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Key Concept 6.2 Global Conflicts and their Consequences (1900-present)

external image Opium_War_Museum_entrance.jpg

I. Europe dominated the global political order at the beginning of the century, but both land-based and transoceanic empires gave way to new forms of trans-regional political organizations by the century's end.

-Global organizations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations made efforts to keep the peace between nations.

Go here for the names of the heads of state in the picture below.

Photomontage made in Europe in 1889 with the main heads of state in the world
Photomontage made in Europe in 1889 with the main heads of state in the world

A. The older land-based Ottoman, Russian, and Qing empires collapsed due to a combination of internal and external factors.

[Teach one illustrative example of internal and external factors, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: Economic hardship, Political and social discontent, Technological stagnation, Military defeat]

Ottoman Empire

Collapse of the Ottoman Empire (1600-1923)

rotating gif.gifFor more, on the Ottoman Empire link to

Internal factors
External factors
  • From 1566 to 1789 the sultans of the Ottonman Empire were men of little ability and training.
  • Bribery, favors in office, favoritism, nepotism, and corruption spread across the empire. Much like Qing Empire, regional officials often squeezed taxes out of the people for their own personal gain.
  • The investments in military to keep up with Western technology laid a heavy tax burden on the citizens. The devsirme system that trained young children to eventually become military leaders was also abandoned.
  • New World silver led to inflation in the Ottoman Empire that resulted in corruption. European trade routes bypassed the Ottomans.
  • Muslim scholars became increasingly conservative and rejected new ideas, seemingly oblivious to Western advancements.
  • Commercial expansion overseas gave Western Europe economic superiority.
  • Advancements in technology, industry, and agriculture were synonymous with Western society, branching out from the Renaissance and Reformation and leading into the Enlightenment. These ideas did not make their way into the Ottoman Empire until the 19th century.
  • A the western bourgeoisie model of support from local elites for the emperor was not present in the Ottoman Empire.
  • The previously centralized Ottoman Empire was weakened by other strong empires surfacing along its frontiers as well as those in Western Europe.

Multimedia.pngLink to here to watch a YouTube video on the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Mao Tse-Tung and Richard M. Nixon, February 1972
Mao Tse-Tung and Richard M. Nixon, February 1972

Review different periods in Chinese history in the Massachusetts frameworks at the following:
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Hong Xiuquan led the Taiping rebels.
Hong Xiuquan led the Taiping rebels.

Collapse of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)

Stack.pngFor information on three of the most powerful Qing rulers, link to Delicious stack here.

Internal Factors - Poverty, rebellion, war, bad harvests, over population, addiction, economic disaster.
  • The Taiping Rebellion
-Pressing economic conflicts led to the biggest peasant rebellion of the Qing Dynasty.
-Leader was Hong Xiuquan, a failed examin
ation candidate whose adoption of Christianity led him to view himself as the brother of Jesus.
-Rebels captured Nanjing in 1832, and China was literally split in half between its two capitals.
-Although suppressed in 1864 because of factionalism, the Taiping movement signified the internal disintegration of China. Regional leaders who quelled the rebellion refused to leave their new positions of power and would begin to impose and collect taxes.
-Efforts at reform finally began in the movement of self-strengthening, where Western technologies were adopted but Confucian tradition remained a the bedrock of Chinese society.

Lin Zexu was left with the task of shutting down the opium trade
Lin Zexu was left with the task of shutting down the opium trade

External Factors - Foreign imperialism, war.

  • The Opium War with Britain (1839-1842)
-Western traders had been restricted to trade only at the small port of Canton.
-Missions by Lord Macartney in 1793 and Lord Amherst in 1816 to establish better trade relations with China only worsened the relationship.
-Indian opium was introduced by Britain to China and quickly became the leading product to trade for Chinese tea.
-Originally, opium and silver were flowing in to China. As China became addicted to opium, silver and tea were coming back to Britain and China was left with the drug. This was worsening the economy because opium was a commodity, meaning investment in it satisfied Chinese "wants" but not the "needs" such as food.
-In 1839, Lin Zexu was appointed to curtail to opium trade. After writing several letters to Queen Victoria, he began blockading British trade.
primary_sources.PNGLin Zexu's 1839 Letter to Queen Victoria.

-The British saw this as an injustice, and used their naval superiority to demand trade concessions in the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842.

Repercussions of the Treaty of Nanjing:
-China had to pay an indemnity to Britain, tariffs on British trade were loosened, and extraterritorial rights given to British merchants. (ex. Hong Kong as British port)
-Freer trade was eventually offered to other countries, such as the United States.

Link to here to look at paintings representing the Qing Dynasty.

Link to here to read about the Qing Dynasty.

