After the end of the Second World War in which, to Britain, it was nearly a repeat of the First World War that Britain had experienced the same things as the aftermaths. The war put severe strains on her economic resources as well as the undermining of her export markets. Even though Britain had won the war, the impacts on Britain afterwards were not always positive, in that, as everyone know, war created tragedy. It did not make any good to anybody, even the winner. The victors also had to spend expenditures on reconstructing the destructive infrastructures.
Money was not the only main factor that was primarily used to rearrange the whole society, but it took time as well. After the war, a certain country may have to lose something she did not intended to like in case of the Britain that though she won the Second World War, unexpectedly, she had to give freedom to her colonials. Why was that? As a result of a war, as I have mentioned, it definitely created a huge negative impact on a certain country as in this case of the Britain, a post war condition was so bad that some of the right-wing historians have condemned the whole war effort as inefficient and as a major cause to responsible for an upcoming subsequent British economic. (web) After the discontinue of the World War II, the Britain succumbed to an illusion that she could remain in a status of one of the world's greatest superpowers, because at that time, she still possessed a huge empire as well as a fairly good relationship with the United States of America, a country that always achieved a status of the world's superpower.
Both of these countries were also shared a good partnership in the Cold War as well. As a consequence, Britain still considered herself as one of the major countries that can influence the world affair as Ernest Bevin, the Foreign Secretary of Britain after 1945, did. His purpose was to remain Britain as one of the three major powers like the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: Ernest Bevin was prepared to strain the British economy to breaking point. By 1950 Britain still had an army of 900, 000 men, something unheard of in peacetime, and she spent 14 per cent of her gross national product on defense (Pugh, 1999: 220) However, because of the fact that the Britain did not have enough efficient resources when comparing to other two major powers that made Bevin's intention proved to be a vain endeavour. The British economy, as a consequence of a war, was burdened by debts and lost markets.
Furthermore, also because of her failings in investment and productivity in the 1950 s that led her to the economic breakdown and being overtaken by other west European economies. Consequently, after the 1960 s, it was necessary for the Britain to re-adjust her view of her role and status in the world that she was no longer one of the world's greatest superpowers, but only no more than a middle ranking power. (Pugh, 1999: 220) Therefore, Britain had to do something in order to maintain her status as a superpower, or else, not only a middle ranking country like she was at that time. One of many things that the British Empire had done was called "decolonization." According to Judd: Decolonization was an adaptation rather than abolition to Britain to disband the empire and disengage from the commonwealth.
(Judd, 1996: 4) Decolonization seemed to be the best way for Britain to save an unreasonable expense on her subordinated colonies, because during that time Britain was in an intense economic crisis and that she ought to cut as much expenditure as possible in order for the British citizens to use domestically. The war had affected the Britain so much that the government expenditure rose from 1. 4 million pounds in 1939-1940 to 6. 1 million pounds by 1944-1945, in which much of them were paid for by higher income tax, which increased from 25 per cent up to 50 per cent (Pugh, 1999: 208). Other than that, as a result of the "Lend Lease" agreements from the United States that assisted Britain in financial, Britain was in higher debts due to the fact that all her reserves of gold, dollars and overseas investment had terribly decreasing. At this time, Britain was in such a stunning period because when considering on the debt she had owed, it had risen up from 500 million pounds to 3500 million pounds, which may be a non-repayable amount of money Britain could compensate.
(web) The reason why Britain started to decolonize was because she started to realize that having too many colonies was not beneficial to the country but created drawbacks instead. It was disastrous because it overstretched the resources of the country so perilously, because instead of wasting more than 2. 5 million troops rallying in India, they should better stay in their motherland to defense their beloved country. In this case, India became a major liability to Britain.
(web) Therefore, Britain started to withdraw troop from the colonized countries and began giving them freedom but not completely, for example, in Jamaica, the Jamaicans were given adult suffrage and later on, these promises of self-government were extended to Malta and Ceylon. (Loue, 1984: 108) Focusing on one of the most important British colony, India, it was so important that once Lord Curzon had declared "If we lose India, we will fall straight away out of the ranks of the great powers" (Pugh, 1999: 221). India was so important to Britain in that it was a land, which full of natural resources as well as it worked like a trade door that open a trade route between Britain and the Asian countries. Though the British did not want to release India to be an independent country due to the fact that they might lose some primary natural resources, which they can easily find in India such as cotton, because of the widespread conflict within India between Muslims and Hindus, which began to make the country ungovernable (Carrington, 1968: 157). Fortunately that the loss of India did not result in a sudden collapse of the rest of the Empire, but they were constant until the 1960 s.
