WW1 / WW2 - Dark Shadows
Pic shows the USS West Virginia and the USS Tennessee burn on Dec. 7, 1941, after Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor (Reuters)
Dark Shadows of the World Wars
The urge for intricate knowledge and the subsequent urge to simplify it are two opposing forces leading to the revision of history, a process that may open to our conscience hitherto unmapped aspects of history.
The farther back in time we go, the sources of information around any event or even around any era are scarce – at some instances Herodotus may be the only one to tell us anything about the Persian Army that fought with the Greeks and at some there just aren’t any eligible writers and only artifacts or un-deciphered cuneiforms. But as we come towards our side of the timeline, there are events smeared with so many sources and such lengths of writings that they simply do not make a single picture, rather they make several ‘systems’ of possibilities. The Two World Wars are two such events, the accounts of which are so various, so enormous and many times so contradictory as to render truth-seekers shock-stricken. These are not just two wars that occurred and are over now, rather their effects reach us to this day – their dark shadows may still be blocking the radiations that would have lightened our lives. It is imperative to understand these wars to understand the world we are living in today. And it is imperative to determine where humanity has done its wrongs and how it will undo them now.
This essay aims to form a broad perspective on the World Wars - going as far as possible into the past so as to be able to look as farther into future.
Centuries Evolving into World Wars
Caesar Baronius (died 1607) explained the Dark Ages of Europe as “dark” because of the paucity of “written records” and the “lack of writers”, which renders historians blind upon what went on in this era. The Dark Ages of Europe are generally ascribed to the time between the 6th and the 13th century or the time between the fall of the Roman Empire at the hands of the Arab armies and the Renaissance. With the 14th century Renaissance, was set alive in Italy, the spirit of free thinking hitherto shackled in unbreakable norms – courageous men came forth with new ideas in science, philosophy, art and literature - ideas that were many times opposed to the authorities or discordant with the prevailing thought. Also with the 14th century dawned the Age of Discovery - Spain and Portugal opened the wider world of the western hemisphere to the eastern one, enabling mankind to conceive for the first time, what the full map of the world looks like.
With exploration and discovery came the wicked Slave Trade, a dark chapter in Europe’s history, the harms of which plague its conscience to this day. And the fruits of which led Europe to its Scientific and Industrial revolutions.
Perhaps the variation in the two spirits of the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century was that the former brought the ‘right to think’ and the later the ‘power of investigation’. Science also brought what is called Enlightenment - people started questioning religion and the way they were being governed. This enlightenment brought with it the power to revolutionize the entire social structure of Europe – free-thinking opened the path to finding new solutions like equality and freedom to old problems that had plagued Europe for centuries with strife, hunger, disease, wars and backwardness.
The Industrial Revolution of the 18th century brought most magnificent strides in mankind’s ability to alter its conditions at the global scales; in terms of economy, politics, warfare and social change. Inventions like the steam engine (1769), the railway (1804), the telephone (1876), the bulb (1879) and the electric motor (1888) quickly steered humanity from the darkness of stagnancy to a much more eventful and possible world.
In retrospect, the 6th century fall of the Roman Empire was the rise of another great civilization - that of Islam. The darkness of the Dark Ages was not worldwide, as it happened it was dark and gloomy over Europe because the Sun needed to shine bright and full over the Middle East.
The Muslim world from its beginning in the 6th century set itself on a hike – from a dim beginning, to heights of moral virtue and social justice; this self-organization of the Arab society and its self-commitment to cleanliness, truth and justice and it’s having found a larger-than-life purpose, opened it to the possibilities of learning, exploration and advent. The Muslim world not only expanded through the Middle East, Africa and Europe, accepting knowledge from wherever they found it, but also engaged in pioneer-works in Mathematics, Clinical Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Neurobiology, Neurosurgery, Economics, Jurisprudence, Astronomy, Astrology, Social Sciences, Demography, Cultural History, Historiography, Philosophy of History, Sociology, Cartography, Environmental Science, Anthropology, Geodesy, Algebra, Algorithm, Optics, Mechanics, Robotics and several other sciences that are considered modern even to this day.
