Key Concept 6.2 Global Conflicts and Their Consequences
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a European-dominated global political order existed, which also included the United States, Russia, and Japan. Over the course of the century, peoples and states around the world challenged this order in ways that sought to redistribute power within the existing order and to restructure empires, while those peoples and states in power attempted to maintain the status quo. Other peoples and states sought to overturn the political order itself. These challenges to, and the attempts to maintain, the political order manifested themselves in an unprecedented level of conflict with high human casualties. In the context of these conflicts, many regimes in both older and newer states struggled with maintaining political stability and were challenged by internal and external factors, including ethnic and religious conflicts, secessionist movements, territorial partitions, economic dependency, and the legacies of colonialism.
I. Europe dominated the global political order at the beginning of the twentieth century, but both land-based and transoceanic empires gave way to new forms of transregional political organization by the century’s end.
A. The older land-based Ottoman, Russian, and Qing empires collapsed due to a combination of internal and external factors.
Examples of internal and external factors: • Economic hardship • Political and social discontent • Technological stagnation • Military defeat
B. Some colonies negotiated their independence.
Examples of negotiated independence: • India from the British Empire • The Gold Coast from the British Empire
C. Some colonies achieved independence through armed struggle.
Examples of independence through armed struggle: • Algeria and Vietnam from the French empire • Angola from the Portuguese empire
II. Emerging ideologies of anti-imperialism contributed to the dissolution of empires and the restructuring of states.
A. Nationalist leaders in Asia and Africa challenged imperial rule. Examples of nationalist leaders: • Mohandas Gandhi • Ho Chi Minh • Kwame Nkrumah
B. Regional, religious, and ethnic movements challenged both colonial rule and inherited imperial boundaries.
Example of regional, religious, and ethnic movements: • Muhammad Ali Jinnah • The Québécois separatist movement • The Biafra secessionist movement
C. Transnational movements sought to unite people across national boundaries.
Examples of transnational movements: • Communism • Pan-Arabism • Pan-Africanism
D. Movements to redistribute land and resources developed within states in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, sometimes advocating communism and socialism.
III. Political changes were accompanied by major demographic and social consequences.
A. The redrawing of old colonial boundaries led to population resettlements.
Examples of population resettlements: • The India/Pakistan partition • The Zionist Jewish settlement of Palestine • The division of the Middle East into mandatory states
B. The migration of former colonial subjects to imperial metropoles maintained cultural and economic ties between the colony and the metropole even after the dissolution of empires.
Examples of such migrations: • South Asians to Britain • Algerians to France • Filipinos to the United States
C. The proliferation of conflicts led to various forms of ethnic violence and the displacement of peoples resulting in refugee populations.
Examples of such ethnic violence: • Armenia • The Holocaust • Cambodia • Rwanda
Examples of displacement of peoples: • Palestinians • Darfurians
IV. Military conflicts occurred on an unprecedented global scale.
A. World War I and World War II were the first “total wars.” Governments used ideologies, including fascism, nationalism and communism, to mobilize all of their state’s resources, including peoples, both in the home countries and the colonies or former colonies, for the purpose of waging war. Governments also used a variety of strategies, including political speeches, art, media, and intensified forms of nationalism, to mobilize these populations.
Examples of mobilization of a state’s resources: • The Gurkha soldiers in India • The ANZAC troops in Australia • Military conscription
B. The sources of global conflict in the first half of the century varied.
Required examples of the sources of global conflict: • Imperialist expansion by European powers and Japan • Competition for resources • Ethnic conflict • Great power rivalries between Great Britain and Germany • Nationalist ideologies • The economic crisis engendered by the Great Depression.
C. The global balance of economic and political power shifted after the end of World War II and rapidly evolved into the Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union emerged as superpowers, which led to ideological struggles between capitalism and communism throughout the globe.
D. The Cold War produced new military alliances, including NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and promoted proxy wars in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
E. The dissolution of the Soviet Union effectively ended the Cold War.
V. Although conflict dominated much of the twentieth century, many individuals and groups — including states — opposed this trend. Some individuals and groups, however, intensified the conflicts.
A. Groups and individuals challenged the many wars of the century, and some promoted the practice of nonviolence as a way to bring about political change.
Examples of groups and individuals who challenged war: • Picasso in his Guernica • The antinuclear movement during the Cold War • Thich Quang Duc by self-immolation
Examples of nonviolence: • Gandhi • Martin Luther King
B. Groups and individuals opposed and promoted alternatives to the existing economic, political, and social orders.
Examples of such groups and individuals, either from the list below or an example of your choice: • Communist leaders such as Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong • The Non-Aligned Movement, which presented an alternative political bloc to the Cold War • The Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa • Participants in the global uprisings of 1968 • The Tiananmen Square protesters that promoted democracy in China
C. Militaries and militarized states often responded to the proliferation of conflicts in ways that further intensified conflict.
Examples of responses that intensified conflict: • The promotion of military dictatorship in Chile, Spain, and Uganda • The United States’ promotion of a New World Order after the Cold War • The buildup of the “military-industrial complex” and arms trading
D. More movements used violence against civilians to achieve political aims.
Examples of movements who used violence: • IRA • ETA • Al-Qaeda
E. Global conflicts had a profound influence on popular culture.
Examples of popular culture influenced by global conflicts: • Dada • James Bond • Socialist Realism • Video games