Realism: a Greater Explanation for World War I Essay

2058 Words Dec 1st, 2010 9 Pages
Realism: A Greater Explanation for World War I Realism, by definition, is the study and practice of international relations; focusing on the nation-state, and that all nation-states are motivated by self-interest (Ferraro on Realism). The first two interests a state looks to fulfill are obtaining self-governance and defining borders. After those have been achieved countries will look to increase their power in many different forms (Ferraro on Realism). The years leading up to World War I were a time where most of Europe, as well as countries in Asia, were rapidly increasing their power. As countries gained power, their citizen’s nationalism, or attitude toward their country, also increased. According to Northedge and Grieve this was …show more content…
An example of this was in the 1890s when France and Britain were conquering parts of Africa. Britain was trying to conquer Africa from Cairo to South Africa, and France trying to conquer from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. If an imaginary line was drawn from Cairo to South Africa and from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, the intersection is a place called Foshoda. Although the area was of no significance other than that, the two armies marched to Foshoda almost leading to the outbreak of war (Ferraro lecture Oct. 29). The insignificance of Foshoda points out that imperialism was not just a means of expansion to new markets, but countries obtained new territories because other countries were as well.
The expansion didn’t only take place in Africa, as one fifth of the world was under British rule (Clare, John). For countries like Germany, Russia, and France this must be looked at as a disadvantage, making it within their best interest to do the same thing. This idea directly correlates to the realist theory on imperialism, which states, “imperialism is simply a manifestation of the balance of power and is the process by which nations try to achieve a favorable change in the status quo. The purpose of imperialism is to decrease the strategic and political vulnerability of a nation” (Ferraro Theories Imperialism). Increased tensions over colonies in the years leading to WWI are another major explanation for the causes

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