Instead of trying to point to one major cause for the First World War, like many historians attempt to argue, there were many causes that evolved around four major ones. Even Benthmann portrayed his frustration with attempting to isolate a major cause when his reply to the question of what started the war was "Oh, if only I knew". The four main causes were imperialism, militarism, alliances, and nationalism. Without these influences the war would have never happened. However, all four of these main causes were inspired and encouraged by nationalism.
Nationalism is known as the love of ones own country. Through this love breeds an aspiration to be unsurpassed by any other country; which, in this case, resulted in the First World War. Each country sought to prove themselves by gaining more area, maintaining a superior army, or protecting their own imperiled land. No one wanted to be seen as though they were not able and independent. Nationalism was the driving force in the American Revolution, and patriotism was used as a sort of propaganda. In an attempt to make one's country appear superior to others, it was encouraged for other countries to be ostracized. France wanted revenge on Germany for defeat and conquest of Alsace-Lorraine. France was supposed to be one of the more powerful countries, and they couldn't stand the thought of Germany proving them inferior. With a country's desires to have freedom, such as the Balkan States, the result could be a dangerous and excessive patriotism and need for power.
The system of alliances was originated by Chancellor Bismarck. An alliance was when countries joined together in a government agreement where if any one country was attacked, it was ensured that the other members of their alliance would defend them in war. By 1907 two groups were formed; these being the Triple Alliance (consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy) as well as the Triple Entente (consisting of France, Russia, and Britain). At this time,...
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