The naval race between Britain and Germany was intensified by the 1906 launch of HMS Dreadnought. She was revolutionary, rendering all previous battleships obsolete. Britain had also maintained a large naval lead in other areas particularly over Germany and Italy. Paul Kennedy pointed out both nations believed Alfred Thayer Mahan's thesis of command of the sea as vital to great nation status; experience with guerre de course would prove Mahan false.
David Stevenson described the armaments race as "a self-reinforcing cycle of heightened military preparedness." David Herrmann viewed the shipbuilding rivalry as part of a general movement in the direction of war. Niall Ferguson, however, argued Britain's ability to maintain an overall lead signified this was not a factor in the oncoming conflict. It should be noted that the cost of the arms race was felt in both Britain and Germany. The total arms spending by the six Great Powers (Britain, Germany, France, Russia, Austria-Hungary and Italy) increased by 50% between 1908 and 1913.  Plans, distrust and mobilization
Closely related is the thesis adopted by many political scientists that the mobilization plans of Germany, France and Russia automatically escalated the conflict. Fritz Fischer emphasized the inherently aggressive nature of the Schlieffen Plan, which outlined a two-front strategy. Fighting on two fronts meant Germany had to eliminate one opponent quickly, before taking on the other. It called for a strong right flank attack, to seize Belgium and cripple the French army by pre-empting its mobilization. After the attack, the German army would rush east by railroad and quickly destroy the slowly mobilizing Russian forces. France's Plan XVII, envisioned a quick thrust into Germany’s industrial heartland, the Ruhr Valley. This would cripple Germany's ability to wage war. Russia's Plan XIX, foresaw a mobilisation of its armies against both Austria-Hungary and...