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The unifications of Italy and Germany removed the congeries of central European principalities that dated back to the Holy Roman Empirewhile the breakup of eastern and southeastern Europe into small and quarreling states a process that would yield the term balkanization was not far advanced. The lesser powers of Europe, including some that once had been great, like the NetherlandsSwedenand Spainplayed little or no role in the affairs of the great powers unless their own interests were directly involved.
Both physical size and the economies of scale important in an industrial age rendered smaller and less developed countries impotent, while the residual habits of diplomacy dating from the Congress of Vienna of made the great powers the sole arbiters of European politics.
In the wider world, a diplomatic system of the European variety existed nowhere else. The outcome of the U. Civil War and Anglo-American settlement of the Canadian border ensured that North America would not develop a multilateral balance-of-power system.
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South and Central America had splintered into 17 independent republics following the final retreat of Spanish rule inbut the new Latin American states were inward-looking, their centres of population and resources isolated by mountains, jungle, and sheer distance, and disputes among them were of mostly local interest. When the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian tsar and Canada acquired dominion status, both inEuropean possessions on the American mainland were reduced to three small Guianan colonies in South America and British Honduras Belize.
North Africa east of Algeria was still nominally under the aegis of the Ottoman sultan, while sub-Saharan Africaapart from a few European ports on the coast, was terra incognita. The British had regularized their hold on the Indian subcontinent after putting down the Indian Mutiny of —58, while the Chinese and Japanese empires remained xenophobic and isolationist. Thus, the cabinets of the European great powers were at the zenith of their influence. Europe itself, byseemed to be entering an age of political and social progress.
International peace also seemed assured once Otto von Bismarck declared the new German Empire a satisfied power and placed his considerable talents at the service of stability. The chancellor knew Germany to be a military match for any rival but feared the possibility of a coalition.
Since France would never be reconciled to her reduced status and the loss of Alsace-Lorraine imposed by the treaty ending the Franco-German WarBismarck strove to keep France isolated.
Such a combination was always vulnerable to Austro-Russian rivalry over the Eastern Question —the problem of how to organize the feuding Balkan nationalities gradually freeing themselves from the decrepit Ottoman Empire. After the Slavic provinces of Bosnia and Hercegovina rebelled against Ottoman rule in and Russia made war on the Ottoman Empire two years later, the Dreikaiserbund collapsed.
Bismarck achieved a compromise at the Congress of Berlinbut Austro-Russian amity was not restored. Intherefore, Bismarck concluded a permanent peacetime military alliance with Austria, whereupon the tsarist government, to court German favour, agreed to a renewal of the Dreikaiserbund in Italy, seeking aid for her Mediterranean ambitions, joined Germany and Austria-Hungary to form the Triple Alliance in The next Balkan crisis, which erupted in Bulgaria inagain tempted Russia to expand its influence to the gates of Constantinople.
Bismarck dared not oppose the Russians lest he push them toward an alliance with vengeful France. Should that temper change, or less adept leadership succeed Bismarck, Germany had the potential to become the major disrupter of European stability.
For the constitution drafted by Bismarck for the Second Reich was a dysfunctional document designed to satisfy middle-class nationalism while preserving the power of the Prussian crown and the Junker class the Prussian landed aristocracy. Apparently a federal empire, Germany was in fact dominated by Prussiawhich was larger in area and population than all the other states combined. The king of Prussia was kaiser and chief warlord of the German armies; the prime minister of Prussia was the federal chancellor, responsible, not to a majority in the Reichstagbut only to the crown.
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Furthermore, Prussia retained a three-class voting system weighted in favour of the wealthy. The army remained, in Prussian tradition, virtually a state within the state, loyal to the kaiser alone. In sum, Germany remained a semi-autocratic military monarchy even as it blossomed into an industrial mass society.
The lack of outlets for popular dissent and reform was especially damaging given the cleavages that continued to plague Germany after unification: Protestant North versus Catholic South, agriculture versus industry, Prussia versus the other states, Junkers versus middle-class liberals, industrialists versus the increasingly socialist working class.
