Up until the early 20th Century, European empires struggled against each other via proxy wars in colonial lands far away. The competition was total - economics, politics, and military, and it was only a matter of time until a total war would break out on the European mainland. And when two of such wars engulfed the continent, it drew focus and resources away from the territories in Asia enabling them to rise as independent nations. The World Wars paved the way for the development of Asia because they forced European nations to devote their armies and resources to fight each other (and rebuild afterwards) allowing independence movements to develop in Asia.
By 1911, territories in Africa ...view middle of the document...
With Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire out of the picture, Britain and France could return to their territories without competition. Territories in Asia like India and Vietnam who had sent troops for the war effort were immediately denied self-determination.
While resent grew in Asia over the way Britain and France had underplayed the role of their colonies during World War I, Japan emerged as a great power during the interwar period. Towards the end of the war, Japan was filing order for war materiel requested by its European allies and this wartime boom helped diversify the country's industry and quadrupled its exports making it the only strong creditor nation in Asia. Before the outbreak of World War II, Japan had made a bid for its role at the head of an Asian hegemony with the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and had taken control of Korea, northern Manchuria and the coastal cities of China, Taiwan, Indonesia, and even the French Indochina.
The Japanese Occupation in the Pacific War stowed the seeds for independence in many areas. The Anti-Japanese resistance groups in Malaysia, Vietnam, and in other colonies, united the people and gave them a common enemy. In Malaysia, three separate ethnic groups (Chinese, Malaysian, and Indians) grouped to form the Malayan People's Anti Japanese Army. In cases where nationalist movements had existed before the war, they were bolstered and the idea of self determination and independence continued after the war when Europe came back to reclaim her colonies.
The aftermath of World War II left the mainland in shambles. Once glorious capital cities lay in smoking ruins and the treasuries of these empires were bankrupt. Japan was also destroyed - the firebombing campaigns of the Allied bombers burned entire cities to the ground and Nagasaki and Hiroshima were both hit with atomic bombs. Still, the European colonies controlled more than a billion people throughout the world, Europe still ruled Africa, much of the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent. In Asia, the image of European superiority was shattered by years of Japanese occupation in areas that belonged to the Dutch, British, and French. The institutions designed by the Europeans had led to urbanization and created professional classes with European education in politics and economics. With the destabilization of Europe, nationalist movement sprung up all over Asia. The gradual growth of these independence movements ultimately led to the withdrawal of European powers and the creation of independent nation-states.
The Wilsonian diplomatic ideas that emerged at the end of World War I emerged as a reality in 1945. The United States had control over Europe and the post-war de-armament process because Europe needed the Marshall Plan loans to rebuild. During the First World War, Ottoman and German colonies were divided up amongst the British and French essentially as spoils of war. Wilson's idea of...