How far did the Boer War weaken Britain’s imperial position?
The Second Boer War was fought from the 11th October, 1899 until the 31st May 1902. It was between Great Britain and the two Boer republics. It was the most expensive war that Britain had been a part of between the Napoleonic war and WW1, during which Britain spent more than £200 million. Historians have argued that the Boer War weakened Britain’s imperial position in terms of her economy, popular support and International standing.
On one hand, it can be argued that the Boer War worsened Britain’s imperial position through the economic cost that came with it. Aldred stated that “by 1901, Britain was spending twice as much as Germany and France on Imperial Defence”, this shows that Boer War may not have been a financially viable commitment for Britain and this can be supported by Aldred’s statement where he said that “Even before 1914, the Empire was showing signs of strain”. This demonstrates that Britain was not in an economic position that was strong enough to justify spending £200million on the Boer War. On the other hand, McDonough reasons that the Boer War was a cloaked success. He says that ‘Between 1903 and 1914 British Exports to the Empire increased by 32 percent, imports from the Empire increased by 31 percent, British trade with Africa doubled, and 42 percent of all British overseas investment went to the Empire’. This shows that the Boer War did not have a significantly negative impact on the Imperial Economy, moreover it actually may have had a positive one.
It can be argued that the Boer War had a significant impact on popular support for British Imperialism at home which had an impact on the Political decisions that people made. McDonough said that ‘As Vietnam marks the end of America’s incredible self-confidence as a nation on the world stage in the post-1945 period, so can we see the Boer War as having a similar psychological impact on Britain’, this shows that the British...