Imperialism In World War 1

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Nationalism, Imperialism, and Militarism
There were many overlapping causes behind World War I. To begin with, Serbian nationalism and Pan-Slavism led to a desire of the Serbian people to expand Serbia to include several Balkan states and territories that were populated by Slavic people but under rule by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. This desire for Slavic independence was supported by Russia (who also had a military alliance with Serbia), and was naturally opposed by Austria-Hungary (which had alliances with Germany and Italy), since it would actually weaken their empire.

Conversely, nationalism helped unite and strengthen the German speaking territories of Central Europe and the Italian speaking nation-states of the southern peninsula.
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• Germany had a treaty with Austria-Germany, so they declared war on Russia.
• France, bound by an existing treaty with Russia, was now at war with Germany by association.
• Germany then invaded Belgium to have easy access to France.
• Britain, allied to France with an existing treaty, declares war against Germany. (This was unexpected by Germany as they thought Britain would stay out of the war, due to the fact that the treaty with France was loosely worded and not entirely binding. That said, Britain also had a 75 year old treaty with Belgium. Because of both of these treaties, they decided to declare war on Germany.
• With Britain now warring with Germany, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa entered the war, as they were colonies of Britain.
• Japan then honored an existing treaty with Britain, and declares war on Germany.
• Austria-Hungary then declared war on Japan for declaring war on
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Despite President Wilson’s efforts, the United States Senate did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles and the U.S. did not join the League of Nations. The main issue was Article X of the treaty, which some felt would commit U.S. troops to involvement in foreign affairs if another member of the league was threatened. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge led the opposition to Article X. He wanted it edited and amended. Wilson refused. Because of a failure to compromise, there were not enough votes in the Senate to ratify the treaty and allow the US to join the League of Nations.

Without the involvement of the US, the League of Nations was doomed to failure. Over the next two decades, the United States isolated itself from the rest of the world by signing treaties designed to keep them out of war, hoping to prevent involvements like that of The Great War.

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