All this ingenuity came from schools built around men of knowledge and from centers of learning under the patronage of caliphs of their times – ‘reason’ and the ‘love for knowledge’ being the bases of the philosophy preached by the Quran. Just as the Age of Reason and Enlightenment (17th century) is attributed to scientific and literary journals, coffee houses, debating societies and masonic lodges in addition to regular universities – in the same way great Muslim scholars not only attracted knowledge seekers from around the Muslim world but also commented and debated over works of the contemporaries and the old. Knowledge seekers traveled, collecting honey from all around, all works of antiquity, especially of Greek philosophers was greatly cherished and translated – Al-Kindi and Al-Tabari resumed Greek thought in the Islamic world, Al-Kawarzami and Al-Fazari explored Indian wisdom. Great centers of wisdom and learning were spread from Marrakesh to Dehli and from Ghazni to Granada, wherever the Muslims empires gained strength and prosperity.
Wealth and prosperity brought by on-going expansion of the Muslim Caliphate had attracted many a learned men under the patronage of the caliphs, who along with other sciences encouraged them to work in the fields of military engineering. The 13th century re-discovery of saltpeter previously used in firecrackers in China, brought a new phase of military power to the Muslims; potassium nitrate was purified to weapons-grade for use in gunpowder in Syria. Hand cannons were used in Egypt and against the Mongols, handguns and matchlock muskets were used by the Turks, siege-cannons were first used at the siege of Sijilmasa and ballistic cannons were used against the Chinese. The Muslims also invented the trebuchet, multi-barrel machine guns and torpedoes - Tipu Sultan used the first iron-cast rocket artillery in Mysore, India.
Several Muslim cities like Baghdad, Mosul, Basra, Shiraz, Rayy, Cairo, Aleppo, Cordoba, Tripoli, Kairouan and many others were stations of immense libraries. By the 10th century, Cordoba had 70 libraries, the largest of which had 600,000 books, the library of Cairo had more than 100,000 books, while the library of Tripoli had as many as three million books.
Just like the Muslims had started their journey through contemporary knowledge from translations of Greek, Chinese and Indian work – the Renaissance owns a lot to the colossal works of Arabic to Latin translations that were attempted in Spain, Sicily and Italy. With the 16th and 17th centuries, Muslim empires had started losing their spark for improvement and innovation, and the baton of invention was taken over by Europe - where inquiry and mechanization was to take new horizons.
Knowledge is not a tangible wealth, it is just as abstract as it is empirical – if anything, it is a blessing like a good harvest or a mine of gold – it is also a beacon that if shining at one corner of the planet can give light to all corners; the light must keep shining whoever holds the beacon. The only thing to beware of is that this light should be a protector not a damager to humanity.
The 18th century revolution in the means of communication and transport; in the power of the gun; in the naval and airborne armor outdrove the capabilities of the Muslim armies. Though power and speed were not the only factors that made possible for European powers to colonize all around the world, they also used stealth, espionage and intrigue – yet even these are proof of the non-vigilance, passivity and stagnancy of the Muslim rulers – they should have reckoned that the will of God and His laws of the evolution of human civilization favor the survival of the fittest.
Spain and Portugal colonized the Americas in the 15th century, the British invaded India and colonized North America in the 17th century and took the Cape of South Africa at the end of the 18th century and at almost the same time Napoleon Bonaparte of France occupied Egypt for a period of 3years in the effort to undermine British monopoly on Mediterranean trade.
WW1 – Evil Shadows
WW1 was not a sudden, unforeseen event; rather it was the natural outcome of how the colonial mindset was unfolding upon global affairs. Once North and South America and the southern states of Africa had successfully been occupied, the colonials had to turn their decisive attention on the more civilized worlds in Asia and North Africa. In the greed for complete dominance Europe’s internal balance of power was also being damaged to an ultimate collapse.
Scramble for Africa & the Great Game
Sadly Europe’s advance in civilization and technology is also marred with the onus of the inhumane Slave Trade, which does reflect their view of the wider humanity. As the lust for land and power soared in the European imperialist states, it was understood between them that the whole world was to be enslaved by one of them or the other. At the Berlin Conference of 1884, the plan for the ‘Scramble for Africa’ was formalized between the imperialist powers of Europe - all of Africa had been divided between a few white friends (UK, France, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, Italy) on a table in Berlin with no say of any African – so much for self-determination and democracy!
