Imperialism at Bay: The United States and the Decolonization of the British Empire, 1941-1945

Imperialism at Bay: The United States and the Decolonization of the British Empire, 1941-1945

Imperialism at Bay: The United States and the Decolonization of the British Empire, 1941-1945

Imperialism at Bay: The United States and the Decolonization of the British Empire, 1941-1945

Synopsis

This book examines the wartime controversies between Britain and America about the future of the colonial world, and considers the ethical, military, and economic forces behind imperialism during World War II. It concludes that, for Britain, there was a revival of the sense of colonialmission; the Americans, on the other hand, felt justified in creating a strategic fortress in the Pacific Islands while carrying the torch of "international trusteeship" throughout the rest of the world--a scheme that Churchill and others viewed as a cloak for American expansion.

Excerpt

This book is about American and British wartime planning for the future of the colonial world. The themes are American anti-colonialism and American expansion; and British reactions to American 'informal empire' as well as American ideas about the future of the British Empire. I am concerned with the moral regeneration of British purpose in the colonies and with American as well as British 'imperialism'. These matters were controversial at the time and remain so today. One cardinal source of controversy was the issue of international trusteeship. The book may also be read as a history of the origins of the trusteeship system of the United Nations.

The main narrative is in the chronological parts II-IV. I must ask the reader's indulgence for the lengthy introductory part in which I attempt to deal with a number of complex problems in relation to the themes of the book. The question of the French and Italian colonies, as well as that of the Japanese mandated islands, and the salient issues of international trusteeship, are all essential in understanding the general 'colonial problem' of the Second World War. I have linked the discussions together by an inquiry into the economic element of trusteeship in relation to strategic and ethical considerations. Americans and other critics of the British Empire tended to see 'trusteeship' as the opposite of 'imperialism'. To them trusteeship meant international machinery for advancement of colonial peoples towards independence. The British regarded the concept rather as the morality of empire. Trusteeship to them meant the ethical standards of colonial administration insisted on by Parliament. In brief, the introductory chapters deal with the ideas of trusteeship and the relative importance of the ethical, military, and economic drives to imperialism.

I have also used the introductory section as an opportunity to discuss the way in which the wartime bureaucracies made decisions about these problems. Here and elsewhere I am concerned with the question of motive and coherence in American planning and with the ways in which the President, the State Department, and the military branches of the government . . .

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