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Britain initiated the battle for control over African and Asian territories; other European powers as well as the United States and Japan soon followed suit to keep up with their competitor. Nations like France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States wanted to end Britain's dominance of the world marketplace.
Political and military motives also fueled the New Imperialism. This was especially evident in the Spanish-American War. Even before that, the United States and Germany were already beginning to threaten British military dominance. After the American Civil War, its military was strengthened and it became significantly less isolationist in its foreign policy. After the unification of Germany, its military and political powers increased greatly. Both the United States and Germany grew their naval forces to compete with Britain's. Germany first initiated its New Imperialist campaigns during 1884 to 1885, mainly in Africa. The United States dove right into the New Imperialism especially after William McKinley was elected president in 1896. The accumulation of surplus capital and the need for economic growth and expansion caused the United States to seek new territorial outlets. The United States also required new sources for natural resources. The Spanish Civil War was the bloody culmination of the American New Imperialism. In 1898, the United States ousted Spain from Cuba, only to take over its territory. The Americans also invaded the Philippines and fought a war there with the native Philippinos after Spain withdrew. The Spanish-American War led to the American acquisition of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, and perhaps more importantly, Hawaii. Hawaii was an attractive strategic location for the American military, which would now be positioned well to fight wars with Asia. In 1904, the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine codified the New Imperialism. Eventually the United States would replace Great Britain as the dominant colonizing force in Central America ("New Imperialism").
Japan was the only Asian nation to contribute to the New Imperialism. Following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Japan developed a more aggressive and expansionist stance than it had in the past. In 1894, Japan seized control of Korea. Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War led to Japan's takeover of Manchuria in 1905. China contained about a fourth of the world's population at that time and was therefore a desirable place for imperialist expansion. However, China was too large a project to be taken on by one nation alone. An inability to create an effective coalition among the competitive industrialized nations demanded a loose policy of "spheres of influence" in China rather than outright colonialism.
Britain took over India entirely when Queen Victoria declared herself Empress of India in 1876. Great Britain also expanded further into Southeast Asia: the nation conquered Burma in the 1880s. France developed its Indochinese Empire by occupying Vietnam, Cambodia, and later Laos. Thailand would serve as an independent "buffer" nation between the holdings of France and Britain ("New Imperialism"). However, Africa represented the largest land holdings by the New Imperialist nations. By 1914, only Ethiopia and Liberia were not occupied. Great Britain controlled nearly 30% of the continent, followed by France at 15%. Belgium controlled the entire Congo region. Germany and Italy also vied for African colonies.
The New Imperialism had enormous consequences for industrialized nations and for the lands and peoples they subjugated. For instance, the New Imperialism led to new political alliances that were essentially precursors to the Great War. Britain formed loose alliances with Japan, and even France and Russia in the "Entente" agreement. Some conflicts over land holdings in northern Africa, such as the Tangier Crisis in 1905, Agadir Crisis in 1911, led up to World War One; the New Imperialism was also a product of the growing sense of nationalism among the industrialized nations, as well as the formation of a global society. The New Imperialism is philosophically linked to Social Darwinism because of the underlying beliefs fueling expansion: that the industrialized nations were culturally superior because of their economic superiority. The New Imperialism was also based on a belief that the peoples of Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Africa were somehow inferior to the industrialized nations and that it was the "white man's burden" to deliver their brand of civilization.…[continue]
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