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In foreign politics Germany was effectively isolated together with its last faithful ally Austria-Hungary In domestic politics governing had become more difficult for the Imperial Governments because the Social Democrats had grown in strength and because Tirpitzs costly fleet-building program had eroded much of the other parties solidarity Although they always feared the possible revolutionary consequences of an international conflict German leaders had sometimes considered war as a panacea for foreign and domestic problems war should split the alliances against Germany and unite the people in a wave of nationalism or even initiate some form of dictatorship based on the military Although pacifism existed both as an independent movement and as an idea attached to the socialist movement most leaders and much of public opinion did not consider war necessarily as an evil thing particularly if it meant to continue politics by other means This was true for all European countries However nobody really knew what kind of war they had to expect Since the Napoleonic period one hundred years ago no war had ever affected large areas of Europe The Franco-German war of 1870-71 had been the last violent conflict between industrially advanced nations in Europe It had been decided within a few weeks Fast mobilization massive gun power fast communications telegraph and the support of railroads seemed to have made war between industrialized nations a short affair The Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5 confirmed this Moreover no nation in Europe seemed capable of surviving a long war Industrialization and the concomitant reduction of agriculture had made national economies so dependent upon imports and international trade that a long war - to contemporaries - could only end in chaos likely to be followed by a socialist revolution Many people in Europe and in Germany in particular thus thought that war would be short and that not all should be done to avert it War might as well come as a violent but short event
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