Revisionism on the causes of WWI seems to ebb and flow like a 20-year clock. It was Germany's fault, no it wasn't, yes it was. Etc. Here is the latest iteration.
I have read quite a bit on the topic of late. It was horribly complex, but here are a few thoughts.
- At some level, it was everyone's fault, at least as measured by the enthusiasm that greeted the war in nearly every country. It was the last war begun by folks who thought it would be incredibly romantic and glorious.
- Austria simply has to bear a lot of the blame. No doubt a crisis in the Balkans could have been started by Russia or Serbia, and in an alternative universe where the Archduke was not assassinated, they might well have. But the fact is that Austria made this one happen. They crafted a set of demands on Serbia that were supposed to be unreasonable. They were meant to be a Casus Belli. Austria had determined it was going to war with Serbia.
- Much is made of the German blank check to Austria, but the key fact for me were the actions of Germany several weeks later. In response to a building crisis in the Balkans to their southeast, the Germans entered the war attacking to the northwest, into Belgium and France. With conflict inevitable in the Balkans, the Germans (with a helping hand from the Russians) helped turn a limited conflict into a World War.
The Germans were also responsible through bad decisions in bringing the US into the war, via a u-boat campaign that failed to achieve its goals (starve the Brits) but managed to bring US troops to Europe at almost the exact moment when British and French troops might have collapsed. Incredibly, the Germans made the exact same mistake in WWII, declaring war on the US so they could initiate a u-boat campaign against US shipping, when Congress might well have been happy to keep America's war limited to Japan.