There were many factors that contributed to the start of World War I. The acronym M.A.N.I.A. demonstrates the five main reasons that caused WWI: Militarism, Alliances, Nationalism, Imperialism, and Assassination. The First World War started in 1914 and lasted until 1918. One significant reason that WWI started was militarism. During this time, Germany and Great Britain were in a naval competition. Military power was used to establish how much national and imperial strength a country had. Many European nations had great military strength and weapons due to stockpiling. These nations wanted to solve political problems with military force. Germany even had the Schlieffen Plan, a war against France and Russia. So, most European countries had the capacity to get involved in a war because they were fully prepared to use their military if a war occurred. Because of this, the willing and capable countries were eager to participate in the First World War. Another important factor that helped start WWI was imperialism. Understandably, most Europeans wanted to expand their empire by imperializing. The majority of Africa and Asia was already conquered by European empires. There wasn’t much land left for any empires to expand, and tension between countries grew when countries attempted to expand unexpandable territories. In this way, imperialism and the attempts to expand unexpandable territories created hostile atmospheres and relationships. This made it simple for neighboring countries to join any fight that could have occurred. Alliances were an influence on the start of WWI. Europe was divided into two main alliances: The Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente. The Triple Alliance included Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy while The Triple Entente included Great Britain, France, and Russia. Along with these main alliances, Russia and Serbia were long time Slavic allies, and Great Britain, France, and Germany all had an alliance with Belgium. Europe’s alliances were very strong but overlapping, so any minor disagreement could lead to a massive war. The War between Austria-Hungary and Serbia led to a conflict: Russia and France versus Germany and Austria-Hungary. Then, when Germany invaded Belgium to attack France, Great Britain went to war with Germany. Nationalism was also a cause of World War I. Many European nations urged their people to feel extreme pride in their nation, which led to straight-out despising other countries. Festivities such as parties and parades were the usual response to war in much of Europe, while the opposite should have been celebrated. In addition, Bosnia wanted to secede from Austria-Hungary to show their independence. Bosnia’s nationalism was so strong that a group of radicals, the Black Hand, wanted to assassinate public officials to increase awareness about their cause and prove their power and superiority. A Black Hand member, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, assassinated Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria-Hungary, in 1914 in Bosnia. This assassination was the spark that grew into the inferno that was the First World War. Austria-Hungary, the Archduke’s home country, blamed the Serbian government. Because of all the overlapping alliances within the European countries, all power collapsed. As a result, Russia, Belgium, France, and Great Britain were at war with Austria-Hungary and Germany within a week. In conclusion, there were many contributing factors to the cause of the start of the First World War. These included militarism, alliances, nationalism, imperialism, and assassinations. Militarism and the need to have the most powerful armed forces drove all European countries to being prepared for war at any given time. Alliances that were strong, yet too overlapping, eventually collapsed under all the pressure of betrayal and war. Having an extreme belief that your country is the best in the world, otherwise known as nationalism, is a problem that most European countries struggled with. Imperialism and the want to expand empires, even when there’s no more land to expand into, led to unnecessary hostile relationships. Last but not least, assassinations of foreign leaders by radical groups tend to start, at the very least, a disagreement. All of these events contributed to the start of World War I.
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