The Causes of World War I

The first world war had many causes, the historians
probably have not yet discovered and discussed all of them
so there might be more causes than what we know now. In
this essay I would discuss the main causes of the war—the
ones that were discussed in the textbook. In the time before
the war’s outbreak (before 1914—in the beginning of the
century) the world was separated into big empires that had
colonies around the world (European countries ruled most of
Africa). There were fights and disagreements between the
major empires. Usually, when there are many arguments
between countries, people start fear of war and prepare for
it (for example, today in Israel, after Benjamin Netanyahu
winning the elections, Israel’s policy towards the Arabs and
the Palestinians have changed. There is fear from war with
Syria, because of threats from both sides, so both countries
arm themselves and ready for war, just in case it would
break). In the beginning of the century Britain was the largest
empire in the world, it also had the largest navy. The navy
was so big and strong because the Britons needed to protect
their empire and maintain the sea routes between the
different colonies. The Kaiser William II of Germany hated
and envied Britain for having a stronger navy than his. He
increased the German navy and built many warships. Britain
responded with building more ships and increasing its navy
too. This started a race for building more and better
warships and it created tension and competition between
those two countries. Germany and France were rivals for
centuries and at the beginning of the century and at the end
of the 19th century the rivalry increased. This happened
because of the war between those two countries in 1870-71
when Germany defeated France. Germany took over the
areas of Alsace and Lorraine and the French people wanted
to revenge Germany and retrieve those lands. France could
not start a war against Germany since Germany had more
resources and a stronger army than France. France needed
allies to help it fight (the subject of alliances would be
discussed later). There was another quarrel between France
and Germany—about controlling Morocco. In 1905 France
thought that it should have more influence in the western
Mediterranean Sea area as it already controlled Tunisia and
Algeria, it wanted Morocco too. The Kaiser of Germany
visited Tangier (a big city in Morocco) and said that
Germany would protect Morocco in case of a French
attack. In 1911 France increased its control over Morocco
and Germany sent a warship. The Germans withdrew at last
but the French gave them a part of Western Africa in
exchange. These two incidents increased the tension
between France and Germany. Austria-Hungary was a big
empire in southern-eastern Europe, it included eleven main
nationalities. In the ninetieth and twentieth nationalism was
becoming a powerful force in Europe so people that had the
same culture, language (usually), etc wanted their own
country. This was a problem for the government of
Austria-Hungary that did not want to lose their power and
control. The Slavs in the southern part of the empire were
their main concern since they wanted to join up to Serbia.
This, they thought, would lead to a break-up of the empire
(this eventually happened after the war). In 1908
Austria-Hungary have taken over Bosnia. The Serbs wanted
it too, and Russia was on their side, but Germany declared
that they would attack Russia if it would attack
Austria-Hungary. This was because of the agreements
between Austria-Hungary and Germany and it also made
them stronger (the alliances would be discussed later). This
also led to the Sarajevo murder that would, too, be
discussed later. In 1912 and 1913 the Balkan countries had
fights among themselves and against the Ottoman Empire.
First, in 1912, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece
attacked the Ottoman Empire and took large parts of land
from it. After the war was over these countries fought one
against each other about the way they would share the
conquered land. After the fights Serbia became a stronger
country than it was before. This increased the fears in the
Austro-Hungarian government. There were alliances
between different countries in Europe--when a country feels
a threat it looks for friends to help it. The alliances between
the strong countries were what divided Europe into two
armed camps where the smaller countries were connected to
the alliances, but not official members. This thing created the
danger of huge armies colliding into each other and causing
huge destruction. This can happen even because of a small
incident that can make all the allies that are committed to
help their other allies join the war (this was the case