World War I Essay, Research Paper
The first World War did not just happen overnight, it had been building up for years. One long term cause was Nationalism. Strong competition had developed among France,Britain, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Germany, especially after the unification of Germany,under Bismark, in 1871. There was also uneasiness within countries. For example, the Czechsand Slovaks wanted to be free from Austro-Hungarian control. Imperialism also lead to WorldWar I. Many nations were in heavy competition for colonies and markets through out the world. For instance, France and Germany fought over Morocco, and several other places were the targetfor imperialism, the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East. An alliance system had developed andcause friction between the two groups. The system was made in an effort to have a balance ofpower. The two groups of nations were organized of the countries who had common enemies. Basically, an enemy of my enemy is my friend. One group was the Triple Alliance, whichconsisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. The other group was the Triple Entente,which was made up of France, Russia, and Great Britain. (and would later include the UnitedStates.) Militarism had its effect on the outbreak of war also. Militaries grew constantly in the1900s, which lead to a feeling of superiority and fear in other countries. Germany, for example,tripled naval construction in order to challenge Britain s control of the seas. With all this goingon in the world, it was only a matter of time before something happened. All these long term causes needed was a spark to send them over the edge and into war. That spark happened on June 28, 1914. In Bosnia, Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinatedby a young nationalist. The young man belonged to a group that wanted Bosnia to be joined withthe independent nation of Serbia. Few thought this act could start a world war, but it was thestraw that broke the camels back.(clich I know..) During this time the United States stayed neutral, following Wilson s Moral Diplomacy. Believing that international disputes should be solved through negotiation rather than force.
There were many reasons the United States entered the war, one of them was cultural links. Which meant that few Americans were truly neutral. Since America is a melting pot, many feltbounds to the country of their origin. Economic ties did not keep us neutral either. Americansfeared that if Germany won the war , loans that had been made to the Allies would never berepaid. And, a British blockade of the North Sea ended American exports to Germany, whichdropped in value from about $345 million in 1914 to $29 million in 1916. Propaganda wasinfluential also, the allies portrayed the war as one of civilized, democratic nations against thebarbaric monarchy of Germany. A major reason America entered the war was for freedom of the seas. German U-boatsinterfered with non-war related trade which violated neutrality rights and took many Americanlives. When a German submarine sank the British passenger liner Lusitania in 1915, almost1200 people died, including 128 Americans. In 1916, the Germans sunk the Sussex, a Frenchvessel, which injured several Americans. Wilson threatened to break diplomatic relations withGermany, which led to the Sussex Pledge. Which stated that Germany would no longer sinkpassenger or merchant ships without warning; and would no longer violate international law withtheir blockade. Wilson accepted the first part of the pledge but ignored the second. By 1917,there was much hostility toward Germany. Germany supported dictatorship, which the UnitedStates are against. they violated Belgium s neutrality, they wage unrestricted submarine warfare,they attempted to sabotage American industry and they attempted to put Mexico against theUnited States through the Zimmerman Note. The not was from German foreign secretary,Arthur Zimmerman, and sent to the German minister in Mexico, on March 1, 1917. The noteencouraged a German military alliance with the Mexicans, promising them support in regainingtheir lost territories in the southwestern United States. In April 1917, Wilson asked congressto declare war on Germany, and the United States became a part of the Allies.