Bismarck manipulated the parties and interests as he did foreign powers. Austria-Hungary and Russia, still overwhelmingly agrarian, faced different challenges by the end of the 19th century. Most acute for Austria-Hungary was the nationality question. An heir to the universalist vision of the Holy Roman EmpireAustria-Hungary was a multinational empire composed not only of Germans and Magyars but also of in 4, Czechs and Slovaks, 3, Ruthenes, 2, Poles, 2, Romanians, 3, Serbs and Croats, about 1, Slovenes, andItalians.
Thus, the Habsburgs faced the challenge of accommodating the nationalism of their ethnic minorities without provoking the dissolution of their empire. In British, French, and, increasingly, Russian opinion, Austria-Hungary was simply out of step with the times, moribundand, after Turkeythe most despised of states. But the progress of nationalism gradually undermined the legitimacy of the old empires. Ironically, Austria existed from to in a symbiotic relationship with her ancient enemy, the Ottoman Empire.
For as the Balkan peoples gradually pulled free from Constantinople, they and their cousins across the Habsburg frontier inevitably agitated for liberation from Vienna as well. Russia was also a multinational empire, but with the exception of the Poles her subject peoples were too few compared to Great Russians to pose a threat. Ever since the humiliating defeat in the Crimean Wartsars and their ministers had undertaken reforms to modernize agriculture, technology, and education.
But the Russian autocracymaking no concession to popular sovereignty and nationality, was more threatened by social change even than the Germans. Hence the dilemma of the last tsars: In sum, the decades after did not sustain the liberal progress of the s. Resistance to political reform in the empires, a retreat from free trade afterthe growth of labour unions, revolutionary socialismand social tensions attending demographic and industrial growth all affected the foreign policies of the great powers.
Patterns of population European demographic and industrial growth in the 19th century was frantic and uneven, and both qualities contributed to growing misperceptions and paranoia in international affairs. European population grew at the rate of 1 percent per year in the century afteran increase that would have been disastrous had it not been for the outlet of emigration and the new prospects of employment in the rapidly expanding cities.
When the French Revolution unleashed this national power through rationalized central administration, meritocracyand a national draft based on patriotism, it achieved unprecedented organization of force in the form of armies of millions of men.
The French tide receded, at the cost of more than a million deaths from tonever to crest again. Should Russia ever succeed in modernizing, she would become a colossus out of all proportion to the European continent. Population pressure was a double-edged sword dangling out of reach above the heads of European governments in the 19th century.
On the one hand, fertility meant a growing labour force and potentially a larger army. On the other hand, it threatened social discord if economic growth or external safety valves could not relieve the pressure. The United Kingdom adjusted through urban industrialization on the one hand and emigration to the United States and the British dominions on the other.
France had no such pressure but was forced to draft a higher percentage of its manpower to fill the army ranks. Russia exported perhaps 10 million excess people to its eastern and southern frontiers and several million more mostly Poles and Jews overseas.
Germany, too, sent large numbers abroad, and no nation provided more new industrial employment from to Industry, technology, and trade Industrial trends magnified the demographic, for here again Germany was far and away the fastest growing economic power on the Continent. This was so not only in the basic industries of coal and iron and steel but also in the advanced fields of electricity, chemicals, and internal combustion.
By the end of the century Germany had become a highly urbanized, industrial society, complete with large, differentiated middle and factory proletariat classes, but it was still governed largely by precapitalist aristocrats increasingly threatened by demands for political reform.
Industrialization also made possible the outfitting and supply of mass armies drawn from the growing populations.
Why Russia matters so much to India
After the monarchies of Europe had shied away from arming the masses in the French revolutionary fashion, and the events of further justified their fear of an armed citizenry. But in the reserve system Prussia found a means of making possible a rapid mobilization of the citizenry without the risk to the regime or the elite officer corps posed by a large standing, and idle, army. In Austria-Hungary the crown avoided disloyalty in the army by stationing soldiers of one ethnic group on the soil of another.
The final contribution to the revolution in warfare was planned research and development of weapons systems. The demographic, technical, and managerial revolutions of the 19th century, in sum, made possible the mobilization of entire populations and economies for the waging of war. The home of the Industrial Revolution was Great Britainwhose priority in the techniques of the factory system and of steam power was the foundation for a period of calm confidence known with some exaggeration as the Pax Britannica.
