World War 1 Causes Term Paper

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Protests erupted. Bauer suggested that if the military could resist an invasion, he would not sign the treaty, but Field Marshal Hindenburg assured him that the military would not hold out. Keynes called it "a Carthaginian Peace," meaning a peace crafted to destroy Germany, which he said would come about because of reparations Germany was forced to pay. However, a strident nationalism resulted in Germany, paving the way for a future conflict with the Allied Powers, which sought to limit German influence in the Middle East.


The causes of the war are interrelated and cannot wholly be separated one from the other. However, there are arguments for why one is more noteworthy than another. The first argument is that the war was mainly a war of economy.


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High tariffs, war profiteering, steel industry, mines, access to natural resources -- all of this played a part in the breakout of war. For example, Austria attempted to curb Serbian influence by cutting off its exports; Serbia in turn reduced its dependence on Austria. Britain's monopoly on trade was dwindling as American and Germany industry rose. Tariffs on imports were the subject of much political debate in the UK, but ultimately these tariffs did little to stymie relations. The global economy was underway. Tariffs were only one way to extract a pound of flesh. War profiteering also played a part, as Gen. Smedley Bulter later illustrated in his public speeches after the war (Stone, Kuznick, 2012). The steel industry stood to gain from war by pumping out weapons of war. The acquisition of mines in Africa and access to natural resources in the Middle East were also economic reasons for war. The World War offered world powers an opportunity to "land grab" and limit marketplace competition. The war was as much about business as it was about "democracy" and "self-determination."

Historical Causes

Term Paper on World War 1 Causes Assignment

The second argument maintains that the war was historically inevitable. Europe had always been on the brink of civil war, or at war, since Charlemagne (and even before). The desires of kings, emperors, statesmen, pontiffs, counselors, cabinets, committees, and congresses truly made certain that there would never be such a thing as a lasting peace this side of eternity. More immediate historical causes were found in the Austro-Hungarian dispute with Serbia, and the Serbian-Bosnian dispute, into which the Russians were now figuring, as supporters of Serbia. Germany felt compelled to back its Austrian ally. The French wanted to restrain the Russians in the Balkans and the British wanted to keep a lid on everything altogether. Germany was feeling encircled by hostile nations and threw its weight behind Austria-Hungary. However, it was still a surprise when the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand led to international war. The murder of royalty was nothing new and had certainly never been a cause for international conflict, so it is somewhat mystifying to argue that Ferdinand's death is what prompted the war. There were far greater historical causes, which were tied primarily to the world powers' industrialized economies and centralized banking systems. War could be vastly profitable to some and it could be used by others in order to reshape international geopolitics.


A third argument points to an increase in militarism. The British Navy had dominated the seas and German industry was attempting to challenge this position. Russia wanted to rebuild its fleet following its losses in its Asian conflict. It had also developed a railroad which could help to move troops, just as Germany had done. The world powers were accruing arms and means just as fast as they could. This was an arms race, as each world power attempted to match the other in terms of army and naval might. Were war to break out, the UK felt confident that it could blockade Germany with its superior navy. The Germans on the other hand were confident that their submarines could destroy such a blockade. In the end, the submarines failed to do so, but the militarism of all countries certainly paved the way for an open door to open conflict.

Reference List

Grebler, L. (1940). The Cost of the World War to Germany and Austria-Hungary. Yale Keynes, J.M. (1920). The Economic Consequences of the Peace. NY: Harcourt Brace.

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APA Style

World War 1 Causes.  (2014, July 6).  Retrieved September 18, 2020, from

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"World War 1 Causes."  6 July 2014.  Web.  18 September 2020. <>.

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"World War 1 Causes."  July 6, 2014.  Accessed September 18, 2020.