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In what way was WWII an "imperial conquest" war?

The Pacific theatre was a pretty standard colonial war between Japan and the US, who both attempted to assert hegemony over the Eastern Hemisphere. In Europe, Germany was attempting to break out of the British hegemony over the Western hemisphere.

The fact that the Nazis managed to be worse assholes than the British empire - which is quite impressive, in a sick sort of way - does not negate the fact that Germany was getting the short end of the stick under British hegemony, and had every reason to attempt to force a reevaluation of that relationship.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 04:26:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the Axis powers had been involved in imperial expansionist projects for the better part of the 1930s. Well, Italy and Japan. WWII started when Germany attempted to annex its seventh or eighth country (I'm not counting the phony war, WWII only really started after the German had successfully annexed all or part of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, and Norway, and invaded the BeNeLux).

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 04:48:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Pacific theatre, yes. The European theatre was much more about the long war between Germany and France than anything to do with the British Empire.

I'm afraid I think this "empires cause nasty war" and "independent sovereign nations just have occasional spats" is wrong. You can read empire into the history of European wars (because independent sovereigns that grow more powerful tend to create "empires"), but you can just as well see sovereign states fighting in defence of their interests, in just as destructive and bloody a fashion.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 04:51:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not attempting to defend the thesis that wars between non-imperial sovereigns are simply friendly argy-bargy between good mates.

But it is true that you only get worldwide wars when you involve worldwide empires, for the simple reason that they are the only ones who have the logistics and raw power to raise an entire hemisphere in total war. Whether the big empires prevent enough wars between the states within the empire to compensate for the occasional war of hegemony is a non-trivial question of counterfactual history, and will probably vary from empire to empire. The American empire might. The British empire almost certainly did not.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 05:04:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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