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The cause of World War I can be significantly attributed to the roles of Germany and Austria-Hungary, and a rash disregard for peaceful multilateral solutions in response to an overall climate of imperialism that defined international relations at the time.

The rapidly increasing power of the military especially in Germany was certainly a factor that made war a much more apparent solution to diplomatic predicaments at the turn of the 20th century. For its part, Great Britain more than doubled its arms and defense spending between 1870 and 1914. From a modest $3.54 per capita just forty-five years prior, Britain’s military spending surged to 8.23 in 1914. Eastward, the same trend can be observed in Russia and France as the arms spending of both of these countries was around 200 percent higher in 1914 than in 1870. Simultaneous with this chauvinistic growth was the per capita of Germany’s military allocation, which skyrocketed 6.5 times from $1.28 to $8.23. Even more so, Germany’s military spending doubled in just four years, between 1910 and 1914, while that of Britain and France increased by about 10%. These figures postulate the inescapable assumption that Germany had been gearing for a large scale military conflict and that these series of preparations exponentially accelerated in the years leading up to World War I.

Imperialism, however, was the reason why fear of war was ever-present. Had there been no looming threat of conflict, it seems quite illogical that countries like Germany would have immersed itself in a massive military upgrade on such a gargantuan scale. Such was the reflective recognition expressed by the leader of the German delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference. He underscored that in the last half a century, the imperialist desires of European powers have perniciously strained international relations. Belligerent stances, territorial expansion policies and utter disregard for the welfare of peoples to take charge of their own futures have culminated in World War I. Indeed, this statement aptly encapsulates the political climate in the years leading up to the war and provides reason why the strengthening the military had become realistic and the sole option. World War I was not the expected result; World War I was the result of desperation, fear creeping in, and instinct taking action. 

Finally, the nature of the ultimatum that Austria-Hungary sent to Serbia in July 1914 establishes that a military solution was indeed favored over strenuous yet time-consuming diplomatic talks. In the wake of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne, by Serbian terrorist Gavrilo Princip, Austria-Hungar

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