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Continuity in the UK Defence Policy Since 1945

Overall, it is fair to say that the war brought many changes to Great Britain. The war economy peaked in 1943 when dozens of large military factories were operating in the country. Many civilian industries, including export ones, were reoriented to produce weapons and military equipment production. In 1943, the most significant amount of military equipment was made, and the highest level of mobilization in the field of human resources was achieved. From 1939 to 1945, the share of Great Britain in providing the countries of the empire with weapons was 69.5 % (Sweeney & Winn, 2021). During the Second World War, relatively high economic indicators were achieved in all areas of production. For this reason, in the defense policy of Britain after 1945, American scientists distinguish some elements of continuity.

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The first element of continuity in the defense policy of Great Britain since 1945 is the rivalry with the USSR. Together with the United States, the Atlee government continues the arms race, making it more acute. It takes the form of a cold war with the socialist camp countries and the conduct of an appropriate defense policy. This element of continuity in defense policy coincided entirely with the thoughts of Winston Churchill. He believed that the country of the Soviets was a genuine threat to them. He stated this during the Fulton speech in the United States. The former British leader’s Fulton speech was the first concentrated expression of a new geopolitical philosophy rapidly spreading among the Western political elite. The preservation of peace required the isolation of the enemy, the immediate start of the “cold war ” to avoid drawing the world into a “hot” war.

For Western countries, this meant unconditional recognition of the military-political sovereignty of the United States. Fulton’s speech also formulated the foundations of an interconnected Anglo-American foreign policy as a critical element of the West’s global strategy. British imperialism sought a comprehensive economic, political, and military alliance of the capitalist countries to fight the socialist camp and the national liberation forces. Thus, this led to the growth of the dependence of Great Britain itself on the United States and the appearance of American military bases on its territory. That can be distinguished as the next element of continuity in the UK’s defense policy.

The next element of continuity in the British defense policy after 1945 can be called the desire to preserve the British Empire. The end of the Second World War was followed by the active disintegration of the world imperialist colonial system, which also affected the largest British colonial empire. In the overseas possessions of Britain, a robust growth of the national liberation movement began, so the defense policy was primarily aimed at suppressing the uprising. Despite this, the former metropolis was still forced to grant India independence, dividing the united country along religious lines into India proper and Muslim Pakistan. Despite the relentless suppression of the national liberation movement in these regions, which was a vital continuity element of defense policy, Ceylon and Burma also gained independence. Having lost most of its colonies after the war, Great Britain received permanent representatives to the UN Security Council in return (Whitman, 2020). Due to the loss of the colonies, English imperialism was significantly weakened. However, in many of its former colonies, the kingdom retained significant political and economic influence, which, as before, was aimed at maintaining the defense policy of Great Britain.

The ruling party directed its defense policy in two directions. First, it tried to compete with the powerful, at that time, state of the USSR. She also did her best to preserve the former strength of the British Empire. In general, the defense policy was twofold: on the one hand, Great Britain tried to compete with the mighty Soviet Union at that time. On the other hand, it tried to preserve the former strength of the British Empire with all its might. Therefore, in defense policy, Great Britain had two main elements of continuity: a rivalry with the USSR and an attempt to preserve the British Empire.

References

Sweeney, S., & Winn, T. (2021). Do or die? The UK, the EU, and internal/external security cooperation after Brexit. European Political Science, 1(5), 1-18.

Whitman, R. G. (2020). Missing in action: The EU–UK foreign, security and defence policy relationship after Brexit. European View, 19(2), 222-229.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Continuity in the UK Defence Policy Since 1945'. 29 December.

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