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Napoleon Bonapartes Continental System
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Write a position paper on the following question: Should Napoleon Bonaparte have used the Continental System in his attempt to defeat Britain? Napoleon Bonaparte has been considered one of the most successful military leaders in history, driving France to conquer virtually all of Europe. However, despite all of his success, he was not over-confident. He recognized the fact that France lacked the resources to invade Great Britain, and he had already learned the defeat of his navy in the battle of Trafalgar that the French navy was no match for the strength of the British navy. Facing the fact...
not issued the Berlin Decree, none of this would have happened the way it did. Granted, Napoleon would likely have invaded Portugal and Russia anyway, but the circumstances would have been different. Perhaps France would have been better able to finance the invasions, allowing Napoleon to build a stronger and more effective army. Maybe Napoleon would have won the Battle of Nations at Liepzig in October, 1813. Maybe Napoleon would never even have faced exile. It is impossible to know for sure what could have happened, but I know that things would definitely have ended differently for Napoleon Bonaparte.

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The unification of East and West...The unification of East and West Germany, two factions of one country which had lived as a divided nation for over forty years, was, perhaps one of the most surprising and unplanned political events of the post-war period. The reasons for the unification were largely unforeseen and it was little more than a spiral of events which, in an almost coincidental way, caused the demise of the Communist regime in the East, and thereby promoted the collapse of the state. Although the history of the GDR is lengthy, and many processes in the earlier years arguably played a part in the events of 1989, for the purpose of this discussion the years 1987 until unification in 1991 will be examined. Through an enquiry into the events that lead up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, it will be shown how although external factors were that which prompted much of the affairs surrounding the unification, it was also the strength of the East German people, internally, which was, perhaps, the resounding force that led Germany to become united once again. After Stalin's death in 1953, East Germany began its "new course" program. It was to be a longstanding communist regime, which would see the East German people living under a coercive system. In return they were offered the promise of full employment and other social benefits such as extensive child-care provisions and low cost housing. Although, initially, there was much opposition to the regime eventually a peace befell the citizens of the GDR. They were thankful for the social security and for the eventual introduction of social mobility later in the 1960s. In turn the regime asked for a readiness to work and a formal acceptance of authority, although it was understood that one could talk, in private, against the system. The system, however, was far from ideal and it was, perhaps, in the 1980s that the problems of the GDR were to be exposed, much to its detriment. By the mid 1980s the GDR's economic situation was in dire crisis. Unable to motivate workers to create new ideas meant that there was no progression in technology or procedures. Because of this it was impossible to expand production, without which there could be no increase in labour or capital productivity. There was an inevitability that international trade would decline. Consumer goods were becoming more difficult to access within the state and many workers began to find themselves on reduced hours. The GDR found that its dependency was growing heavily upon the West for loans and funding. There was also disconcertion amongst society at large. Human Rights began to emerge as a discussion topic in the early 1980s with a slow growth in the number of reform groups. The people of East Germany were becoming more concerned with the environment, justice and individual's rights. As travel to the West was gradually becoming more popular at this time also the people began to see, with their own eyes, the higher living standards and general freedom which the citizens of the West were enjoying. Although such changes were slowly taking place in the early parts of the 1980s it was the chain of events which began outside of the GDR which were to be the catalysts for unification. The young Gorbachev who had taken place as leader in the Soviet Union perturbed Honecker, leader of the GDR throughout the 1980s, until his resignation in October 1989. Gorbachev spoke of reforms, of modernisation and of a freedom within states. The GDR feared that their socialist state may be taken from them and they believed, almost ironically, that in doing this there would be an eventual lead to unification. Perhaps the most significant of Gorbachev's measures was a speech he gave in February 1988 where he stated that all countries were free to choose their own social and political systems. In effect, they could choose to govern in their own way. This outraged Honecker. He stopped circulation of the Sputnik, a soviet magazine, after it published an article attacking the Hitler-Stalin pact. Soviet films were also banned and he ensured that the people of East Germany knew that he would not let the changes occur. It is perhaps at this point that it may be considered that the main internal factor of the 1989 events began to transcend. Although demonstrations had long been part of the East German history it was in June 1987 that the GDR saw the first hour-long street battles between the people and the police including the Stasi since the early 1970s. In East Berlin young people protested and called for "Gorbachev, Gorbachev" In November 