This ‘gentlemanly understanding’ of Berlin was disturbed by Germany in the 1905’s First Moroccan Crisis, when all of a sudden Germany tried to announce Morocco’s independence from French dominance – hence the first seed of distrust was sown that was to lead to the First World War.
On the other hand, in Asia, ‘the Great Game’ was a tug of war between Britain and Russia over gaining power over the central Asian states located between British-held-India and the Ottoman Empire. With the British occupying India, there was constant vying between them and Russia for control over Afghanistan and Iran. The weakness of the Ottomans was also a cause of alarm for the British, as Russia was gradually taking territories of the Central Asians states from the Ottomans. In 1888, in the Joint Anglo-Russian Boundary Commission, Britain and Russia agreed to have the Amu Darya as their boundary of influence and in 1907, in the Anglo-Russian Convention, they drew three parts of Persia, one of British influence in the south, one of Russian influence in the north and a buffer zone in between. Tibet was declared a buffer zone between the two powers in the east - bringing China out of British influence for the time being.
In the Far East, Japan had turned out to be a daunting power as a result of events imposed upon it. The Black Ships of the US navy had attacked the Japanese shore in 1853, breaking Japan’s 200 years isolation from the wider world. In 1855 Japan made diplomatic relations with Russia and in 1864 British, French, Dutch and American warships bombed and opened more Japanese ports for foreigners. All this external pressure prompted a wave of westernization and industrialization in Japan. The Meiji Revolution saw the establishment of shipyards, iron smelters, spinning mills and railway companies, so much so that in 1894, in a battle over Korea, Japan invaded not only Korea but also a Chinese port. The same was accomplished in the 1904 Japan-Russia war, when Russia had to give up possessions in both Manchuria and Korea to Japan – thus the tiny Japanese Empire had shattered the pride of the centuries old Tsar and Qing – well before WW1.
Meanwhile China was facing its ‘century of humiliation’ between 1839 and 1949, darted with the Opium Wars, Sino-Japanese Wars, the Sino-French War, the British invasion of Tibet, the Boxer’s Rebellion etc. The powerless Qing had to bequeath several trade concessions to the interveners.
So the claim that before WW1, ‘all the major powers were preparing for a large-scale war, though none expected one’, is lame; the arms race was getting deadlier as each power meant to sustain and increase dominance over international territories eventually trapping themselves in a do-or-die match to the end – trampling the whole humanity under their ambitious and savage rampage. All resources were being spent for increasing the fire-power at land, water and air, the regular armies of these countries plus their reserves had gone to the millions, practically preparing whole nations for war – the First World War was not a sudden happening – it was well-prepared and sought-for to happen.
In Europe’s unquenchable greed for total dominance perhaps the Ottoman Empire was the most despised obstacle. In its peak from the 1680s, it had ruled all land from Somalia to Algiers, from Baku at the Caspian Sea to Budapest in Hungary and from Athens to the Horn of Africa. The decline of the Ottomans can be symbolically associated to Napoleon’s brief invasion of Egypt in 1798, the 1830 conquest of Algeria by France and with the Crimean War, in 1853.
Though in the cases of Napoleon and Crimea, the Ottomans won the wars, but in reality the British had won the Egyptian campaign for the Ottomans, as French victory would mean losing trade in the Mediterranean and endangering the trade route to India. Also in the case of the Crimean War, the French and the British made alliance with the Ottomans as they did not want Russia to gain full control of the Black Sea.
But the Ottomans lost the Caucasus region to Russia in 1864, after which all its European possessions, geared with their own nationalist movements, started breaking off. The Ottomans were technologically and militarily too weak to sustain their huge empire, surrounded by different strains of occupiers. They were forced to take loans from French and British banks. In return the Ottomans were to oblige by giving trade concessions to the foreigners, allowing them to open their banks in their lands, which in turn paved the way to cash-crop farming that suited the industrial economy of the foreigners. The British convinced the Ottoman Sultan to allow the return and settlement of Jews in Palestine, they assured him that the Jewish capitalist would benefit the Ottomans – very soon, with their advanced artisanship, farming techniques and large land acquisitions the Jews were dominating the Palestinian sphere. Like this the Ottomans had lost much of their moral and political strength long before WW1.
