• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Did the Suez Crisis hasten the end of the British Empire?

Extracts from this document...


Did the Suez Crisis hasten the end of the British Empire? The Suez crisis did not hasten the end of the British Empire; it was more of an effect rather than cause of decline. Carlton argues that since Britain only had an average sized population and the corresponding economic strength her overseas territories had caused her to overstretch and over-commit herself from the end of the First World War. Hence one can argue that retreat from empire and fall from her position as a global superpower to that of a medium global power by the 1980s was inevitable and unavoidable. 'Suez, on this view, was a rather dramatic hiccup in a generally well managed transition.'1 This is the point of view that I would agree with when considering the affect of the Suez crisis. However, one must also acknowledge that for some Suez did hasten the end of the British Empire and it was a watershed marking a significant change in direction in Britain's imperial foreign policy. This viewpoint must also be discussed and evaluated. Moving away from just focusing on the effects of Suez one must also discuss the other factors and causes of decolonisation, including the established nationalist, international and metropolitan explanations and how they were represented in the Suez crisis. Firstly I will look at the arguments supporting the opinion that Suez did hasten the end of the British Empire to which Lapping is an advocate. ...read more.


in the turbulent wake of superpowers.'10 Britain also found that in the new atomic age the alternative prospect of having nuclear greatness seemed to be more tempting than possessing a vast empire, and a nuclear capability would move her nearer to being on par with the superpowers. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were anti-colonial in their outlook and ideas of self-determination for all people, stemming from Wilson's Fourteen Points, the covenant of the League of Nations, the Atlantic Charter and the charter of the United Nations, created a climate which made the possession of colonial territories seem intolerable. The United Nations also played a role in decolonisation since the newly independent nations, such as India and Sri Lanka, used the U. N. as a platform to isolate and embarrass the old colonial powers. As a result the U. N. passed the, 'Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,'11 which in effect made colonial rule a denial of fundamental human rights. Given such dramatic changes in international relations after the war the dissolution of empire can appear to be natural and inevitable with or without the Suez Crisis. The third factor to consider is the metropolitan or domestic pressures that Britain faced concerning decolonisation. Springhall argues that the ultimate decision of whether to pull out of colony lay with the British government and it had to take into account how important it was to maintain an empire in the light of the post-war economic situation and other domestic pressures. ...read more.


It did not create a revulsion against empire at home,' and, 'it did not destroy the will or ability of British governments to intervene to protect other British interests.'18 The real impact of Suez was more subtle and it reinforced the domestic and external constraints on British policy as well as highlighting the new pressures exerted on Britain which were derived from possession of an empire. I would tend to argue that Suez did not hasten the end of the British Empire, and that Suez was just part of the general process of decolonisation. One should take into account the domestic constraints that Britain was under to withdraw from Empire and at the same time the international and colonial-nationalist pressures to retreat from Empire became more intense. Consequently Britain had a plethora of causes for withdrawing from her empire and it was the combination of these causes that brought about the end of Empire. Suez was just one of these many causes. Finally, one can argue that the British Empire was never a fixed or static political entity and it had constantly expanded and contracted throughout its history and so one can argue that it was more of a natural or instinctive response by the British to make its imperial possessions more autonomous or grant independence in the post-war period. One can surely see now that the end of the British Empire was a rather natural process and I would have to agree with Carlton when he says that, 'Suez was a rather dramatic hiccup in a generally well-managed transition. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Ancient History section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

5 star(s)

This is a well researched and thorough response that display good understanding of the historiography and often uses clear examples and evidence to engage with historians. However, the author has taken a narrow view of the question and focused on Suez' effect on the empire, at the expense of other consequences such as the impact on Anglo-American relations.

Marked by teacher Natalya Luck 14/03/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Ancient History essays

  1. Discuss how Tennyson has presented the Victorian age/spirit in Ulysses.

    about man's nature and destiny were increasingly called into questions; it dealt with them, moreover, as the intimate personal problems of a sensitive and troubled individual inclined to melancholy.

  2. Genghis Khan's most significant contribution to the Mongol empire was the creation of a ...

    Skillful Mongol weavers wove colorful cloths, which was used in burials in the West or were used to decorate holy places such as the church. Mongol textiles reached as far as Western Europe and were used for the burial of an Italian bishop and were even mentioned in the writings of Chaucer, an English poet of medieval England.

  1. Was the Fall of the Roman Republic inevitable?

    Gracchus had broken with tradition and angered the senate who employed tactics to stop him. A political tennis match of vetoes and laws ensued but bloodily ended with the senate accusing Grachuss of aspiring to one man rule or regnum.

  2. Free essay

    How did the use of Mercenaries contribute to the decline of the Greek citizen-soldier ...

    For instance, employers provided their soldiers with food while it was common for new recruits to be given an initial signing-up fee (Trundle 2004: 84, 91); recruits who showed bravery and fitness were rewarded (Trundle 2004: 97). However, the vast numbers that entered mercenary service must surely mean there were other motives (Trundle 2004: 41-2).

  1. What are the strengths an weaknesses of Herodtus' account of the Persian wars?

    This is supported by the classical writers Sallust and Cicero who alluded to the fact that "the fame of any age is only as great as the skill of the historian who chronicles it"4.

  2. To what extent was the elimination of heresy achieved at the expense of personal ...

    Thus, the Inquisition had already been used throughout the reigns of the 'Catholic Monarchs', Ferdinand and Isabella. Many personal and social freedoms had already been lost during their reign. These earlier reforms mitigated the effects of Charles' subsequent actions. Kamen supports this idea, as he believes that the Inquisition had

  1. Duane W. Roller's "Cleopatra: A Biography" Book Review

    He quickly adopts a fairly formal writing style, including several references to specific years and fitting numerous facts onto one page. The dramatized myths which so often are associated today with Cleopatra seem absent. In fact, to a general reader, the consistent mention of years and similarly named members of

  2. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire with Regards to its Economics.

    After Constantine II?s victory over Magnentius he ordered his subjects to, ?close the temples and abstain from sacrifice under pain of death; moreover the same penalty was to be applied to the governors of the provinces if they neglected

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work