Dunsterforce and Baku : a case study in British imperial
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This thesis will examine the actions of the British Empire in Transcaucasia during the latter half of the First World War, more specifically, after the collapse of Imperial Russia into a state of revolution in March of 1917. Western sources tend to defend the British Intervention in the Caucasus in 1917 as a necessity to what was then an ongoing military conflict, rather than, being based on imperialist initiatives. Simultaneously, Soviet historians denounce every action of the British in Transcaucasia as premeditated imperialist intervention aimed at annexation and colonization. The purpose here will be to examine the decision making process of the pertinent committees involved in formulating British policy towards Transcaucasia in 1917 and 1918. Through an analysis of the relevant material it is then possible to determine the impetus behind the formulation of General Dunsterville’s mission, “Dunsterforce”, and its subsequent intervention at Baku in August of 1918. This thesis is divided into five parts. The first part will focus on policy creation and the committees involved, as well as the importance of oil as a resource. The next three sections focus on the British perception of the intentions of their enemies in Transcaucasia based off of primary sources, starting with the Turks, then the Germans, and lastly the Bolsheviks. The last chapter focuses on the British response to the perceived actions of their enemies, characterized by the eventual approval granted to Dunsterforce to proceed to Baku and help in its defence. Determining to what extent the members of the Imperial War Cabinet and the Eastern Committee – the committee that generated policy for Transcaucasia – were influenced by imperialistic ambitions with regard to Transcaucasian policy is of cardinal importance here.