Imperialism is a system where one powerful nation controls one or more colonies. They have control over other colonies mostly because they forcibly took it through war or political strategies. A military order is often present in that colony to maintain order and suppress revolution and protest of any kind.
Before WW1 British had the most powerful imperial power over the world there is a famous quote that can relate to it “the sun never sets in Britain” meaning Britain had colonized in different countries around the world; India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Canada, some Pacific and Caribbean Islands, Egypt and other parts of Africa so it is basically most of the country around the world. Another significant imperial power at that time was France. “France had colonized in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, some Pacific islands and several colonies in west and northwest Africa.
By this time the amount of land owned by Britain and France increased rivalry with Germany who entered the scramble to acquire colonies but could only get few parts of Africa. Germany had some parts of China, New Guinea, several colonies in central and southwest Africa. Russia ruled over Finland, Poland, and several Asian regions. The motive of its war against Japan was to extend its colony over to Korea and northern China. The major powers of Europe wanted to be the strongest and most powerful empire so they tried conquering different territories.
To prepare for war, the powers of Europe began to look for resources to develop their industries, build an army, weapons. All these activities made Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany start the scramble for Africa. Kaiser Wilhelm was extremely envious of the British empire and his British cousins. He wanted to imitate the Britain’s success. He believed that Africa would not only enhance Germany’s status as a global power holding colonies but help them with resources too. When British people saw Germany takeover lands of Africa as a race for resources it started concerning them.
They thought Germany is trying to knock Britain out of global supremacy and naval dominance. The situation became even crazier when Germany, a land with imperial power in Europe began to develop a navy to protect its colonies in Africa. When Germany started building up their naval forces it was a direct challenge to British naval supremacy. So, each of the major powers began to seize parts of Africa. Africa was geographically important here because Africa is close to Europe so, Africa could be used as a base or supply line should Europe be engulfed in war.
The British already held South Africa, while the Germans began to seize east Africa, followed by the Belgians, the French, the Dutch. Africa was negatively as well as positively affected by this. Positives effects were that education improved in Africa and there was industrialization, there was a flow of European Wealth and lastly there was the development of infrastructure in Africa. However, the negative effects were they had food and land scarcity, they were a minority in their own country and were discriminated. The biggest negative effect would be WW1 which was the result of extreme competition among European nations.
The scramble for Africa evokes the message in Europe that the Germans are determined for world domination. Germany’s search for both a colonial and Central European empire put a lot of pressure on the Triple Entente and made a war more likely it constantly threatened Britain to secure concessions of territory (particularly in Africa and the Pacific), this only tightened Britain’s links with France and added to the Alliance web. With the fight for global power going strong different countries started building up alliances with each other.
Also, because it was kind of expected that the war was coming after the series of events that happened. Serbia allied with Russia, France was bound by treaty to Russia and was also at war with Germany because of the extended alliances. Germany allied with Austria-Hungary by treaty. British allied with France and they also declared war on Germany. Japan was with Britain, Italy was neutral and so was the United States. A war between only two countries Serbia and Austria-Hungary quickly turned into a global war because of the alliances that were made and the obligations that came with it.
By 1914, the six major powers of Europe were divided into two alliances one is Triple Entente with France, Britain, and Russia and another was the Triple alliance with Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. Alliance was important to survive because without alliances WW1 would merely have been a short war between Serbia and AustriaHungary, the alliance system dragged all of Europe into that insignificant conflict, first Germany, and Russia and then the British and French a few days later. It was what made a small war a major world conflict.
By this time war was obvious, different alliances boosted the need for empires to build an army and focus on weapons, missiles. Germany began building a large, modernized navy that directly threatened the British. German nationalism was backed by German militarism; the nations power was reflected through its strong military. The Arms Races, with war emerging nations, were desperate not to be outdone in any area of their military. Germany, France, and Russia started to conscript large portions of their male population, this gave their countrymen military experience and a taste of war, suddenly everyone was ready and willing to fight.
This induction and arms buildup meant that in the future every European state had a huge army to defend themselves, they were ruining their economies but they couldn’t just let them go so they were sent to war. Even the governments were strongly influenced by the military Militarism affected more than just policies, it also shaped the media view and public opinion. During 19th and 20th century military power was considered a measure of national and imperial strength. A powerful nation needed a powerful military, strong navies to protect its interests and policies and to inflict threat and fear among the rival nations.
In Europe during the 19th-century politics and military power became inseparable. A government who were unable to maintain the military power was incompetent and it was a need at that time to be in sync with the military forces because of the war ahead of them. Countries across the world geared up for the war. It is said that Germany was preparing for war way before 1914, Germany was drawing plan since 1897. Germany had a strong military force. Another show of military power would be the gunboat diplomacy; the term indicates the activities of the Great Powers in the 19th century and the early 20th century.
In this period, the gunboats were heavily armed which provided new opportunities to display power on the part of rival imperial powers. Militarism played an important role in influencing the war in some way. It seemed that the war was inevitable. There isn’t any factor that can be pointed out as the cause of WW1. Nationalism, imperialism, alliances and militarism all are linked. It is seen that these factors jointly were the cause for WW1. After the alliances, it is difficult to say that only one country can be blamed for the breakout of WW1 because the countries were allied with each other for safety, power, resources and military support.
The extreme nationalists and nationalism are the main cause for the beginning of WW1 which led to colonization that was taking place all over the world. The competition between powerful empires to take over more countries or area was intense, it effected the alliances that were made. Alliances dragged almost all of the countries into war or it would have been a short war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. The need to build a stronger military force in comparison to other imperial powers was severe. Therefore, it seemed like the war was all about being superior to the rest of the world.
All they wanted was to gain power and display power and inflict fear over other rival imperial powers. WW1 was the time of great change everything changed. Even the geography of Europe changed. The dead were everywhere, the world lost a lot of its population. Even if other countries were not directly involved this war still affected them. The effects around the world were inevitable. A war caused by nationalism ended with change in the world situation, the governments changed, weapons changed, view of people towards different nation changed.