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Posted on 08/14/2011 2:23:57 PM PDT by Steelfish
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The colonial system made sense up to a point. Maybe the US was quick to see that and the British weren’t. The British insisted on grabbing every rock they could lay their hands on - and they were strained financially.
Remember I used the qualifier “ultimately”, not “in its heyday”.
the British Empire collapsed shortly after Gandhi led thousands to the sea to make salt.
not quite -- the Dhandi march was in 1930.
Most Indians at that time wanted a dominion-status like Canada or Australia, but the British didn't do that
WWII had a big role to play in forcing the British hand
For a nation that controlled one-sixth of the Worlds surface area as recently as 1936 to be a smaller economy than Germany or Japan must mean something - and its not catastrophic success. --> It was a success if you consider England's position in the 1600s and even NOW it is better off than a rocky island off the coast of Europe
Assyria was the first true superpower and now it does not exist. Persia is reduced to a shell as are the Mongols
What is more important are the ideas that an Empire leaves -- the Roman, the Persian ideals, the Arab influence, etc. all linger.
a 'successful' empire is measured by that, the lingering aspects.
Not really -- the British wanted India for its wealth, they got ahold of Australia that was basically unpopulated except for stone-age tribes
in Africa they wanted to connect the north to south and so have a great commercial enterprise
They were strained financially only after the war. Otherwise, the Empire was slowly moving to a Dominion-like status.
A more robust enterprise would have been strengthened rather than weakened by the war (e.g. US).
It beats me why the British did not establish a solid manufacturing base in India. They could have very easily defeated the Japanese if they made that effort.
There are two reasons why we are communicating in English - the British Empire and American led commerce. In many parts of Africa, this conversation would have been in French.
Not necessarily -- you are comparing apples to oranges -- the USA is a huge country, self-sufficient and was far, far away from the theatres of war -- except for Pearl Harbor it was not really attacked on home ground and could manufacture away with no fear of bombing.
The UK, on the contrary was a mercantile economy, right next to the theatres of operation. One part of the Empire, namely Canada came off pretty well from the war, but the others, India and Australia were also directly threatened during the war.
Britain's factory were irrefutably damaged by German bombing raids and they outsourced much of the large scale manufacturing to the US, destroying much of their economy. HOWEVER, the overall "enterprise" that was the British Empire came out of the war well enough economically compared to other "enterprises" except of course those in the Americas.
The British also realised that they had lost the opportunity to make India a dominion and that they could not morally keep India a colony when they had supposedly fought for democracy.
And of course the Indian freedom movement felt that keenly too! Remember that before WWI, the Indian civil movement was aimed at getting Dominion status but after that "war for democracy" the question was "why not democracy for us too?"
It beats me why the British did not establish a solid manufacturing base in India -- because the Empire's centralization was India provides the cheap, captive source and the cheap, captive market. The manufacturing was in England. This was changing somewhat under the Tatas but not enough.
That was the problem. So in effect, the British had to ship industrial supplies at great cost and under great danger to contain the Japanese. If the US had not entered the war on the side of Britain, British possessions east of the Suez would have been lost.
That is not correct -- Indians had no aim to see British Imperialism replaced by Japanese and the Indian army gave the Japanese a big defeat at Kohima
Also the Australian army was still there to head back home
British holdings east of India may have been lost, but not India or australia
Without the distraction of the US Navy and the US Military, the Japanese would have easily taken over sparsely populated Australia and India would have been the next logical step from Burma.
A certain Mr. Bose and the Indian National Army were not too displeased with the Japanese. (In fact, an international airport has been named after him).
>The Soviet Union collapsed because they persisted in promoting an unsustainable economic model, not because they feared the US.
True, but by itself it wasn’t enough to bring about the USSR’s fall. It was Reagan’s policies of confrontation which helped bring it about for example by Moscow’s arms buildup which increased the economic problems.
No Indian wanted to replace the yoke of the British which was light with the demonic yoke of the Japanese
Without the US Navy and US Military, the Indian army kept the Japanese at bay pretty well, thank you
Over time the Indian army would have smashed through into Burma, while the insurgent movement in Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia would have cut off the legs under the Japanese.
Reagan’s policies of confrontation had some impact, but not they did not constitute the major impact.
The Soviet Union had progressively weaker leaders from Stalin to Krushchev to Brezhnev (Brezhnev was famous for stagnation and decline). The KGB elite were the first to realise that the Soviet system was not working, so they attempted to tweak it around the edges (like the Chinese). They engineered the appointment of a reformer - Gorbachev. Unfortunately for them, Gorbachev promoted political freedom before economic freedom and the center collapsed.
