MB. wrote:the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was not necessarily "weak" nor liable to decline
The Austria-Hungarian empire was weak internally because of dissension among the different ethnic groups. The Slavs and Czechs wanted independence and the Serbs wanted to join Serbia. It was also weak because Austria and Hungary often couldn't agree on a common policy.
It was weak externally because it had lost the war against Prussia and because it was no match against the Russo-French military alliance. Serbia used as proxy by the French and Russians was a substantial threat to the Austrians.
The truth is that the militarists assumed control not long after the decision to go to war was actually authorized. Germany was ultimately to blame for this decision.
GB has been at war almost without interruption for nearly 300 years, even if the British see themselves as a peaceful nation.
British diplomats threatened to attack Germany directly if it dared expand its colonies in Africa. And the foreign secretary Grey persistently followed an anti-German policy. Knowledge of the military cooperation secretly arranged by Grey in 1905 between France and Britain was kept from parliament, where Grey announced that Britain was under no obligation to come to the assistance of France in the case of war. Double speak is second nature to the civil servants at Whitehall.
The pro-French league within the British cabinet was definitely going to stop Germany from securing the channel ports and this was exactly what the Admiralty attempted to do once the war started.
You mean Britain wanted to occupy Belgium and the North of France?
If Germany was able to embark on a continental war in 1914, it was exactly because it had given up all hope of competing with British naval forces.