Imperialism Essay, Research Paper
Definition: the desire to acquire colonies. (esp. 1870-1914) After low point in the beginning of the 19th century, there was a revival in Imperialism (New Imperialism) as European powers fought over Asia and Africa. In 1875 only 10% of Africa was under European control. In 1895 90% of Africa was under European control. The leading imperial powers were Britain, France, Russia, and Germany. Motives: Economic: "the impulse was always one of capitalistic greed for cheap raw materials, advantageous markets, good investments, and fresh fields of exploitation" (marxist explanation) Argument against this: "the export of capital in fact seems to have little connection with imperial expansion" (ie: in 1913 Britain had more money invested in the US than in any colony) Diplomatic:
Post-Franco-Prussian war (1870-71) the risk of war in Europe was too great therefore rivalries were transferred to Asia and Africa. The French sought to compensate loss of prestige from the war with Prussia by gaining success overseas. Strategic:
ie: Britain sought control over Egypt to secure the route to its Indies colonies (the result of this was that other imperial powers annexed regions to compensate for the strategic annexations and imperialism gained its own momentum) Prestige:
Loss in the race for colonies was seen as loss of national prestige. Imperialism as a result of the Growth of Democracy in W. Europe:
Nationalistic masses through the democratic system backed and asked for imperialist policies. (the colonies provided for excitement of the masses — like bread and circuses in Roman times) ?The White Man?s Burden?
Some felt they had a duty as ‘more advanced people’ to help the less advanced. Social Darwinism:
Applied Darwin’s theories on evolution onto international relations. (states must expand or decline, they must increase their empires or be taken over by others.) Exploration:
the exploits of explorers aroused great interest Technology:
Technological advances meant that huge amounts of territories could be conquered with relative ease. (once occupied they were easier to administer due to the use of tech. Such as the telegraph and telephone.) By 1905, the enthusiasm for imperialism died out because of setbacks. (Spain was defeated by the US, the Boer wars, the battle of Adowa (where the Italian army lost out to Abyssinian troops), and defeat of the Russians at the hands of the Japanese.) Main Events of the Period 1870-1914: The Scramble for Africa. Europeans settled in colonies like Algeria (the French) and South Africa (the English) Britain acquired Cyprus France proclaimed a protectorate over Tunis in 1881. Britain occupied Egypt in the summer of 1882. (but it represented a ‘noose round England’s neck’ rather then a benefit) In 1907 the Congo became a Belgian colony France founded the French Congo. Germany claimed South West Africa, Togoland and the Cameroons as well as western New Guinea and certain pacific islands. The Berlin conference (1884) There should be free trade for all nations in the Congo bassin. Britain’s predominant position in the Niger was recognized. Laid down doctrines of ‘effective occupation’ and proper notification of annexations. (speeded up the partitioning process in Africa) Conflict btw France and G.B. over W. Africa Conflict btw G.B. and Germany in E. Africa (Britain obtained Kenya and Uganda while Germany obtained Tanganyika) Conflict in S. Africa btw Britain, Germany, Portugal, and the Boer Republics. ‘Fashoda incident’ (Upper Nile) brought Britain and France on the verge of war- they then embarked towards an entente cordiale. The scramble for Africa ended in 1898. ?Scramble? for China. Britain gained access to ports and the island of Hong Kong (as a result of the 1839 — 42 war) Russia gained territory at China’s expense to have access to warm water ports. The French conquered Indo-China during the 1880’s The first serious attack on the Chinese mainland was made by Japan. WWI and the founding of the League of Nations as well as rivalries between imperialist powers prevented the partitioning of China. The partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. By 1914 Germany was the dominant power at Constantinople. The alignments of WWI had been ‘forged’ during the imperialist era but not determined by it. (ie: G.B. entered WWI on the side of her two old enemies: France and Russia) The Eastern Question Definition: Who will fill the vacuum created by the decline of Ottoman power and withdrawal from the region? The position of the powers: Russia: (most likely to profit from the decline of the O.E.) She shared a border with O.E. / had military advantage over O.E. Russia sought access to the Mediterranean. The peoples of the Balkans were mainly Orthodox (like the Russians) which gave Russia a valid claim to influence in the Balkans The pan-Slav movement to free the Balkans from Ottoman control was picked up by Russia. Austro-Hungary: (regarded the Balkans as of vital interest)
Was concerned about the spread of nationalism in the Balkans because of its own multinational identity. Sought to maintain her access to the Adriatic Sea (through Croatia) Was determined, as a question of prestige, not to lose out in the Balkans. Great Britain / France:
Supported the maintaining of the Ottoman Empire, in order to prevent further Russian influence in the Balkans. Germany:
Under Bismark, Germany had no direct interest in the Balkans because Bismarck sought to avoid conflict between the great powers.