By P. Bell

This publication examines the position of Chamberlain and the nationwide govt in responding to the strategic difficulties created via the emergence of a two-front possibility from Germany and Japan. It specializes in the 1st defence specifications enquiry of 1933-4, while rearmament foundations have been laid and international coverage redefined. It explores the inter-relationship among different departments of nation, and among participants, within the formula of coverage at a time of trouble, and sheds mild at the debate approximately appeasement.

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Additional info for Chamberlain, Germany and Japan 1933-4: Redefining British Strategy in an Era of Imperial Decline

Sample text

Chamberlain's extensive influence, therefore, stemmed from circumstance and the sheer force of his own personality rather than the arrogance alleged by many; though he did bring to debate conviction and decisiveness. In view of criticisms made then and later about Chamberlain, it must be absolutely stressed that no other minister proposed viable alternative strategies for allocating scarce resources against two potential enemies. Although the Review was not officially under discussion at the Cabinet of 26 October, Chamberlain expressed awareness of the 'gravity of the Confronting the Two-Front Menace 23 situation' in the Far East as emphasised in the Review.

Japan's new attitude was revealed to the Commander in Chief of the China Station, Admiral Dreyer, on 29 September during a conversation with Araki. The Minister assured him of Japan's goodwill; despite the Alliance's demise, he said, 'all the same, England and Japan must continue to work together'. 22 The hopeful signs, however, could not entirely eliminate anxieties. There was no certainty the new attitude would last, or that her overtures were sincere. Her desistance from further expansion was not determined by a change of heart but by temporary preoccupation with other problems.

Anxieties about Nazi Germany were confirmed by Phipps on 31 January. The Ambassador detected a growing confidence that force would not be used against Germany; there was 'an ever growing conviction that the day is not so far distant when Germany can at last emerge safely into the open'. ' He urged 'a vigorous and united policy' as the sole method of impressing Hitler. 45 Foreign Office minutes on Phipps' report endorsed the goal of a united front, but doubted its practicability. Italian unreliability, French instability 40 Chamberlain, Germany and Japan and British weakness were all identified as obstacles.

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