Britain and Decolonisation: The retreat from empire in the by John Darwin

By John Darwin

Because the maximum imperial energy earlier than 1939 Britain performed a number one function within the nice post-war shift within the dating among the West and the 3rd global which we name 'decolonisation'. yet why did decolonisation happen and what have been its results? used to be nationalism in colonial societies or indifference in Britain the main consider the dissolution of the British Empire? used to be the decay of British energy and impact an inevitable end result of imperial decline? Did British rules within the final section of empire replicate an popularity of decline or the wish that it may be postponed indefinitely by way of well timed concessions? This e-book goals to reply to those questions in a basic account of Britain's post-war retreat from empire.

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As the British struggled to secure Egypt against an Axis attack reinforced by German troops and counted the losses of their abortive defence of Greece and Crete, the strategic nightmare of the 1930s at last became real. The greatest crisis of the war arrived with the defeat of the American navy at Pearl Harbor and the freedom this conferred upon the Japanese to commence the invasion of Malaya, the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies. Britain's accumulated military weaknesses now exacted their full toll.

The remaining units of the Royal Navy left Ceylon and fled westwards across the Indian Ocean. Burma was abandoned. In three months, the whole structure of British political and military power east and south of India had collapsed like a house of cards. The invasion of Australia, to whose defence British governments had repeatedly pledged themselves, appeared more than likely. In the North African battles to defend Egypt, the fall of Tobruk in June 1942 and the retreat of the British towards the Nile raised the spectre of fresh and worse disaster.

3 But, notoriously, the difficulties of imperial strategy multiplied with appalling speed after 1930. The Japanese conquest of Manchuria in 1931 sounded the alarm about the defence of British possessions from India to Hong Kong, as well as of Australia and New Zealand, against a determined rival with a naval strength at least two thirds that of the Royal Navy, which had vastly larger commitments to meet. Then between 1933 and 1936 British strategists were confronted first by the spectre of a fiercely nationalistic Germany determined to rearm - and to acquire a new navy - and then by the gruesome prospect, with the formation of the Axis in 1936, of facing a simultaneous conflict in north-west Europe and in the Mediterranean and Middle East.

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