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3 Q: Discuss the Origins of the First World War The outbreak of the First World War is one of the most controversial and debated subjects in history. The immediate origins of the war can be seen in terms of t he crisis following the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo, Bosnia on 28th June 1914. Austria, who bel ieved Serbia was behind this, sent a humiliating ultimatum to Serbia on 23rd Jul y, which was not accepted in its entirety. Following a series of diplomatic mane uvers including Russian mobilization, Germany finally declared war on Russia on 1st August, leading to the First World War. However, in order to understand the context which allowed this crisis to precipitate into a World War, we need to re view the conditions in Europe in the preceding decades. It was S.B. Fay, who had first propounded the concept of long-term and short-ter m causes to explain the origin of WWI. According to him, it was five causes that brought about this war: the principle of Imperialism; system of alliances; Nati onalism; rise of militarism and Newspapers and the role of the press in promotin g war like conditions. Imperialism as a phenomenon had existed since the 15th century. But post 1870, i mperialism had undergone a qualitative departure from its earlier forms in terms of scope, intensity and consequences. It was no longer confined to Asia or the Americas but every single part of the world had come under the scanner of the co lonial powers. The unification of Italy and Germany and the rise of new powers l ike USA and Japan had led to new entrants in this race for colonies. This had cr eated the belief that the balance of power had to be regarded as a worldwide que stion and not one limited to Europe alone. In fact, it was this imperialist riva lry between nations that had intensified and antagonized relations between count ries, thereby, giving rise to war like conditions. Moreover, the world had reach ed a saturation point by the beginning of the 20th century in which no new colon ies were available for colonization and war seemed to be the only viable option to overcome this problem and to ensure the redistribution of the colonies. Different interpretations have been given to explain this imperialist expansion. Among the earliest theories explaining imperialism were those that linked new i mperialism with economic factors and saw imperialism as arising out of modern ca pitalism. It was the need to look for new avenues for investment, fresh markets and cheaper sources of raw materials to overcome the saturation that was plaguin g Europe that forced the European powers to divide the world between them (Lenin ). The result was increased rivalry as an intense scramble for colonies had star ted and thus, imperialism necessarily led to war. Extra-economic origins have also been mentioned for the rise of Imperialism. The Cambridge School, for instance, believed that it was motivated mostly by strate gic and not by economic factors. When the newly risen countries like Germany an d Italy began to carve out spheres of influences for themselves, Great Britain w as greatly alarmed as it did not want to be left behind and thus, plunged into t he partition of Africa as well. Others have emphasized military and strategic fa ctors, such as the need to secure defensible frontiers. Military factors however cannot be seen as divorced from economic considerations of even questions of na tional prestige. Many have also seen cultural factors in the rise of imperialism. Many colonial v entures began as missionary activity and the desire of the Christian missionarie s to convert the heathen led to the establishment of centres of European influen ce in remote parts of the world. This was related also to the European sense of superiority and these ideas in conjunction with the civilizing mission of the Ch ristian faith served as a justification for imperialism. This can be related to the concepts of the White Man s Burden and the moral imperative for empire. An urg e for scientific discovery and exploration of unknown territory also helped to o

pen up Africa. In the 1870s, imperialism was focused mainly in Africa and East Asia. In 1885 Bi smarck organized a Conference at Berlin, which culminated in the Treaty of Berli n where it was decided that the Great Powers would now have spheres of influence , in Africa and China and territories would be divided peacefully. The impact of t his treaty was immediately felt in Africa leading to the Scramble for Africa . In r oughly 15 years, almost the entire the continent with the exception of Liberia, Ethiopia and the two Boer Republics was divided between the European powers. By the early 20th century imperialist rivalries among the European powers were ampl y evident. There were six major disputes: (1) B/w Britain and France over Egypt; (2) B/w England & Germany over South Africa; (3) B/w England and Russia over Pe rsia and Afghanistan; (4) B/w Russia and Japan over China; (5) B/w Germany and R ussia over the Balkans and (6) B/w Germany and France over Morocco. Each country was not willing to let go of its influence or interest in these regions and wan ted to cling on to the areas as strongly as possible. As a result all these situ ations had become extremely intense