China would have suffered the same fate as the Soviet Union had Deng (1)insisted on political freedom before economic freedom (2)blinked during Tienanmen square.
Bob Mugabe, Assad and the Burmese Generals have been running first grade oppressive regimes for decades on tight budgets. So, economic viability is not a prerequisite to running an oppressive regime.
As some one who has studied the collapse of the Soviet Union, I cannot praise Mikhail Gorbachev enough. I know it is not fashionable to praise Gorbachev in conservative circles, but think about this; what if the Soviet Union had Deng instead of Gorbachev, Reagan notwithstanding - we would be looking at a very different nation in Eurasia.
It requires immense personal courage to attempt to reform a fundamentally evil system from within and Gorbachev displayed tons of courage.
(Just FYI, Gorbachev reached out initially to Thatcher and Thatcher famously described him as “a man we can do business with”).
Reagan was great, but to conclude that the Soviet system collapsed simply because the Russians scared stiff of Reagan and US arms spending between 1981 and 1984, flies in the face of serious historical facts.
Many Indians will beg to differ. If he never had any real support, why is chair at the Red Fort and why has an International Airport been named after him?
As a Westerner, you may never understand how “colonials” like us feel about the British Empire and the Second World War. I have relatives that fought in Burma and I am told that the Japanese dropped leaflets with the words “Africans, what are you fighting for”. Indians may have had the same tortured feelings.(The West African Frontier Force and The Kings East African Rifles also fought in Burma - this doesn’t get mentioned too often, though)
It is not a coincidence that a good number of independence fighters were men who fought in Burma.
1. Note I never said he had no support
2. He's a romantic figure as a fighter
3. Even the successful non-violent movement realised that having a bugbear like Bose was good as a threat to the British ("see, we are non-violent, but if you don't take us seriously there is the other option)
however, he never had any serious support
I don't know about African sentiments regarding the British, but I have visited india quite often helping with Mother Teresa's and I have friends I value and trust who are Indians. Indians may have had the same tortured feelings. -- is not completely true. Indians were ambiguous about the colonial adventure, but that was love-hate and now is mostly acceptance of the bad and the good. The French on the other hand inspired just hate while the Portuguese inspired more love than hate.
The Indian soldiers understood that they fought for their king George and they were very loyal -- the only ones that I read who joined Bose's army were those who were POWs (as I said above) or Bose's initial group. No service members deserted.
Well, perhaps it was Reagan’s policy of confrontation which increased the USSR’s economy problems and basically made the KGB anoint a reformer like Gorbachev. What kind of economic reforms did the KGB seek? Anything like Lenin’s New Economic Policy?
That’s a very simplistic reading of history.
I agree that economists grossly overstated the size of the Soviet economy, but a little overlooked fact was that the Soviet economy became heavily dependent on Oil and Gas during the seventies and agricultural production began to decline during that period.
The Brezhnev years were periods of economic and foreign policy stagnation and Brezhnev neither had the brutal vision or the ruthlessness required to make the Soviet system work.
The Oil glut of the late seventies and 1980s and the costly campaign in Afghanistan drained the Soviet Union. So the KGB understood (without Reagan telling them), that something needed to be done. The Soviets also realised that the rapproachment between China and the US would lead them isolated, hence the search for a reformer in the mold of Deng to reinvigorate the Soviet system.
No serious ex-soviet political scientist will present such a simplistic view, there are a confluence of factors that cause a decline of an empire. I will be betraying my academic experience if I concluded that the Soviet Union collapsed simply because of Reagan, the truth is much more nuanced.
There was Lech Walesa at Gdansk who led the first mass movement to successfully challenge the Soviet system (after the failures of the Czechoslovakian and Hungarian uprisings). There was John Paul II and there was Thatcher. There were also millions of unnamed heroes.
I know Americans have a penchant for taking all the glory (Hollywood did movies about American pilots in the Battle of Britain and was very liberal about the facts in a movie about the Enigma machine - it was captured by a British submarine not an American submarine as the movie portrays).
Remember that the “greatest generation” (World War II) included millions of Britons, millions of Indians and about half a million Africans. America hardly ever wins convincingly when She fights alone, and the Cold War was neither fought solely by the Americans nor was it won solely by Americans.
Actually, I meant that Reagan’s policy of confrontation was certainly *one* factor, and probably a not insignificant one, but not the only one. From what I heard, Andropov believed in economic reform, if I’m not mistaken. If he had lasted, what kind of reform policies would he have carried out?