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Mains Answer Writing

26-December-2023

Q1) “World War I was an inevitable catastrophe waiting to happen, resulting from the interplay of longterm structural, cultural, and political factors.” Elucidate.

ANSWER

World War I was a Total War fought between the Central Powers/Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria- Hungary, Italy) and Triple Entente (Britain, France and Russia) between 1914-18. Long-term factors that made World War I inevitable are:

  1. Structural factors.

Militarism/Arms race

  1. Competition began for better military preparedness between the two fronts.
  2. Each side stockpiled destructive weapons, causing suspicion among nations
  3. Industrial Revolution: Germany was rapidly becoming industrialized and made colonial advances to fulfil its industrial needs.
  4. Infrastructure Development in Europe: It enabled easy mobility of troops across regions.
  5. Cultural factors.

Nationalism:

  1. The idea which took roots during the French revolution (1789-99) spread to the rest of Europe through the Napoleonic wars.
  2. It became the most important political thought in Europe and lead to formation of several new nation states, most notably Italy and Germany (1870).

iii. Soon, nationalism took a militant turn leading to aggressive militarization and quest for colonies.

  1. By the closing decades of the 19th century a spirit of rabid nationalism had engulfed the whole of Europe
  2. Russia believed in the idea of Pan-Slavism i.e., all the Slav nations of the Balkan shared ethnic ties with Russia and hence must be under the influence of Russia. Austria saw this as a threat to its existence. All this aggravated the atmosphere of suspicion in the entireregion.
  3. Social Darwinism: This period was influenced by the theory of Social Darwinism. It was believed that only the fittest (military power, usurper of colonies etc.,) country could survive. Hence, it intensified the competition among the nations to leverage limited resources.
  4. Young Turk Movement and rise of Young Turks (1908): The revolutionary movement against the autocratic rule of the Ottoman Sultan was an indicative of this phase of flux.
  5. Political factors
  6. Race for Colonies:
  7. Colonial rivalry led to strained relations among the European powers. E.g., France rivalled with Italy over Tunis and with Germany over Morocco.
  8. Colonial rivalry led indirectly to the formation and strengthening of alliances and ententes. For example, Italy turned to Germany and Austria when she lost Tunis to France in 1881; fear of German expansion enabled Russia and Britain to form an entente in 1907.
  9. Secret Alliances/Web of Alliances:
  10. The nationalistic ambitions of nations often collided with each other leading to rivalry and insecurity. Such interests were thus secured with secret alliance with others.
  11. Bismarck developed the Triple Alliance -Germany, Austria and Italy for keeping France isolated.

iii. France responded by entering into Dual Alliance with Russia in 1894 (Franco- Russian Alliance). Thus, rival alliances were formed.

  1. The Triple Entente was signed in 1907 between Great Britain, France, and Russia to counter the threat posed by the Triple Alliance of Germany, Italy, and Austria- Hungary.

Such long standing issues regarding territorial disputes, quest for political powers and groupings to achieve strength finally led to the World War I, which got triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary by a Serbian nationalist in 1914.

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