The First World War of 1914 was a historical event that shaped the whole world. Most of the history books consider this war to be among the few developments that up to date determines the global alliances and behavior of nations at international arena. However, scholars are still debating about the exact cause of war and, specifically, focus on what sparked it (Tucker, 2005). Oftentimes, the question arises over whether the crisis could have been dealt in a more conventional manner. Many scholars consider that the method chosen to settle the dispute was destructive and barbaric in an age when technology was advancing. Thus, several crises had been settled through peaceful negotiations prior to the First World War. The question arises, if all the negotiations went well, what really triggered the war? Was war initiated artificially so countries could exploit the situation? This paper aims at answering these questions and trying to identify the country that should bear the full responsibility for the consequences. The causes of the First World War have deep roots in a systematic development of events and circumstances that involved both long-term and short-term causes. The immediate causes eventually resulted in the outbreak of war, but since it was simply a matter of time, such supposition is merely an excuse (Tucker, 2005).
Growing tensions in Europe were evident in the aforementioned period. These included alliance building, militarism (also referred to as the arms race), nationalism, and imperialism. These factors were the main causes of the First World War. In an attempt to gain more nationalism, European countries fought for colonies in Africa. Nationalism is the desire for self-rule and acquisition of an independence by people of the same nationality, that share similar customs, tribe/ethnic or racial backgrounds. In this pursuit, countries competed in an uncontrolled race to acquire military power. Nations became restless due to the fear of a surprise attack from rival countries and kept their armies in utter readiness. Germans fought for independence of Morocco in a bid to break the bond between France and Great Britain. They also wanted to expand their territory overseas. However, most of the good colonies had already been colonized by France or the United Kingdom. Germany could not tolerate such situation and would do anything to weaken Britain’s superiority. Nationalism also meant that private citizens and the military were not afraid and did not, by any means, try to resist the war or an occurrence that would lead to war. Therefore, nationalism was the first cause of the war (Neiberg, 2005).
Second, the desire to increase territories was the safety of a country based on a particular system of alliance. There was no way a country could get out of an alliance without the onset of a war. In addition, alliances and secret merges only served to increase suspicion between rivals and increased the probability of a war. There were two main alliances in the period of the First World War: the 1882 Triple Alliance of Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary, and the 1907 Triple Entente of Britain, France, and Russia (Morrow, 2003). These alliances were formed and maintained for defense reasons. The alliance among the countries meant that if conflict broke out between any countries from each alliance, then the other members of the alliance were bound to get involved. Germany faced war in two fronts and this greatly affected her actions during the crisis. Italy later betrayed her. Some alliances could never have been achieved since conflicts existed between Germany and France over Alsace, Russia and Austria over the Balkans, and Britain and Germany over their navies and economic superiority.
With these and other factors in mind, there must have been a real trigger or spark to the war. The assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo was the real cause of the outbreak. However, this was just an excuse for the war since the damage had already been done. Serbia and Austria had had a long dispute over occupation of Bosnia with both countries showing interest of custody. The Black Hand (an outlawed group) recruited a student to carry out the assassination in a bid to prevent the Austrians from occupying Bosnia. This led to Austria issuing an ultimatum to Serbia with terms that were practically impossible to be met and, hence, the war broke out (Meyer, 2006).
There were several other factors that led to such a large scale outbreak of war in 1914. However, it is not really crystal clear as to who started the war and who should have taken the blame and full responsibility for the war. It is worth noting that all the involved parties were responsible for the war except, maybe, for Serbia that tried to employ dialogue, and even suggested the arbitration of the International Criminal Court in the Hague. All countries were eager to enter into war as the superiority in economic, military or regional command would be achieved. No single country was forced into war. That being said, this paper is of the popular opinion that Germany and Austria should have taken the full responsibility for the war since evidence point out their malicious alliances and greed led to the massive loss of lives, wealth, and property. It is clear that their every move was calculated towards an achievement of a specific goal. Thus, Germany has created alliances, conflicts, and allies from the early stages in order to get ahead of her major rivals. Additionally, the League of Nations’ investigation found Germany guilty of multiple crimes and imposed a heavy fine to pay for most of the damages and ordered a further monitoring of her military activities.