World War I, the first globally destructive confli

wwIct that the Western Civilization produced, has been the subject of various analysis, interpretations and reevaluations of the various causes that led to it. Initially, the guilt was placed upon Germany and its allies. Eventually, historical analysis conducted in decades after the event, lead to a shift from the guilt perspective, to a broader one of various interacting factors. Although almost nine decades have elapsed, one question still persists: “Which explanation is best suited as the cause of WWI?” To provide an answer, the views of six historians shall be considered. To begin, James Joll’s answer to the question will be examined. It will be seen that he considered several factors that, according to him, interlinked and lead to the conflict. Five additional explanatory models will be analyzed: those of historians Arno Mayer, Wolfgang Mommsen, Donald Lammers, Micheal Gordon and Konrad Jarausch. They concentrated on more specific issues as part of interpreting the causes of the conflict. In his 1980s book The Origins of the First World War, historian James Joll offers an explanation linking the entire social, political and economic spectrum of 20th C. Europe. First, he starts his search for a cause in the July Crisis of 1914. The July 1914 crisis started with the diplomatic ultimatum that Austro-Hungary gave Serbia. The rest of the European powers, galvanized in the various alliance systems, where overwhelmed. Thus, Germany was offering unquestioned support to the Hapsburgs, even if it was to be military, whilst knowing that the Russians were objecting to any use of force against Serbia and threatening their intervention. France seemed confused, but was ready to support Russian intervention against Austria-Hungary. Britain, pressured both by France and Russia, was undecided until it officially announced its military support to them. In the end, according to Joll, in July “events were moving too fast for the diplomats because the decisions were now more and more being taken by the soldiers.” What had started as a diplomatic crisis had resulted in military action. The second causal factor offered by Joll is the Alliance System between the Great Powers. Germany was thus allied with Austria-Hungary. France and Russia had their own pact. Adding to these treaties, aiming for a Balance of Power, where the secret ententes between England and France, and England and Russia. The result was a military and political planning that depended, or was strengthened by this polarization of the two camps: The Alliance and The Entente. The various treaties thus “provided the framework within which the diplomacy of the pre-war years was conducted.” Thirdly, Joll analyzed pre-war militarism and strategic planning. Germany, militaristic, had increased its naval program enough as to lead to “a radical change in British strategic thinking.” The British were involved in the usual strategic planning aiming at securing their access to the Empire and, in the end, the arms race “contributed to the feeling that war was inevitable.” French militarism was aiming at increasing the draft term, whereas the Russian military recovery from the 1905 loss to the Japanese was “alarming the Germans”. All major powers had anticipated war, and the pre-war planning, such as the Schlieffen Plan, exacerbated everything. The Powers were ready for the conflict, had planned for it, and when the crisis came, diplomatic thinking was bypassed by military critical readiness. Fourthly, Joll examined the importance of domestic policies, which, according to several historians, could have influenced foreign policy decisions. Every Great Power was “passing through a political and social crisis in 1914.” The Austro-Hungarian Empire was losing its geopolitical integrity; Britain had to deal with the Ulster Irish question that was about to overspill; France had as issues taxation and the Three-Year service issue. Nevertheless, Joll points out that domestic policies played a part, but not a big one as to lead to war. Ultimately, politicians did not “deliberately embarked on war as a way out of their insoluble domestic, social and political problems.” Economic rivalries were another factor that Joll examined. He indicated that “not all imperialistic policies were inspired by direct economic interests.” Although economic interest had often lead to strategic frictions between the Great Powers, in the end “economic interests were not


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