Interdependence altered power relations between the European great powers between 1871 and 1914 in ways that both sustained the conditions for peace and, after 1911, made a European war more likely. Interdependence accelerated the development of international financial and commercial networks. Transnational social and cultural exchanges raised the costs of a general war, offered multiple channels for states and societies to exercise influence over each other, and altered power relations. The great powers pursued their interests through not only military force but also trade deals, financial loans, expert missions (teams sent to smaller states ostensibly to aid in modernization), and cultural diplomacy. They competed for influence in smaller states. Many of the crises that pockmarked this era derived from their contested interests in such strategically vital areas in Europe as the Balkans, the Ottoman Empire, and the Low Countries, as well as elsewhere in the world. States that lost out in this transformation, notably Austria-Hungary and Russia, saw the militarization of their foreign policies as a way to compensate for weaknesses in other forms of power.

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