The First World War in the beginning of the twentieth century is remembered as horrific and the savagery of mankind. It was the clash between the powers and the show off stage for their national pride. It was truly a struggle for dominance and delivered nothing but destruction and their downfall. The First World War surely ended the European domination of the world. It was a fair cycle of history that took away the baton of prolonged European imperialism to other rising regions such as Asia and America.
It was surely the war that caused European downfall in economy, political unstableness, and change in their tension toward internal and external neighboring borders. The war was a controversial warfare in an immense scale that had no differentiation in both military combatants and civilians. This type warfare also known as the “total war” had brought European economies in demolition due to the over concentration on military spending. Politically, rise of republican governments along with new socialist ideas and the decline of monarchist system which was a strong centralized power contributed in the part of the shift in power.
The war provided the foothold for newly industrialized states: the United States and Japan to join the race along with the European powers. Aftermath of the war gave opportunity to the worldwide independent movements especially in India and Arabian nations once firmly controlled by mighty British regime. Also, Chinese May 4th movement which was cultural and socio political reform proved the once European dominated regions were no longer in the hands of their influence.
The war that crudely consumed colonies’ rights and possessions not only brought the resistance but heightened the nationalistic ideas within the colonized states. The process of European downfall in their dominance of the world originated within their inevitable competence. Vigorously outstretched European imperialism between the late 19th century and the First World War brought overwhelming power to the European states. Rivalry was impossible to be avoided which then divided Europe into major alliance systems in attempts to balance each other’s power.
This system in Europe created tension that changed their worldly interest into their close borders. Thus, the First World War was the event that ceased the European egocentric behavior followed by the shift of powers and their gradual falls in their dominance of the world. The First World War tremendously changed the balance of world powers. The war brought nothing but destruction to the entire European nations and inevitably brought economical downfall in Europe. This demolition gave rise to the other regional powers: the United States of America and Imperial Japan.
During the war, each European power used the slogan of ‘total war” which was the mobilization of all their available resources, in order to render beyond use their rival’s capacity for resistance. The total war mostly occurred in the land of Europe and it was truly a severe damage to the European 19th century’s prosperity. The total war expenditure by the European participators was listed as 190 billion dollars including the other indirect spending which was approximately 160 billion dollars. This was close to thirty percent of the European countries’ national wealth.
Within the war period, accumulated European wealth that was built on through a long imperialism which maintained European dominance in the world was wastefully evaporated. Also, the post war wound was prevalent throughout the European continent. Industrialized German and French cities fell into ruins and Britain who was less damaged in their homeland also lost about 7,759,000 tons of merchant values throughout the war. Thoroughly, the European economies wrecked each other while passing their capital to an emerging America.
By contrast, The United States whose exports were not even close to the half of British market in the late 19th century ascended greater than any other countries in the world. The First World War constructed America into a frontier of exporting weapons and provisions that promptly grasped the country into the position as the major power. Also, debenture bonds were enormously issued to European states by American government to heal the post war wounds. This event led American industries and agriculture into the most dominating structure in the world.
From this economical gain, American government could construct powerful military organization that eventually influenced the Pacific, Asia and European regions. Similarly, Imperial Japanese exports were prevalent in the war where it blasted Japanese economy. The war founded the foothold for Japan to implement their imperialistic dreams in Asia. Backboned by these economical achievements, Japan was promptly able to develop its military systems. Whilst European powers turned its eyes to the continent of Europe, Japanese expansion in Asia was flourished.
For example, Japanese military seized German settlements in Tsingtao China and German pacific colonies such as Mariana and Caroline in the year of 1914. Thus, another European power that dominated the region fell on the grip of a new emerging power in Asia. Thus, the First World War donated non-European powers such as America and Japan opportunities to emerge as the next influence of power. Moreover, political effect by the First World War was also as great as economical downfall in Europe. Imperialistic governments once dominated the world were fallen apart by the end of the war.
