Nationalism: Causes Of The First World War

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Big Era Eight, which lasted from 1900 to 1945, was defined by unity and advancement as well as acrimony and conflict between world powers. Nationalism is a sense of national identity and pride within a country or certain group of people. Due to the powerful figures and organizations which promoted it during the era, nationalism was a driving force behind both consensus and disagreement in World War I, the Interwar Years, and World War II. It is clear that nationalism significantly impacted these periods by inspiring individuals to achieve social unity and work towards a national goal; however, the drive of certain groups to achieve their nationalistic ambitions created political tension between nations and in turn led to further conflict.
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First, nationalism was displayed by multiple countries leading up to and during the First World War. For example, the Black Hand, a pan-Serbian nationalist group in the Balkan Region, organized the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, which directly led to World War I. The Black Hand “specialized in encouraging ethnic Serbs…to work for unification with Serbia,” and the organization felt that Austria was unjustly preventing this mission (Goff 97). Because of the organization 's nationalist belief that Serbians must be united, they felt that it was necessary to spark political conflict with Austria to achieve this; this in turn led to the deadly Great War. Next, during the Interwar Years, conflict emerged surrounding Arab nationalists and Jewish nationalists, known as Zionists. Both of these groups intended to pursue their nationalist beliefs by establishing their own nations, and Palestinian land was sought after by both. The British, intending to weaken the Ottoman Empire, made separate, conflicting wartime agreements with both the Arabs and the Zionists, stating in the McMahon and Balfour agreements that Britain would support an Arab and Zionist nationalist movement respectively. The Balfour Agreement in particular outraged the Arab nationalists, who believed that they were promised the same land which the Zionists were pursuing. The Arabs were not able to achieve independence, and the anger caused by the conflicting agreements which had emerged because of the nationalistic intentions of the Arabs and Zionists “laid the foundation for the Arab-Israeli conflict” (Goff 217). Finally, Japanese superiority led to start of World War II: “Japanese ultranationalists saw their nation and people as superior to other Asians and therefore believed it was their mission to rule Asia” (Goff 241).

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