and brought the two warring countries on the brink of war against each other. James Joll writes that there were three ways in which the imperialist movement d irectly affected the relations between the European states and contributed to th e atmosphere which made war possible. Firstly, the international alignments adop ted over colonial questions often cut across the pattern of international relati ons that had emerged in Europe itself in the years after the Franco-Prussian war . Secondly, specific agreements on particular colonial questions sometimes led t o a more general entente, as in the case of Britain s settlement of outstanding co lonial disputes with France and Russia. Thirdly, the colonial rivalries and arms race which accompanied them affected the whole of international life, encouragi ng doctrines of racial superiority and giving support to the crude evolutionary theories which interpreted the relations between states in terms of the struggle for survival, by then widely accepted as governing the world of nature. Therefo re if we look for a link between imperialist rivalries and World War I, we see t hat it was only indirect. With the rapid growth of colonial empires in the late 19th century, nationalism itself came to be defined in terms of colonial assets and imperialism. Alliances only came into play when the final conflict erupted i n 1914. Konne Zilliacus argued that no European nation went to war in 1914 due to treaty obligations, moral issues or the rights of small nations, but to defend imperia list interests, which consisted of the private interests of finance and monopoly capital. However, the point to be noted however is that virtually all these riv alries had been dealt with before 1914 and some sort of peace had been establish ed between the warring countries, and therefore one cannot make a direct link be tween imperialist rivalries and the First World War. It should also be noted tha t there was no linear one-to-one relationship between colonial rivalries and coo perative alliances. Britain and French relations within and outside the European continent illustrate this dichotomy well as do the Russian and British relation s. However, the rivalry in the Balkans, as we shall see later, could not subside that easily and it was this region that provided the immediate background to WW I. Closely linked to the question of imperialism was that of the system of alliance s that had been formed between the European nations. The outbreak of war is a qu estion related to the balance of power. In the years preceding the First World W ar, a number of alliances had emerged and Europe was divided into two mutually h ostile and armed power blocks. Traditionally the outbreak of the war is viewed a s a chain reaction, whereby Europe was fated to war due to these alliances. After 1870 Germany, France, Britain, Austria-Hungary and Russia were undoubtedly the great powers of Europe, with Italy staking a claim to be regarded as one of them. The balance of power in Europe consisted in the shifting balance between them and in the various alignments they adopted. It is important to note that at this point of time Britain was following a policy of splendid isolationism and her interests lay primary outside of Europe particularly to protect her Asian po ssessions. It is for this reason that she had feared the Russian expansion eastw

ards into Persia and Afghanistan. The annexation of Alsace and Lorraine to Germa ny following the Franco-Prussian War had made it clear that France would never s ide with Germany in case of any international alignment. Germany, on the other h and, had emerged as the leading industrialized nation following the mid-19th cen tury, which was further strengthened by its unification. It was the emergence of such a strong, industrial and united nation that made it imperative for the Ger mans to assume an important role in the sphere of international politics. The origins of the alliance system as was seen in the years preceding the war ca n be traced to Bismarck s foreign policy in his years as the imperial chancellor o f Germany between 1870 and 1890. What was different about this policy of allianc es was that earlier alliances were only made before wars and lasted through the duration of the war. The alliances that Bismarck envisioned were to be forged in peacetime with no immediate prospect of war for reasons of security. The reason s for Bismarck s policy were largely pragmatic. Bismarck wanted to maintain a bala nce of power in Europe between the five Great Powers Britain, Russia, Germany, A ustria and France in order in order to safeguard German interests against a host ile coalition. Ever since the time of the France-Prussian war he had feared a po ssible attack from France and thus, wished to safeguard himself against that. Th us, he especially sought to isolate France. Always try to be one of the three in a world of five great powers , was the maxim on which his foreign policy was based . Moreover, he considered Germany to be a satiated power, which was in no mood t o expand or impose upon any other country s sovereignty. His foremost concern was to protect the frontiers of Germany. In pursuance of this policy Bismarck sought to cement Germany s position in Europe through diplomacy rather than aggression, an