W2.03 The End of Empires?
Hi. Welcome back. Make yourself comfortable. Last time, we talked about the end of World War I. This time let's talk about what happened next. I've titled this presentation: The End of Empires? A number of them come to an end, but not all of them. That's why the question mark. Woodrow Wilson had talked about a peace without victory, one that didn't just reinstate the older balance of power system with new folks on top. He had a different vision. It was an enormously popular vision for a world exhausted by war, hoping for different kinds of ideals. And Wilson sincerely believed in it. But on the other hand, if you were in one of the defeated nations like France, where the Germans had done so much damage to your territory, the notion that you're going to end this war and not get something out of it might not be a very persuasive idea. And then you look at the problem with the peacemakers. And even if the peacemakers weren't vengeful, the problems they face are just enormous. Five empires come to an end between 1910 and 1920. Just think about it for a second. The Qing Empire that for centuries had ruled China. That disintegrated in 1911 and 1912. Remember that warlord that we talked About, Yuan Shikai? He had become a military dictator, declared himself an emperor, then died. China's turning into a place of anarchy and warlords, but the Qing Empire, it's gone. What about in Europe? The German Empire ruled by the Hohenzollern Dynasty that had ruled Prussia for centuries, gone. The Kaiser goes into exile in Holland. What about the Hapsburg Dynasty that had ruled so much of Central Europe for centuries? Gone. What about the Ottoman Empire that had ruled so much of Southwest Asia and even parts of Europe for centuries? Gone. Its last sultan abdicates at the end of the war. And what the Romanov Dynasty that has ruled the Russian Empire for centuries? Gone. In the summer of 1918, beset by civil war, the Communists will murder the tsar, his wife, and his whole family. So, think about this for a moment from the perspective of the peacemakers. Again this way we look at these problems of why choices: situation, problem, solution. So you're facing this problem: five empires are disintegrating. What takes their place? Who's going to be in charge? Think about that as problem. You can't just kind of point to some other king necessarily and say you, you, your, your family you're going to be in charge. No, in general, the tendency is to create republics. Well, that means you need to create institutions for figuring out who rules in the republics. Democracies built overnight. What do you do? And then if the people are going to be ruled, ruled by what principal? You can say, well, the people ought to decide who will be in charge. But there are also some people on your side who aren't anxious to recreate the countries they just fought against. They think those countries should have a different shape and size. In some cases, they think their country should get larger at the expense of the losers. So there is a lot of score settling going on and for understandable reasons. There are a series of treaties held, one after another, to settle the fate of these different empires: a treaty to settle the fate of Germany, a treaty to settle the fate of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, and so on. You can view these treaties as failures and many historians did. But charitably you'd say, look at the problems they're facing. In a way, you're trying to throw these things together right after the war is over. You haven't had a lot of time to think through what you're going to do because the war ended so suddenly. The treaties themselves, in a way, are stopgap measures to try to organize things a little bit as you work out, through the 1920s, a more stable international system. One of the concerns to take into account is: How much do you want to break up Germany? Do you still need a viable German state to maintain a balance of power in Europe? The basic approach they adopt from the German case you can see from this map. Let's zoom in a little bit. The state of Poland will be recreated. You see it here, partly at the expense of the old Russian Empire and partly at the expense of the German Empire. This area in here is all taken from what had been in the German Empire, what had been part of Prussia, so that Poland will have an outlet to the sea. With this German city, Danzig, administered by an international organization, the new League of Nations. Like this little territory here, these new states are calling themselves into existence out of the ruins of the old Russian Empire, too. Germany also gives up the Alsace and Lorraine provinces that it had taken from France in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. The French also institute a military occupation of much of western Germany to make sure that Germany's industrial region cannot be used to rebuild the German army, which is placed under strict limits. The Austro-Hungarian Empire is also being divided up into a new set of component states. You might notice that Romania, which had come in on the Allied side, is particularly enlarged by the outcome of the peace settlements. So one concern you have if you're at the peace makers table is to maintain some sort of balance of power for international order. But you might also want to respect national self-determination. How far do you carry a national principle? Do you really believe that every state needs to be ethnically pure? For instance, if you studied a map of the nationalities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, divided up by ethnicity as this map does, and said, gee, how am I going to draw the nation state borders based on this? It would be a pretty complicated problem. So, for instance, the new state of Romania that they will create over here is going to include a very large Hungarian minority right here. Serbia is going to grow enormously as a result of the peace settlement. It'll encompass Bosnia and more, including a lot of people who aren't Serbian. This is why it will be renamed Yugoslavia, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia: in a way, the Kingdom of the South Slavs. And what about the imperial principal? Are all the empires going to go away? No, only the losing empires. The British and French Empires actually expand their domains in Africa and Southwest Asia. Their initial goals are ambitious. Here's the map they drew up in the initial treaty to settle the end of the Ottoman Empire. The treaty signed at Sevres in 1920. As you can see, the whole area was going to be partitioned. Armenia and Greece would get back into Asia Minor. British sphere of influence. The French, which are going to rule this part of the Middle East under a League of Nations authority, will have their sphere of influence expand here in support of a new Kurdish nation state. An Italian zone here. And the Dardanelles Straits, that'll be under international administration, at least that was the original plan of the victorious powers. As you can see, in addition to solving problems that juggled the balance of power and national or ethnic