The pound sterling became the preferred reserve currency of the world and the Bank of England the hub of international finance.
British textilesmachinery, and shipping dominated the markets of AsiaSouth Americaand much of Europe. But that hegemony very naturally impelled other nations somehow to catch up, in the short term by imposing protective tariffs to shield domestic industries and in the longer term by granting government subsidies for railroads and other national development work and the gradual replication of British techniques.
FrancePrussiaand other countries then reversed earlier policies and followed the British into free trade. In the depression of —96 actually years of slower, uneven growth industrial and labour leaders formed cartels, unions, and lobbies to agitate for tariffs and other forms of state intervention to stabilize the economy. Bismarck resisted until European agriculture also suffered from falling prices and lost markets after owing to the arrival in European ports of North American cereals.
In the so-called alliance of rye and steel voted a German tariff on foreign manufactured goods and foodstuffs. Free trade gave way to an era of neo- mercantilism. France, Austria, Italy, and Russia followed the new or revived trend toward tariff protection. After the volume of world trade rose sharply again, but the sense of heightened economic competition persisted in Europe.
Social rifts also hardened during the period. Conservative circles, farmers as well as the wealthier classes, came gradually to distrust the loyalty of the urban working class, but industrialists shared few other interests with farmers.
Other countries faced similar divisions between town and country, but urbanization was not advanced enough in Russia or France for socialism to acquire a mass following, while in Britain agriculture had long since lost out to the commercial and industrial classes, and working-class participation in democratic politics was on the rise male suffrage was still dependent upon property qualiifications, but the Second Reform Act  had extended the vote to many workingmen in the towns and cities.
The social divisions attending industrialization were especially acute in Germany because of the rapidity of her development and the survival of powerful precapitalist elites. Moreover, the German working class, while increasingly unionized, had few legal means of affecting state policy. The foreign counterpart to this phenomenon was the New Imperialism.
The great powers of Europe suddenly shook off almost a century of apathy toward overseas colonies and, in the space of 20 years, partitioned almost the entire uncolonized portion of the globe. Only Britain and France were capital-exporting countries inand in years to come their investors preferred to export capital to other European countries especially Russia or the Western Hemisphere rather than to their own colonies.
The British remained free-trade throughout the era of the New Imperialism, a booming home economy absorbed most German capital, and Italy and Russia were large net importers of capital. Once the scramble for colonies was complete, pressure groups did form in the various countries to argue the economic promise of imperialism, but just as often governments had to foster colonial development. In most cases, trade did not lead but followed the flag.
Why, then, was the flag planted in the first place? Sometimes it was to protect economic interests, as when the British occupied Egypt inbut more often it was for strategic reasons or in pursuit of national prestige. One necessary condition for the New Imperialism, often overlooked, is technological. Prior to the s Europeans could overawe native peoples along the coasts of Africa and Asia but lacked the firepower, mobility, and communications that would have been needed to pacify the interior.
India was the exception, where the British East India Company exploited an anarchic situation and allied itself with selected native rulers against others. The tsetse fly and the Anopheles mosquito —bearers of sleeping sickness and malaria —were the ultimate defenders of African and Asian jungles.
The correlation of forces between Europe and the colonizable world shifted, however, with the invention of shallow-draft riverboats, the steamship and telegraphthe repeater rifle and Maxim gunand the discovery in India that quinine is an effective prophylactic against malaria. By small groups of European regulars, armed with modern weapons and exercising fire disciplinecould overwhelm many times their number of native troops.
The scramble for Africa should be dated not fromwhen the British occupied Egypt, but from the opening of the Suez Canal in The strategic importance of that waterway cannot be overstated. It was the gateway to India and East Asia and hence a vital interest nonpareil for the British Empire. Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstoneotherwise an adamant anticolonialist, then established a British protectorate in Egypt.