The Ottomans decided to give way to modernization in the 1839-76 Tanzimat period, religious law was replaced by secular law and westernization was encouraged. This happened because by then the socialist revolutionary fire had penetrated in a European-educated bureaucracy, who were soon going to emerge as the ‘Young Turks’. Like other socialist revolutionary movements, the Young Turks also had their origins in secret societies of progressive university students in European colleges and in military officers that had interactions in the West. They wanted an end of the Caliphate, which in their view was the root cause of the decay of the Muslims, and a revival of Turkish nationalism, which would allow their people their due progress. In fact the nationalist and the socialist ideas went hand in hand in the Armenian Revolt, the Arab Revolt and several others like in Syria, Palestine etc.
Now, one can say that nationalism was a progressive thought – but unity is also progressive – like the unity of the EU and NATO – so the unity under the Caliphate was essentially a source of strength and solidarity – and more modern ideas could have been introduced to end the decay in all interactive economies working under the Caliphates umbrella.
Apart from the Young Turks, there were ‘Young’ movements all over the Ottoman territories, such as Young Algerians since 1907 - Young Tunisians since 1907, Al-Fatat, in Syria since 1909 - Young Bosnia since 1911 and several others. All of these Young movements originated in working, underground communist parties in France. France used the communist nationalism ideal as bait to harbor revolutionary groups that would become the root-cause of Ottoman overthrow. So the plan of the dismantling of the Ottomans from inside it, had been put to work much before WW1. And in the war the Ottomans proved to be a fruit ripe and ready to pluck.
One might reckon that the creation of the German Empire at the expense of the French Empire in 1871 might have been a turning point towards a total war. Germany with the chancellorship of Otto Von Bismarck united all German speaking states under King Wilhelm I. Prior to this there had been a long history of war and rivalry between the British and the French, now they saw in the growing power of Germany a new rival against whom they needed to form alliance. Germany’s rapid industrialization, it’s joining the arms race and it’s becoming a competitor colonialist and its consolidation as an empire made it a cause of alarm. Germany had also become a land of scientists and philosophers, taking more Nobel Prizes in science than Britain, France, Russia, and the United States combined – its military and naval might was being seen second only to the British Royal Navy – a land sprouting with new enlightenment ideologies – whereby the seed of its own dismantling was being sown. The same spirit of freedom and democracy that led the French revolution a century earlier was now to take its toll in Germany – Germany and its allies lost WW1, the German Empire fell and a Weimar Republic took over with power in the hands of the same socialist revolutionaries.
Along with Germany there were also Japan, Italy and Austria-Hungary, who had become part of the axis of evil, an evil that the British and French must now save humanity from. Germany’s immediate ally at its south, Austria-Hungary also became an empire in 1867, it too had tremendous industrial advances, with having the fourth-largest machine building industry of the world. Together they posed as an internal threat to Britain and France. Fearing the duo, Bismarck set up the Three Emperors' League, a secret agreement among the emperors of Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary, in 1881. Germany’s alliance with Italy proved to be a weak one. In 1900, France made secret pact with Italy, allowing it free hand in conquering Tripoli in return for remaining neutral in case of a Franco-German War. In the same way France was able to drag Russia out of the alliance too, when France loaned Russia with a much needed loan in 1894, in return of neutrality. Later this resulted in the formation of the triple Entente in 1907, an alliance between Russia, France and Britain, also known as the Allied Powers. On the other hand the Ottomans and Bulgaria joined with Germany in the Central Powers.
In June 1914, Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, in Sarajevo. Gavrilo was member of the Young Bosnia secret society working for unification of Serb nationals – the militant group Black Hand recruited Gavrilo and others for the assassination. It is note-worthy that all ‘Young’ movements are socialist, nationalist, revolutionary movements, inspired by the French Revolution. The Franco-Russian Alliance at that time wanted all Serbian land to break off from Austria-Hungary, for this purpose they supported these secret societies.
