chapter  3
The role of necessary conditions in the outbreak of World War I
ByJack S. Levy
Pages 38

Over a decade ago I used some basic concepts of rational choice theory to guide an analysis of decision-making and strategic interaction in the July 1914 crisis (Levy, 1990-1). My aim was to assess whether the outbreak of World War I was better explained by the interests of political leaders and the international and domestic constraints on their choices, or by their mismanagement of the crisis. I concluded that given the structure of power and alliances, the interests of state leaders, and the domestic problems in each state, the probability of war was already high at the time of the assassination. Decision-makers had some room to maneuver, but not much, and the constraints on their actions intensified as the crisis progressed, further increasing the probability of war and leaving fewer and fewer opportunities for leaders to manage the crisis without risking significant harm to their interests.