By 1900, the Habsburg dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary was a shadow of its former grandeur. Meanwhile it struggled with the growth of nationalism among the dozens of ethnic groups within its borders. Both desire for independence and Pan-Slavic sentiment was growing among its significant Czech, Slovak, Polish, and Serbian populations. It was no small wonder how the empire was holding together, but we do know it had little to do with strong leadership. In Why Nations Go to War, John Stoessinger describes Franz Ferdinand, the reigning Hapsburg monarch, quite dismissively as “an exhausted old man” (Stoessinger, 7).
According to Blackbourn on the eve of war “the mood of Vienna was one of frustration and fatalism quickened by bellicosity” (Blackbourn, 345) This Vienna could not afford to let the assassination of its crown prince occur without a strong response. It had ...
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...ories discussed in the essay serve to completely explain the First World War. Each paints part of the picture, providing a necessary cause for the conflict while failing to provide a sufficient cause for the entirety of the conflict. The Power Transition Theory’s reliance on an often-dismissed assertion of British hegemony and glossing over of the July Crisis leaves it the weakest of the three theories discussed. The Nationalism Theory’s broad strokes explanation for the conflict may be well suited to the works of historians, but fails to encompass the predictive value pursued by political scientists. The Overcompensation Theory, while the least definitive of the three theories, overcomes the greatest deficits of the other theories through its focus upon the Eastern European political landscape where the war actually began and its ability to predict future conflict.
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