approach which was in the mould of Metternich s conservatism. Initially, Bismarck had tried to revive the Holy Allia nce between the three conservative states of Austria, Russia and Germany with th e purpose of preventing a conflict between these three states, especially since they were not natural allies and also to protect the German Empire from a potent ial attack from France. In 1873 he had proclaimed the Dreikaiserbund or the Leag ue of Three Nations. However, differences between Russia and Austria over the Ba lkans and the subsequent conference of Berlin (1877), which nullified all of Rus sia s victories in the Balkans, compelled Russia to walk out of this alliance. In such a situation it was only the alliance with Austria-Hungary which was able to work. In 1879 the Dual Alliance was formed between Germany and Austria-Hunga ry by a secret treaty. In the search for a third power, Germany had to settle fo r Italy, with which a secret Triple Alliance was formed in 1882. In 1887 a Reins urance Treaty was signed with Russia, which guaranteed secret neutrality of Russ ia in the event of a conflict. After 1890 when Bismarck was dismissed, German fo reign policy changed to one of Weltpolitik. The policy of assurance towards othe r European countries was ended and the spirit of the Dual Alliance changed from being an alliance for defence to being a springboard for Germany s own ambitions. It was also used by Italy to bolster her efforts in the Libyan war against Turke y and by Austria in her Balkan policy. With this change in policy a new system of counter alliances also began to emerg e. In 1893 a Dual Alliance was made between France and Russia. Great Britain was the only large European power that was being kept out of all these large allian ces that were being formed. An alarmed Great Britain began its quest for allies in the Pacific with the Anglo-Japanese treaty of 1902, clearly directed against Russia. In 1904 a Dual Entente was signed between Britain and France, based on a colonial settlement whereby Britain and France got a free hand in Egypt and Mor occo respectively. Both Russia and England also felt that they needed to ally th emselves with each other in order to ensure security for their interests in Asia and the Balkans respectively. Moreover, while Russia had come into conflict wit h Germany over its cultivation of Austrian interests in the Balkans, the Boer Wa r in South Africa in which the Germans had assisted the Boers against Britain ha d led to a serious deterioration of Anglo-German relations. Thus, a path had bee n created for Russia and England to come together to form an alliance. In 1907 t he Anglo-Russian Entente was signed and colonial claims in Persia, Tibet and Afg hanistan were settled. It should be noted that these alliances were by and large

agreements and not definite military alliances. Therefore their importance shou ld not be exaggerated. The formation of such alliances undoubtedly led to increased tensions in Europe. The secret nature of these treaties added to the suspicion. Fay argued that it was these alliances that bred an important cause for the outbreak of the war. It had led to the division of Europe into two rival camps, thereby, creating an at mosphere of mutual fear and suspicion. He goes on to argue that as a result of t hese alliances nations were drawn into conflict in areas, where they otherwise h ad no interest. For e.g., Germany was not interested in taking over any territor y in the Balkans but the fact that Austria was interested in this area drew Germ any into the region as well. Finally, he stated that Imperialistic clashes helpe d to cement these alliances together, which were further crystallized on account of these alliances. The viewpoints of Fay have been accepted by Bernadott Schmitt. He states that th ese alliances helped in cementing the international relations. These alliances h ad divided Europe into two rival armed camps and the War of 1914 was essentially a war between these two camps. In the absence of these camps none of the Europe an countries would have felt confident enough and probably the war would have no t taken place. Alliances however could not automatically lead to war and conversely alliances c ould contribute to peace by acting as a deterrent against possible aggressors. I t was the change in the nature of these alliances from defensive to aggressive t hat made a difference. The theory of two balancing power blocs actually implies preservation of balance of power and thereby preservation of peace. AJP Taylor p oints out that the pre-1914 alliances were so precarious and fragile that they c annot be seen as the major cause of war. This indicates that a fundamental probl em which contributed to the outbreak of the war was the lack of a fully effectiv e balance of power in Europe, not its existence. Alliances were important, but a s James Joll has argued no European power really accepted that the alliance syst em consisted of two firm and balanced power blocs and no major European power su bscribed to the idea that the alliance system was a complete deterrent against w ar. Each power made wrong calculations about the likely behaviour of its allianc e opponents, thereby, creating that environment of mutual suspicion and fear. While the specific terms of the alliances