Treaty of Nanjing

Full text of letter from Commissioner Lin Zexu to Queen Victoria about the Opium Trade in China.

People's Republic of China, 1949-Present

Russia and the Soviet Union

rotating gif.gifSee World History II.22 for consequences of Soviet communism to 1945

lessonplan.jpgA creative lesson plan on the bolshevik revolution and the events leading up to it.

Collapse of the Soviet Union (1922-1991) -The Soviet Union was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia.

external image Soviet_Union_Administrative_Divisions_1989.jpg
Multimedia.pngFor background on the Soviet Union, see Seventeen Moments in Soviet History that includes text, video, images and maps on the period from 1917-1991.

external image 200px-Hebrew_timeline.svg.pngFor a timeline on the Cold War and the decline of the Soviet Union, see the Cold War Museum.

Internal Factors-
-The Soviets underestimated the degree to which the non-Russian ethnic groups in the country would resist assimilation into a nationalized body.
-The economic planning was directed more toward the "arms race" with the U.S. than to the needs of the state.
-The ideology of communism was never universally accepted among the people and lost much of its influence.
-Gorbachev's plans of "glasnost" and "perestroika" in 1986 allowed more freedom of speech and the opportunity to rebuild in Russia. These powers only led the citizens to realize the power that has been kept from them, and they used these newly instituted powers to criticize Gorbachev and the government.
-Dissent toward the Soviet Union began in some of the Baltic regions of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Once all-out war broke out during Nagorno-Karabagh's push for secession, "pandora's box" was opened and other nationalist movements began to rise.

External Factors-
  • The Cold War

rotating gif.gifFor information on the Cold War and how it affected the Soviet Union, link to WHII.30

Multimedia.pngA brief but informative 4 minute video detailing the events which led up to the Bolshevik Revolution

womens history.jpg primary_sources.PNGLink to here to view a book on women during and after the Soviet Union from JSTOR.

womens history.jpgAn informative article about the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution on women in the Soviet Union\

primary_sources.PNGLink to here to read about the Fall of the Soviet Union from the Cold War Museum

B. Some colonies negotiated their independence.

[Teach one illustrative example of negotiated independence, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: India from the British Empire, The Gold Coast from the British Empire
Countries of Africa, with date of independence
Countries of Africa, with date of independence

rotating gif.gifIndependence Pages:
Independence of African countries

Independence of South American countries

Independence of Middle Eastern countries

Independence of Central Asian countries

Independence of Southeast Asian countries and Oceania

Independence of North and East Asian countries

Map is from Wikimedia Commons; Original uploader was Mehmetaergun; recreated by Nobelium (talk) 2010-05-10

Lord & Lady Mountbatten and Mohammed Ali Jinnah, future leader of Pakistan, 1947
Lord & Lady Mountbatten and Mohammed Ali Jinnah, future leader of Pakistan, 1947

rotating gif.gifFor material on the partition of India, including primary sources, link to World Geography CSA.4

C. Some colonies achieved independence through armed struggle. East Africa and North Africa were under the influence of the Second World War.

[Teach one illustrative example of independence through armed struggle, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: Algeria and Vietnam from the French empire, Angola from the Portuguese empire]

The Algerian War of Independence

II. Emerging ideologies of anti-imperialism contributed to the dissolution of empires and the restructuring of states.


Click here for an interactive version of the African independence map

womens history.jpgClick here to read about women in South Africa and the effects the apartheid had on them.

primary_sources.PNGClick here to view archives on South Africa and the apartheid.

Nationalist leaders in Asia and Africa challenged imperial rule.

Mohandas Gandhi

rotating gif.gifFor information on

Pham Van Dong, Ho Chi Minh, Truong Chinh, Vo Nguyen Giap, Dien Bien Phu,1954
Pham Van Dong, Ho Chi Minh, Truong Chinh, Vo Nguyen Giap, Dien Bien Phu,1954

