Advertisement

Pax Britannica pp 260-285 | Cite as

Recessional: The End of Pax Britannica and the American Inheritance

  • Barry Gough
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)

Abstract

The termination of Pax came with the end of so-called Splendid Isolation and its fateful replacement, the Continental Commitment. That is the comfortable view from our times. Apart from these British-centric reasons, a more powerful explanation comes in the form of the German threat and the unleashing of German power on and over the seas coincident with the events of August 1914. The course of events lay beyond the control of the British Empire once the British Cabinet made the fateful commitment to give an ultimatum to Germany that the independence of Belgium must be respected. A history of the great and tragic conflict that was the ruin of Europe and set in train a whole host of misery, death, revolution, and social and intellectual discord lies outside this book. The naval history of the First World War does not belong in these pages. However, once the dogs of war were unleashed, the Kaiser’s navy enjoyed great success before collapsing in revolution. It raided English towns, attacked British merchant shipping in distant seas, engaged the Grand Fleet at Jutland and nearly won, and mounted a formidable U-boat campaign that was so effective that in early 1917 the first sea lord, Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, held the view that the British could not hang on much longer — though a reversal of fortunes came with the introduction of convoys and the later assistance of US naval units. That time had marked the greatest peril faced by the British Empire.

Keywords

Slave Trade Falkland Island North Atlantic Treaty Organization British Empire Drone Strike 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Augustus Agar, Showing the Flag (London: Evans, 1962), 25–27.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Nicholas Mansergh, Survey of British Commonwealth Affairs: Problems of External Policy, 1931–1939 (London: Oxford University Press, 1952), 52–56.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Barry Hunt, “ Road to Washington: Canada and Empire Naval Defence, 1918–1921”, in James Boutilier, ed., The RCN in Retrospect, 1910–1968 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1982), 44–61, 350–352.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Ian H. Nish, The Anglo-Japanese Alliance (London: Athlone, 1968), 231.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    John Keay, Empire’s End: A History of the Far East from High Colonialism to Hong Kong (New York: Scribner, 1997), 74–84.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Jon Tetsuro Sumida, Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, and Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    For an introduction, see Jerry W. Jones, U.S. Battleship Operations in World War I (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1998); for discussions,Google Scholar
  8. see David Trask, Captains and Cabinets: Anglo-American Naval Relations, 1917–1918 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1972).Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    Quoted, Joseph P., Lash , Roosevelt and Churchill 1939–1941: The Partnership that Saved the West (New York: W.W. Norton, 1976), 34–35.Google Scholar
  10. 15.
    Speech of 5 September 1940. Quoted in Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Volume 2: Their Finest Hour (London: Cassell, 1949), 362.Google Scholar
  11. 19.
    W. Roger Louis, British Strategy in the Far East, 1919–1939 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), 260–267.Google Scholar
  12. 20.
    R. Backhouse to J. Sommerville, 5 December 1938, Adm. 1/9767. See also Stephen Roskill, Naval Policy between the Wars: Volume 2: The Period of Reluctant Rearmament (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1976), 432.Google Scholar
  13. 21.
    David Hobbs, The British Pacific Fleet: The Royal Navy’s Most Powerful Strike Force (Barnsley: Seaforth, 2011).Google Scholar
  14. 22.
    Stephen Roskill, The War at Sea, Vol. 3, Part 2 (London: HMSO, 1961), 383;Google Scholar
  15. G. Hermon Gill, Royal Australian Navy, 1942–1945 (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1968), 682–683.Google Scholar
  16. 23.
    Malcolm M. Murfett, Hostage on the Yangtze: Britain, China, and the Amethyst Crisis of 1949 (1991). In 1957 the story was told in the British film Yangtze Incident (issued in the United States as Battle Hill, Escape of the Amethyst and This Greatest Glory) with Richard Todd playing Lieutenant Commander Kerans.Google Scholar
  17. 27.
    Gregory Haines, Gunboats on the Great River (London: Macdonald and Jane’s, 1976), 48. The episode involving the loss of Peterel is given at 156–159. Re; standing orders, as of 1932, see ibid., 46–47.Google Scholar
  18. 30.
    Winston S. Churchill, Lord Randolph Churchill (new ed. London: Odhams, 1952), 12.Google Scholar
  19. 31.
    Simon Winchester, Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire (new ed., New York: Harper Perennial, 2004), 340–341.Google Scholar
  20. 34.
    F.A. Voight, Pax Britannica (London: Constable, 1949), 544–547. The author was former editor of the influential journal The Nineteenth Century and After.Google Scholar
  21. 35.
    Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (London: Unwin Hyman, 1988), 359.Google Scholar
  22. 37.
    Clark G. Reynolds, Command of the Sea: The History and Strategy of Maritime Empires (new ed. 2 vols: Malabar, Fla: Krieger, 1985), 2:546–547.Google Scholar
  23. 38.
    Wm. Roger Louis and Ronald Robinson, “The Imperialism of Decolonization”, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 22, 3 (September 1994), 462–511; see also Louis, “Dissolution of the British Empire”, Oxford History of the British Empire, 4 (1999): 330–331.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Barry Gough 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Gough

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations