Claim: the French-Indian War (by England) was justified
Debate Rounds (5)
To address the causes of the war, and how those can be justified, I shall start with European diplomacy in the prelude to it.
In the mid eighteenth century, there were essentially six major powers.
Britain was a rising star, with possessions that totalled the British Isles, Hanover and the Eastern Seaboard, as well as some scattered colonies in Africa and India and a small part of Northern Canada. It had ambitions to expand west and south in North America, as well as gaining a trading monopoly in India.
France was a traditional power, that dominated the European mainland west of Poland, and had sizable possessions in the Caribbean and North America. It desired to prevent British expansion in North America, as well as to reinforce its borders with Germany and with the Indian States.
Austria was an ancient power, dating from around the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and stretched from the Adriatic at Trieste to Transylvania. It had most of the predominantly Catholic German States in its patrimony, as well as most of northern Italy. In the last pan-European conflict, Austria had lost Silesia, a stretch of land on what is now the border between Poland and the Czech Republic that was the industrial heartland of Central Europe, to Prussia, and there was a strong feeling of revanchism among the Austrian parliament. It desired to maintain its hegemony over Germany, and to regain the territory of Silesia.
Prussia was a very new power in the region, and although it controlled a very small part of Northern Europe, it was a very militarised society, a sort-of eighteenth century Sparta. Voltaire commented on it saying: 'Prussia is not a state that posseses an army, but an army that possesses a state'. With its new military doctrines and state of almost perpetual mobilisation that the current King, Frederick II 'The Great' had introduced, it had the potential to seriously disturb the delicate balance of power in Europe. In the previous war, it had conquered Silesia, as mentioned earlier, and now had the economic base to build a country. It desired Austria's patrimony in Germany, and was motivated to expand its influence over the waning state of Poland in the East.
Russia was another old power, having been prominent since the fifteenth century as Russia. It was an agrarian peasant society, much in the same way as Austria and France, but with stronger ties, and showed very few signs of modernising. To the south of it lay the decaying Ottoman Empire, and to the west, the decaying Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth. Russia had a huge population and capacity for expansion, and desired to acquire areas such as Crimea and Poland in the short term, and have more influence over the Ottoman Empire and Eastern Europe as a whole.
Spain was the declining power. At its prime, it was the richest and most powerful state in Europe, with huge colonial possessions and wealth beyond the dreams of the other nations. It controlled the only passage into the Mediterranean and most of the New World, but after the death of the last Hapsburg monarch Charles II in 1700 and the ascension of the Bourbon French monarch, Philip V, Spain became little more than a puppet of France. In previous wars, Britain had acquired the key strategic locations of Gibraltar and Minorca, control of which stripped Spain of the ability to regulate trade passing through the Strait of Gibraltar and to protect it from Barbary Pirates in Algeria and Morocco. Spain desired to reconquer these territories, as well as maintain order in the Americas by maintaining the status quo, and curb British naval power.
These six powers formed two alliances.
Britain and Prussia were aligned with each other, but this did not come to fruition until 1756.
France, Austria and Russia were allied, with Spain coming in in 1761, as Russia was leaving.
Prior to the war's outbreak, Britain's relatively dovish government was against war with France, and looked to form an alliance with Prussia to act as a deterrent. This has since been demonstrated to not work; just look at WWI, which showed that it only built tensions up, but they had no way of knowing it at the time. The government was a fairly liberal one under Newcastle, who was determined to avoid war, much to the chagrin of the more radical elements of parliament.
The War began in 1756, when a French force attacked the British garrison at Minorca. Britain mobilised for war, and dispatched a force to relieve it. Fighting had occurred in the border regions between the British and French zones in 1754, though it was largely between differently-aligned tribes and over-zealous provincial militia groups and fencibles. Newcastle attempted to avert a war through the aforementioned alliance with Prussia, but this ultimately failed, as it was too little, too late.
Shortly afterwards, King Frederick launched a preemptive strike against Austria by invading Saxony, a state in its German patrimony that was on the border with Prussia. Prussia's aim for the war in the short term was to annex Saxony, and use its riches and forces to finance the invasion of Bohemia and Moravia by capturing Prague and Olmutz, and then marching on Vienna to end what had been a short, glorious war. It started as Prussia had expected - the Saxon and Austrian forces were completely unprepared and suffered from poor morale, and Prussian fores took Dresden, the capital, without much resistance. They then made preparations for the advancement of nearly one hundred thousand soldiers into Bohemia and Moravia.
