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Unit 5: Crisis and Change

Lesson A: Competition Leads to Global Conflict

Activity 1: Long-Term Cause - Militarism

Militarism, alliances, and imperialism are some of the ways in which a country demonstrates its sense of nationalism. Nationalism is often the motivating factor for imperialism, where countries engaged in an armed conflict or built a large army and weapons base. A strong military may inspire caution in another country and may facilitate the forming of beneficial government alliances. All four of these long-term causes of wars and conflicts are entwined, but militarism may be the easiest to measure.

Directions: As you read about World War I, use your graphic organizer to record information about MAIN, the causes of World War I.

Download Icon Download the Student Resource: MAIN Causes of World War I Graphic Organizer (doc).


The growing mistrust between the powers of Europe caused an arms race. The countries of Europe believed that a great military was the reflection of a great country. Between 1850 and 1914, spending on arms in Europe increased nearly five-fold. Nationalists in many countries glorified the military, and a patriotic fervor swept Europe in the early 1900s.

Parades, military reviews, and other patriotic displays of the new weapons of war celebrated militarism. Countries invested in tanks, truck-mounted artillery, and machine guns. Leaders expanded their naval forces with new technology, such as submarines and powerful dreadnought battleships.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the technology was relatively simple, and horses were the primary means of transporting soldiers, their weapons, and supplies. Even by sea, war was dependent on human power and human skill at warfare. New weapons provided more protection to soldiers and were more powerful, and military transportation made it easier to travel greater distances. War could be carried out from farther away with more devastating results.

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Written Activity - Notebook

In your notebook, respond to the following question:

  • Based on your analysis of the images, how did warfare change as a result of the Industrial Revolution?