World War One: Fundamental Reasons


World War One differs from the other wars that happened before and after it. The researchers conclude that the leaders of Europe aimed to be dominant and receive power across the globe. The primary objective of the paper is to examine the fundamental reasons that have led to World War One and make an accent on the reasons that drew the United States of America into the world conflict.

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The Reasons for World War One

It is significantly important to highlight the pivotal factors that consequently lead to the outbreak of the war; among them were the following ones, namely:

  1. Militarism;
  2. Alliances;
  3. Imperialism;
  4. Nationalism;
  5. Assassination (Sondhaus, 2011).


As for militarism, it is of paramount importance to stress that during the colonial times, the war was considered to be the tool of receiving the territory. European countries aimed to create an empire, and thus, during the nineteenth century almost 50 wars were taken place (Clark, 2012). When the country did not experience war, the government dedicated most of the time to build a better army preparing for potential bigger and more aggressive conflict.


The second aspect that was the reason for the war outbreak is believed to be nationalism. Understandably, the nations that found themselves in a situation when they are forced to live with a new leader and follow the rules and laws that are not typical for them did not positively perceive militarism. Moreover, militarism was seen as a tragedy for those people who have lost their beloved ones in the battle, especially taking into consideration that politicians did not participate in the conflict, using poor people as a tool for the accomplishment of personal objectives (Clark, 2012).

The nineteenth century is symbolized with a new philosophy that was called nationalism. Nationalism is characterized as a kind of movement that was seen as the source of inspiration for some people and was enjoyed popularity not only in Europe but across the globe. However, even though nationalism inspired the nations, it is worth noting that this movement has a negative effect. The dark side of nationalism can be found in the dimension of aggressiveness as the nations can justify murders using this philosophy.


The other aspect that influenced the world order is imperialism. The European countries were guided by the intention to control other states (Germany, France, Italy, and others). During that time, the richness of the country could be determined by the territory the state had. Great Britain controlled several territories across the world. This intention, to conquer as many states as possible, consequently led to the conflict not only between the conquer and colonies, however, between European nations as well (Joll, 2013).


Assassination in Sarajevo contributed to the world conflict. Gavirillo Princip attacked Archduke Franz Ferdinand with the words “death to the tyrant” (Joll, 2013). The political aim of the assassination was the separation of the South Slavic territories from Austria-Hungary and the subsequent connection to a Greater Serbia or Yugoslavia. The murder was the reason for the outbreak of World War One. Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia, which was partially rejected; then Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

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A web of complicated alliances engaged the whole world in the war. The conflict supposed to involve Russia and Serbia against Germany and Austria. Russia and France had a secret agreement to help each other in the case of the attack. Belgium, in turn, had a secret agreement with Great Britain (Striner, 2014). World War One could be omitted; however, the countries were caught in the fever. The society supported soldiers, went on marches, threw flowers, and believed that this war will be the same as usual, that the soldiers will come back very soon with new territories.


Another factor that contributed to the outbreak of the war is considered to be ideological movement Pan-Slavism. The fundamental idea, the union of the Slavic countries based on cultural and language similarities, was supported in Eastern Europe. The idea of Pan-Slavism was possible only with the conflict between Russia, Austro-Hungary, and Turkey. However, the conflict was doomed to involve other European countries because of secret pacts.

The United States in World War One

In the spring of 1917, a major change occurred in the course of World War One (Striner, 2014). The United States entered the conflict fighting against Germany. The United States used its economic, military, and financial power as an advantage. The involvement of the United States in the war was not a coincidence. Its foreign politics and intention to become a dominant world power influenced the decision of the government and contributed to the involvement of the world conflict.

America remained neutral in 1914-1917. President Wilson was shocked by the destructive power of the conflict and forecasted crucial implications for the country in case the war would last longer. Great Britain secured the trade on the sea, so the United States continued to run business.

Germany tried to break the blockade using a new weapon, submarine. In 1915, one hundred American citizens died because of German submarines. President Wilson declared to Germany that they violated the norms of international law, and such actions are inappropriate. In 1917, Germany attacked several American ships and asked Mexico to cooperate against the United States. These events influenced the decision of the President and he asked Congress to involve in the war.

The United States was the country of immigrants. The government feared that the population will support different sides of the conflict, and thus, remained neutral. The population was not united with one common objective. Woodrow Wilson stated:

If the nation’s ethnic minorities became active partisans of their countries of origin, the consequences would be fatal to our peace of mind and might seriously stand in the way of the proper performance of our duty as the one great nation of peace” (Cooper, 2009, p. 34).

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America contributed to the war giving credits to the allies and producing high-quality weapons. The countries got the sources that they need from America, and it contributed to the end of the war. In 1918, Wilson offered Fourteen Points that were centered on the goals of the United States in the war (Cooper, 2009).

The document aimed to stabilize the world order and called for the establishment of the League of Nations. Wilson united the American nation and promoted peace, improved economic and credit system, gained military experience, and created the international body that exists now in the form of the United Nations. The Treaty of Versailles aimed not to let Germany restore its military power and economic condition. However, the United States contributed to the defeat of the treaty by supporting Germany and provided Young and Dawes Plan (Cooper, 2009).


In conclusion, it should be stated that World War One changed the world order and the way the world conflict developed. The war changed its aims, objectives, and methods after this conflict. Although the United States remained neutral at the beginning, the country contributed to the solution of the conflict in a significant way.


Clark, M. (2012). The sleepwalkers: How Europe went to war in 1914. New York, NY: Penguin.

Cooper, J. (2009). Woodrow Wilson: A biography. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Joll, J. (2013). The origins of the First World War. New York, NY: Routledge.

Sondhaus, L. (2011). World War One: The global revolution. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Striner, R. (2014). Woodrow Wilson and World War I: A burden too great to bear. Lanham, MA: Rowman and Littlefield.

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