were kept secret, the knowledge of the very existence of these alliances determined direction of mobilization plans. I t seems that the alliance system raised expectations about likely allies in a fu ture war, and influenced the military plans of each power. However each nation s eemed to base its decision for war on an assessment of national interests, which were linked to alliances, but were not, in all cases, determined by them. The a lliance system determined extensive timetables which were chalked out in plannin g for war. It is to this extent that a link can be drawn between the alliance sy stem and the outbreak of the First World War. The growth of militarism is the years preceding the outbreak of the war, has als o been perceived as a factor leading up to the war. Militarism refers to the arm s buildup and escalation of tension before the war. Europe has been viewed as an armed camp from 1870 to 1914. Michael Howard argues that each announcement of inc reased armaments expenditure by a European power before 1914 was viewed as a thre at by its perceived rival, and thus created an atmosphere of mutual fear and sus picion which played a major part in creating the mood for war in 1914. Frank McD onough has said that it was militarism from above that brought about the War. In the Reichstag, there was constant struggle between the Left & Center on the one hand and the Kaiser and the military men on the other over the issue of increas ing military expenditure. The former was strongly opposed to it. The latter grou p believed that once war broke out this group would have no option but to sancti on this expenditure. Thus, they believed that War was the only way through which the struggle in the Reichstag could be resolved. Thus, according to McDonough i t was the military men who played a key role on the eve of the War to bring it a bout. AJP Taylor argued that the outbreak of the First World War was caused almost ent irely by rival plans for mobilization by the European powers. All European power

s had developed detailed war plans in expectation of war. Military planners beli eved in a swift mobilization of forces and lightning offensives. However, the id ea that a buildup of arms naturally leads to war remains dubious. The belief tha t high expenditure on arms leads to a desire for war remains unproved. Niall Fer guson has claimed that the role of the arms race in encouraging the First World War has been greatly exaggerated. Moreover, the relationship between military pl ans and actual decisions for war is complicated. Many historians believe that the considerations of the leading powers regarding the balance of power was a much greater influence than a simple build up of arms on policy during the July crisis. According to LFC Turner the crisis cannot und erstood without knowledge of the balance of military power, military planning an d strategy. The balance of power in the Balkans was turning sharply against Aust ria-Hungary and this was a vital factor which caused her to argue for a preventiv e war to weaken Serbia. When considering militarism as a cause for the war, we should also consider it i n the context of a cultural phenomenon as well. Militaristic language in which w ar was glorified as good, leading to rebirth and peace seen as degenerate came t o affect the language of international relations in this period. When the war br oke out it was greeted with hysterical enthusiasm over all European capitals. The roots to the militaristic attitude of the late 19th and early 20th century c an be seen in what has been seen by many as the crisis in the liberal, Enlighten ment, rational values, which in turn was being translated into politics. This ki nd of a mindset found expression in both ends of the ideological spectrum; the M arxist ideology with its violent rhetoric of class war and on the right, by the rise of a new brand of irrational politics shaped by people, who used irrational means to move the masses. Perhaps it was Bismarck s statement that the politics of Germany would no longer be decided by ideas and assembly speeches but by blood and iron that truly marked the end of liberal ideology and the introduction of a brand of irrational politics. The cultural crisis of this period was therefore a crisis in liberal values and explains much of world politics in this era. When we see those thinkers whose ideas percolated down to the masses and also co ntributed in a most powerful way to the creation of a militaristic environment i n this period, the names of Charles Darwin and Friedrich Nietzsche stand out. Ch arles Darwin s (1809-1882) Origin of Species challenged the Christian conception o f origins and placed the origins of species in a competitive process of natural selection. Darwin s ideas were later adapted as Social Darwinism, which applied Da rwin s ideas to society and argued that society also evolved through struggle and therefore class struggle was perceived as natural. