Stupidest territorial acquisitions

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,569
SoCal
#1
Which territorial acquisitions in recent history (the last several centuries) were the stupidest?

So far, I can think of:

-Algeria, which was conquered by France starting from 1830 and created a huge demographic threat for France in the long(er)-run. It would have been better for France to either not go into Algeria at all or to limit the amount of Algerian territory that it annexed to some cities with a large pied-noir population. That way, the demographic threat would have been much less of an issue.

-I could say a similar thing about Israel's territorial conquests from 1967 (other than the Golan Heights, which is sparsely populated), but at least those conquests served a good use in the sense that Israel could barter them for peace.

-Galicia and Volhynia, which were conquered by the Soviet Union in 1939 and reconquered by the Soviet Union during World War II and which ensured that Ukraine would be much more nationalistic after its independence. Had Ukraine not gotten Galicia and Volhynia, then it would have been likely to fall back into Russia's orbit at some point in time even if it would have still acquired independence. After all, without Galicia and Volhynia, pro-Russian voters will likely outnumber pro-Western voters in Ukraine. (Also, as a side note, this is why transferring the Kuban to Russia in the 1920s or 1930s was a bad idea; specifically, it ensured that there would have been less pro-Russian voters in Ukraine after independence.)

-I could put Alsace-Lorraine in here, but at least that annexation by the German Empire in 1871 served a useful security purpose and could have been justified on ethnic grounds.

Anyway, which other territorial acquisitions could be classified as stupid--especially with hindsight?
 
Last edited:
Sep 2016
804
Georgia
#4
By the German Empire, in 1871.

This annexation was reversed in 1918 with Germany's defeat in WWI.
No, I know those) Just wanted to make clear about what period we are talking about. Since before all of those, Alsace was annexed in 17th century by France and then got Lorraine in 18th century.
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,569
SoCal
#5
No, I know those) Just wanted to make clear about what period we are talking about. Since before all of those, Alsace was annexed in 17th century by France and then got Lorraine in 18th century.
OK. Also, Yes, that's correct.

Basically, I don't consider France's acquisition of Alsace and Lorraine before the French Revolution to be stupid because back then there was no powerful German state who would have been greatly angered by such French moves. Had there been such a state, France's decision might have looked worse for France.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,569
SoCal
#6
Which territorial acquisitions in recent history (the last several centuries) were the stupidest?

So far, I can think of:

-Algeria, which was conquered by France starting from 1830 and created a huge demographic threat for France in the long(er)-run. It would have been better for France to either not go into Algeria at all or to limit the amount of Algerian territory that it annexed to some cities with a large pied-noir population. That way, the demographic threat would have been much less of an issue.

-I could say a similar thing about Israel's territorial conquests from 1967 (other than the Golan Heights, which is sparsely populated), but at least those conquests served a good use in the sense that Israel could barter them for peace.

-Galicia and Volhynia, which were conquered by the Soviet Union in 1939 and reconquered by the Soviet Union during World War II and which ensured that Ukraine would be much more nationalistic after its independence. Had Ukraine not gotten Galicia and Volhynia, then it would have been likely to fall back into Russia's orbit at some point in time even if it would have still acquired independence. After all, without Galicia and Volhynia, pro-Russian voters will likely outnumber pro-Western voters in Ukraine. (Also, as a side note, this is why transferring the Kuban to Russia in the 1920s or 1930s was a bad idea; specifically, it ensured that there would have been less pro-Russian voters in Ukraine after independence.)

-I could put Alsace-Lorraine in here, but at least that annexation by the German Empire in 1871 served a useful security purpose and could have been justified on ethnic grounds.

Anyway, which other territorial acquisitions could be classified as stupid--especially with hindsight?
I suppose that I could list the incorporation of Muslim-majority areas in southern Thailand (into Thailand) and in the southern Philippines (into the Philippines) as also being stupid since the incorporation of these Muslim-majority areas into Thailand and the Philippines created a lot of tensions and conflict. Were these territories particularly valuable for either Thailand or the Philippines?
 
