Background conditions to the outbreak of the First World War
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This paper focuses on a comparative analysis of the attributes and capa- bilities of the major European states between the years 1870-1914. When war broke out in the summer of 1914 it was largely unexpected. The bipolarization of Europe into opposing camps-the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance- had been conceived mainly as a precautionary diplomatic measure. Indeed, the prevailing sentiment in some circles was that current conditions and relations between states could not have been better. In the space of six weeks, however, a seemingly localized dispute in the Balkans grew into a full-fledged European conflict, and over succeeding years the greater part of the world became involved. When fighting finally came to an end in 1918, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was in dissolution, the Kaiser's Germany was on the point of collapse, and the whole world stood at a turning point. The investigations described below are part of a larger study designed to identify and determine the dynamics involved in the outbreak of World War I. This paper is presented as a tentative first report. There are many more analyses to be done with the data. Our intent is not to improve upon the historical accounts of a period which has been ably investigated by distinguished historians such as Sidney Fay and Luigi Albertini, nor to reopen old controversies about national responsibility and war guilt. Rather, the purpose is to focus on dimensions of inter-state behavior that have as yet not been fully examined.
© Peace Research Society (International) Papers
Choucri, N. & North, R. C. (1968). Background conditions to the outbreak of the First World War. Proceedings of the IX Cambridge Conference (Peace Research Society: Papers), 33–63.
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