effects of wars Essay
The onset of WW I marked a turning point in the history of mankind,dramatically redefining the nature of warfare. The brutal restructuring of national policies to involve the entire nation, from industrial production to unwarranted assaults upon civilians, represents a tragic shift. The severity of this change warrants examination of both the general historical factors and specific events that produced such dire consequences, as well as speculation on whether WWI may have been avoided.
Historians largely look toward two general trends of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.The rapid economic development and industrial growth that occurred in the 19th century, coupled with the diminishing availability of abundant resources, fostered a high sense of nationalism among Europeans. Nationalistic rivalries appeared throughout Europe. Britain jealously guarded its diminishing status as the world power, harboring much negative sentiment towards prosperous Germany. Meanwhile, under the lead of the militaristic Kaiser Wilhelm II, Germany attempted to rush its own emergence as an economic powerhouse. Kaiser Wilhelm, both jealous of being shut out of the colonial race and hoping to preserve Germany’s rise, cultivated a large naval fleet. This only served to increase tensions with the British, as well as to threaten the French and drive them into a favorable relationship with Britain. Austria-Hungary, an empire rapidly losing its respected status, was also swept up in the nationalistic fervor, with Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s visit to Bosnia largely intended to assert his nation’s power. The nationalistic fervor was fed by the absence of a large war involving any of the great powers in over fifty years.Even the most prominent political and military leaders lacked a true sense of what combat entailed. Most viewed war as some idealistic entity, nothing more than a way to heroically promote their interests.