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The Boer War
Episode Three

The Second Boer War

Was a major turning point in British history, due to world reaction over the anti-insurgency tactics the army used in the region. This led to a change in approach to foreign policy from Britain who now set about looking for more allies. To this end, the 1902 treaty with Japan in particular was a sign that Britain feared attack on its Far Eastern empire and saw this alliance as an opportunity to strengthen their stance in the Far East. This war led to a change from "splendid isolation" policy to a policy that involved looking for allies and improving world relations. Later treaties with France ("Entente cordiale") and Russia, caused partially by the controversy surrounding the Boer War, were major factors in dictating how the battle lines were drawn during World War One.

The Boer war also had another significance. It was discovered by the Army Medical Corps that 40% of men called up for duty were physically unfit to fight. This was the first time in which the government was forced to take notice of how unfit the British public were. This led to individual investigations by Booth and Rowntree into the poverty in Britain, and ultimately gave the Liberals ideas on which to base their reforms beginning in 1906.

Another significant event was the British policy of rounding up and isolating the Boer civilian population into concentration camps. The wives and children of Boer guerrillas were sent to these camps with poor hygiene and little food. The death and suffering of the civilians, according to many scholars, is what broke the guerrillas' will. The "pacification" theory has been repeated many times in warfare since.



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