 to What Extent Was Naval Rivalry the Main Cause of the First World War?

873 Words Oct 13th, 2012 4 Pages
❖ To what extent was naval rivalry the main cause of the first World War?

One of the main causes of World War I was the Anglo-German naval race. Britain, as an island empire, always had the navy as one of her top priorities. A key event in Britain’s naval expansion was the 1889 “Naval Defense Act” that established the "two power standard": Britain considered necessary to have a navy that was not only the largest in the world, but also equal to or greater than the sum of the world's second and third largest navies. On the other side of the channel, also Germany saw naval expansion vital and as the only way to succeed in the acquisition of overseas colony; therefore, the “official” aim of Germany’s naval expansion was to reinforce their
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These alliances were defined as defensive, but choosing allies obviously also implicate choosing the most likely enemies, therefore this two blocs were ready to fight in case of a war. Another long term cause was the colonial rivalry. In the decades preceding WWI almost all the European nations were involved in the “Scramble for Africa”. All the nations wanted to demonstrate their strength occupying vast areas of Africa. France was one of the most successful, controlling almost all the West and Centre Africa. Also Germany started an intense colonial expansion and gained a million square miles territory between 1884 and 1899. Britain gained the control of some areas in the south of Africa, in Egypt and on the East and Gold Coast. The colonies were often seen as a source of free raw materials and as the only areas of possible expansion without deeply compromising European balance. Effects of the colonial rivalry can be analyzed in two different ways, on the one hand colonies were a sort of safety valve allowing the European power to keep the contrasts away from their continent; on the other hand this rivalry implemented the tension between the colonists nations, causing aggressive foreign policy.
Besides this long term causes there was also the event that formerly

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