1987 the Stasi ransacked the flats of many of those involved in reform groups and arrested many of the people thought to have headed any form of anti-governmental group. The final outburst of the Stasi, however, was to prove to be that which would cause the frustrations of the East German people to be pushed to the forefront. In January 1988 there was a demonstration to commemorate the sixty-ninth anniversary of socialist heroes. The demonstration was peaceful and involved many young people. The Stasi raided the commemoration and, using brute force, arrested demonstrators and removed posters which were calling for freedom. This was to be the point at which the East Germans decided that the regime had been taken too far. Rallies of protest began, churches, services and other public activities all took to the cause of protest. The sheer determination and vigour of the East German people meant that the internal climate of the GDR was already beginning to change, however, it may be argued that this would have not been enough to bring down the regime. Indeed, protests had been seen at several points throughout the history of the GDR. However, the external events were also to prove critical to the future of the state. Gorbachev visited Budapest in April 1989 and, in another key speech, announced that he would be exonerating the Brezhner Doctrine which had meant that the countries under Soviet rule had been under threat of Soviet intervention at any time. Gorbachev also repeated his sentiments of the previous year and announce: "The right of all peoples and states to determine freely their destiny" and that every state was entitled to "choose freely its own political and social system as well as unqualified adherence to the norms and principles of international law, especially for the right of people to self-determination" The people of East German knew, therefore, that the uprisings would not involve the threat of military pressure from Russia. The denouncement of the Brezhner Doctrine also caused another international happening which would affect the course of German history. Due to the reforms of the Gorbachev government, Hungary began to dismantle its barbed-wire fences along the Austrian frontier, as it was felt there was no longer a threat form the Soviet Union. In doing so, Hungary opened up a 'link' between which the East Germans were able to 'escape'. On 19th August 1989 a European festival took place on the Austro-Hungarian border attracted 700 GDR residents who had applied for holiday permits to the festival. The 700 residents then raced across the border into Austria, which, in turn, led them to the West Germany border. By then end of August over 4,000 people had escaped across the border. Although Hungary was put under pressure from the GDR to stop the practice of allowing the East Germans through, Hungary announce on September 10th that the route to the West would be opened to all. In the following month this meant that 25,000 people left. Honecker, realising that his grip over the people of the GDR was beginning to crumble, responded by issuing travel permits which would only allow certain people through into Hungary. The East German people, however, would not give up and began fleeing via Poland and Czechoslovakia. Previous to the events of August however, and the 'Great Escape' there had also been key, domestic factors after the speech of Gorbachev in April which were to add, partly, to the reasons why the people were beginning to escape in the substantial numbers seen in Hungary. Gorbachev, under his new regime, had avowed that the people of each state should be allowed a 'free' vote. The 7th May 1989 brought such elections to the people of the GDR. Indeed they were given a lengthier list of candidates and the election was to be considered as a truly 'free' vote. The Stasi, however, was used considerably to oversee the process and the people became suspicious. Reform and human rights groups set up watches over the station illicitly without the knowledge of the Stasi. When the results were announced, it was stated that the SED had 98.7% support. Those who had watched the proceedings declared that the result was a fraud. There was once again the spiral into dissent which had been seen in the January of 1988. Throughout the summer the Monday demonstrations at Leipzig began. Peaceful protesters would follow prayer at St.Nicholas' church by marching seven times around the offices of the SED. As the 'Great Escape' throughout Hungary continued the demonstrations began to amass in size. Many of the East Germans did not wish for unification, or even to escape to the West, they simply believed in a 'third way'. They dreamt of a socialist state that could be run democratically with compassion for individuals. The 9th October 1989 was to be a day which, besides the 9th of November, was to be, arguably, the most important domestic occurrence which would affect the SED and its position within the East. A large-scale demonstration was planned at Leipzig. 70,000 people gathered on the Monday night to protest. It was feared that the protest would lead to the blood-bath of Tiananmen Square in Beijing which had took place in the previous April. The Volkskammer had made its support for China clear, and the people feared that they would be delivered a similar fate. There was, however, to be no onslaught. The protesters circled their route 7 times on that Monday night and yet no action was taken against them. It is not known exactly why Honecker decided not to use the force which he had claimed would be used in such circumstances. There have been several suggestions; the crowd was too large; the Russians would not have been pleased by any intervention upon a peaceful protest; Honecker was not concerned by their cause, as they did not want to actually leave. However, it was to be the lack of action against the protest which was to be breaking point. The people felt that they had 'won' "“ no longer did they fear the SED. There