When the French reacted bitterly, Bismarck further encouraged French colonial expansion in hopes of distracting them from Europe, and he then took his own country into the fray by claiming four large segments of Africa for Germany in In that year the king of the Belgians cast his eye on the entire Congo basin.
The Berlin West Africa Conference of —85 was called to settle a variety of disputes involved in European colonial occupation, and over the next 10 years all the great powers of Europe save Austria and Russia staked out colonies and protectorates on the African continent.
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But whatever the ambitions and rivalries of military adventurers, explorers, and private empire builders on the scene, the cabinets of Europe came to agreements on colonial boundaries with surprising neighbourliness. Colonial wars did ensue afterbut never between two European colonial powers.
It has been suggested that imperial rivalries were a long-range cause of World War I. It has also been said that they were a safety valve, drawing off European energies that might otherwise have erupted in war much sooner. But the links between imperialism and the war are more subtle. The heyday of the New Imperialism, especially aftercreated a tacit understanding in the European elites and the broad literate classes that the days of the old European balance of power were over, that a new world order was dawning, and that any nation left behind in the pursuit of world power would sink into obscurity.
This intuition must surely have fed a growing sense of desperation among Germans, and one of paranoia among Britons, about trends in global politics.
A second point, subtler still, is that the New Imperialism, while it did not directly provoke World War I, did occasion a transformation of alliances that proved dangerous beyond reckoning once the great powers turned their attention back to Europe. Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species inand within a decade popularizers had applied—or misapplied—his theories of natural selection and survival of the fittest to contemporary politics and economics. This pseudoscientific social Darwinism appealed to educated Europeans already demoralized by a century of higher criticism of religious scripture and conscious of the competitiveness of their own daily lives in that age of freewheeling industrial capitalism.
Pan-Slavic literature extolled the youthful vigour of that race, of whom Russia was seen as the natural leader. Bytherefore, the political and moral restraints on war that had arisen after — were significantly weakened. The old conservative notion that established governments had a heavy stake in peace lest revolution engulf them, and the old liberal notion that national unity, democracyand free trade would spread harmony, were all but dead. The historian cannot judge how much social Darwinism influenced specific policy decisions, but a mood of fatalism and bellicosity surely eroded the collective will to peace.
Where Bismarck sought alliances to avoid the risk of war on two fronts, the kaiser and his chief foreign policy official, Baron von Holstein believed Germany should capitalize on the colonial quarrels among France, Britain, and Russia.
Where Bismarck had outlawed the socialists and feared for the old order in Germany, the kaiser permitted the antisocialist laws to lapse and believed he could win over the working class through prosperity, social policy, and national glory.
The consequences of the new course were immediate and damaging. Petersburg to overcome its antipathy to republican France and conclude a military alliance in The tie was sealed with a golden braid: Russia hoped mainly for French support in its colonial disputes with the British Empire and even went so far as to agree with Austria-Hungary in to hold the question of the Balkans in abeyance for 10 years, thereby freeing resources for the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad and the penetration of northern China.
The German foreign office thus did not take alarm at the alliance Bismarck had struggled so long to prevent. The Sino-Japanese War of —95 signaled the arrival of Japan on the world stage.
Having seen their nation forcibly opened to foreign influence by Commodore Matthew C. Nor did the S contract feature in an official list of agreements signed. Instead, this significant acquisition was announced through a single brief sentence buried in the 45th paragraph of an official joint statement: As Modi plays politics with Indian army, soldiers pay with their lives Even so, the S buy renders India vulnerable to US sanctions under legislation passed in mid There could be other deals also.
Just give the military some time. This latest Modi-Putin meeting has special import, even though it is the 19th Indo-Russian annual summit in an unbroken chain that began inwhen the two sides declared a strategic partnership.
For New Delhi, this was unthinkable, given the tight Indo-Russian-Iranian cooperation through the s to bolster the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance and prevent the Taliban from overrunning all of Afghanistan. But now Indian policymakers are encountering a new reality, in which Russia explicitly recognises a role for Pakistan and the Taliban in restoring peace to Afghanistan.
If so, could the Taliban be an ally? At least that is the narrative. New Delhi is doubly frustrated by the fact that Moscow is only treading a path that Washington already has.