WWI procured 38 million casualties – over 17 million dead and 20 million wounded, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history. The Allies lost about 6 million military personnel while the Central Powers lost about 4 million. With German defeat the world saw the end of the German, Russian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian empires. And why the Russian Empire had to end, when they had been victors in the war, is another story. The League of Nations was formed and most of the Ottoman and German territories were distributed among the victors.
Unjustly all the guilt of war was put over Germany at the peace treaties of Versailles.
According to another estimate there had been approximately 60 million casualties in the war – all these human lives had been subjected to horrifying circumstances. Why had they been inflicted upon with the terrors of war – surely there was a driving force of either hate or greed at every front – those who were exempted from the guilt of war had also killed a lot many; they too had not returned freedom and self-determination to people whose nation they aimed to scramble nor did they end their ambitions towards the east. Unjust decisions imposed upon the losers were the seeds sown for the Second World War, the war-guilt put upon Germany caused the people to rise up again with a much stronger defensive pride and the reparations of war imposed upon Germany estimated equivalent to US $442 billion by today’s time, was impossible to pay.
Before WW1 there was another possible rift between Germany and France. After the 1789 French revolution, the Enlightenment ideas had spread widely in Europe. The Enlightenment based on science, philosophy, art and literature was essentially anti-religion, as they considered religion to be dogmatic like many other superstitious ideas of the medieval times and wanted to replace religion with nationalism as a binding force. The first successful formula of the Jacobins – who worked in the form of a club of like-minded enlightened, educated people, within the aristocracies, but who were ready for violent change – was being constantly replicated everywhere. For example, Filiki Eteria was a secret organization working to overthrow Ottoman rule in Greece in 1821; the BRCC was a Bulgarian revolutionary organization founded in 1869 among the Bulgarian emigrant circles in Romania. ; and several other revolutionary societies were active in the Ottoman possessions, all trying to arouse nationalism against the Ottomans with the purpose of dismantling the Ottoman Empire – mostly all these movements sprouted from France.
So when the underground Black Hand revolutionary party assassinated Duke Ferdinand, heir-apparent of the Austro-Hungary Empire, the reason why the Austro-Hungary Empire immediately declared war on Serbia and why Germany got so furious as to get into war with its immediate neighbors on both sides -was perhaps the threat that the same revolutionary ideas were being swept into their own lands too. Perhaps the war was one between ‘the idea of violent bloody revolution’ and ‘controlled socio-economic change maintaining the existing political hierarchy’. And this threat was proven right as the war gained momentum. After executing the Russian Revolution in 1917, Lenin and Trotsky arranged to send Bela Kun with a large finance, along with several hundred other Hungarian Communists, to Hungary in 1918. The Tsarist’s and the Hapsburg’s centuries old dynasties fell down and both states became the first two communist countries of the world.
Germany’s turn was next. The Social Democratic Party, SDP, had gained strong footing in German politics. When it became clear that the war was being lost, King Wilhelm II was forced to transfer power to the majority SPD and on the eve of Oct 4, 1918, a request for a ceasefire was forwarded to US President Wilson. Wilson refused to agree to the ceasefire. He demanded that ‘the changes to the German government were insufficient and in particular that the fact that Wilhelm II remained head of state was an obstacle’. Friedrich Ebert, leader of the SPD warned: “If the Kaiser does not abdicate, the social revolution is inevitable”. The November Revolution was thus launched, as a result of which the office of the state was handed over to Ebert, who thus became the socialist, Chancellor of Germany and Minister President of Prussia. Ebert signed the Treaty of Versailles.
Immediately after the war, German General Ludendorff, who was considered the de facto ruler of Germany in war time, became a prominent nationalist leader, convinced that the German Army had been betrayed by Marxists and Republicans in the Versailles Treaty.
So at the end of WW1 the Allied victory against the Triple Alliance and their ally the Ottomans resulted in the end of many great empires, the German, the Ottoman, the Austro-Hungarian empires, the Russian Empire and the less mentioned Qing Empire of China that fell to the secret Revolutionary Alliance that later called themselves the Kuomintang.
