Why britain reduced its empire between 1939 and 1964 essay

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Why britain reduced its empire between 1939 and 1964 essay

Print this page End of World War Two The collapse of British imperial power - all but complete by the mids - can be traced directly to the impact of World War Two. The catastrophic British defeats in Europe and Asia between and destroyed its financial and economic independence, the real foundation of the imperial system.

Britain had survived the war, but its wealth, prestige and authority had been severely reduced. It also erased the old balance of power on which British security - at home and abroad - had largely depended. Although Britain was one of the victorious allies, the defeat of Germany had been mainly the work of Soviet and American power, while that of Japan had been an almost entirely American triumph.

Britain had survived and recovered the territory lost during the war. But its prestige and authority, not to mention its wealth, had been severely reduced. The British found themselves locked into an imperial endgame from which every exit was blocked except the trapdoor to oblivion. Nonetheless, in an earlier bid to win Congress support, Britain had promised to give India full independence once the war was over.

Britain hoped that a self-governing India would remain part of the imperial defence.

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Within months of the end of the war, it was glaringly obvious that Britain lacked the means to defeat a renewed mass campaign by the Congress. Its officials were exhausted and troops were lacking. For this reason, Britain was desperate to keep India and its army united. These hopes came to nothing.

By the time that the last viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, arrived in India, Congress and its leader Jawaharlal Nehru had begun to accept that unless they agreed to partition, they risked a descent into chaos and communal war before power could be transferred from British into Indian hands.

It was left to Mountbatten to stage a rapid handover to two successor governments India and Pakistan before the ink was dry on their post-imperial frontiers. Top Repairing Britain The huge sense of relief at a more or less dignified exit, and much platitudinous rhetoric, disguised the fact that the end of the Raj was a staggering blow for British world power.

The burden of the empire defence shifted back to a Britain that was both weaker and poorer than it had been before Britain was overshadowed by two new superpowers, the United States and Soviet Union. Britain was now overshadowed by the United States and Soviet Union, its domestic economy had been seriously weakened and the Labour government had embarked on a huge and expensive programme of social reform.

British leaders had no doubt that Britain must uphold its status as the third great power. The British were also determined to exploit the tropical colonies more effectively due to the fact that their cocoa, rubber and tin could be sold for much-needed dollars.

Nor was it simply an economic imperative. That meant staying on in the Middle East even after the breakdown of British control in Palestine and its hasty evacuation in In Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and the Gulf, the British were determined to hang on to their treaties and bases, including the vast Suez canal zone.

They wanted help from Australia and hoped for Indian support against Soviet influence in Asia. Across the whole spectrum of party opinion, British leaders had no doubt that Britain must uphold its status as the third great power, and that it could only do so by maintaining its empire and the Commonwealth link.

Europe, by contrast, they saw as a zone of economic and political weakness. Suez Crisis In the s, British governments struggled to achieve this post-war imperial vision. They had already reinvented the Commonwealth in in order to let India remain a republic, overturning the old rule that the British monarch must be head of state in a Commonwealth country.

The British governments took up the challenge of anti-colonial revolts in Malaya, Kenya and Cyprus. They invested heavily in up-to-date weaponry and fretted over the slowness of the British economy to resume its old role as the great lender of capital. By the end of the decade, things were not going well.

Staying in the Middle East had led step-by-step to the confrontation with President Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, and the disastrous decision to seek his overthrow by force in collusion with Israel. In the colonial territories, more active interference in social and economic matters, with a view to speeding the pace of development, had aroused wide opposition and strengthened nationalist movements.

It was becoming much harder for Britain to control the rate of political change, especially where the presence of settlers as in Kenya and the Rhodesias sharpened conflicts over land. Loss of the Colonies With conditions as they stood, it was now becoming increasingly difficult to maintain even the semblance of British world power.

In the s, British governments attempted forlornly to make bricks without straw. Britain was finding it too costly to protect its remaining colonies. To avoid being trapped in a costly struggle with local nationalist movements, Britain backed out of most of the remaining colonies with unseemly haste.

As late asit had publicly scheduled a degree of self-government for Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika.

Why britain reduced its empire between 1939 and 1964 essay

All became independent between and The situation did not go as planned. In South East Asia, protecting the new federation of Malaysia against Indonesian aggression became more and more costly.The foreign policy failures of British governments in the years to were due to a lack of realism about Britain’s position in the post-war world The years saw the occurrence of several foreign policy failures within British Politics.

[citation needed] By , 30% of Britain's exports went to its Empire, rising slowly to 35% by Until the latter 19th century, India remained Britain's economic jewel in terms of both imports and exports. In , when British exports to her Empire totaled £50 million, . Battle Of Britain In WWII.

Print Reference this. Disclaimer: meant the risk of casualties involving civilians was further reduced. it is fair to say that Britain holding its own against Germany would be the only thing capable of stopping a total German victory in the war.

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