principals, if you think that's a good idea, the victorious powers did have a good degree of sympathy for the desire to create new international structures, this is a dearly held principal of liberals in both Europe and the United States. Indeed, some of the most fervent advocates and originators of the idea of a League of Nations were not Americans; they were people within the British Empire, people like the South African, Jan Smuts. And so when the American Senate decides not to ratify the Versailles Treaty, and refuses to let America become a full member of the League of Nations, the League of Nations gets stood up anyway, and the British and French are leading partners in organizing it. One of their interests in the League of Nations, in addition to creating an international organization to talk through disputes, to adjudicate disputes diplomatically, is also a very much liberal recognition that all these peoples were entitled to self-determination; they just aren't ready to fully exercise it yet. So they need a period of imperial tutelage in which the League of Nations will say, for instance, to the French: You France, you look after Syria until the Syrians are ready to run their country themselves. And the British, for example, say: Well that's a great idea. We'll run several of these mandates and we'll even grant the Egyptians their independence - of course, with a significant force of British troops to help them maintain order and to protect the Suez Canal. The future of China and East Asia was actually settled in a remarkable piece of diplomacy negotiated in Washington DC in 1921 and early 1922. It involved three treaties. One, about the political relationships of the great powers, that would take the place just of the British-Japanese Treaty of 1902. Another, a landmark Arms Control Treaty that would regulate the size of the naval forces of the Great Powers in ratio with each other. For instance, with the American and the British both being at a ratio of five and five to three for the Japanese (5:5:3), which from the Japanese perspective in 1921 didn't seem like such a bad ratio. And also a treaty about the future of China in which all the interested powers, there were nine of them, all signed an accord in which they promised to respect the territorial integrity of China - that goal that John Hay had proclaimed, somewhat ineffectually, in 1900 is now one that the international system agrees to, somewhat grudgingly in the case of the Japanese. But it's important. So let's zoom in and take a harder look at Northeast China. The Japanese are holding Korea as a colony, had since 1910. The Japanese have firm control here on the Liaodong Peninsula; they'd moved into the German possessions here and were controlling the Shandong Peninsula, which effectively controlled all the outlets for this whole area of northern China to the sea. As a result of the Nine-Power Treaty in Washington, the Japanese had to effectively withdraw their major military presence from the mainland of China. The Japanese retained a sphere of influence in Manchuria, a disorderly place under the control of a warlord. But fundamentally, the treaty had gone a long way towards holding status of China as a place whose territorial integrity needed to be respected until China could organize itself in a more stable way. These three treaties, which together made up what historians have called the Washington System for East Asia, were the product of a nice bit of statecraft by this man: the American Secretary of State under the new Republican administration of Warren Harding, Charles Evans Hughes. This is the same Charles Evans Hughes who had run for president unsuccessfully against Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Later on, he would become the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, too. An interesting person not very well remembered nowadays. You've got the League of Nations setting up some lasting structure for international cooperation and a regime for converting imperialism into a new, more liberal format. You've got a Washington system that's trying to hold out hopes for the territorial integrity of China. In Eastern Europe and the Middle East, though, there's a lot of disorder surrounding the creation of these new countries. If we zoom in on this map, in the years 1919 to 1921, there's a war between the new Polish state and the newly created Soviet Union. There's a communist revolution that's taken over in Hungary and then a counter-revolution to destroy it. There are revolutions in Germany. There's other disorder all over Eastern Europe. In addition to those problems in Europe in the early 1920s, the leadership of David Lloyd George really was tested in a confrontation with Turkey. Remember, earlier I showed you a map of how the Allies at the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 were going to carve up this region: Anatolia. What happens out of this wreckage of the Ottoman Empire is the creation of a vigorous Turkish nation state. Its leader, a man named Mustafa Kemal, known better as AtatÃ¼rk, is determined to unify his new country, drive out the foreigners, and indeed create more of an ethnically pure Turkish nation state. That means continued fighting against the Armenians. During World War I, the Ottoman Empire had done a lot to purge the disloyal Armenians, even carrying out what amounted to a genocide of the Armenian people. In this part of Turkey, it meant a war between Turkey and the Greeks, which included the ethnic cleansing of a lot of the Greek populations in this part of Anatolia. Here it meant a confrontation with the British over their plans to have an international control of the Dardanelles Straits. The Turks push hard, the British and Prime Minister David Lloyd George eventually have to back down. A new treaty is negotiated. This time with Turkey, in 1923, and this becomes the borders of the new Republic of Turkey. This model that AtatÃ¼rk creates on how to fight back against the imperialists to create a modern nation state that's an anti-imperialist nation state with its own ethnic cleansing becomes a really powerful model for a lot of other anti-imperialists in the 1920s and 1930s. Meanwhile, as you can see, the British Empire is administering Iraq; they have a lot of troubles there in the 1920s as part of their League of Nations mandate. The French in Lebanon and Syria. The British here in Trans-Jordan and Palestine. Egypt has nominal independence with a powerful British military and political position oriented around the canal. By the early 1920s, the disorder subsides along the lines you can see here in this map. So let's take stock for a moment. At the beginning of this presentation, we talked about the collapse of five empires. So far we've talked about how hard the choices were and how to fill the void created by the collapse of these empires in four of the cases. The one we haven't talked so much about is: What happened to the Romanov Dynasty and the Russian Empire? That requires us to get into the Russian Revolution and the rise of Soviet Communism. That's a pretty big story. We'll take that up next time. See you then. [BLANK_AUDIO]