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-190 0) believed that life was a constant struggle, and existence fundamentally chaot ic. He believed that there was no absolute morality. Struggle as a moral obligat ion was central to his thought. This was the kind of language that permeated dow n to the masses. These new ideas provided a rhetoric in which international relations came to be debated, but it should be clarified that this language didn t create the war itsel f. The effect of these ideas can however be seen in the manner people were respo nding to the European situation. Militaristic ideas also explain the unnatural h ysteria on the eve of the war. The role of national self-determination in the origins of the war has been anoth er important area of debate. Martel has argued that the First World War grew out of a clash between Slav nationalism and the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire. This type of interpretation which sees the Balkan crisis in the context of the long running Eastern Question views the First World War as one which was fought fo r the future of Central and Eastern Europe. According to this view the primary r esponsibility for beginning the war is shared between Austria-Hungary, which wan ted to restore its prestige, and Serbia which stood in a good position to benefi t from European rivalry in the region. John Leslie, a British historian however has cast doubt on the importance of the Austro-Serb quarrel. He points out that Austria-Hungary can be held responsible for planning a local Austro-Serb conflic t, linked to the question of Balkan nationalism. Germany however was not interes ted in this quarrel and deliberately used it as an opportunity to launch the Eur

opean war. Thus, it is important to analyse the situation in the Balkan during t his period as it provided the most immediate background to WWI. According to David Thompson, the first WW was not fought for colonial interests. Instead, it was being fought for European issues of the Balkans. The Eastern Que stion came to dominate the European scene on the eve of the first WW. It was when this struggle over the region became intense the final clash took place. He arg ued that the Balkans had become the focal point for a triple conflict: (1) betwe en dynastic imperialism and insurgent nationalism; (2) between Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism; and (3) between the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente. This t hree-fold struggle explains why the assassination at Sarajevo could precipitate a world war. An important factor that had led to serious chaos in the Balkan region was the r apid disintegration of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. In fact, this so called Easter n Question had arisen as a result of the weakening of the Ottomans. The Ottoman T urks had been spreading their power after capturing Constantinople in 1453. Howe ver, they had been unsuccessful in gaining control over Central Europe and their power was confined to Southern Europe. But gradually, it became a weak empire a nd by the 19th century came to be known as the Sickman of Europe . Taking advantage of this growing weakness many of the Great Powers had started to meddle in its internal affairs with the hope of gaining prominence in the region. For instance , Russia wished to spread her influence in this region and began to lay claims t o the Balkans for strategic reasons, on religious and racial grounds. As part of the racial argument, Russia encouraged Pan-Slavism and saw itself as the leader of a Pan-Slav movement that aimed at creating a Great Slavic Empire that would include within it all the slavs- a majority of the people in the Balkan region. Economically, this region was extremely important for the survival of the Russia n economy as well. It provided them not only food grains and cheaper raw materia ls, which were essential for the nascent industrial Russian economy but also pro vided them access to Africa, which was a major center for the export of their go ods. Austria-Hungary too was deeply concerned with the question of nationalism i n this region primarily because it was a multi-ethnic region where Balkan nation alities often overlapped with ethnic identities. Thus, according to Thompson, th e interest of Russia and Austria in the Balkans was motivated to a large extent by their internal conditions and desire to hold on to their own multi-ethnic ter ritories. The weakness of the Ottoman Empire and the interference of the Great Powers were also accompanied by a rise of nationalistic sentiments among the various ethnic races and nationalities residing within the Empire in this region. In fact, by the end of the 19th century many countries had overthrown the Turkish rule and d eclared their independence. The most ambitious of these nations were Serbia, Bul garia, Romania and Greece. Their desire to expand their territory to include tho se all people of their own nationality brought them into conflict with each othe r, Turkey or the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Among the most dominant Balkan states was Serbia, which had taken the lead in de fying the Ottoman rule. They had started revolting against the Turkish rule as e arly as 1804 and were granted autonomy by 1830. In 1875, a revolt had broken out in Bosnia, which sparked off a much greater spirit of resentment that spread to other parts of the Balkan states as well like Montenegro, Serbia, Romania and B ulgaria. The Turkish Sultans had tried to put these rebellions down with a heavy hand but instead it had led to large-scale atrocities resulting in the massacre of thousands of people. It was in a situation like this that Austria and Russia had decided to intervene , while, at the same time countries like France and Britain had decided to remai n neutral. They both reached an agreement with each other known as the Reichstadt agreement , wherein it was decided that Romania and Serbia would become independe nt. Austria promised to remain neutral. It was decided that if Turkey wins then the sultan would maintain status quo, however, if Russia won (more probable) the n Serbia and Romania would be declared independent and a great state of Bulgaria that included Romania would be created in the Aegean Sea. In this way it was ho ped that these countries would be under Russian obligation and control. In 1878

