A very sad centenary
The immediate trigger for WWI was the 28 June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. That was exactly 100 years ago.
So what caused that dreadful war? The conventional answer -- some remnant of wartime propaganda -- is GERMANY. Yet the actual first declaration of war was by Austria
The murderous Princip was a Serbian terrorist who shot both the heir to the Austrian throne and his wife as they travelled in an open car through the streets of Sarajevo in Bosnia. As a result, Austria declared war on Serbia.
When the German Kaiser heard of the shootings he expressed the opinion that there was no need for Austria to go to war. But Austria declared war before he could make his views known. So it was not the German Kaiser who was a "warmonger".
The Austro/Serbian war would have remained a local Yugoslav conflict except for the NEXT thing that happened. The Russian Tsar had fatherly feelings towards Serbia so HE declared war on Austria. So it was Russia that started the ball rolling. Once Russia had declared war, the German Kaiser had to declare war pursuant to his treaty with Austria. Then the French declared war with Germany pursuant to their treaty with Russia and it was all on.
So it seems to me that the Russian Tsar was the guilty party in starting that war.
As regards the nature of that war, however, it was the Japanese who were to blame. At the beginning of the 20th century, Japan was already a respected military power and their destruction of the Russian navy in 2005 cemented that reputation throughout Europe.
And the Japanese strategy in land warfare was to soften up the enemy positions with artillery fire and then send troops charging against the enemy positions in "suicidal" attacks. But the Japanese were generally up against inferior and less motivated troops so their charges generally succeeded. This was perceived by Westerners as an example of what bravery, martial spirit and heroism could achieve. They admired it greatly. So they adopted the same strategy for themselves in WWI. But in WWI they were up against tougher opposition so the "heroic" tactics were just slaughter that achieved very little other than exhausting both sides.
It was only when fresh troops arrived from America that the end of the war came.
We can only mourn that terrible conflict and the stupidity that made it so terrible
I always think of Gavrilo Princip's deed as a prime example of why one should not do evil deeds in a good cause. Leftists routinely excuse evil or oppressive deeds on the grounds that they are in a good cause. "You've got to break eggs to make omelettes", they say. Stalin thought that killing all the rich peasants would fix all Russia's problems. In fact it just produced big food shortages. Gavrilo Princip thought that shooting the Archduke would get a better deal for Serbs. In fact it brought on the death of the 50 million or so people who died in WWI. -- JR
UPDATE: I have had some expressions of skepticism about the role I ascribed to Japan. More on that here.