In the lead-up to the 90th anniversary of the Armistice, I thought I'd make a few posts on the subject of "the war to end all wars".
A while back I read a book by Barbara Tuchman called The Guns of August. The argument of the book was that the military plans of the powers of Europe went into autopilot and no-one was able to stop the process because of fears of the other side. A very interesting book- I recommend it.
The trigger that led to this global conflict was of course the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, but there was already tensions ongoing in Europe at that time.
In particular there was an arms race between Great Britain and Germany, particularly in the naval front. Now, while guns don't kill people on their own, they can serve to turn a tense situation into a full-blown fight. Perhaps this should have been spotted.
Germany, definitely not a democracy as we would use the term today at that point in history, should not take all the blame for starting the war. It should take some though- it didn't need to invade Belgium or attack France at that point. The conduct of German troops in Belgium, although exaggerated by Allied propaganda was pretty bad at times.
I don't think Austria needed to start a war with Serbia (did they have evidence Serbia was involved? I don't think they did).
Really, the tragedy of the First World War is that it really shouldn't have happened. The end of the First made the Second almost inevitable.