The Dissolution Of Empires Post World War I.


Sikhs In Paris, 1914.

There is no greater or more poignant reminder of the effects of imperialism than ANZAC Day. ANZAC is an acronym for what otherwise would be commonly called the combined Australian and New Zealand military forces that fought under the purview of the United Kingdom. These were excellent armies, auxiliaries of sorts willing to go into deserts, jungles and oceans casting their lot with the Imperial Crown.


ANZAC Day, 25 April, is today still a day of national celebration and mourning in Australia and New Zealand. There are also hallowed grounds preserved for annual pilgrimages from citizens to acknowledge the price they paid. Like Vicksburg and Gettysburg and Shiloh, memorials and battlefields are the national pride of military history in Australia and New Zealand.


Oddly, when World War I ended, not only did draconian reparations anchor Germany in suffering, the Ottoman Empire also unraveled. Austro-Hungary unraveled and most of the British high command felt Russia would be next in the worldwide of change cascading across Eastern Europe. It was during this tumult that Lloyd George appointed Winston Churchill Secretary of State. Tumult worked for Chruchill. He loved a gallimaufry. Inside confusion, he could create order.


Well the British Army was battling in Russia, Ireland, the Middle and Near East and the North-West Frontier, and minor uprisings in English interests in Egypt, in India and Malaysia.


France had troops and tanks in North Africa.


Syrian and Turkish armies fought Greeks for territory in Asia Minor.


In Eastern Europe Russian Bolsheviks battled Germans, Poles, Finns, Estonians and Lithuanians.


Hungarians fought each other.


The war to end all wars created the sort of chaotic outcomes we are still living with. It also created the kind of petrie dish of nation building that Churchill desired.

Britain wrestled from Germany its own German East Africa territory and then rebranded it as Tanganyika. Britain also added Togoland and a territory in the Cameroons in West Africa, and Palestine and Iraq.


Australia and New Zealand replevin some Pacific islands, and South Africa took over South-West Africa. Under unwelcome pressure from President Woodrow Wilson, the new proprietors of these regions were held to mandated governance in line with missives from the League of Nations.


During this whirlwind of change in the Mid East, the Kurdish people made a stand. In May 1919 Sheikh Mahmud Barzinji invoked Wilsonian doctrine to declare a territory for Kurdistan. It was a start of a nation that may have been an incredible ally to the US and Israel and Britain. It was crushed under the boots and tanks of the Sir Arnold Wilson, the precept over Iraq.

Churchill called this swirling conflict the War for Civilization. It was of course a war for Empire. The difference between the two I’ll leave up to you.




2 thoughts on “The Dissolution Of Empires Post World War I.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *