Was World War 1 A War Instigated By Fear

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The debate whether World War One was a war instigated by fear or rather a war for motives of gain, has been a debate long fought by historians. Most historians however agree that World War One was caused by the tensions between the European powers and crisis of the balance-of-power system which divided Europe into two armed and completely opposed groups. Furthermore, based on historical evidence and the events leading up to World War One, it can be said that it was a war not only fought due to fear, but also a war fought for the motives of gain.

In the build up to World War One, many momentous events occurred however no single event can be pinpointed as the official start of the war, but instead these events can be seen to have a domino effect
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German Historian, Fritz Fischer even claimed that Germany alone was responsible for starting the war. Many historians provide evidence supporting this claim however none explicitly claim that Germany was solely responsible, and as Douglas Hurd claims, German actions are seen as a defensive effort to mitigate Britain’s naval and territorial superiority, and as a way to solve Germany’s internal problems. Since the late 1890s tensions between Germany and Britain continued to grow, with Britain fearing that Germany may rise to dominate the continent, disrupting the balance of power. This fear was evident at during the Spanish-American War of 1898, when Germany sought to limit the extent of US victory by raising a united European front against the US in support of Spain. However, this German initiative failed as the British refused to take part in the diplomatic initiate and chose to support the US, which began to add to the tensions. Later in 1902, these tensions were again displayed, during the Venezuelan Crisis. During this event, Britain, Germany and Italy sent a combined naval squadron to enforce a blockade of the South American republic over debts, however this caused tensions with the US, with the US condemning their actions. Germany was prepared to fight over this, however Britain promptly recalled its forces leaving Germany to fight alone. Soon Germany was forced to retire, and abandoned its goal to seek closer relations with Britain. Instead, Germany went on to develop a naval building program- the program that Britain grew to fear most. However, this plan proved to cause more fear in Germany as it had failed and in turn pushed Britain into closer relationships with Japan, France, Russia and the US. (Christopher Ray) Thus, war at the time was seen to be inevitable

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