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America and the Great War

Great World War I was a major war that began in 1914 in Central Europe and it involved great powers of the world which assembled in two distinct alliances namely: Central Powers and Allies of Triple Entente. The occurrence of the war is attributed to numerous factors which are intertwined. It began with an assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and ended with series of revolutions among the countries involved. Note mentioning, the causes of Great World War I are sophisticated than a mere list of causes. Despite lack of cohesive suggestions to the root causes of the war, many scholars have pointed out militarism, imperialism, alliances and nationalism as the factors that played great roles in the war (Rubin 2002).

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How Nationalism led to World War I

Nationalism is one of the major factors that led to the emergence of World War I. By definition, nationalism refers to strongly supporting the rights and interests of people of one’s country.  In the 19th century, majority of the people in Central Europe were nationalists, and this contributed largely to the rise of the war. In 1815, a Congress was held in Vienna with the objectives of sorting out great problems facing Europe. However, the principle of nationalism was neglected deliberately in favor of sustaining peace (Williamson 1991). Delegates from Prussia, Russia, Austria and Britain could not agree with the delegates from Germany and Italy.  As a result, these countries were left divided. In the mid-19th century, strong nationalists fought for re-unification of Italy and Germany, and this was successful. Notably, much of the cause of the war is attributed to desire for Slavic peoples who lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina to become distinct from Austria-Hungary. The nationalists advocated that the Slavic people should be part of Serbia. This led to the inception of Pan-Slavism, a movement aimed at promoting the socio-cultural and political unity of Slavs. The Pan-Slavism comprised of anti-Russian and anti-Austrian (Rubin 2002).

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Prior the World War I, Slavic soldiers had been captured in Austrian Empire.  The movement led to a rift between Serbia and Austria-Hungary, and this later culminated into World War I. The tension between Austria-Hungary and Serbia is associated with the threats posed by Pan-Slavism on Austria-Hungary following annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and increasing population Slavic population in the country. During this time, Austria-Hungary controlled the largest population of Slavs, something which did not please Russia. Being super-power and a Slavic nation, Russia challenged Austria-Hungary to allow them control its own people. This conflict had occurred even before the World War I but was ignited by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and this led to the rise of the war. Serbia fought hard for the unification of Slavs in Austria-Hungary, and this led to creation of more tensions between the two entities. Consequently, the tensions created unforgettable World War I (Williamson 1991).

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In the early 19th century, Germany-speaking states were under the Holy Roman Empire which provided administrative and legal mechanisms for resolving disputes between different parties and jurisdictions. The states consolidated resources and promoted economic cooperation and military security to each other. After the War of the Second Coalition of 1802, the Holy Roman Empire was defeated by Napoleon Bonaparte. This led to the transfer of large portions of Holy Empire to the dynastic states, a situation that led to rise of German nationalism. The nationalism was aimed at reorganizing German states (Carlotti 1988).

Mutual Alliance and Agreements and the World War I

Over time, countries in Eastern and Central Europe established mutual alliances that would enable time succeed in battles. They made mutual defense agreements that would be utilized defend the allied states when they are under attack. Prior the World War I, number of countries in Central and Eastern Europe existed in alliances. When Austria-Hungary waged a war on Serbia, Russia involved itself with intentions to defending Serbia. When Germany realized that Russia had involved itself in the war, it declared war on Russia. France was not happy with the actions of Germany and Austria-Hungary hence they got involved in the War to defend Russia. In the early 20th century, Belgium and Britain attacked France in support of Germany. Later, Japan, Italy and the United States enter the war through different sides of the Allies (Williamson 1991).

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The United States Involvement in the World War I

When the war broke in 1914, the United States was reluctant to participate in it. The country attempted to be neutral because it was advocating for the rights and interests of all people in the neutral states. Woodrow Wilson, the then president of the United States, announced that the country would keep off from the European affairs. The ethnicity of the immigrants was another factor that prompted Americans to stay out of the World War I. The president was concerned with the large number of immigrants who originated from the conflicting countries. In addition, the United States opted to remain neutral because it was economically linked to the European allies. At the start of the war, Germany attempted to seize American and Britain ships, a move which infuriated Americans. In 1915, Lusitania was seized without warning, and this led to deaths of more than 120 Americans. The president and the presidential hopefuls declared an immediate warfare in 1916. The United States also entered into the war because of economic reasons. The country had invested heavily in Britain and France which could be lost in the event that these countries lose the battle. This marked the end of diplomatic relations with Germany as they enter into the World War I (Bass 2004).

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Under the directions of the President, the US army engaged in war under its own flag and management. The America’s buildup to the war was very slow.  The Allies requested the country to avail million men but it was turn down as evident by the fact that the country supplied thousands. Statistics indicate that the country contributed little to the war victories (Bass 2004).

The Defeat of the Treaty of Versailles

The treaty contributed immensely to ending of the World War I between Germany and its opponents. Note mentioning, it was not the efforts the United States that brought about the defeat of the Treaty of Versailles. The defeat of this treaty is attributed to political ignorance, incompetence and inflexibility among the political class of the United States and their Allies. When Germany withdrew from the World War I, it suggested numerous ways of which could lead to peace between the nations. During peace conference, President Wilson introduced a concept of total war. With the effect of nationalism and delusions, civilians in other countries were turned into soldiers. Prior to the World War I, technology was developing very fast in Eastern and Central Europe (Heyman 1997). The United States, France and Britain were responsible for bringing peace in Europe. President’s incompetence contributed to disastrous events in Europe. Consequently, this led to defeat of Treaty of Versailles. His efforts to establish League of Nations was rejected by other European countries which viewed it as Wilson’s efforts to build his own legacy. The idea of League of Nations was not welcomed at all by the Americans. They believed that the endorsement would later hurt them in future. The opposition of this establishment also led to defeat of Treaty of Versailles (Heyman 1997).

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World War I is one of the worst events in the World. As discussed above, there are numerous factors that contributed to the occurrence of the war. Nationalism and alliances of the 19th century have been cited to contribute enormously to the start of the war. At the start of the war, the United States was reluctant due to various reasons, and it contributed little throughout the war.

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