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How far was Germany the greatest threat to Britains position as a world power in the years 1886-1901?

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HOW FAR WAS GERMANY THE GREATEST THREAT TO BRITAIN'S POSITION AS A WORLD POWER IN THE YEARS 1886-1901? During the mid-Victorian boom, Britain became known as the 'workshop of the world', holding an undisputed role as the world's leading industrial power, culminating in the opening of the Great Exhibition in Crystal Palace in 1851. Britain's sprawling empire also served to establish its position as world power throughout the 19th century. Britain's industrial and imperial strength was unparalleled for the majority of the 19th century. However, towards the latter end of the 1800s came the emergence of a variety of threats to this position of dominance. One interpretation cites the rise of Germany as an industrial power was the greatest threat to Britain's position as a world power. A second interpretation posits instead that other powers, such as the USA and Russia for example, posed greater threats to British global power. A final interpretation suggests that Britain herself, through either political policy or public opinion, brought about its own relative downfall in terms of international superiority. In truth, all of these factors played a role in British decline, but it was ultimately Britain's own shortcomings and the simple fact that it could sustain its earlier growth which allowed other nations to catch it up economically and militarily. The interpretation that Germany posed the greatest threat to British superiority appears to have some merit. One factor which must be taken under consideration here is the economic rivalry which developed between the two nations. ...read more.


As alluded to previously, there were other nations which also posed threats to Britain's position as a world power, threats which were arguably greater than those posed by Germany. One nation which posed such a threat was the USA. As previously mentioned, the USA outstripped both Germany and Britain in terms of natural resources, industrial output and population. While this means that the USA undoubtedly posed a sizeable threat to British economic might, there is little evidence that the USA posed the same kind of threat to British imperial ambitions that Germany did, in terms of naval threat. So although the USA posed a substantial threat to the strength of British exports, there was little threat to her empire. Indeed, there is evidence of a growing camaraderie between the USA and Britain; as Ray says: "(Germany's attempt to raise a united European front against the USA) failed largely because Great Britain refused to take part in any such diplomatic initiative and chose, instead, to give what it could, within the confines of official neutrality, to the Americans." This greatly undermines the argument that the USA posed the greatest threat to Britain as there is no evidence of active belligerence on the part of the USA. Another nation which posed a considerable threat to British power was Russia. As Germany gained lease on the harbour Kiao-Chau, so Russia bullied China into giving them control of nearby Port Arthur with the intention of building an extension of the Trans-Siberian railway there. ...read more.


joining entangling alliances or European power blocs, which Salisbury considered an inherent threat to peace". It was, after all, the formation of "European power blocs" which lead to the outbreak of the Great War. It is still the case, though, that Salisbury's policy of avoiding alliances led directly to German belligerence. Furthermore, the Boer War was disastrous for British imperialism. A succession of PR calamities (the �200m cost, 20,000 deaths, the Jameson Raid) meant that both public and international opinion turned against Britain's provocative and invasive imperialist stance, clearly a blow to Britain's status as a world power. Thus here, as with the economy, it can be seen that Britain's own weaknesses enabled other nations like Germany to serve as a threat. It may be most prudent, then, to suggest that while Germany did indeed pose the greatest threat to Britain both militarily and economically, it was Britain's own actions (or inactions) which allowed them to do so, either in terms of turning Bismarck down or economic complacency. However, while the British economy's sloth and her poor show in the Transvaal are very much culpable for this threat, to blast Salisbury for inaction with regards to Bismarck may be unfair. As Charmley states: "The fears about isolation were secondary to the greater fear of the catastrophe, and Salisbury never moved from the position that a Continental commitment would cost Britain more than it would benefit her". The position he held, then, was justified; however, questions of fairness aside, there can be no doubt that it was Britain's own shortcomings which enabled threats from foreign rivals, and that she posed the greatest threat to herself. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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