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European History Since 1648

The period of history after 1648 is characterized by numerous significant events on the international arena that were influenced by important trends in general world politics because of collapse of the Peace of Westphalia.

1) Russian-Japanese War (started in 1904) was a war between Russian and Japanese Empires for control over Manchuria and Korea. During the war, the both sides suffered from heavy human and financial losses. The war ended after Russia’s proposal to conclude a peaceful treaty. The Treaty was signed in August 1905 after negotiations in Portsmouth (US) with Theodore Roosevelt’s participation. Weakened Russia agreed on Japan’s strict terms of the agreement.

Russia ceded to Japan the southern part of Sakhalin, a right to lease Port Arthur, the southern tip of the Liaodong eninsula and the southern branch of the Chinese Eastern Railway Station from Changchun to Port Arthur. It also allowed Japanese fishing fleet to fish off the coast of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea. Korea was acknowledged as a Japanese influence area. Russia abandoned its political, military and trade advantages in Manchuria; at the same time, it was released from the payment of any indemnities. Warring parties undertook to withdraw their troops from Manchuria (“Milestones: 1899–1913”).

After the war, Japan became a prominent player on the international arena. It drew the attention of different countries’ community.

The main consequences of this war for Russia were the followings public dissatisfaction with the autocracy in Russia that shamefully lost the war with Japan; weakening of its Far East positions and the loss of influence at the sea; destabilization of the political situation inside the country and growth of a revolutionary struggle.

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However, due to the defeat, the Russian authorities paid greater attention to inner reforms. It led to positive changes in the army and navy (there was a number of reforms in 1905 – 1912). Russia focused on Europe and signed an agreement with Britain on the delimitation of influence areas in Afghanistan. Finally, Entente was formed.

2) The Treaty of Versailles is an agreement signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles in France. The First World War of 1914 – 1918 Security guarantees were a weakening of Germany, and League of Nations that existed until 1946 was created thanks to the Versailles agreement. Among the main objectives of the organization were the following: disarmament, prevention of military action, collective security, settlement of disputes between countries through diplomatic negotiations and improvement of life conditions on the planet.

In fact, a lasting peace was impossible because to the conference, which was attended by 27 countries, the defeated countries and Soviet Russia were not invited. Their interests, of course, were not considered. However, territorial losses and indemnity were heavy. Germany suffered more than any other country. Germany lost all of its colonies and several important continental territories (it was 1/8 of its territories and 1/12 of the population.) By May 1921, Germany had to pay an additional 20 billion marks in gold, commodities, securities, etc., and to transfer all of its trading vessels of over 1,600 tons, half of the ships of over 1,000 tons, a quarter of fishing vessels and the fifth part of its river fleet to war winners. Within 10 years, Germany had to give France up to 140, Belgium up to 80, and Italy up to 77 million tons of coal, as well as to pass the winners half of stash and coloring chemicals. These conditions were impracticable.

For this reason, it was a “peace without victory”. Moreover, the interests of Russia, which was becoming an important actor on the international arena again, were not taken into account. The signed Treaty was the basis of revanchists’ ideas.

Treaty of Versailles was not universal enough: it did not include not only such large Asian countries as China, India and Japan, but also the US, which never joined the League of Nations and ratified the Treaty of Versailles.

The Second World War was a response to the German Treaty of Versailles. This predatory and humiliating for Germany agreement (which affected primarily its citizens) laid in the minds of the German people a dream of national revival, and gave all the prerequisites for the Nazis led by Hitler to come to power in Germany. The Treaty of Versailles created a solid foundation for the Second World War (“Treaty of Versailles, 1919”).

After the Treaty of Versailles, the establishment of the League of Nations and the Permanent Court of International Justice, Minority Treaties, the rights of minorities in Europe generally strengthened. The PCIJ decisions on minority schools in Albania and Poland and the assignment of autonomy to Aland Islands proved such changes. In addition to the agreement on minorities related to the League of Nations, the rights of national minorities are discussed in the Soviet-Polish Treaty of Riga (Article VII), in agreements between Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Violent Greek-Turkish “exchange of populations” according to the Lausanne Peace Treaty is a bright exception on this background.

3) The Second World War (1939-1945) was the bloodiest one in world history. Its main reasons are the following.

First of all, the injustice of Treaty of Versailles put many people in a humiliating position and contributed to coming to power of forces that sought revenge and a new division of the world. To the greatest extent, this policy was manifested in the policies of Germany, Italy and Japan.

Secondly, the economic crisis of the 1930s exacerbated the contradictions between the countries that denied them the opportunity to put efforts in the struggle for peace. The entire security system was destroyed.

Thirdly, the policy of Britain and France focused on appeasement of the aggressor and “isolation” of the US that passed a neutrality law. In

1938, German soldiers supported by Nazis of Austria occupied Austria. There was a reunion (Anschluss) of Austria with the German Empire. The most influential powers and the League of Nations affected it. The Soviet Union was the only one who resented because of such cruelty and indifference. Another victim of the fascist aggression became Czechoslovakia. Germany demanded the Sudetenland, where the population of 3 million Germans lived. Hitler stressed that the Sudetenland is his last geopolitical demand in Europe. The Heads of governments of the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy signed the Munich Agreement on 29-30 September, 1938,  and Czechoslovakia was divided. No one wanted to protect it (Rogers and >Thomas 119).

Lastly, a significant role in the outbreak of war played the USSR, which signed a Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, including the secret protocol, with Germany. It opened the way for aggressor’s attack on Poland.

4) Fulton speech uttered on March 5, 1946 by Winston Churchill at Westminster College, Missouri, was considered in the Soviet Union as a signal of the Cold War’s beginning. In this speech, the anti-Soviet term “iron curtain” invented in 1945 by Goebbels, was heard. This “curtain”, as Churchill said, was on the European continent and divided it from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic. On this line, all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe were located. The Iron Curtain conditionally divided the world into two spheres of influence: Soviet and Western.

Churchill believed that Russia could understand the language of power only, and proposed the creation of an anti-Soviet bridgehead, giving a head start to the establishment of the Anglo-American world domination. He hoped to get approval and support of the American public regarding the establishment of fraternal association of English-speaking people for preventing the spread of communism. The former British Prime Minister urged to apply force against the Soviet Union as soon as possible before it would have its own nuclear weapons (Milligan). When USSR acquired its own nuclear weapons, and the United States could no longer adhere to the policy of isolationism, Churchill’s assumptions became even more apparent.

5) Globalization is a process of ever-increasing impact of various factors of international importance (for example, close economic and political ties, cultural and informational exchange) on the social reality in different countries. That is a process of unification or convergence of economic, social and cultural norms and principles in countries where the economy and society have had significant national traits before.

In contrast to globalization, internationalization does not smooth the differences between countries and not diminish them. It emphasizes the characteristics and individual achievements of each nation, making them accessible to whole humankind with help of international exchanges (Ali Dulupçu and Demirel 32).

Conclusion

The beginning of the XX century was marked by the new alignment of forces on the international arena and the gradual formation of a bipolar system. The US, finally, strengthened their position as one of the leading transatlantic powers, and the world community came under the influence of globalization and internationalization from the side of the Western World.

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