following the Russo-Turkish war, Serbia was declared an independent state at the Congress of Berlin. For Serbia however this was not the realization of her nati onalism and she sought to unite all Slavs into a Yugo-Slav union with Russian he lp. It was the Austrian insecurity at this that led directly to the World War, a ccording to many historians. In 1877, another treaty was reached between Austria and Russia known as the Budap est Convention . Again it was decided that Austria would maintain her neutrality b ut gain control over Bosnia. Following a Russian victory against Italy and the c onsequent Treaty of San Stephano in 1877 Bulgaria was created including Romania an d Macedonia. This, however, was disliked by Britain and France as they feared th e growing Russian influence in the region. This new principality with access to the Aegean sea could very easily threaten Straits that separated the Black sea f rom the Mediterranean. This arrangement was not acceptable to the British Empire , which considered the entire Mediterranean to be a British sphere of influence, and saw any Russian attempt to gain access there as a grave threat to its power . They wanted the matter to be resolved by an international committee and thus, the Congress of Berlin was organized for this purpose. However, this congress had sown the seeds of all future conflicts. It had negated all the gains of Russia d ue to which it emerged unhappy from this congress. Moreover, the congress had re fused to recognize the full autonomy of Bulgaria and returned the territories it had gained on account of previous treaties back to the Ottoman Empire. Thus, th is went against the spirit of nationalism that had reached new heights in Bulgar ia. Finally, one of the gravest mistakes of this congress was to place Bosnia un der the rule of Austria-Hungary, which had strong racial connections with Serbia . It had become clear that the Congress of Berlin had satisfied the great powers at the cost of the Balkan nationality and it was clear according to Thompson th at the Balkan volcano would erupt again in the future. This in turn had paved th e way for future conflicts. According to many scholars if the Treaty of San Step hano would have been maintained the Balkan Wars and consequently, WWI could have been avoided. There were a series of conflicts in Balkans following this Congress. Bulgaria in 1885 repudiated the terms of this agreement and united with Romania, which had been taken away from her after the 1878 agreement. This reunification proved to be a clear defiance of Russia as well which had presented Bulgaria to the world as its protg. A serious revolt had also broken out in Crete, which was ruthlessly suppressed and Cyprus was handed over the British. Following this incident ther e was some degree of peace and stability in the region, which came to an end whe n the Russian dream for an Eastern Empire came to an end in 1905 when it was def eated by Japan. Moreover, as Russia had been able to free himself from the prob lems of internal rebellions she was able to further her interests in the Balkans . Bosnia was at the core of the Austrian-Serb rivalry as both of them desired to c ontrol Bosnia. As seen above Bosnia had been placed under Austrian rule in 1878. Austria began to fear the impact of the Young Turk movement in the predominantl y Muslim Bosnia, and in 1908 annexed Bosnia. Russia and Serbia immediately prote sted. Serbia was up in rage as this area contained a million serbs and she turne d from a semi-client state to a relentless enemy against Austria. Russia had app ealed to the other Great Powers for help but England and France had preferred to maintain their neutrality. But this incident had led to the strengthening of th e Triple Entente as France began to strengthen Russia secretly in order to count er the growing strength of Austria. However Germany now threatened Russia with t he prospect of a European war if she decided to intervene, forcing Russia to ste p down. Moreover, Leman- a German Commander- was sent to reorganize the armed fo rces in Bosnia. This Lemian Episode caused a great deal of panic and tension and the German intervention began to be looked upon with a great deal of apprehensi on making the entire situation extremely fluid and tense. Similarly, the German design for the Berlin-Baghdad railways was looked upon with a great deal of appr ehension and was resented by all the Great Powers. Thus, the possibility of this clash between Russian nationalism and German nationalism seemed to have further crystallized the power blocs.

