Imperialism and War WWI Term Paper

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First World War was the first-ever war that had brought great destruction and required greater involvement of many countries, most especially the European nations. Evidence of the impending world war started during the early 19th century, wherein colonization and strengthening of military power is the most prevalent activity of all European nations at that time. The World War I was said to have many causes, although the most important and more popular cause discussed by historians today is that the First World War started because of the rising imperialism among competing European nations. The war had two competing groups, the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente. The Triple Alliance was composed of Germany, Austria- Hungary, and Italy, while the Triple Entente was made up of Great Britain, France, and Russia. These groups were not originally formed as a triad; rather, each nation became affiliated with each other before and during the course of the war. One of the earliest alliances that were formed (prior to the First World War) is the pact between Germany and Austria- Hungary against Russia in 1879, which is then called the Dual Alliance (Spartacus Educational 2002). The other alliances (that of the Triple Entente, in particular) were formed upon the declaration of the war. The other nations that participated in the war, like Japan and the U.S., only participated when the war is already escalating. Prior to the First World War, there is already tension between these countries (comprising the Triple Alliance and Entente) because of succeeding events (pre-1914 events) that became the primary reasons for the war to inevitably begin. This paper will present various explanations why the First World War began, what are its primary causes, and this paper will delve particularly on the significance of the rising imperialism during the 19th century, most especially among the European nations (Germany, Great Britain, and Austria- Hungary).

The First World War was the result of three important activities most European nations are involved in during the 19th century: (1) expansion of land and properties through colonization; (2) strengthening of military support and power; and (3) the increasing call for independence and nationalism of all nations (colonizing and colonized nations alike). The first activity many nations are involved in during the 19th century is the increasing colonization of European nations to various countries around the world, all because of their want to become more powerful and richer (in land and properties). The First World War began because of various tensions and conflicts that have resulted because of countries competing over a certain colony. For example, between the years 1870- 1914, many European nations "scrambled" for African colonies, and many European nations believed that obtaining a vast expanse of colonies would make them powerful all over the world (Schools History 2001). As a result, many nations aspired for greater land properties, and colonized many countries to assert their power all over the world. Another event that led to tension between powerful colonizers in the world is the dispute between Alsace and Lorraine, regions in France that Germany claims to be its own, since the Germans seized this land during the Franco- Prussian war. During this war (1870-1), the Germans seized Alsace and Lorraine when they won against the French. Another conflict between France and Germany occurred in 1906 and 1911, wherein Germany competed with France in colonizing Morocco, an African nation. Conflict between Austria- Hungary and Russia was due to their dispute over the Balkan nations (areas between Austria and Turkey). Austria- Hungary colonized the Balkans, although the Russians want to gain power over the region, too, and did so by supporting the rebels and other freedom fighters of the Balkans, who want their freedom from being a colony of Austria- Hungary (Schools History 2001).

The second activity that was prevalent among European nations prior to the First World War is the strengthening of military power and support.
Thru military reinforcement, many colonizers and imperialist nations were able to assert their power beyond the confines of their country and continent. Indeed, Germany, Great Britain, France, and other European nations increased the number of weaponry, aircraft and war vehicles, as well as military accessories and paraphernalia as preparation for an anticipated war with their enemies or any conflicting nations. Military build-up was encouraged among powerful nations because each nation feared that an enemy might attack them anytime. Great Britain was known to have the strongest military support and power prior to the First World War, but Germany easily caught up with Great Britain when it began expanding and strengthening its military power, first, to compete with Great Britain, and second, to assert their power thru its military support. By the late 1800's, or at the end of the 19th century, Germany was already a well-known military power, and many nations followed suit with Germany's actions. As a result, many nations became distrustful of their neighboring and other powerful nations, because each nation fears that they will be attacked by an unknown enemy overnight, and this danger will be prevented if their nation has the sufficient military power to fight against invaders and enemies. The Industrial Revolution was also instrumental in making it possible for these nations to increase and strengthen their military power. Without the new technology and "mass production manufacturing techniques" that became widely known during the Industrial Revolution, it wouldn't have been possible for many European nations to build and produce "plentiful supplies of poison gas, tanks, powerful explosives... fighter and bomber aircraft, machine guns, and accurate long-range artillery" (Murray 1996).

Lastly, the First World War was caused by the increase in nationalism and aspiration for freedom among colonized nations. Nationalism was, perhaps, the primary reason why World War I became a possibility. In fact, in an article by Frank E. Smitha, entitled, "The 20th Century Conflict Attitude and Changing Religions," he stated that, "[p]eople also supported imperialism motivated by racial pride... Some people supported imperialism moved by the call of adventure. Governments needed support for their imperialist policies, and they had the support of military men -- imperialism giving them a job to do and prestige... Those in government who supported imperialism hoped that empire would bring commercial benefit, and they hoped to protect the interests of their countrymen who had financial interests abroad (1998). Many nations, like Germany, France, and Great Britain, were widely supported by their citizens to engage colonization, because rising imperialism for these nations meant business and financial opportunities for them. An example would be an increased trade industry for a European nation with a colonized country. Government granted the right to vote for most of these nations, and this right "gave citizens greater interest... And pride in national goals. As a result, parliamentary governments grew increasingly powerful" (Coffman 1991 455). Meanwhile, the increase in rebellion against colonization and imperialism among colonized nations became the catalyst for the First World War to start. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife, became the most important event for a nation in the Triple Alliance to declare war against a nation of the Triple Entente (The Great War 1995). Gavrilo Princip, a man linked to the Serbian terrorist group Black Hand, committed the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. This terrorist group aims to free their fellowmen from being a colony of Austria- Hungary, and their terrorist activities are aimed against the Austro- Hungarian Empire and its officials.

It is evident that the First World War was an inevitable war, since it became apparent that through the nations' activities (expansionism thru colonization, strengthening of military power, and increased nationalism and assertion of freedom) are significant factors that became the catalyst for WWI to break out. Clearly, war cannot be averted.....

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