Ho Chi Minh (born Nguyen That Thanh) fought for Vietnamese Independence for much of the 20th century.
  • Born in 1890, Ho saw first hand the abuses committed by French Colonial rulers. His father, a diplomat for the French Empire, resigned his position in disgust. Ho traveled to France in 1911 and became obsessed with the French idea of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" and sovereignty. By 1919, Ho was also a voracious reader of American President Woodrow Wilson's ideas on self-determination. In a chance meeting with Wilson, Ho attempted to outline French atrocities in Vietnam. Wilson largely ignored Ho and he soon turned to the French Communist Party.
    • In the 1920s and 1930s, Ho traveled throughout Asia as a member of Comintern, an organization created by Lenin to spread Communism and promote revolution. In 1930 he founded the Indo-Chinese Communist Party. With the invasion of the Japanese in 1941, Ho returned to Vietnam and founded the Viet Minh, an independence organization. He also changed his name to Ho Chi Minh, the "Bringer of Light."
  • The Viet Minh achieved independence from Japan in September 1945. Ho read the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence aloud in Hanoi. The Vietnamese Declaration of Independence was heavily influenced by the American Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen from France.
    • Independence would be short lived as France would attempt to recolonize Indochina. France was unsuccessful at recolonizing in large part because of Ho's message of Nationalism. The Viet Minh forces would defeat French troops at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
  • However, independence would not yet be granted to Vietnam. At the Geneva Conference it was decided that Vietnam would be split for two years; there would be a democratic South and a communist North. After two years, there would be a reunifying election. However, the 1956 election was cancelled because the South feared that Ho would win the election.
    • During the Vietnam War with the United States, Ho Chi Minh famously said to his generals "if we have the people we have the weapons." Ho knew that winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people was just as important as winning battles. Ho's message of Vietnam for the Vietnamese propelled the North to victory.
  • Ho died in 1969 still fighting for Vietnamese independence. It was achieved in 1975, six years after his death.

Multimedia.pngprimary_sources.PNGFully translated interview with Ho Chi Minh in 1964

primary_sources.PNGVietnamese Declaration of Independence

Multimedia.pngClick here to watch a video on the biography of Ho Chi Mihn.

-By 1965 most former European colonies had become newly created independent nation states; examples include India, Indonesia, and Ghana.
Ho Chi MInh, 1957
Ho Chi MInh, 1957

B. Regional, religious, and ethnic movements challenged both colonial rule and inherited imperial boundaries.

[Teach one illustrative example of regional, religious, and ethnic movements, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: Muhammad Ali Jinnah, The Quebecois separatist movement, The Biafra secessionist movement]

C. Transnational movements sought to unite people across national boundaries.

[Teach one illustrative example of transnational movements, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: Communism, Pan-Arabism, Pan-Africanism]

D. Movements to redistribute land and resources developed within states in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, sometimes advocating communism and socialism.
rotating gif.gifSee World History II.33 and World History II.34 resources on the Chinese Revolution, Mao Tse-tung, and repression of protest in Tianamen Square.

Click here for background on the People's Republic of China from the website China Knowledge.

III. Political changes were accompanied by major demographic and social consequences.

-The world wars caused huge changes in population, as warring countries lost soldiers and certain ethnic groups were targeted specifically by major powers.
-While the majority of caucasian American men were mobilized during World War I, women and African American men took over the jobs of the men who served in the war. This resulted in a major increase in the amount of women working as well as an increased sense of independence for American women, along with what is known as the "great migration" of African Americans from the rural southern states to the urban, industrialized North.

A. The redrawing of old colonial boundaries led to population resettlements.

[Teach one illustrative example of population resettlements, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: The India/Pakistan partition, The Zionist Jewish settlement of Palestine, The division of the Middle East into mandatory states]

B. The migration of former colonial subjects to imperial metropoles maintained cultural and economic ties between the colony and the metropole even after the dissolution of empires.

[Teach one illustrative example of such migrations, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: South Asians to Britain, Algerians to France, Filipinos to the United States]

C. The proliferation of conflicts led to various forms of ethnic violence and the displacement of peoples resulting in refugee populations.

[Teach one illustrative example of such ethnic violence, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: Armenia, The Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda]

rotating gif.gif
  • The Holocaust killed many of the Jewish population of Europe during World War II. See World History II.26 for teaching resources.

[Teach one illustrative example of displacement of peoples, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice:
Palestinians, Darfurians]

IV. Military conflicts occurred on an unprecedented global scale.

A. World War I and World War II were the first "total wars." Governments used ideologies, including fascism, nationalism and communism, to mobilize all of their state's resources, including peoples, both in the home countries and the colonies or former colonies, for the purpose of waging war. Governments also used a variety of strategies, including political speeches, art, media, and intensified forms of nationalism, to mobilize these populations.
Gassed, John Singer Sargent, 1918
Gassed, John Singer Sargent, 1918

rotating gif.gifFor more information about World Wars:
World War I

The Sinking of the Lusitania, Winsor McCay's silent animated film, released 1918

  • McCay illustrated 25,000 drawings for the film

World War II
For information on German and Japanese drives for empire before World War II, go to World History II.23

See Historical Biography pages World War II era Leaders

game_icon.svg.pngThe Western Front: Would You Have Made a Good Officer? presents a simulation of trench warfare and changing military technology during World War I.

game_icon.svg.pngAn interactive map detailing different key events which led up to the second world war.

book.pngSee Influential Literature Page on Hiroshima by John Hersey

[Teach one illustrative example of mobilization of a state's resources, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: The Gurkha soldiers in India, The ANZAC troops in Australia, Military conscription]

  • Both WWI and WWII involved more countries than wars before, and fed off of their political alliances and feuds.
  • WWI was mainly between powerful European nations, with Germany and Austria-Hungary on one side, Britain, France, and Russia on the other (with the US joining later). The powers had connections all over the world, so the war was far bigger than any previous conflict.
  • WWII was a continuation of the tensions over resources and markets that partially caused the first world war. The major powers were the Axis powers and the Allied powers, with Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan fighting against Britain, France, and the US.