was considerable unrest throughout the month of October. Gorbachev told Honecker, after the Leipzig rising, that the time for reform had come, but, much to his detriment, the warning fell on deaf ears. Ten days later Honecker and his cabinet resigned. Krenz took his place. Krenz tried to stress to the nation that the current problems were due to the personal mistakes of Honecker, and that the SED was committed to creating a better state for the people. The opinions of people, however, were beginning to change. No longer were they now content to think of a 'third way'. If the ideology of the country was to change, it was felt, why should the country stay divided? He tried to compromise with the people of the East and extended permitted travel to 30 days per year, however there were still barriers to travel. The Volkskammer rejected his proposal, feeling that the people would see this as inadequate, and therefore could promote further protestation. Krenz, therefore, came under great pressure to reform the travel policies of the GDR. The blunder to follow, however, was not foreseen and was, ultimately, the explicit cause of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Gunter Schabowski announced on international television that the SED's central committee had decided that GDR citizens could get immediate permission for private travel abroad without the need of a special 'prerequisite'. Schabowski, however, did not explain the correct details of the plans, as the SED were not planning on distributing exit visas. Neither were the plans effective immediately, indeed the borders were only supposed to be opened on the morning of November 10th. There were also no plans that Berlin was to be the place were transferral to the West was to be admitted, it was, in fact, supposed to take place along the border. The confusion was further intensified when Schabowksi, answering a question given to him in English asking whether his statement meant 'the Wall was coming down' "“ he shuffled his papers and answered "yes, it is." Those watching at home on their TVs thought that this meant that they could leave immediately and throughout the night thousands of people turned up at the Berlin Wall demanding to be allowed to pass through. The soldiers, unprepared and unaware of the night's events could do nothing but let the people through. The wall was, effectively, down. In the following days over 2000 people left daily. The fall of the Berlin Wall may be considered as the turning point in the process of unification. It was from this time that unification became a real possibility, although there were still many factors of consideration. Internationally, the effects of Gorbachev's regime and the actions of Hungary were tantamount in beginning the course of action which would lead to unification. However, it may be maintained that it was the courageous and passionate people of the East who, in their masses, through peaceful protest were able to bring the Wall down. Plans for reunification, however, over the following eighteen months were to depend heavily upon the work of Kohl. ON the 25th November 1989 Kohl announced hi 10-point declaration which laid out the details of how reunification should begin to proceed. There was severe opposition from Europe and there was also a contention with Gorbachev. There was, however, considerable support from America, which was under the Bush administration. President Bush believed that after 40 years the time had come for German unification. He was also concerned that if the Allies did not support Germany they would make a deal with the Soviet Union which could result in German neutralisation. Bush feared that this would be adverse to the powers of NATO, perhaps causing its collapse. He therefore offered Kohl his diplomatic services and through discussions German unification was agreed upon. Gorbachev gave his 'das Ja-Wort im Kreml' or consent on the 10th February 1990 providing that Germany promised to half its troops. France also agreed upon unification for a promise of entering the monetary union once unified. The plans were to be further refined during a NATO conference in Ottawa. The final particulars of unification were to be; equal status of all citizens within the unified state; sovereignty for Germany i.e. rescinding Four Power rights; withdrawal of Soviet troops; and, finally, the membership of the united Germany in NATO. Under Article 23 of the Basic Law the GDR was taken into the Federal Republic in the form of 5 new Lander. In doing this, it was felt, that there could be quick and simple reunification. There was economic unity from the 2nd July 1990 and political unity followed on 3rd October 1990. It was from this point that Germany was able to consider itself one, unified country. Legal and constitutional integration was to follow. In summation therefore an extrapolation of the major events which lead to unification has been shown through the history of Germany. Internationally, the unification process relied heavily on the regimes of the Gorbachev government, upon the surprise opening of the borders by Hungary and, after the Wall had fallen, also upon the American administration. It has been suggested that without the close diplomatic work Kohl and Bush that the unification may not have been possible at all. Domestically, however, there were many mistakes on the part of the SED which gave the East German people the motivation to begin their protests. The unification is due, in no small part, to the passionate and yet peaceful demonstrations of the people and their drive towards to changing their oppressive state into one of revolution.   

The unification of East and West Germany, two factions of one country which had lived as a divided nation for over forty years, was, perhaps one of the most surprising and unplanned political events of the post-war period. The reasons for the unification were largely unforeseen and it was little...

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