An agreement was quickly made at the Westminster Convention, in which Britain agreed to give Prussia over half a million pounds (about two hundred million dollars) and donated military supplies to the Prussian army. They also agreed to not recognise Austria's claim to Silesia in exchange for Prussia to send an army to defend Hanover from the French. This makeshift alliance embroiled Britain in a war with Austria and Prussia in a war with France. Sensing an opportunity to muscle in on Eastern Europe, Russia decided to join on Austria and France's side.
Sorry if that was a little long-winded, but the background is always necessary for any well-structured case. The fighting in North America, chiefly in Ohio, was largely as a result of mutual border disputes and tribal feuds. To say that the governments were at war at this point would be to say that Israel is at war with Palestine and Syria because it is conducting transgressions on their land. yes, there was conflict, but there was no war. The war started as a result of French aggression on a British-held island. France was essentially the military arm of Spain at that point, and it was basically liberating Minorca from the British, who were not internationally recognised as the rightful owners of the island. Therefore the war was justified. The justification is on both sides, since France had the justification that it was liberating an island under British occupation; while Britain had the justification that it was defending its sovereign territory.
Also, Pitt was not prime minister until three years after the war ended. He was a major figure in Parliament, however, serving as Secretary of State for Newcastle, Devonshire and Bute. Even then, Pitt was a relatively dovish figure, and helped to ease the war's progress from 1761 onwards.
The way in which ministers are selected is rather different to the American model. All ministers must be Members of Parliament (essentially congressmen), or Members of the House of Lords (like senators, but they elect each other). The four main offices of the current cabinet in the UK and the USA are as follows:
Prime Minister - David Cameron, MP for Witney President - Barack Obama
Chancellor of the Exchequer - George Osborne, MP for Tatton Secretary of the Treasury - Jacob Lew
Home Secretary - Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead Secretary of Homeland Security - Rand Beers
Foreign Secretary - William Hague, MP for Richmond Secretary of State - John Kerry
In order to be in the cabinet, a minister must first be a member of parliament. They continue their local duties while in office, and if they lose a local election and therefore the constituency, they lose their ministerial post. Pelham was the Member of Parliament for Sussex, and was therefore in the House of Commons (Congress). He had all the support for legislation he needed, with a large base in the House of Lords as well. However, when he died, his brother, the Duke of Newcastle, stepped in to replace him. Since he was a Duke, he was a member of the House of Lords. This meant that he had more support in the Upper House than the Lower House, just like Obama. His fragile hold on Parliament was shattered when Minorca fell, and he was quickly ejected from office to be replaced by the Duke of Devonshire. Devonshire was despised by many elements of his party, and when the time came for the 1757 elections, he was replaced by Newcastle again, though it was through a coalition with Pitt's faction, the Chathamites. This resulted in a government with strong support in both Houses, and allowed the government to pave the way for the Annus Mirabilis of 1759, and though the government was removed in favour of Bute's anti-war government, the war was effectively won by 1761, when Russia left the war. Pitt was somewhat sidelined after Bute's election, and became prime minister after the war ended.
With regards to his boastful rhetoric; that was present in every politician in the eighteenth century. Similar to modern politics in America, one simply could not be elected unless one bombastically applauded national supremacy and religious fanaticism. Pitt was probably the best orator of the eighteenth century, and could easily sway parliament towards his way of thinking, and was known for destroying opponents with witty and powerful retorts. His son was probably chiefly responsible for the establishment of the Raj, and it is interesting to note that the first notable Governor General of Bengal was none other than Lord Cornwallis, after the failure of his American campaigns.
With regards to what you said about Pitt being the only Germanic influence in Britain at the time, it is a complete untruth. The Royal Family was the Hanoverian Dynasty. George I, the father and grandfather of George II and III respectively, was from Hanover. In fact, for the duration of his reign, he never even bothered to learn to speak English, and in court, the chief language spoken was German. Most of the haute aristocracy was German, and Britain owned a huge chunk of northern Germany called Hanover. That was why it made the alliance with Prussia - to get Prussia, Europe's land power, to protect it against the French.
