What were the long term causes of WWI?

Essay by italianstallion9A+, November 2008

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By the fall of 1918 more than 37 million soldiers lay dead or wounded�; their blood soaking the fields of roughly every major country on the European mainland. Humanity had just witnessed its most disastrous and devastating military conflict; so calamitous that it was in fact labeled "the war to end all wars." The origins of WWI were, however, wholly more complex than the perilous event that triggered it. The lengthy fuse which would lead to the eruption of WWI consisted of: a combustible mixture of rising German nationalism, a metamorphosis in the comportment of foreign policy, aggressive trends of imperialism and militarism, and lastly an intricate alliance system which, after military negotiations and international escalations, transformed itself into a rigid doomsday mechanism of irreversible commitments, all which would explode into war when the fuse was sparked by 1914 assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian terrorists.

The turn of the twentieth century witnessed an unparalleled rise of nationalism, the eruptive catalyst that would set in motion the gears of war, in virtually every major European nation or state.

By definition nationalism is an acquired emotional loyalty that individuals direct towards an organized state which with they perceive common ethnic, territorial, linguistic, religious, and historical bonds�. As an aggressive, unifying force, German post-Bismarck Weltpolitik exemplified the impact nationalism was having on the state of international affairs. Kaiser Wilhelm II transformed German nationalism into a disastrously catalytic force which would ultimately influence every other major ingredient of WWI. The formation of the German Colonial League in 1882 and the Pan-German League in 1890 sought to increase German power and its bellicosity through the acquisition of colonies and the establishment of German predominance in Europe�. German nationalism, under the expulsion of Bismarck from the position of Chancellor and the subsequent appointment of Caprivi...