In the frenetic arms race that preceded the outbreak of World War I, the pace of technological change, and the perceived rate of growth in the capacity of rivals were both critical destabilizing factors. The German Chief of Staff, Helmuth Von Moltke, declared in June 1914, ‘we are ready – the sooner, the better’, fearing that the growing power of Russia would soon render war unwinnable. Ironically, it was Russian humiliation by the Japanese in 1904–05, coupled with German sabre-rattling in Morocco the following year that drove the formation of the Triple Entente between Russia, Britain and France. The naval balance of power also dictated an early war in the view of Von Tirpitz, the German naval chief: a huge effort had been made to narrow British superiority in the cutting-edge dreadnought class of battleship, but post-1914 projections saw the gap widening again. A pretext was needed: and then Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.
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