Pitt was not a general, he was a statesman. Pitt the Elder did serve briefly as military paymaster in the 1740s, but this was an honorary title. Pitt the Younger did annex Ireland in the 1801 Act of Union, but it had been under effective British control since the 1150s. The English invaded it under Henry II, and while only about two thirds of Ireland were owned by England and later Britain per se, the third that remained was barren wasteland, ruled by fiefdoms that were effectively vassals of Britain. The hardships began in the 16th century during the Reformation, when Protestant troops put down a Catholic Rebellion in the region, killing many locals. In the War of the Three Kingdoms, Oliver Cromwell did a sort-of ethnic cleansing campaign against the Irish, razing towns such as Drogheda and killing thousands of people. The English and Scottish landowners ran Ireland like a Medieval feudal society, and the harsh conditions prompted Jonathan Swift, the Irish author of Gulliver's Travels, to write the essay 'A Modest Proposal', in which he said that the best way to deal with the Irish problems was for the landowners to breed the Irish to eat their young. This was, of course, a satire that drew attention to the fact that the landowners were treating the Irish people as little better than chattel. Capitalism was again responsible for the Potato Famine, which caused first of all as a cost-cutting exercise, the landowners used imported guano as fertiliser. Guano is basically semi-decomposed seagull excrement, and was a very cheap and effective fertiliser. However, since it was full of all kinds of pathogens that existed in the seagulls' digestive system, as well as the pathogens that flourish on fecal matter, it brought over a fungus that spread like wildfire across the potato crops. Since Ireland's main crop was the potato, the farmers had nothing to eat or sell, and about a million people died. The crisis was exacerbated by capitalism also, as the Invisible Hand was supposed to prevail, and the rising cost of food was supposed to inspire farmers to grow more of it, instead, the farmers in England burnt excess crops en masse, since it had been an incredible harvest there and the price of wheat and oats plummeted due to supply and demand, so as to raise their prices and make more money.
Humans' greed is what motivates them to do ghastly things to others, not cultural or religious differences. Greed is universal, as are the problems created by it.
Catholic Austria ruled over Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Northeast Italy and Czechoslovakia, subjecting the locals to torture and segregation. It was like the white minority governments in post-colonial countries like Rhodesia and South Africa, where there was a country ruled primarily by an ethnic minority (Germans) over an overwhelming majority (Slavs). Slavs had no rights, and only a core of the aristocracy that was intermarried with the Austrians was given any sort of adequate treatment.
The same can be said for France's colonial possessions. They were ruled by a small minority of creoles, and the locals were used as militia and law enforcement to carry out the nasty jobs, while the French lived comfortably. The French tortured, looted, pillaged and raped their way across North Africa, and they were almost exclusively Catholic.
Similarly, Portugal, another Catholic country, operated a colonial regime in Angola and Mozambique like any other. There was a ruling class of Portuguese, and the Africans were there as their servants.
A modern example is Israel, a country that self-identifies as Jewish. The predominantly Islamic Palestinians are sidelined, being forced into what Noam Chomsky described on a visit as 'The World's Largest Open Air Prison'. If one was to go to Downtown Tel Aviv, one could easily mistake it for Los Angeles or San Francisco, but if one was to go thirty or forty miles inland, or keep on following the coastline, one would encounter living conditions that could easily be equated with some of the more sordid areas of Africa and India. Palestinians are subject to torture, dispossession and disenfranchisement at the hands of the Israeli persecutors, and conditions have been compared to the Warsaw Ghetto or the treatment of opposing tribes by the British. No apology has been issued, and it carries on.
Persecution, genocide and torture occur in all cultures and religions; to divide them based on this is incredibly stupid.
Anyways, my opinion stands with evidence. This war was about England warmongering to becoming a power.
"In 1754, English forces under George Washington had begun their march to Fort Duquesne for the purposes of ousting the French from the region by force. On the way, they encountered a French scouting party near present-day Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Washington"s men massacred the party in what came to be known as The Battle of Jumonville Glen. Washington soon took camp at Great Meadows, a large natural clearing, and ordered the construction of Fort Necessity in anticipation of a French response. The French did respond, as 600 soldiers forced Washington to surrender the fort. The French and Indian War had begun." (http://mrnussbaum.com...) Mind you, the land England wanted was not the same as the land the colonialists had. The colonialists, British and French alike, were innocent of what the government was trying to do. I'm talking mostly about the Crown, being greedy, and wanting more land they can conquer. "The immediate cause of the French and Indian War was the British policy of ousting the French from the upper Ohio River valley. The French wanted this region because it would link their possessions from Canada to Louisiana. They planned a series of forts as connecting links. French control impeded British aims to expand westward. English merchants and Virginia planters, including George Washington's brother, Lawrence, formed the Ohio Company in 1749 to settle the Ohio area." (http://history.howstuffworks.com...). So overall, the English were greedy. Trying to take over land that was already French/Native American (specifically the Hurons and Iriquois, one of whom was against the French, the other who was neutral).
