Strategic Reasons for decolonisation


1870 - start of our period Strategic

Britain was world's greatest power (Great power) - Economically, control of land and Armed forces (Especially the Navy)

Strategic threats were forming from France and Germany where they were now united and industrializing

No. of colonies was a sign of being a great power

"Scramble for africa" - attempt by europeans to prove their strength by taking african countries

Key reason for British Colonisation

With malaya - 1880's but no threat - shows Britain is powerful

Suez canal & Egypt - Troops can be sent through canal quickly to get to Asia and W. Africa

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1902 - Boer War

Boers a threat - guns and a allaince supplied by Germany in South West Africa leads to a threat to british control of South Africa - The South African ports which is a supply link for troops & the Navy

Germany continued to be a threat

Britain decides it needed European allies against Germany - Entente cordiale(France & Russia)

As the years go by, Germany becomes more and more dangerous

Boer war showed British could be defeated - even though boers lost in the end.

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1918 - End of WW1

Immediate post war years - Germany no longer a threat - German african colonies e.g. Tanganyike, South West Africa were handed over to the British.

However, with the rise of Hitler - Germany became a European threat - not in Africa or Asia.

Japan - rose in Asia - Threat to colonies of Singapore, Malaya, Hong Kong, Burma& India.

Japan took over Singapore, Hong Kong, Burma. Malaya defeated in just 2 weeks which exposed British weakness - Showed westerners could be defeated

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1945 - End of WW2

Main Turning Point

German & Japanese threat are gone.

Britain wanted to become a superpower along with the USA & USSR "Influence the cold war, not influenced by"

Britain needed atomic bomb & colonies but not India to show strength.

But USA put pressure on Britain to decolonise , so to keep favour with USA, it needed to decolonise.

USSR used colonies as a way to criticise Britain and indirectly against USA

Colonies become a Cold War Issue

Pakistan becomes a US ally - shows decolonisation can lead to a neo-colonial relationship

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1956 - Suez Canal crisis

Suez showed Britain wasn't a 'Great Power' or a superpower - Suez forced Britain to obey the USA to withdraw from Suez - do this by cutting off IMF money to Britain

Britain still a member of NATO - as ally of USA

1960's - Britain tries to maintain some independance such as refusing to join in the Vietnam War

Britain's decolonisation policy was to crush radical groups such as the Mau Mau in Kenya and the communists in Malaya and give power to moderate groups who will ally with the West rather than Communism.

Britain kept Hong Kong - Strategic reasons as well as economic - next to China (It's Backyard)

Commonwealth - Political grouping of ex colonies with Britain at the head.

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