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Firstly, the fact that the alliances were always made on a war-footing
and the powers were divided into sides nurtured a sense of competition
and heightened the war tension and led to an arm race between European
powers. For example, after the formation of the Triple Entente,
Germany competed with Brit in building dreadnoughts. Thus all
European powers were ready for war in 1914.
Secondly, as most details of the alliances were kept secret, mutual
suspicions and fears deepened and the powers watched each other’s
moved suspiciously. This suspicion prevented their diplomats from
devising a suitable solution to many of the crisis preceding to war.
Thirdly, since the European powers had made alliances with one
another, any quarrel between countries within the two camps would
easily involve all other countries of the camp. e.g. Serb vs Austria
– to WWI.
Fourthly, the powers became less willing to settle disputes by
peaceful means as they believed their allies would give them military
support. e.g. Blank Check – to war
Fifthly, the alliances were originally strictly defensive but by 1910,
many alliances had changed their nature. The Austro-German alliance
became an aggressive alliance after the Bosnian crisis in 1909, the
Germany promised to give military aid to Austria-Hungary, if she
invaded Serbia and Austria. As alliances had become instruments of
national aggressions, chance of war increased.
Sixthly, after the formation of the Triple Entente, Germany began to
feel the threat to her security. Ger was encircled by enemies. This
induced Germany to adopt a more vigorous foreign policy in an attempt
to break the unification of the Entente powers. This resulted in a
series of international crisis from 1905 to 1914.
l On 5 July, 1914, Germany assured Austria that should there be an
Austro-Serbian war, Germany would give Austria unlimited support as an
l On 23 July 1914, Austria sent an ultimatum to Serbia and demanded
Serbia to indemnify, apologize, admit responsibility, punish people
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in the presence of Austrian officials.
l On 25 July, Serbia accepted most terms but not the last demand for
if infringed her sovereignty.
l On 28th July, Austria declared war on Serbia. Austrian troops
marched into Serbia and bombarded Belgrade.
l On 29th July, as Serbia joined the Triple Entente, Rus was obliged
to order troops to mobilize in support of Serbia.
l On 30 July, Germany feared she would face a two-front war and sent
an ultimatum to Rus demanding her to demobilize.
l Rus refused and Ger declared war on Rus on 1 Aug. France mobilized
in support of Russia because of the Triple Entente.
l On 4 Aug. German declared war on France. Ger invaded France through
Belgium according the Schlieffen Plan.
l On the same day, Britain sent ultimatum to German to stay away from
Belgium which was a neutral country. When it was ignored, Britain
declared was on Germany.
As a result, the alliance system became the source of conflicts among
the great powers because it turned small local quarrels into the First
World War involving various countries.