Link to a powerful article about the 1937 bombing of Guernica, a Basque city in Spain which wished to remain autonomous during the Spanish Civil War

external image 200px-Paperback_book_black_gal.svg.pngHitler and Nazi Germany is an e-book with excellent resources for teaching about Germany during World War II.

external image Stack.pngSee resources on D-Day here

B. The sources of global conflict in the first half of the century varied. [*REQUIRED EXAMPLES of the sources of global conflict: Imperialist expansion by European powers and Japan, Competition for resources, Ethnic conflict, Great power rivalries between Great Britain and Germany, Nationalist ideologies, The economic crisis engendered by the Great Depression.]

C. The global balance of economic and political power shifted after the end of World War II and rapidly evolved into the Cold War. The United States and the Soviet Union emerged as superpowers, which led to ideological struggles between capitalism and communism throughout the globe.

rotating gif.gifThe Consequences of World War II can be seen at Massachusetts Framework World History II.28

-During this Cold War, the USSR and the US ended up with the reality of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), a military deterrence strategy in which a full scale use of nuclear weapons by either power would result in world-wide destruction.

D. The Cold War produced new military alliances, including NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and promoted proxy wars in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

For more on NATO, see World History II.31 and United States History II.18

Multimedia.pngA video of John F. Kennedy's famous 1963 speech in Berlin

rotating gif.gifFor background on the Cold War, see World History II.32

-The Soviet Union and the US were powerful enemies after WWII. An “Iron Curtain” of tense relations separated the countries and their allies. The US adopted a policy of Containment, aimed at containing communism in favor of capitalism and using military bases around the world.

E. The dissolution of the Soviet Union effectively ended the Cold War.

Color Revolutions Map
Color Revolutions Map

V. Although conflict dominated much of the twentieth century, many individuals and groups — including states — opposed this trend. Some individuals and groups, however, intensified the conflicts.

A. Groups and individuals challenged the many wars of the century, and some promoted the practice of nonviolence as a way to bring about political change.

[Teach one illustrative example of groups and individuals who challenged war, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: Picasso in his Guernica, The antinuclear movement during the Cold War, Thich Quang Duc by self-immolation]

Mohandas Gandhi began to have peaceful protests against British monopolies/royal rule in the 1940s. After Salt Marches, the continuation of past clothing production in traditional ways, lead to a British retreat from India.

Martin Luther King Jr. practiced the art of nonviolence in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. He organized marches and occupations often leading to the violent resistance of the U.S. Government. This method often gave a favorable view on the victims and left the aggressors looking bad to the public.

Nelson Mandela succeeded in ending the racial tensions of the Apartheid Movement in South Africa in the 1990s. After peaceful protests, strong perseverance and prison time, Nelson Mandela made the government support all ethnic groups in South Africa.

B. Groups and individuals opposed and promoted alternatives to the existing economic, political, and social orders.

Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton, 1993
Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton, 1993

[Teach one illustrative example of such groups and individuals, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: Communist leaders such as Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, The Non-Aligned Movement, which presented an alternative political bloc to the Cold War, The Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa, Participants in the global uprisings of 1968, The Tiananmen Square protesters that promoted democracy in China]

Click here for the Nelson Mandela Digital Archive Project.

rotating gif.gifGo to Massachusetts World History II.44 for more on the fall of apartheid and the ideas and influence of Nelson Mandela.

C. Militaries and militarized states often responded to the proliferation of conflicts in ways that further intensified conflict.

D. More movements used violence against civilians to achieve political aims.

rotating gif.gifGo to World History II.47 for information on Islamic fundamentalism and Al-Qaeda.

E. Global conflicts had a profound influence on popular culture.

[Teach one illustrative example of responses that intensified conflict, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: The promotion of military dictatorship in Chile, Spain, and Uganda; The United States' promotion of a New World Order after the Cold War, The buildup of the "military-industrial complex" and arms trading]

[Teach one illustrative example of movements who used violence, either from the list that follows or an example of your choice: IRA, ETA, Al-Qaeda]

Late 20th century conflicts such as the cold war influence popular culture through spy films such as James Bond, and the best foreign film (2006), The Lives of Others.