Ninety years ago, the great powers of Europe collided in World War I, in many ways shaping the modern world. For example, that war broke up the Ottoman Empire and created the states of the Middle East. World War II and even the Cold War seem more to have been continuations of what began in August 1914. The great question since 1914 has been why the war started, because it seemed to come out of an era of relative peace. The outbreak was so puzzling to many, that it was widely ascribed to sinister subterranean forces that could bubble up without warning. Forty years ago it was common wisdom that the European powers had locked themselves into alliances that made a war inevitable once any minor conflict had erupted; and moreover, that their war plans, particularly those of the Germans, were so designed that local conflict automatically escalated. The initial stage of war was sometimes called "war by timetable" on the theory that once troop movements by train had been set into motion, each country felt compelled to put its own mobilization plans into effect.
World Naval Developments: What Are the Parallels of 1914 Germany and 2004 Iran?
By Norman Friedman, Author, The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems