Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905)

The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) was fought between the Empire of Japan and the Russian Empire  over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. 

The Russian and Japanese empires were exhausted by the war, faced domestic unrest, and having little to gain by continuing the struggle, accepted President Theodore Roosevelt’s offer to mediate.

Roosevelt served as mediator at the peace conference, which was held at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, U.S. (August 9–September 5, 1905). In the resulting Treaty-of-Portsmouth, Japan gained control of the Liaodong Peninsula (and Port Arthur) and the South Manchurian Railway (which led to Port Arthur) as well as half of Sakhalin Island. Russia agreed to evacuate southern Manchuria, which was restored to China, and Japan’s control of Korea was recognized. Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the conflict.Encyclopedia Britanica

The signing of the treaty settled immediate difficulties in the Far East and created three decades of peace between the two nations. — Wikipedia

The current war between Russia and Ukraine could end in this way. Already both sides have little to gain by continuing the struggle. What might be lacking is an impartial mediator. Perhaps Turkish President Erdogan can fill this role.

About whungerford

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6 Responses to Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905)

  1. Arthur Ahrens says:

    I can’t see the pertinence of the resolution of the Russo-Japanese War to the current conflict in Ukraine.

    The Russo-Japanese War was fought between Empires to expand / protect their Empires. The territory that was disputed was in Northeast China (!). Public support for the war was lost in both the Russian and Japanese Empire as casualties and costs mounted. Roosevelt was involved in the peace process because he worried about the consequences to American interests if Japan managed to drive Russia out entirely. His actions were not in any sense altruistic. The Portsmouth treaty ultimately curtailed Russia’s power in the region.

    Putin’s war seems to be one of imperialist aggression. He’s effectively shut down antiwar protests and rhetoric by a series of laws designed to curtail dissenting opinion. Fines and prison terms are penalties that work well in this effort. He’s also aided by an unfettered Russian version of FOX news and the banning of various social media sites. It is unlikely that the Russian public will pressure him in any meaningful or productive way to end the war. The United Nations is inept and ineffectual, and Russian military doctrine views the use of tactical nuclear weapons far differently than western powers. Sanctions enacted by the west will continue to harm the economy, but as long as Putin’s propaganda works, he will continue to have absolutely no reason to end the war.

    Neither does Ukraine. Putin seems to have a hatred of the Ukrainian people and the tactics utilized by his forces seem to buttress the view that this war is a war of genocide. The Ukrainians are fighting for their very right to exist. A view that seems to be taking hold among these fierce fighters is that they want to push the invaders completely out of the country.

    One possible solution that I see floated from time to time is to allow the Russians to occupy the breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in return for an armistice. There are several problems with this.

    Imagine that Mexico attacked the US to regain its territories lost in the imperialist Mexican American war. Imagine further that they managed to recapture the territories lost in California, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas. Do you think that Americans would sue for peace if Mexico allowed us to retain all but Texas?

    There is the lesson of Poland. Poland was partitioned several times in the 18th century until as a result of the final partition in 1795 it ceased to exist altogether. What would prevent that in Ukraine?

    There is the problem of genocide, mentioned earlier.

    Lastly, there is the problem that Putin’s word is absolutely no good. He does as he pleases, as any autocrat does. If things get worse, though, he may need to resort to totalitarianism.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. whungerford says:

    Thanks for your comment, Arthur. As you note, there are many differences between then and now. I do see parallels. The wars were less over existential matters than over spheres of influence (some do claim that Russia was seriously threatened by NATO expansion). One side anticipated a quick and easy victory. Both sides were exhausted by the carnage. If we view today’s struggle as between Russia and NATO, the fighting isn’t on either parties territory. Both sides need beware of domestic upheavals as casualties mount.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Arthur Ahrens says:

    There are other possible outcomes than a small proxy war.

    The years preceding WW I had quite a few minor wars with many major and minor players, all interested in imperialism. The world simmered until it boiled over.
    It’s striking to read various opinions from different people in different countries prior to the war.

    What’s obvious in hindsight was all but invisible to all. A handful of people knew, sounded the alarm, and were ignored.

    History tends to repeat. We never learn.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. whungerford says:

    In the nineteenth century, regional wars were often settled by the Great Powers, which imposed a settlement on the parties. An example is the Berlin Conference of1878, which awarded Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria to the disappointment of the Tsar, and which set the stage for future conflict. Wars between Great Powers were a different matter, the War of 1870 is an example. I believe TR’s successful mediation in 1905 was unusual if not unprecedented.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Biden’s just used the word ‘genocide’.
    Russia has reportedly used chemical weapons.
    We are moving further from peace and closer to a shooting war.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. whungerford says:

    I agree that escalation must be avoided, which only makes the search for a diplomatic solution more urgent. Reports of atrocities illegal weapons, or other war crimes must be regarded with suspicion at least until they are independently verified.

    Liked by 1 person

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