WWI The late 1800s and early 1900s were years of imperialist competition. Imperialist nations competed intensely for the few bits of land that remained and sought to dominate or influence other, smaller nations. Germany was particularly aggressive and began increasing its armed forces, including its navy. Nations were concerned that this competition could lead to war and began to strengthen their military forces. Great Britain, in particular, felt threatened by Germany's efforts to increase its navy. Seeking even greater security, some nations formed alliances that were not always known publicly. For instance, during the late 1800s, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy joined in a secret alliance called the Triple Alliance. Fearing this alliance, Great Britain, France, and Russia joined together in the Triple Entente. At the same time, smaller nations sought protection from larger ones. Russia for example, promised to protect the small nation of Serbia from Austria-Hungary. In 1908, Austria-Hungary had annexed Bosnia, which was next to Serbia. Nationalism was also growing in Europe, even among small nations or among people who did not currently have a nation, but did have a cultural or ethnic identity. Meanwhile, the U.S. refused to join any alliance. It maintained its traditional policy of neutrality in European affairs. Unfortunately, the competitive imperialist climate, increasing militarism, and the alliance system helped plunge the world into war. On June 28, 1914, a Bosnian Serb who was a pro-Serbian nationalist assassinated the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo, Bosnia. The Archduke was the nephew of the Austro-Hungarian emperor and his heir. Austria-Hungary claimed Serbia was partly responsible for the assassination. With Germany's support, they issued ultimatums to Serbia, mobilized their armed forces, and declared war on Serbia on July 28th. Honoring its pledge to protect Serbia, Russia also mobilized. Germany honored its alliance to Austria-Hungary and declared war on Russia on August 1st. France then mobilized to honor its alliance with Russia. When they refused to stop, Germany invaded neutral Luxembourg and declared war on France on August 3rd. They then invaded neutral Belgium that night in order to pass through it and attack France. Britain was committed to defend Belgium and declared war on Germany on August 4th. France and Britain joined Russia in an alliance called the Allied Powers. Meanwhile Germany and the Ottoman Empire joined Austria-Hungary in an alliance called the Central Powers. Within months of the Archduke's assassination most of Europe's powerful nations were locked in a deadly conflict called the Great War (later renamed World War I). When war broke out in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson once again reaffirmed America's neutrality. He also insisted on America's right as a neutral nation to transport non-war materials to warring nations. Although both Britain and Germany interfered with American ships, the deadly attacks of German submarines most angered Americans. Not wishing to offend the U.S., the Germans limited their attacks for several years. But in early 1917, the Germans ordered unlimited submarine warfare on any ships in the war zone, including American ships. Outraged at the continuing attacks, the U.S. declared war on Germany in April 1917. With America's entry into the war, President Wilson did not just seek the defeat of the Central Powers. He also sought a permanent world peace. Towards this end, Wilson announced in early 1918 his famous plan, called the Fourteen Points. Of particular significance was the 14th point, which called for the creation of a world confederation called the League of Nations. By urging the creation of this organization and U.S. membership in it, Wilson proposed that the U.S. abandon its old policies of isolationism and neutrality. In France, much of the war was a stalemate with the troops on both sides dug into trenches (trench warfare). However, gradually the Allied Powers wore down the Central Powers. When America entered the war in 1917, it started to provide a large number of new troops for the Allied side. Meanwhile, the war was causing severe internal political problems in Russia. The government there was overthrown in a revolution in 1917. Russia concluded a separate peace with the Central Powers in March 1918. Even with the withdrawal of Russia from the Allied side, Germany asked for an armistice in late 1918. World War I came to an end. Soon afterwards, Wilson and the other Allied leaders met in Paris, France to negotiate a peace treaty (the Treaty of Versailles). Among its provisions was a redrawing of the map of Europe. The leaders established new nations, such as Czechoslovakia, and recreated Poland on land taken from Germany, Austria-Hungary, and other defeated Central Powers. Over the objections of Wilson, the treaty severely punished Germany by stripping away its colonies and forcing it to pay heavy reparations. But the treaty did include Wilson's major goal -- the League of Nations. Much to Wilson's disappointment, America did not support his new internationalist foreign policy. Many Americans feared that membership in the League would only result in American participation in more foreign wars. In 1919, the U.S. Senate rejected both the Treaty and the League. In rejecting the League, the U.S. returned to its traditional policy of isolationism. America's brief experiment with internationalism ended.