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World War I:
The Origins and Causes
Of the World's First Total War
April 20, 2008
Although there have been many wars fought throughout history, conquered regions and fallen empires, before the 19th century there was no total war. What is meant by total war is not that it was the entire world fighting each other simultaneously but that all people from a particular country, civilians and soldiers alike, are enemies and are considered to be acceptable targets during war. There are many issues that lead to different wars including religion, revolution, technology, nationalism, militarism, expansion, and imperialism. In order for the first major total war to occur, there were many catalysts from all of the European superpowers of the time. Before World War I, the superpowers Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Great Britain, France, and Italy went through many phases of alliances, most of which collapsed.Ã¯Â¿Â½
Expansionism to one country was perceived as imperialism in the eyes of their colonial opponents, which caused many problems within the different powers. Militarism, broken alliances, nationalism, and fear from aggressive threats also played an extremely large role in the movements that led to the war. The war that is now known as World War I gained the name because for the first time, it was a total war.
In order to fully understand the causes of the war, it is imperative that the origins are laid out properly. Aligning a powerful nation with another of equal or greater power was extremely important to be victorious. If a leader was unable to protect his country's natural resources, colonies, and capital, it left the country vulnerable. In the years leading up to the war, there were many countries that were openly allied, but also had...