February 4, 2016

Falkland Islands and Kerguelen

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Falkland Islands, Kerguelen is Number 138 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The Falkland Islands are a British-controlled archipelago located in the South Atlantic approximately 480 kilometers off the coast of Argentina, which also claims the islands under the name Islas Malvinas. At the time this study was written, the Falklands were a Crown Colony, which also included a number of smaller islands in the extreme South Atlantic as well as Graham Land on the Antarctic mainland. The book contains chapters on physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The section on political history notes the different names given to the islands over the years, including Îles Malouines, after the visits by ships from Saint Malo, France, and summarizes the main facts concerning the dispute between Britain and Spain over ownership of the islands—one that was carried over into the dispute between Britain and Argentina after the latter’s independence from Spain. The economy of the islands is described as based mainly on sheep and whaling. The second part of the book is a brief treatment of Kerguelen, a French dependency in the southern Indian Ocean named after Yves Joseph de Kerguélen-Trémarec, a French mariner who discovered the archipelago in 1772. The study notes that Kerguelen was never permanently inhabited, although it was frequently visited in the 19th century by (chiefly American) whalers and sealers. Today the main island of Grande Terre and the 300 other small islands of Kerguelen are part of the French Southern and Antarctic Territories and also are known as the Desolation Islands.

The Formation of the Portuguese Colonial Empire

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. The Formation of the Portuguese Colonial Empire is Number 115 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The book is a political history of the formation and expansion of the Portuguese Empire, beginning with the discovery and colonization of the Atlantic islands (the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, and the Cape Verde Islands) in the 15th century and continuing with Portuguese expansion in West Africa, East Africa, India and the Indian Ocean, the Far East, and Brazil in subsequent centuries. It discusses Portugal’s rivalry with the Ottoman Turks for the control of trade routes to the Far East, its remarkable achievement in the 16th century of establishing effective control over the Indian Ocean, and the period of decline that began in the next century as a result of rivalries and wars with other European powers, notably the Dutch and the Spanish, as well as losses to powerful local actors such as the Arabs of Oman and the Mahrattas, or Marathas, of India. The study concludes by noting that despite its losses, Portugal still “possesses certain very valuable regions in Africa and three groups of islands in the Atlantic which, under present conditions, have enormous value.” It adds that imperialist circles in Germany had intended to annex Portuguese colonies in Africa (Angola and Mozambique) as part of a plan to create the vast German colonial empire of “Mittelafrika.”

Former German Possessions in Oceania

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Former German Possessions in Oceania is Number 146 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The book contains sections on physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. It covers Kaiser Wilhelmsland, Bismarck Archipelago, Caroline and Palau Islands, Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands, and Samoa. The section on political history outlines Germany’s acquisition in the late 19th century of a Pacific empire by means that included the proclamation of protectorates, the purchase of territories from Spain, and the conclusion of Franco-German and Anglo-German agreements on spheres of interest and the partition of territories. Germany lost all of these colonies at the end of World War I. Kaiser Wilhelmsland and the Bismarck Archipelago were occupied by Australian troops at the outset of the war in 1914, and after the war they were administered by Australia under a League of Nations mandate. Both are today part of the independent state of Papua New Guinea. The Caroline Islands and Palau were occupied by Japan in 1914 and administered by Japan after World War I under a League of Nations mandate and by the United States after World War II under a United Nations mandate. Today they form the two independent countries of the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. The Mariana Islands and the Marshall Islands were occupied by Japan in 1914 and administered by Japan after World War I and by the United States after World War II. The Marianas are today a U.S. territory; the Marshall Islands are the independent Republic of the Marshall Islands. Forces from New Zealand occupied the German protectorate of Samoa in 1914, and New Zealand administered the territory under League of Nations and United Nations mandates until 1962. It is today the independent state of Samoa.

The Freedom of the Seas

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. The Freedom of Seas is Number 148 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Freedom of the seas was a highly contentious issue during World War I, as the Allied and Central powers instituted blockades and counterblockades against each other’s ports that affected neutral shipping. The United States and other nonbelligerent powers protested British interference with their ships bound for the ports of neutral nations, but most were even more outraged when Germany instituted a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare against all merchant ships headed to ports in Britain, France, Italy, and Russia, Germany’s enemies in the war. This book is a historical overview of the concept of freedom of the seas as it evolved from the early 18th century onward. Written from the British perspective and in defense of British policy, it argues that Germany in World War I adopted the same policy France had followed during the Napoleonic wars—one in which the strongest power on land invoked neutral rights to negate the power of the strongest sea power in order to advance its aims of world domination: “German ambition in the late war reflected the ambition of Bonaparte. The claim of the spurious ‘Freedom of the Seas,’ and of all the old formulas included in it, was revived to serve the old purpose—the destruction of the great impediment to world-dominion, England’s supremacy at sea.” The author, Sir Francis Taylor Piggott (1852–1925), was a prominent British jurist who wrote more than a dozen legal books, and who held a variety of national and international positions, including as constitutional adviser to Prime Minister Hirobumi Ito of Japan (1887‒90), secretary to the attorney general for the Bering Sea arbitration (1893), and chief justice of Hong Kong (1905–12).

Portuguese Timor

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Portuguese Timor is Number 80 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. East Timor, occupying the eastern part of the island of Timor, came under Portuguese control in the 16th century and was important in the spice trade. The Dutch established a settlement in the western part of Timor in 1618. Portugal and Holland disputed control of the island until the late 18th century, when the Portuguese finally accepted the Dutch presence. The border between the Dutch and Portuguese parts of the island was settled in 1914; it forms the present-day frontier between Indonesia (the former Dutch East Indies) and East Timor. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The population is given as 377,815 in 1915, with Tetum the main linguistic group. The economy of East Timor was primarily agricultural, with a few large plantations existing alongside the largely subsistence farming of the native population. The main export was coffee. The study notes the agricultural potential of the colony, based on the quality of the coffee and prospects for increased cultivation of cocoa and cotton, but it predicts that as in the past development would be held back by shortages of labor and capital. East Timor became formally independent as Timor-Leste on May 20, 2002, after a long dispute with Indonesia over sovereignty and a period of United Nations administration.

President Wilson's Policy

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. President Wilson’s Policy is Number 161 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The book consists entirely of excerpts from statements made by Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States during World War I. There is no introduction or analysis. The excerpts are given chronologically and grouped in three periods: the “Neutral Period,” from August 1914 to April 1916, when the United States under Wilson made great efforts to stay out of the war by maintaining a strict neutrality; the “Critical Period,” from April 1916 to April 1917, when the United States increasingly gravitated toward war with Germany as a result, mainly, of the latter’s policy of unrestricted submarine warfare (i.e., the sinking of commercial ships flying the flag of neutral states as part of the enforcement of the German blockade against Britain, France, Italy, and Russia); and “After Intervention,” from April 17 to December 1918, after the United States had declared war on Germany. The appendix contains a number of statements and diplomatic notes issued by Germany and Austria in 1918 concerning the terms of a possible peace.