Another event that forced Britain to do colonization was a Suez Crisis. Suez canal was one of the main shipping routes for Britain to reach Africa. But from the event that Israel wanted to nationalize this canal that anger and unpleased Britain so much that she wanted to possess the canal without losing it and tried to do everything she can in order to preserve it: Eden claimed that British trade would be risk if Egypt controlled the canal. His policy reflected the irrational and emotional attitude adopted by the British towards the canal; they saw it as peculiarly their property and ignored the fact that many nations had the same interest in maintaining the flow of commerce. In collaboration with France and Israel, Eden provoked massive speculation against the pound, and when the American government refused to support the British currency, Eden was forced into a humiliating withdrawal. (Pugh, 1999: 224) The Suez Crisis was significant because it accelerated the trends towards decolonization and that it had an indirect effect on the decolonization as well.
Once Harold McMillan became in power, he rapidly decolonized many areas: In 1959, McMillan transformed British policy. He abandoned trusteeship and began to grant independence to the colonies almost regardless of whether they were prepared for it. Altogether 27 territories were lost between 1960 and 1969, so that by the mid-1927 s all that remained of a once great empire was a scattering of islands in the Pacific and Latin America, in addition to Hong Kong, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands. (Pugh, 1999: 224) It was acceptable that the reasons why the Britain released those small countries to experience freedom was because Britain did not see the point of keeping them as the inferior subordinates that, in fact, should create some beneficial to the superior. Consequently, the countries like Sudan, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, and Ceylon etc.
, which could not provide Britain the natural resources as she intended to get from. Another reason why those countries get decolonized was because of the Atlantic Charter Act that was created by the Big Three after the success fulness in winning the Second World War. This act declared the right of self-determination for all countries. The results of this action were seen quickly in Asia, where India and Pakistan gained independence in 1947, and Ceylon and Burma in 1948. (Marshall, 1996: 78) Moreover, another reason why decolonization occurred was because British had already thrown away the old notion of British Empire and increasingly started moving toward economic integration with Europe as well as the rest of the world as during the time of Harold McMillan.
His administration proceeded prudently and enabled to handle with the inevitability of rapid decolonization. In 1960, the Prime Minister, during a tour of various territories in Africa, even provided so philosophical underpinning to the process of imperial disintegration. The first British premier in office ever to see at first hand a continent within, which his country remained the predominant colonial power, he told a gathering of white parliamentarians in Cape Town that: Ever since the breakup of the Roman Empire, one of the most constant facts of political life in Europe has been the emergence if Independent nations... all have been inspired with a keen feeling of nationalism, which has grown as the nation has grown. In the twentieth century, an especially since the end of war, the processes which gave birth to the nation-state of Europe have been repeated all over the world. We have seen the awakening of national consciousness in peoples who have lived for centuries in dependence on some other powers.
Fifteen years ago, this movement spread through Asia. Many countries there of different races and civilizations pressed their claims to an independent national life. Today the same thing is happening in Africa. The most striking of all the impression I have formed since I left London a month ago if pf the strength of this African national consciousness. In different places, in many different forms, but it is happening everywhere - the wind of change is blowing through the continent. (Judd, 1996: 367-368) This speech of McMillan really shocked the citizens in that from the past, a certain country used to concern about territory or empire, but not regarding about giving the others independence like that.
Therefore McMillan's Wind of Change speech served as an announcement of a programme of decolonization. In conclusion, decolonization was like a program that being used by the Britain because of many reasons I have mentioned earlier, but in my perspective, the most important reason for Britain to decolonize was because she had to cut the non-important expenditure out because she had to spend that amount of money to improve domestically. Furthermore, during the peaceful time right after the war, it was not necessary to have such a huge military like the British did. It was right for them to cut that welfare on military and using it in economic stage.
In order to become the world's superpower, military is not the only main factor, but that country should balance the potential of herself in order to maintain or develop to achieve the status of superpower References: Carrington, C. E. , The British Overseas, Cambridge at the University Press. , 1968. Judd, D. , Empire; The British Imperial Experience From 1765 - The Present, Harper Collins Ltd.
, 1996. Loue, N. , Mastering Modern British History, Southampton, McMillan Education Ltd. , 1984.
Marshall, P. J. , British Empire, Cambridge University Press. , 1996 web (Date: 29 th April 2002) web (Date: 29 th April 2002) web (Date: 29 th April 2002) web (Date: 29 th April 2002) web (Date: 29 th April 2002).