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Why Did Britain Go to War in 1914?

  • Date Submitted: 02/27/2012 07:16 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 45.1 
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Why did Britain go to war in 1914?
          In August 1914, most of Europe was convulsed by warfare. Expected to be short, the conflict became a long and bloody “total war” mobilizing civilians as well as soldiers and killing millions. By 1918, not only was it seen as a European affair, but the war of all wars had become a global conflict. It is difficult to determine the exact reasoning’s of the outbreak of such a catastrophic war, whether it was the long term reason dating back to 1839, The Treaty of London, seventy five years before the war broke out, or the events in the preceding months before the war, the July crisis being the most obvious of these. However, these long and short term events could be argued to come down to one idea, Britain’s strive for a ‘balance of power’. The Entente Cordiale and Britain’s rivalry with Germany in the Naval Race can both be strong contenders when examining the exact motivations of Britain entering the World War.
          The 1839 Treaty of London can be argued to have significant reason to why H.H Asquith brought his country into the Great War. This pact bound Britain to guard the neutrality of Belgium in the event of an invasion. However, in August 1914 Germany invaded Belgium in order to gain a stronger foothold on France, consequently leaving France without its increasingly needed buffer zone. By breaking the peace treaty, Germany provoked Britain and left Asquith with one choice, to declare war. The invasion and the Treaty of London were used effectively as legal pretext to proclaim such a war and made it somewhat more acceptable to the British public. The Germans merely asked Britain to forget their bound to the Belgians as they described the treaty to be just a ‘scrap of paper’.  
          The protection of Belgium was not only essential to France but was vital for Britain’s security, as German control would lead to their rule over two major ports, Ostende and Zeebrugge, inescapably opening up the south coast...

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