Pitt the Elder
"Pitt, the first real Imperialist in modern English history, was the directing mind in the expansion of his country, and with him the beginning of empire is rightly associated. The Seven Years' War might well, moreover, have been another Thirty Years' War if Pitt had not furnished Frederick with an annual subsidy of "700,000, and in addition relieved him of the task of defending western Germany against France: this was the policy that allowed Pitt to boast of having 'won Canada on the banks of the Rhine'.
Contemporary opinion was, of course, incompetent to estimate the permanent results gained for the country by the brilliant foreign policy of Pitt. It has long been generally agreed that by several of his most costly expeditions nothing was really won but glory: the policy of diversionary attacks on places like Rochefort was memorably described as 'breaking windows with gold guineas'. It has even been said that the only permanent acquisition that England owed directly to him was her Canadian dominion; and, strictly speaking, this is true, it being admitted that the campaign by which the Indian empire was virtually won was not planned by him, though brought to a successful issue during his ministry.
But material aggrandisement, though the only tangible, is not the only real or lasting effect of a war policy. More may be gained by crushing a formidable rival than by conquering a province. The loss of her Canadian possessions was only one of a series of disasters suffered by France, which included the victories at sea of Boscawen at Lagos and Hawke at Quiberon Bay. Such defeats radically affected the future of Europe and the world. Deprived of her most valuable colonies both in the East and in the West, and thoroughly defeated on the continent, France's humiliation was the beginning of a new epoch in history.
The victorious policy of Pitt destroyed the military prestige which repeated experience has shown to be in France as in no other country the very life of monarchy, and thus was not the least of the influences that slowly brought about the French Revolution. It effectually deprived France of the lead in the councils of Europe which she had hitherto arrogated to herself, and so affected the whole course of continental politics. It is such far-reaching results as these, and not the mere acquisition of a single colony, however valuable, that constitute Pitt's claim to be considered as the most powerful minister that ever guided the foreign policy of England." (http://en.wikipedia.org...) That shows him for the piece of scum he was.
"His first major piece of legislation as Prime Minister was the India Act 1784, which re-organised the British East India Company and kept a watch over corruption. The India Act created a new Board of Control to oversee the affairs of the East India Company. It differed from Fox's failed India Bill 1783 and specified that the Board would be appointed by the King. Pitt was appointed, along with Lord Sydney who was appointed President. The Act centralised British rule in India by reducing the power of the Governors of Bombay and Madras and by increasing that of the Governor-General, Charles Cornwallis. Further augmentations and clarifications of the Governor-General's authority were made in 1786, presumably by Lord Sydney, and presumably as a result of the Company's setting up of Penang with their own Superintended (Governor), Captain Francis Light, in 1786." (http://en.wikipedia.org...) He pretty much started the Raj if you wanna put it that way.
If you have a flick through the book at the bottom of this paragraph, you'll see that France and Britain had mutually exclusive ambitions. France wanted to increase its power on Continental Europe, while Britain wanted to increase its power in the colonies. The ultimate ambition of France was to extend its eastern borders to the Rhine, Alps and Pyrenees, something Napoleon managed to do half a century later. This would turn France into the most powerful state in Europe once again, allowing it to have an influence over the German and Italian states. This would be against Prussia's agenda of hegemony over Germany, as well as Austria's in Italy. The ultimate ambition of Britain was to perpetually expand its colonies so as to create an economy based on internal trade in raw materials such as iron or timber and non-industrial consumer goods such as silk and spices. Britain would import the materials and turn them into both consumer goods and capital goods to fuel its economic expansion. Unfortunately, France held colonies in the Americas and India, and also would object to Britain's emergence as an economic power.
This state of conflicting ambitions created a powder keg that was ready to explode at a moment's notice. There were two triggers - the French invasion of Minorca, an island near Spain, and the skirmish at Uniontown. The 'Battle' of Jumonville Glen' was not a major event, it has just been exaggerated because it involved George Washington. It was a skirmish involving about thirty or forty men on each side, in which two groups of militia fought over a border dispute. This was responded to by the French, who saw the British building a fort inside their own territory as a threat, who sent troops across the river into British territory to seize a fort. As you said, the numbers did not exceed a thousand, therefore it cannot really be considered a serious military action. It was a French pre-emptive strike against Britain, to prevent it from building Fort Prince George, which could challenge French Hegemony in the area. The Fall of Minorca was another key event. Although the island did not fall until June, the French began besieging it in April, which was when war was actually declared.
Therefore the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the war was justified by Britain because it was as a result of it defending Minorca from the French.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by imabench 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con idiotically seemed more intent on slandering the English rather then even try to make a sound argument for the debate topic, and pro ran away with this one pretty early by showing how the war was indeed justified
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