French Revolution – Seed of Change
Napoleon supported the French Revolution and the Directory proclaimed him Emperor of France in 1804. Throughout his 10yrs reign, Napoleon remained a threat to the British, German and Russian crowns, who made several alliances against him, while Spain, Italy and other small kingdoms had alliance with France. Napoleon was decisively defeated in his invasion of Russia, from where he had to make a harsh winter retreat and after which his empire crumbled. After him once again Napoleon III (ruled from 1948 to 71) proclaimed himself an emperor, he switched into alliance with Britain and they both defeated Russia in the Crimean War. He was defeated in 1871 by Germany, which had become an empire under Otto Van Bismarck’s leadership. And from that time onwards Germany become more and more powerful, forcing others to make alliances against her.
Perhaps diplomatic and undercover agents played a catalyst role too – as secretly acquired information of what the enemy might be planning may lead to preemptive measures. In fact the Revisionist historians give major credit to undercover and underground activity, which led to most of preemptive position-taking, based on successful political maneuvering in enemy territory. The Revisionist present an alternative history that contradicts mainstream history – an alternative based on hitherto neglected but true facts.
According to the revisionists most of the Socialist revolutions that sprouted in Europe, Asia and the Middle East before and after the First World War had been cooked by a class that meant to uproot the existing system of governance based on kingship and clergy, moving it to a kind of anarchist system that would open up all kinds of possibilities – power would be swung to a power-grab system that would repel any sort of hierarchy or ethics that would question them – labeling themselves ‘we the people’. The Enlightenment ideologies of freedom and equality were thus used to exploit the sufferings of the masses, raising them in revolt against their rulers, weakening the states internally and making them more susceptible to foreign interference and invasion – adding intrigue to fire-power – in WW1. Though eventually the ideas of freedom and democracy did bring about the modernization of Europe, but the resultant ideology of a materialistic self-realization robbed the general happiness of mankind for the sake of the ‘happy man’ of the near future.
Truth-seekers must not be selective in history, discarding disliked facts under the label of ‘conspiracy’. We must try to reach a comprehensive picture of reality by accepting all facts. Here is a checklist of the reasons of WW1, before we set our eyes on WW2:
- Weakness of Muslim empires around the world
- Industrial Revolution in Europe
- Colonization of the Americas, Africa and India
- Enlightenment ideologies of freedom and equality
- Competition for more colonization between European nations
- The Great Game for Asia’s free states
- The plan to dismantle monarchies in Europe & Russia
- The plan to dismantle the Ottoman Empire
- The plan to complete the Scramble of Africa
WW1 – Long Shadows
WW2 was in many ways a natural offspring of WW1. WW1 was the beginning of the attempt for complete dominance and WW2 was its finalization – but from this finale was begotten an ever-growing complex that would keep slipping out of control.
The idea of ‘revolution’ is great, it is full with energy and the power to ‘change’ and change is what human nature yearns for all the time. Though all issues can be resolved willfully and peacefully too, but the weight of the status quo as such seems to be so heavy and impossible to break that it will just not do without abrupt revolutionary activity. Yet the real problem with all socialist revolutions had been that there energy was always short lived and just as fruitless – as soon as the revolutionaries gained the power they struggled to gain, they began to adopt the same traits the previous status quo had – reason being, with power comes insecurity and to bring any ‘change’ power is the prerequisite and so the whole emphasis shifts towards saving the ‘power’. The Vanguard Party in each case deemed itself the indispensable protector of the new ideology and did everything required to keep the power. In fact the Revisionist prove that all the 19th and 20th century revolutions were a drive by a small class of anarchists who used the popular sentiments to seize power world-wide, they did not intend to finish the status quo but to control it permanently.
The same had happened in the Weimar Republic - it was ruled by the Social Democratic Party, they voiced liberal and democratic ideals, which would have been fine but for the reason that the Germans felt that the vanguard party was overpowered by a handful of Jews, who filled the parliament and other important offices – the Jews being only 1% of the German population. The soldiers returning from the fronts had also been led to the belief that the Jews were behind the defeat in the war they were so clearly winning. The rise of the Jews on the political front was the basic reason that the German people started hating them - Hitler was one of the soldiers who had returned from the fronts. With Hitler the German people returned to the nationalistic ideal that had been suppressed by the communist, and perhaps because of the defeat and unjust war-guilt, it took its extreme form - Nazism.