Revolution in Russia caused Russian Empire to be torn down and replaced with a socialist styled government that killed millions of people in the process. Austro-Hungarian Empire, the representation of old Holy Roman Empire was no longer exists. Also, the maps of Eastern Europe and the Middle East were redrawn causing minorities to limit power of the pre-existed empires. When European Imperialism began to fall behind, the most popular type of government to gain influence was the republic. Before the war, Europe contained 19 monarchies and 3 republics, yet only a few years afterward, had 13 monarchies, 14 republics and 2 regencies.
Evidently, revolution was in the air and people began to more ardently express their desires for a better way of life. Also, Socialism erupted as a major political force mainly through Russia. The introduction of Socialistic ideas which emphasized peace: “a strong desire to avoid conflicts and loss,” and “all workers united” began to implant the humanistic terms into the minds of Europeans which limit the idea of Imperialism throughout the world. Thus, the societies of European nations changed by their class systems altered the lower class consciousness to be evolved as well as forging a non-imperial identity.
This political turmoil during the post war, Europe was mostly engaged in their domestic issues that paid lesser attention to rest of the world. While The First World War caused Europe to be engaged in their economical and political reorganization, the European colonized states sought the opportunity to regain their oppressed identities. Additionally, The Fourteen Points that was delivered by the United States President Woodrow Wilson’s speech at a joint session of congress in 1918 greatly influenced the independence movement throughout the world. Basically, the speech emphasized n the “national self-reliance” which constructed a foundation that annihilated the 19th century styled European world order. Fall of Ottoman Empire once vastly controlled the Middle Eastern region introduced new nationalistic movements. New Turkish and Iranian nationalists ceased the prolonged Islamic activities and sought their national identity and pride that caused resistance to European influences. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Republic of Turkey resisted the European influence by beating back the British and French supported Greek invasion.
In the case of India, British government anxiously persuaded the Indian states to be part of the war in return for their independency. However, the promise was eventually declined by Britain that provoked Hindu nationalists and their provincial governments to be engaged in anti-British movement. Many Indian resistances were significantly prevalent throughout the region. “Salt March” organized by Gandhi was the important part of the Indian independence movements. It was a non-violent protest that triggered the wider “Civil Disobedience Movement. The movement encouraged Indian people for taking disobedience action toward the colonial rule. This event inspired many other nations and minorities who were under the oppressors. Also, sphere of influence by the European powers on China was no longer stayed as a presiding effect when the war ended. “May Fourth Movement,” often referred to as “New Cultural Movement” in China was anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement that triggered Chinese nationalism. Similar to Indian independence movement, the movement was originated when the European powers did not vow to acknowledge the Chinese effort in the war.
From this incident, Chinese were led to create a new strong nationalist party that resisted all of imperialistic terms that were forced by the European powers and Japan. Weakened European influence throughout the world due to the First World War caused political organization of once oppressed states. The war surely ended the sole of European domination of the world. The First World War brought changes in the order of the world. Prolonged European dominated world was surely a different place when the war ended.
Over confidence from European economical, political, and military astonishments plunged Europe into rivalry states to each other that led them into a disaster. Also, total war wastefully used up almost half of the European national wealth that was accumulated during 19th century when European powers were at its climax of prosperity. These expenses seriously damaged the European economy which meant declination of their power in the world and the rise to non-European states: the United States of America and Imperial Japan.
These two countries profited enormously by exporting weapons and agricultural products during the war. On the other hand, harsh regulations implemented on colonies during the war, by the nature of total war, gave permanent reasons for nationalistic movements to occur throughout the world. It was independence movements that were against the idea of Imperial power in search for their identity. As well as the economic downfall, political instability along with the fall of European empires was another leading source of Europe’s losing its power.
Emergence of Socialism and the creation of Republican states brought Europe into turmoil. All of these events took place by the end of the war that forced Europe to donate the baton of power to non-European emerging states: the United States of America and Imperial Japan. Thoroughly, the First World War affected European economy and its politics that surely closed the curtain on European domination of the world.