The reasons for German intervention in the region can be traced back to the chan ge in their foreign policy following the dismissal of Bismarck. The policy of We ltpolitik had led German to embark upon a more aggressive and forward policy as compared to what it had adopted in the past. Germany had thus used the Dual Alli ance to urge the Austrians on to a forward policy in the Balkans with the aim of increasing its own power and at the same time safeguard the interests of its on ly reliable ally in Europe. Closing linked to this was the rise of nationalism among the Balkan states and t heir own ambitions to expand and capture some of the Ottoman territories. A Balka n League was formed in 1812 that consisted of Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Monte negro. The aim of this league was to overthrow the oppressive Turkish rule parti cularly in Montenegro, which had tried to impose a common language, legal system and rule over these nationalities. Thus, it was the constant refusal of the You ng Turks to grant any degree of autonomy to Montenegro, which had national minor ities of all the neighboring countries that had caused a great deal of upheaval in the region. Montenegro had declared war on Turkey in 1812, which was supporte d by the entire league and in which they had emerged victorious. However, they w ere unable to gain tremendously from this movement as the Great Powers had inter vened, thereby, thwarting the efforts of the Balkan League. However, two months later Turkey declared war on the Balkan league and once again was defeated. As a result of this Balkan War all countries with the exception of Albania and a few more places had declared their independence. The uneven distribution of war spo ils following this war had caused a great deal of dissatisfaction for Bulgaria, which declared war on the other countries of the Balkan league. Bulgaria was def eated and through the Treaty of Bucharest was forced to pay a price to all the p arties involved in terms of territories. The Balkan Wars had made the international or atleast European situation even mo re belligerent. No belligerent believed that the decisions about territory would remain constant. Serbia believed that war against Austria was the only solution to liberate the Serbs in Bosnia. Thus, in Serbia, terrorist groups began to eme rge with the aim of carrying out terrorist activities to liberate Bosnia. This f orms the background to the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand at Saraje vo. Austria was now assured of Germany s support ( blank cheque ) against Russia and S erbia. Bulgaria at the same time wished to avenge her humiliation at the hands o f the other Balkan nations and looked at Turkey and Austria as the potential all ies. Thus, Russia to maintain her interests in the region by aligning herself wi th Serbia and Romania against Bulgaria. Thus, any future outbreak of war in the region would have led to a much larger war involving a much greater number of po wers. In the crisis following the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand th erefore, both Germany and Russia now knew they could not turn back. Russia began to mobilize her troops and on this pretext, Germany declared war on Russia on 1 st August and on France on 3rd August. The role of the press in causing the war has to also be highlighted. Fay argues that it plays an important role in any war. For instance, during the Franco Prus sian war the EMS telegram was publicized to a great extent by the press. Fay say s that jingoism prevailed among the press on the eve of the Sarajevo crisis in R ussian, Austrian and Serbian newspapers. This war hysteria thus had a definite imp act in aiding sentiment in favour of war. On 4th August, Britain declared war on Germany. While Britain s real reason for en tering the war was to prevent a disruption of continental balance of power, her official pretext was German entry into neutral Belgium. USA too entered the war on the pretext of the German submarine blockade. It is interesting to see that a s status quo powers both Britain and USA were able to enter the war on idealisti c grounds, in which they were almost as aggressive as Germany. Before we conclude our discussion on the factors that led to WWI one must look a t the academic debate that has taken place on the issue of responsibility. Joach im Remak in his book The Origins of the World War raises the question of responsib ility and the factors that goaded the countries into declaring war. The official report on the origins of the war, written by the victorious powers, and present ed to the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919 concluded that the war was premedi

tated by Germany and resulted from acts deliberately committed in order to make it unavoidable. This German war guilt is enshrined in Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles. The debate over whether Germany intended an offensive war of territorial expansi on or a defensive war is still debated. In 1961, Fritz Fischer, a German histori an apportioned chief responsibility to Germany for preparing and launching World War I. According to him, the German desire for territorial expansion and desire to break free of its diplomatic encirclement culminated in the war. Fischer sta ted that Germany was ready to go to war at any cost in order to establish hersel f as a Great Power and she even went to the extent of provoking her allies into instigating war. He attempted to show that Germany was pursuing an aggressive po licy, inspired by economic interests