Sep 2016
804
Georgia
#7
I would like to nominate as well :

Duchy of Warsaw annexation by Russian Empire in 1815. Most of the Duchy of Warsaw, to be exact. Happened as the result of Congress of Vienna. That move was actually often criticized in Russian historiography. It only created problems for Tzars. Alexander I even granted Poles a Constitution. However, there were still massive Polish rebellions against Russia in 1830 - 1831 and 1863 - 1864. In the end, that territory never formed bonds to Russia and was lost century later.
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,569
SoCal
#8
I would like to nominate as well :

Duchy of Warsaw annexation by Russian Empire in 1815. Most of the Duchy of Warsaw, to be exact. Happened as the result of Congress of Vienna. That move was actually often criticized in Russian historiography. It only created problems for Tzars. Alexander I even granted Poles a Constitution. However, there were still massive Polish rebellions against Russia in 1830 - 1831 and 1863 - 1864. In the end, that territory never formed bonds to Russia and was lost century later.
Yeah, I would probably agree with this. It would have been nice to have Poland be allied with Russia (which is certainly possible if Russia installs some Romanov on the Polish throne), but outright annexing Poland really does sound like a stupid idea. In addition to the rebellions that you mentioned here, this territory was also virtually impossible to Russify both due to the Poles' long history of independence and due to the fact that Russia simply didn't have enough Russian settlers to Russify Poland.
 
Likes: Gvelion

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,569
SoCal
#9
IMHO, had I been Russian Tsar Nicholas II in 1894, I would have created an independent Polish state and put another Romanov on the Polish throne in order to ensure that Poland would always remain allied with Russia (and let's face it, the Poles would have an incentive for such an alliance considering that most of the territory that they wanted was in German and Austrian hands--thus ensuring that they would need Russian military assistance to ever acquire this territory).

I would have also went for eastern Galicia back in 1812 considering that there was no Ukrainian nationalist movement in Galicia during this time. Had Galicia been annexed to Russia in the 1810s, its population would have likely become as Russophile as, say, Belarusians are.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#10
Which territorial acquisitions in recent history (the last several centuries) were the stupidest?

So far, I can think of:

-Algeria, which was conquered by France starting from 1830 and created a huge demographic threat for France in the long(er)-run. It would have been better for France to either not go into Algeria at all or to limit the amount of Algerian territory that it annexed to some cities with a large pied-noir population. That way, the demographic threat would have been much less of an issue.

-I could say a similar thing about Israel's territorial conquests from 1967 (other than the Golan Heights, which is sparsely populated), but at least those conquests served a good use in the sense that Israel could barter them for peace.

-Galicia and Volhynia, which were conquered by the Soviet Union in 1939 and reconquered by the Soviet Union during World War II and which ensured that Ukraine would be much more nationalistic after its independence. Had Ukraine not gotten Galicia and Volhynia, then it would have been likely to fall back into Russia's orbit at some point in time even if it would have still acquired independence. After all, without Galicia and Volhynia, pro-Russian voters will likely outnumber pro-Western voters in Ukraine. (Also, as a side note, this is why transferring the Kuban to Russia in the 1920s or 1930s was a bad idea; specifically, it ensured that there would have been less pro-Russian voters in Ukraine after independence.)

-I could put Alsace-Lorraine in here, but at least that annexation by the German Empire in 1871 served a useful security purpose and could have been justified on ethnic grounds.

Anyway, which other territorial acquisitions could be classified as stupid--especially with hindsight?
Lorraine I would place in the category, because it created unnecessary antagonism of the French. Alsace would have provided border protection, and with it's ethnic German population, the French might have been willing to tolerate the loss. Even Bismark thought acquiring Lorraine was a mistake.

Perhaps Puerto Rico and the Philippines? Without the Philippines, i.am not surenrhr US would have gotten into a war with Japan, the US wouldn't have much interest in the Pacific outside Hawaii. And Puerto Rico has been kind of an economic drag, and I don't think the Puerto Ricans have really benefited, the he US has not helped it as much as it should.
 

Similar History Discussions