The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 was not unexpected. Diplomatic tensions between the Entente powers and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) had been increasing for a number of years, for example Weltpolitik had contributed to increasing international tensions. As suggested by Layton German leadership undertook a policy of ‘calculated risks’ in the hope of strengthening Germany’s domestic and diplomatic situation. The majority of Historians now acknowledge that Germany bear the major responsibility for the outbreak of war, however, many Historians’ disagree on whether Germany had planned to go to war or if they simply saw war as a viable option but miscalculated the actions of the other powers. Carr suggests that although Germany's foreign policy ran 'appalling risks' this is not the sole reason Germany should be burdened with 'war guilt and focuses on the July Crisis as one of the main reasons why war broke out in 1914. Laver, on the other hand, unequivocally states that it is German miscalculations which caused the war and focuses on Germany's 'bellicose behaviour. Other factors include the blank cheque given to Austria in their efforts to deal with Serbia, how far Germany were caught in a war by timetable, how far other powers are to blame for the deterioration of the international situation by 1914.
One argument that can be given as to why the war broke out in 1914 is due to German miscalculations. One of the areas it could be said that Germany miscalculated that brought about the outbreak of war in 1914 would be that they misjudged Britain's willingness to go to war in 1914. Laver states that 'other contentious issues include: [Germany's] estimates of British intentions.' Many of the senior advisors in the German Government felt that Britain would not go to war with Germany over the 'scrap of paper' that was the Treaty of London. The Treaty of London was signed in 1839 and agreed that if there ever was to be a war within Europe, countries that remained neutral would not be invaded during the conflict. When Britain entered the conflict in 1914, the reason given was not because Germany had declared war on Russia and threatened one of Britain's allies, it was due to the fact that whilst activating the Schlieffen Plan, Germany had violated the neutrality of Belgium. It could be argued however that Britain's reason for entering the war may not have actually been to protect the neutrality of Belgium. Bethmann Hollwegg argued that Britain would not go to war with Germany over a 'scrap of paper', and that the British public would not accept this as a valid reason for entering the war with Belgium; the reason Britain used the violation of The Treaty of London as a means to unite the Liberal Government, so that Britain could enter the war. Historian Max Hastings believes that the Liberal Government itself was divided over a reason to enter the war; the prevailing feeling among the Government was that Britain would have to enter the war so that the balance of power in Europe would not be tipped to threaten the British Empire. If Germany were allowed to conquer and dominate Europe, that would be disadvantageous for Britain because a stronger and more imperial Germany would threaten the colonies of the British Empire and would ultimately begin to challenge Britain as the largest Empire in Europe.
It could be said that the events of the Moroccan Crisis demonstrate how Germany miscalculated the other Entente powers. Germany made many diplomatic mistakes, in 1905 the Kaisers main aims were to demand an international conference to discuss the future of Morocco in the hope of driving a wedge between Britain and France and to prise France away from Russia. However, they failed to disrupt the relationships of the Entente powers and instead succeeded in isolating themselves. It is for this reasons that many Historians