|Military Buildup||Defense Alliances||Nationalism||Colony Disputes|
Before the beginning of World War One in 1914, the European countries had arranged themselves into a couple of defense alliances. Among the countries, the growing militarism increased the level of fear in the countries. As this fear and paranoia grew, the possibility of fighting breaking out also grew as countries would begin either suspecting one another or retracting. Therefore, countries that found similarities with each other joined together in defense alliances in hopes that the notion of war would be faltered.
The defense alliances that arose were the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy1, and the Triple Entente between Britain, France, and Russia. These alliances were made on the basis of either common ethnicity, common interests, or common disputes.
For instance, Germany and Austria-Hungary aligned based on ethnicity. Germanic people inhabit both countries. In another instance, both Britain and France were rivals with Germany. Britain was combating with Germany over who had the strongest navy. France was in competition over Germany with Alsace. Under the idea that the "enemy of the enemy is my friend", Britain and France aligned against Germany and consequentially against the Triple Alliance.
It was thought that the alliances would make everyone fear the notion of war. The reasoning behind this mentality was that a larger power against a larger power would result in many lives lost, much material destroyed, and overall more destruction. However, these defense alliances only increased the scope of the war. The alliances created a sort of tie all in Europe. Every country became connected to another in some way. Therefore, a single event in one country would invariably involve the other countries. A tug on one string tugged the rest, and thus the whole continent fell into war. According to A.J.P. Taylor, an English Historian, the alliances "created an excessively rigid diplomatic framework, within which relatively small detonators could produce huge explosions…".