I imagine that in the run-up to World War I, many sensible people in the mobilizing countries fully expected that rationality would prevail and there would not be actual shooting.
Except you might also consider that the Euope we know today largely didn’t exist in the pre-WWI era. Without WWI, it would likely still be a series of powerful oppressive empires, and it would be very unlikely that moden folks would be thrilled with that status quo. Not that I justify WWI, but it is not simple to imagine how the world would be now without it – AND it’s imperfect peace.
Your basic premise is incorrect however (you need to learn your European history) since long before Ferdinand was shot, smaller wars had already been going on between the empires. the Russo-Japanese war, the Turkish-Italian War, Wars in the Balkans, etc., not to mention all the numerous conflicts that set up the various empires and their positions between the Guarantee of Begian Neutrality in 1839 and the start of WWI. Europe and the world was nothing BUT wars engaged in by empires over pride and race. WWI merely marked a lowpoint. The 75 years before WWI were a lot more like the between war period before WWII than anything else. One could make a pretty good argument for WWII and possibly even the cold war period, as being the end point of a hundred year’s war among the European powers. It just gets confusing because they kept artificially changing country names and boudaries! I doubt any of the sensible people were deluding themselves that everything might turn out fine…
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