Why is it that individuals living during the eve of World War I (1914) were not perceptive enough to realize what was coming?

Individuals living during the eve of World War I did not see the conflict coming, because there had never been a wide-spread conflict like it before. People could not comprehend war on a global scale. Additionally, the political climate that led to World War I developed slowly, which is something that is hard to see when you are living it.

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The phrase "Hindsight is 20/20" comes to mind here. Historians who study WWI are able to identify patterns in political and socioeconomic events that led to the war. Even today, there is no consensus on what event triggered the war or who is to blame.

Events that are considered contributors...

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The phrase "Hindsight is 20/20" comes to mind here. Historians who study WWI are able to identify patterns in political and socioeconomic events that led to the war. Even today, there is no consensus on what event triggered the war or who is to blame.

Events that are considered contributors to the start of the war began decades earlier. Between 1879 and 1914, countries across Europe and Asia formed defense alliances, which meant if one country was attacked, their allies were required to defend them. The most powerful alliances included France and Russia; Britain, France, and Belgium; Japan and Britain; Russia and Serbia; and Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Then, Russia defended Serbia. Germany then declared war on Russia, which drew in France. Germany invaded Belgium and France, which brought Britain into the war. Later to join in defense of the Allies were Italy, the US, and Japan.

Many of the nations involved in WWI had contentious relationships because of imperialism, which resulted in smaller conflicts over territories in Asia and Africa. Negative relationships made countries all the more willing to ally with another to fight against a country that wronged them.

World War I was a conflict decades in the making. People did not see it coming because it was a war that developed over generations. These patterns are only visible now, as we study it from the outside. Additionally, World War I was the first of its kind. No other prior war involved so many countries from different parts of the world. The people living at the time could not fathom a worldwide conflict.

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