and designed to achieve world power. Fische r never deviated from his basic line of thinking that Germany was eager to make up for the disadvantage suffered as a result of entering late into world politic s and this would have made war inevitable. Such viewpoints have been echoed by s cholars like AJP Taylor, David Thompson and HAL Fisher. For instance, Taylor had argued that at the time of WWI, Germany had held this belief of grabbing huge t erritories and thereby, creating a huge pan-Germanic empire. Fischer s work was criticized by Gerhard Ritter, a German historian, who saw Fisc her s work as an act of national disloyalty. Ritter had admitted that German war-g uilt literature needed revision but did not accept Fischer s thesis. Ritter had ar gued that Germany was not following an aggressive policy at all and it was only the fear psychosis of being isolated or attacked by other powers that compelled her into initiating the war. Moreover, Austria was her only reliable ally in Eur ope and she wished to protect her at any cost. Finally, Ritter said that one sho uld understand that the national policy of Germany was in the hands of a few mil itary generals and planners, who were acting responsibly and the German chancell or was never in favour of war. Thus, it was because of a few individuals that Ge rmany launched the war. The real significance of Ritter s viewpoints lies in the p arallels that he draws between the imperialistic drive of Germany and Italy with that of USA and Japan. In this sense we can see that aggression was not the pre rogative of any one country. The imperial aspirations that Germany has been accu sed of were also experienced by the other Great Powers. The clearest example of this is the feeble pretexts on which Britain and USA entered the war. The argument of a defensive German war has been articulated by scholars belongin g to the defensive school such as Egmont Zechelin and Karl Erdmann. They argued that the Balkan wars had proven to be highly advantageous to Serbia. This meant that Serbia was going to be dominant in this region for a long time. After seein g this, the German chancellor was not ready to resolve this through discussions. On the other hand, he started supporting Austria not against Serbia as much as against Russia. It felt that if Austria lost this war then it would be driven ou t of this region and Russia would dominate the entire region through Serbia. Thi s would have been a total defeat for the Triple Alliance. These scholars were wi lling to accept that Germany was keen to break up the power of the triple entent e in order to serve its own interests. There are many other views as well on the extent of responsibility that needs to be apportioned to Germany for the war. Geiss suggests that the main long-term c ause of the First World War was the German desire for Weltpolitik or world polit ics. It was only after Bismarck s death that the generals, who succeeded him wante d to take up a more aggressive policy as opposed to Bismarck s policy of not getti ng involved in any war. John Rohl sees the origins of the war in the German gove rnment s pursuit of a pre-existing plan to split the Triple Entente or provoke a E uropean war. Most historians however reject the idea of a pre-planned German war . Paul Kennedy believed that it was the internal politics of Germany that played a major role in the outbreak of the War. He argued that German government at this stage was facing strict opposition from the social democrats and at one stage i t actually seemed that the social democrats would come to power. It is for this reason that the Germans wanted to distract the attention of the country. Moreove r, the ruling elite wanted to suppress and win over the middle classes at the sa

me time. It is for this reason that they believed that War would act as a unifyi ng bond. It was during the interwar years, the idea of collective responsibility for the outbreak of the war came to become the orthodox interpretation. Lloyd George, th e British Prime Minister suggested that all the nations of Europe slithered over the edge of the boiling cauldron of war in 1914 . Thus, to conclude, one can see that holding one single factor as being responsib le for the outbreak of war is an oversimplification of the issue. It was interpl ay of all the factors mentioned above that created an environment that made war inevitable. While in the final crisis of July 1914 the German government acted i n a way that made war more likely, the enthusiasm with which war was greeted in all the belligerent countries and the assumption by each of the governments conc erned that their vital national interests were at stake, were the result of an a ccumulation of factors intellectual, social, economic and even psychological as well as political and diplomatic which all contributed to the situation in 1914. As far as the responsibility for war is concerned it is Fay, who has given a bal anced judgement. He has said that the entire blame cannot rest with Germany alon e. Other countries should share the blame as well because when war ultimately br oke out because of the Sarajevo crisis, it was essentially a conflict between Se rbia and Austria- and not because of some German interests-that got blown out of proportion. A quotation on a war memorial at Belgrade stated that Serbia was rig ht in wanting to expand, Austria in wanting to survive. Germany was in right in fearing isolation and Great Britain in fearing German power. Everyone was right and everyone was wrong all were sinners, all were sinned against.