Presentation on theme: "Niall Ferguson and WW2 A Global Perspective of its Causes."— Presentation transcript:
Niall Ferguson and WW2 A Global Perspective of its Causes
Niall Ferguson argues: That WW2 has been viewed through Anglocentric and Eurocentric eyes for too long. Western historiography that centres on Franco German relations between 1919 and 1939 fails to understand the true nature of the Second World War, which was global not European. “For the world historian, it makes more sense to conceive of the period from 1904 until 1953 as something more like a 50 years’ war. The key issue was therefore the sustainability of western imperial power over the rest of the world, and most importantly Asia.” Niall Ferguson
The Three Pillars of Ferguson’s Argument Italy (abyssinia) and Japan (Manchuria) led Germany in outright aggression. German aggression did not cause the breakdown of international peace. For the other empires (Habsburg, Romanov and Ottoman) there was barely any peace after 1918. Only the German Empire enjoyed peace 1919-1939. Peace can only be said to have been achieved, if we take an Anglo-German perspective. Almost everyone else in the world was fighting. The world in 1939 was divided into haves and have nots. Ferguson argues WW2 was a war between the haves and have nots.
The Haves Russia had her Euroasian Empire France had an overseas empire that was 10 times the size of France Britain’s empire stretched to almost 25% of the world’s land surface The USA was an empire in all but name
The Have Nots Italy did not have Great Power status despite Mussolini’s efforts Germany did not have living space and therefore sought an Empire in the East at Russia’s expense Japan did not have control over Asia and wished to attack French and British imperial interests in the area (Pan Asianism) Asian countries ruled by colonial powers did not have independence from the west and were encouraged by Pan Asianism to fight wars of independence in India and French Indochina
How can we attack Ferguson’s opinion? He claims WW2 started in 1937 (not 1939) between China and Japan at the Marco Polo Bridge. But, according to his own anaysis, would it not be more appropriate to say that it began in Abyssinia 1935 or Manchuria 1931? By focusing on the events in Japan and China is he at risk of ignoring the central importance of Hitler’s actions in the West? It was the Nazi Soviet Pact and Hitler’s successes in the West that encouraged Japan to risk expanding their war efforts by bombing Pearl Harbor.
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