Assess the view that the military planning of the great powers, rather than their long-term rivalries, better explains the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

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This question is great because you've already been given two factors which you should discuss! As a basis I try to address factors in my essays while simultaneously presenting counter-arguments, so let's have a look at a mock plan:

Point 1: Military Planning, here I would refer to the Schielffen plan involving mobilisation which was hard to stop once set into motion.  I would also refer to the work of Taylor and his War by Timetable to back up this argument. It could be worth incorporating French ideas of high morale & rapid advance offering a tempting solution to problems. These plans in the wider context made war seem like an option to address long-standing anxieties. It is important though to remember that planning for war alone is unlikely to explain an outbreak of war. 

Point 2: Long-Term Rivalries, this will require more background knowledge. It could be useful to mention French resentment about the loss of Alsace Lorraine & defeat in 1870, Russian concern with the Balkans & dangers of German-backed Austria & Austrian fear of long-term viability of their Empire. But as a counter-argument it would be worth mentioning whether these rivalries would have led to war without a confident military plan. 

What we've learned:

1) Address the factors provided in the question

2) Incorporate counter arguments into your essay

3) ALWAYS form an argument, examiners love it and it helps you structure your thoughts!

Charlotte R. GCSE English tutor, 11 Plus English tutor, 13 Plus  Engl...

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