Nationalism was a major force in the Middle East, Africa, and India after World War I. In China, the Nationalists forced the Communists into retreat and formed a republic. An expansionist military took power in Japan. Economic crisis led to military dictatorships throughout Latin America.
Section 1 Nationalism in the Middle East
World War I was the final blow for an Ottoman Empire in its decline since the
late eighteenth century. One of its final acts was an act of genocide, the slaughter
of Armenians seeking independence. Nationalist leaders in the collapsing empire
established the independent states of Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Britain
and France withdrew their promised support for Arab nationalists and set up
British mandates in Iraq and Jordan, and French mandates in Lebanon and Syria.
Saudi Arabia had vast supplies of newly discovered oil and suddenly attracted
Western oil companies that would bring the kingdom untold wealth. Palestine
became a site of conflict beginning with the British Balfour Declaration of
1917, which declared Palestine the site for a Jewish homeland. Tensions between
Jews and Muslims only worsened as Jewish immigrants fleeing Nazi persecution
Section 2 Nationalism in Africa and Asia
After World War I, Germany lost its African colonies to Britain and France. Violent suppression and the slow pace of reform in the colonies led many Africans to agitate for independence. Two African Americans, W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey, were influential in building African cultural awareness and Pan-African unity. Mohandas Gandhi built a large movement for Indian independence through nonviolence. Indian Muslims felt sidelined by the largest independence organization, the Indian National Congress, and called for a separate Muslim state. Rapid industrialization in Japan led to support for territorial expansion to improve Japan's access to raw materials and markets. After a period of pacifism prompted in part by pressure from the United States, Japan conquered Manchuria, and the military took control of the government. The Communist International helped build Communist parties in China and Southeast Asia.
Section 3 Revolutionary Chaos in China
As central authority collapsed in China, rival Nationalist and Communist Party forces briefly joined ranks. The two groups split after a Nationalist massacre of Communists. The Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek, founded a new Chinese republic in 1928. The Communists, led by Mao Zedong, went into hiding in the cities. Mao's plans, however, were for a revolution led by peasants. In 1933 Mao's forces used guerrilla tactics to break through Nationalist lines closing in on them. They then began the Long March to the last surviving Communist base. Chiang had plans for land reform and a Western-style constitutional government. To make Western ideas palatable, he blended them with Confucian themes. Although he did achieve some meaningful reforms, Chiang's support came mainly from the rural gentry and the urban middle class; his reforms did little to redistribute wealth.
Section 4 Nationalism in Latin America
American investors directly controlled many Latin American industries beginning
in the 1920s. Latin American nationalists claimed that U.S. investments propped
up the regions' dictators. The Great Depression weakened regional economies
and led to the creation of government-run industries, since Latin Americans
could not afford many imported goods. Economic crisis and instability prompted
military leaders to overthrow the elected governments—which were dominated
by small elites—and to establish authoritarian regimes. Dictators sometimes
gained an urban following by promising better factory conditions. Industrialization
became a core government project. Fascist symbols and nationalist slogans were
used amid harsh political repression. In Mexico, a single-party state dominated
society. The popular Depression-era leader Lázaro Cárdenas nationalized
foreign-owned oil companies and redistributed land to Mexican peasants. Artists
helped build national identity in many Latin American countries.