A major cause of WW2 was the insatiate appetite for expansion. Though shown earlier in this essay, each imperialist power of Europe was expanding its grabs throughout the Americas, Africa, Australia and many Asian states but there was something about European imperialism akin to absolutism – it was like each power or at least each alliance of powers thought it absolutely necessary to be the only and the all-powerful colonizer. For this reason any new contender was seen as a serious threat, so when Italy invaded Albania, Ethiopia and Greece – and Germany expressed the desire to unite under it more German speaking lands in Europe and when Japan captured Manchuria and Korea, these were seen as vital security threats by Britain, France, Russia and US, and were labeled as fascist and expansionist through a worldwide propaganda scheme – conveniently consigning to oblivion the fact that they have been brutal expansionists themselves over the last centuries.
Understanding China in the pretext of the Great Game is essential for a comprehensive bird’s eye vision of the prevailing global scenario of that time. Since the First Opium War of 1842, China had had to sign several ‘Unequal Treaties’ with the imperial world. In the first Treaty it had to sign away 5 ports to Britain, allow missionary activity and own-courts to UK and US colonies at the ports. Later it had to give trade concessions to France, who had occupied Indochina since 1885 and to Russia, to which it had ceded all land north of Amur River since 1858. Japan was also a contender to whom China had ceded Taiwan and concessions in Korea, since the First Sino-Japanese War of 1895. The Boxers rose up in rebellion against foreign control and intervention in northeast China in 1898, this rebellion was crushed brutally by an eight state alliance of the imperialists. The next year US announced its generous Open Door Policy according to which all contending parties would have equal opportunities in China, except for already exacted leases and interests. Several decades of failed wars and humiliating treaties reduced the Qing into mere puppets.
With the advent of the communist revolutions around the WW1 period, China too was to become a theatre for communist tug-of-war. Here the centers for revolution were two: one was based in Japan and had western backing, the other was based in Leninist Russia. The first was the Kuomintang (KMT) that was previously founded as Tongmenghui by Sun Yat Sen in 1905. Tongmenghui staged the Xinhai Revolution (1911) that overthrew China's last imperial dynasty, the Qing. Sun Yat Sen ruled China till his death in 1925. Sun was impressed by the Meiji Revolution and wanted China free of all foreign interventions. In 1923 KMT accepted Soviet support.
Meanwhile in Russian soil the Communist Party of China (CPC) had been founded under purely Leninist ideology, under the Comintern. When KMT approached Russia, the CPC was order to work under KMT. After Sun, Chiang Kai-shek, became leader of KMT and brought the Warlords into a united China, but Chiang had issues with the CPC’s communists and their increasing strength and eventually sought German help against them. With advice from German advisors, KMT forced the Communists to withdraw from their bases in southern and central China into the mountains in a massive military retreat known as the Long March. But with Soviet help CPC quickly regained strength and reemerged as the Red Army under Mao Zedong and the two sides fought each other from 1927 to 1937, at that point they united in wake of an all-out Japanese invasion, who had already invaded Manchuria since 1931. Battles with Japan continued throughout WW2 and ended only after the Hiroshima, Nagasaki Nuclear Attacks in 1945.
With the end of the Japan chapter KMT and CPC re-ensued the Civil War. China’s Civil War was now also a war between US behind the KMT and Russia behind CPC. KMT began with a 4 to 1 superiority in armed force in 1946, but by 1949 the strength had been reversed with 4million CPC soldiers and 1million KMT soldiers and KMT was forced to retreat into Taiwan. In 1949, Moa Zedong declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China thus permanently entering China into the communist club with Russia at their back.
While in Europe Germany started the war by invading Poland in 1939, in the Pacific it was Japan that triggered the war by initiating quick invasions of several fronts around the Pacific Rim. The extreme and barbaric act of the nuclear attacks against Japan was perhaps for the reason that Japan being a dynastic empire with a great military might posed to take over not only China and Mongolia but the whole of the Pacific. After invading French Indochina an year earlier, in 1941, Japan had invaded Thailand and attacked British possessions in Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong and US military bases in Hawaii (Pearl Harbor), Wake Island, Guam and Philippines. This meant that now Japan wants exclusive rights upon what had been hitherto looted by so many imperials with an open-door policy.
