Second Boer War Analysis

2030 Words 9 Pages
The second Boer war took place between 1899 and 1902. It was a conflict involving the British Empire and the Boers, descendant Dutch settlers of the Eastern Cape Frontier. After an initial dispute based on the colonial policy of Joseph Chamberlain and Alfred Milner concerning the issue of independence of the South African Transvaal region, the war campaign was initiated in South Africa in 1899. Since the war, there has been much analysis as to why, what at the time seemed like a small, isolated regional problem, ended up evolving into a situation with wider imperial implications. In an attempt to address the reasons behind the conflict, this analysis will take into account a range of views and interpretations aimed at explaining the causes …show more content…
After the end of the first Boer War, the intention to unite South Africa under British control persisted. At the same time, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal maintained their desire for independence. These conflicting political intentions in some historians eyes were the root cause of the war. G. D. Scholtz explores this view from the perspective of the Afrikaner people, while the British perspective is outlined by Leo Amery.(Smith, 2004, p24). Scholtz suggests that the war was the product of national Afrikaner condemnations of the British reign in South Africa. This view is maintained among those who suggest that the British rule was based on a ‘century of wrong.’ Events such the Jameson Raid in 1895, annexation of the Transvaal in 1877, the First Boer War in 1880 as well as the Great Trek are shown to be a testament to this. (Reitz 1900). From this point of view, the Second Boer War was simply an attempt by the British to regain on the deemed losses of the first war of 1880. It is safe to say that at the core of this theory lies a significant consideration for Afrikaner nationalism, and indeed this is where it draws criticism from those who claim that this point of view is not sufficient because it does not consider further motivations behind …show more content…
That is that Britain’s decision was based on geopolitical strategy. R. W. Bixler, W. L. Langer and R. I. Lovell analysed the conflict through the lens of international relations, suggested by the age of New Imperialism.[37] R. Robinson and J. A. Gallagher, in their published work, Africa and the Victorians, elaborated further on this view.[38] The principle idea here was that that Britain’s engagement in the South African war was caused by a strategic necessity to defend the route to the Indian Empire. According to this view then, economic incentive are secondary to those of strategic importance in the analysis of the British engagement in the Boer war. What was important was the necessity to maintain a geopolitical position while at the same time preserving the vital route to India.[39] In addition geopolitical matters, Robinson and Gallagher explore the effect of the challenge posed by European rivalry as well as competition as a further motivation for the war. [42] Nations such as Germany and Italy were emerging as modern nations, and for the first time in many years, a permanency to their borders was established.[44] Prior to the unification of Germany and Italy in 1870 and 1871, Britain was exercising what was called the policy of ‘splendid isolation,’ having minimal involvement in Europe. The strategically held commercial and political influence held by the British was now under potential threat.

Related Documents

Related Topics