Book: The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China

by Mitch on March 27, 2012 0 Comments

David J. Silbey

Hill and Wang

The year is 1900, and Western empires—both old and new—are locked in regional entanglements across the globe. The British are losing a bitter war against the Boers while the German kaiser is busy building a vast new navy. The United States is struggling to put down an insurgency in the South Pacific while the upstart imperialist Japan begins to make clear to neighboring Russia its territorial ambition. In China, a perennial pawn in the Great Game, a mysterious group of superstitious peasants is launching attacks on the Western powers they fear are corrupting their country. These ordinary Chinese—called Boxers by the West because of their martial arts showmanship—rise up, seemingly out of nowhere. Foreshadowing the insurgencies of the more recent past, they lack a centralized leadership and instead tap into latent nationalism and deep economic frustration to build their army ...

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Islamic Jihad in Sudan

by Mitch on March 18, 2012 1 Comment

Headlong charge to destruction. Warriors of the Ansar erupt from ambush, shields and swords adding to the terror created by bristling hairstyles and wailing battle cries.

 

In 1881, Muhammad Ahmad Ibn As-sayyid 'abd Allah (1844-1885), a Sudanese religious thinker, announced that Allah had appointed him to purify Islam and to strike down any government that opposed the rule of that faith. He claimed to be al- Mahdi, the prophesied saviour and vindicator of Islam, and moved at once against the government of Egypt. Since 1821, the Khedivate had asserted sovereignty over the Sudan and points still further south. By 1873, the British Empire had established a protectorate over Egypt, a response to the expense and strategic importance of the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Also, the Khedive, directed by the British, made 'Chinese' Gordon the governor of the Sudan.

 

Gordon set the stage for the Mahdi's success ...

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Naval Doctrine - LUCE AND MAHAN

by Mitch on March 17, 2012 0 Comments

The most influential naval publicist of the Ironclad Age, and probably of all time, Alfred Thayer Mahan made his name with The Influence of Sea Power upon History (1890) and followed with other impressive historical analysis. He believed in the necessity of eliminating an opposing fleet in decisive battle so that sea power could subsequently be exercised. Commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1861, Mahan served the Union in the American Civil War as an officer on USS Worcester, Congress, Pocahontas, and James Adger, and as an instructor at the Naval Academy.

 

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, intellects were stirring. The foundation of the US Naval War College under Captain (subsequently Admiral) Stephen B. Luce in the mid-1880s was, in retrospect, a seminal event. The United States had had twenty years to recover from its civil war, years when it had been preoccupied not only with reconciliation and reconstitution of the Union ...

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Gunboat Diplomacy

by Mitch on March 10, 2012 0 Comments

United States marines with the captured flag of Augusto César Sandino in 1932.

 

“Gunboat diplomacy” refers to a foreign policy that relies on force or the threat of force. To some extent, such an approach to foreign policy has always existed between empires and nations. But in the American political lexicon the term is most commonly applied to U.S. foreign policy in the Caribbean, Central America, and the northern tier of South America during the first three decades of the 20th century. Thereafter, this policy gave way to the “Good Neighbor Policy” formulated first by Herbert Hoover and then put into practice by Franklin D. Roosevelt, whereby the United States would commit to refraining from armed intervention in Latin America.

 

One of the first examples of American gunboat diplomacy was the mission of Comm. Matthew C. Perry, who steamed with eight ships, one-third of the U.S. Navy, to ...

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Central America and the Caribbean, Interventions in (1900–35)

by Mitch on March 10, 2012 1 Comment

Cpt. Smedley Butler, Sgt. Ross Iams and Pvt. Samuel Gross entering Fort Riviere during the battle in 1915. Capture of Fort Riviere, Haiti, 1915, by Donna J. Neary; illustrations of three Medal of Honor recipients: (left to right) Sergeant Ross Iams, Major Smedley Butler, and Private Samuel Gross (USMC art collection).

 

The United States has always been concerned about the wellbeing of its Central American and Caribbean neighbors, if only to safeguard its own interests. Although rarely concerning itself in the affairs of these countries prior to the 20th century, between 1900 and 1935 the United States dramatically increased its involvement in the region for three intertwined reasons: first, the strategic need to protect the Panama Canal from European hands, which meant keeping Europe out of the region altogether; second, the urge to spread Christianity and democratic values to nations that Americans perceived as backward and in need of political ...

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