One should reckon that with Allied victory in WW1 against the Triple Alliance plus their ally the Ottomans, not only came the fall of the German, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian empires but also of the Russian Empire and at late of the Qing Empire. And with WW2 the Japanese Empire was to collapse leaving only one, the British Empire, surviving in the world.
Also interesting is to excavate the reasons why alliances changed from WW1 to WW2:
If one considers the fact that most of the communist movements that swept the Ottoman lands originated from France and the communist who toppled Germany were harbored in UK and those who came to Russia came from the US and that the communists of Russia subsequently dumped the movement into Austria-Hungary and China, then one can reckon communism to be a great tool that helped the Allies in breaking all their potential enemies, forcing them on a path of ‘democracy’ – a path that is less prone to fruitfulness and more prone to corruption.
But just as ‘democracy’ has not survived in letter nor in spirit in any state even to this present time and has rather formed into mangled variants of its core-definition every here and there - in the same way communism could never hold true to its ideals of equal ownership and egalitarianism. In fact communism takes its roots from the very Jacobin French Revolution, wherefrom originate revolution, vanguard and ‘power of the people’, which are the trinity of communism. And democracy, which is also also the ‘power of the people’ is originally the communist ideal of Marx as opposed to the capitalist bourgeois of the industrial revolution.
So democracy being an unfulfilled dream in both capitalist and communist states - it all really boils down to economic opportunity and political hegemony that really drives the powers of the world. And if so, communist Russia should have melted into a softer, more malleable form like all other state that thought they were once communist, but Russia stubbornly stood up like an invincible Frankenstein, brazen towards its own designers. So although the US, Britain and their allies had supported Russia throughout WWI and WW2 in their war against Germany, Austria-Hungary and against the Qing, but once these threats were eliminated, Soviet Union the largest country in the world became ‘the threat’ itself. Likewise, when communism sweeping from Germany to China, came right to the doorstep of Japan, Japan turned against its ally, the US and joined Nazi-Germany, perhaps in the bid to save the Emperor Hirohito’s throne.
Swiftly changing geopolitics and fragile alliances tell us how political interests of the rulers can affect the fate of their people, most of the times without their knowing. Japan’s attack on French Indochina (1941) was the point when the US decisively turned against Japan banning its oil export to Japan, when at that time Japan was importing 80% of its oil from the US. And the 1948 post-WW2, US Marshall Plan to aid Western Europe with economic aid, was decisively the time when Stalin felt alienated from former Allies. In opposition Stalin made the Comecon for economic assistance to the Eastern Bloc – and the world turned bi-polar
After the war Germany was divided among US, UK, France & Russia. Japan became a vassal of the US, Korea was taken from Japan and made into a US occupied South Korea and a North Korea under Soviet occupation. Israel was brought into existence by the United Nations. Power was stacked up in two poles, Western Europe and the US, who joined under the NATO and the Soviet Union, who made the Warsaw Pact with the communist bloc states.
The more the power, the higher the risk of its being snatched and the more the defense built around it and the more the aggression that will generate – thus the ongoing many-facet Cold War – that humanity fights in proxy of those who wish to see the fights to the ends of their wish-fulfillments. With the end of the Cold War, began the ‘Unipolar Moment’ of the US being the only superpower in the world. But sadly, this immense accumulation of power under a unipolar hegemon of our time did not bring to human civilization what it expected at the peak of its scientific and cultural ascendance. Humanity that had been promised and waiting for the great god of science to save it from poverty, disease, ignorance and the strife of wars, had only been rewarded with more of all these. The dream of justice, equality, balanced freedoms and a greener eco-system that could only come with a unified one-world system, have been permanently lost as we wake up every day in a nightmare of unrelenting corruption, political stagnation and social deprecation – behind which the giant throngs of Capitalists organizations tend to unearth every value of the soil and squeeze humanity to the last sweat and blood it can offer.
In this awful backdrop, we find ourselves ready to embrace, a new multipolar world, that will redefine democracy, capitalism and globalization for us. We find ourselves ready to face new challenges of how we will save ourselves as a humanity now! Will the new poles of power set humanity on the right path this time, or will greed and hate once again renew the cycles of wars.