chapter  1
27 Pages

GREAT POWER RIVALRY AND THE WORLD WAR, 1900–1917

As a consequence, by the end of the century, Europe dominated the globe. Of course other factors played an essential part: Europe possessed the population size, the machine power and a massive organizational and technological edge over

its rivals. But stability at home permitted the impulses of the so-called ‘new imperialism’ to translate steam engines, machine guns and administration into supremacy abroad. In the 1880s and 1890s, these impulses ushered in not only the ‘scramble for Africa’, but also competition to extend empire in Persia, SouthEast Asia and the Pacific. Europe’s commercial, intellectual and cultural influence also spread. Under this corrosive pressure, the last great non-European empires, Qing China and Ottoman Turkey, crumbled, while Europeans planned partition. Afghanistan and Siam remained in part independent because they served as useful buffers between the Russian and British and the British and French imperial spheres of influence. Japan escaped European domination through modernization: after 1868 Japan was transformed into a quasi-European power – through the adoption of modern Western financial, military and industrial methods. Even so, the European Great Powers called the shots. When Japan defeated China in 1894-95, the Europeans intervened to rein the Japanese in and to take for themselves some of the spoils at China’s expense.