbian nationalism. The subsequent assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by the Bosnian-Serb Gavrilo Princip was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.” The...
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