|the advent of air power--SPAD XIII|
|in the mud at Passchendaele|
A less apparent causative factor was an intense arms race between Britain and Germany in which Germany intended to create a blue water navy that could rival the world's leading naval power. Kaiser Wilhelm II began building battleships of immense tonnage and firepower in 1898. Britain's economy relied on sea-borne trade, so any challenge to its navy's hegemony was viewed with alarm, provoking a response in kind. Developments in technology such as steam turbines and large-bore guns mounted in turrets made older vessels obsolete. By 1906 Britain gained a technological advantage with its dreadnought class of battleships. Unable to keep up with the spending of the world's largest industrial economy of the time, Germany turned its attention to the army. The damage done to relations between the two countries by the naval arms race was irreparable.
|industrial capacity was key to victory|
Deteriorating family relations may have also had a causative role. The three emperors, George V, Tsar Nicholas II and Kaiser Wilhelm II were first cousins who knew each other well. The oldest grandchild of Queen Victoria, Wilhelm nevertheless developed an antipathy towards everything British probably due to a difficult relationship with his mother. A historian wrote of his conflicted attitude toward the British: From the outset, the half-German side of him was at war with the half-English side. He was wildly jealous of the British, wanting to be British, wanting to be better at being British than the British were, while at the same time hating them and resenting them because he never could be fully accepted by them." While she was alive, Queen Victoria attempted to reconcile the cousins, but when she died relations between the branches of her extended royal family became more strained. A recent book reviewer wrote, the events leading up to the conflict are "a study in the envy, insincerity, festering rancor and muddle that only families can manage". Unlike ordinary families, however, the royal rancor had tragic geopolitical consequences for the world.