Was WWI a necessary war in order to stop German aggressiveness or was it an avoidable and unnecessary tragedy?
I would like to think that the whole trend of world wars could have been avoided with strategic diplomacy, but I'm not sure it could have been. The Germans were part of a new nation, just starting out, and under the somewhat sporadic and aggressive leadership of Wilhelm II, a young Kaiser eager to prove his worth, Germany seemed eager for a fight. They demanded a ridiculous amount of reparations from the French after the Franc-Prussian war, and the nation began to improve not only its already insanely powerful army, but its navy as well. It hoped to rival that of the traditional navy powerhouse Britain, but for no real reason. It seems to me that Germany and Wilhelm II were seeking power for the sake of seeking power, and that if it took a massive world war to put the Germanic people in their place, then by all means I deem it necessary. However, history tells us that the Germans were even more stubborn and persistent than anticipated, and it actually took two world wars to shut them up. ~Ashley
Just based on what we have learned so far, it seems that this war was necessary to stop German aggression. Wilhelm II appears to have been very confrontational and competitive by nature. Also, he was very proud of his army, as he should have been, and desperate to prove that strength to the rest of Europe. It seems like he did not understand, as Bismarck did, that Europeans were already very wary of Germany’s growth and power, so he tried to prove himself even when it was not completely necessary. I’m not sure he could have been talked down diplomatically. - Erin
I agree with Erin and Ashley in that war was a necessary step in stopping German aggression. Following Bismarck’s dismissal, Wilhelm II intimidated other countries with Germany’s growing Navy and the arrival of its warship off the Moroccan coast, which proved that Germany was not afraid to fight. Because of this, other countries allied themselves against Germany for their own protection. Though they did not understand their power of intimidation at first, it would only be a matter of time before they realized that they could bully Europe into submission. In order to stop a country already prepared for war, diplomacy probably wouldn’t cut it. Also, there was an arms race growing in Europe since Bismarck’s era, and multiple international crises were causing tensions to emerge between countries. The continent was mobilizing for war, so war was a logical as well as necessary next step to contain Germany. -Alexis
I think World War I was the cumulative result of several small disputes, usually involving Germany, as well as a general feeling of nationalism and anxiety in Europe, to which Germany contributed. Without this nationalism, cooler heads might have prevailed, but because it was a sentiment that pretty much dominated the foreign policies of European countries during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and because Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II only made it worse, war was unavoidable. Although Germany still scared Europe with its superior military and victories during the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars, I think if Bismarck had remained in power, war would not have been inevitable. European powers were aware that Bismarck did not want war, mostly because he held the Berlin Conference to prevent a war over imperialism in Africa. However, Wilhelm II, the “loose cannon,” was unpredictable and sparked conflicts just to prove Germany was the best. After the dispute between the British and the Boers, he sent a telegram to congratulate the Boers on defeating the British, a conceited, almost childish move. -Grace
Germany prior to WWI was an aggressive state that needed to be reined in. Bismarck hadn't made it that way, but that was the direction Wilhelm II took it. Their army was the largest in Europe, and they were in the process of building a fleet to possibly rival the British fleet, illustrating a desire to be better and stronger than everyone else. The Moroccan incident showed Germany's tactic, build a huge army and wave it in the face of everyone else, daring them to fight. Diplomacy only works to a certain point, and once that point is reached war is the only possible outcome. This normally happens when one side refuses to cooperate, which is what the Germans did. Eventually appeasement had to end, and the Germans got what they had been asking for for a long time, war. Diplomacy can stop wars from occurring only if both sides want to avoid war, which was not the case with Germany, so in this situation diplomacy was not very helpful. -Sam
Though I wish it weren't true, I think World War I was a necessary war to restore balance of power in Europe. In the early 20th century, Germany had become so militarily powerful and aggressive thanks to the leadership of Wilhelm II, and even if Germany's leader had been a pacifist, Germany's size and power would have been unsettling to most other European nations anyway because of the potential threat they posed. In my opinion, though specific wars could maybe be avoided at certain points in history, wars will always be inevitable because nations, leaders, values, and the economy constantly change with the progression of time, and someone will always have something to fight for. Much like the economy, which is plagued by sinusoidal fluctuations, it is not possible to avoid war long-term without somehow forcing everything to maintain static. There will always be nations fighting for more power. In many ways, war is nature's way of resetting the distribution of power, and reigning in powers that are getting out of control, and I think WWI was a prime example of that. —Connie
I believe with what most other people are saying, and that Germany's aggression had to be stopped, however, the resulting war could have been much smaller if the head powers acted differently. Wilhelm, opposed to Bismarck, was unpredictable and many of the other countries probably did not believe how aggressively he would act. If the assassination of Franz Ferdinand never happened, the massive German force would only grow stronger. A more diplomatic situation could have arisen without a spark to start the conflict, but tensions were already very high at the time and it would have taken a lot of work and most likely a smaller war to get Germany to back down. - Hayes