Preemptive British Militarism

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by MatthewB, Jun 1, 2019.

  1. thaddeus Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2014
    IDK about FIC, IF UK moves against Vichy there, so shortly after attacking the French fleet it might result in more expansive collaboration with Nazi regime?

    if they try to slam the window on the Japanese they have a naval war a year earlier? and/or Japan reconsiders a strike north against Soviets in '41 with chance the USSR defeated? (and they are facing a victorious Axis)
  2. michael1 Well-Known Member

    May 6, 2017
    So when you said the populace always preferred to join the navy than the army you were using hyerpole and actually meant sometimes? Plus, you used prize money as a reason, which is really only available in wars against wealthy countries, which is generally when the pressgang (suggesting a lack of desire to join the navy) was used.

    The British engaged in extensive missionary work in India up to the mutiny after which it was seen as leading to instability and abandoned. In any case the reason that native American religions and languages nearly disappeared is that the arrival of Europeans lead to the introduction of diseases against which the locals had no resistance and about 90% of them died. Given the shattering of their societies the failure of local religions and states to thrive is not surprising. Given there was no such mortality in India the survival of Hinduism and Islam in India is also unsurprising.

    All European countries preferred to minimise the cost of adminstration by employing loyal local agents, I'm not sure that the continued existence of the princely states proves the reason for the British empire was different from that of other European countries.
  3. WaterproofPotatoes #TeamMahan

    Jul 17, 2018
    The British Army (well, most regiments at least) offered a considerable recruiting bounty- by the 19th century, it was usually £23 10/6. There were a lot of people who would desert and re-enlist.
  4. Saint_007 The King Of Nothing

    Sep 17, 2011
    Pretty much. Hitler had left Vichy France as an Axis-aligned state, but with no active participation in the war. He later tore up the treaty he had with them when the Allies started turning the tide. There was really no need for the British to oppose the puppet state, since they clearly had little international power.

    While Vichy France nominally held control of French North Africa and Syria, they were either quickly used as German operating bases or seized by the allies. So yes, they did move against Vichy bases, but it was clear the Germans were doing most of the work. So it wasn't an action against the Vichy regime directly. At least until the fall of Madagascar.
  5. MickCz Well-Known Member

    Dec 23, 2013
    When you say "the British engaged in extensive missionary work in India" you presumably don't mean the British "state"? No doubt there were British missionaries...conversely some Britons resident in India converted to Islam.
    The British traders essentially picked over the dying Mughal Empire, dealing with the local rulers who wished to trade and seeking to replace those who wouldn't. The British state got interested when the Nobs.. (Nabobs ) went back to England and started throwing their colossal wealth around in conspicuous consumption. And got very interested when the mismanagement of private entreprise provoked the Mutiny....think US private "security " firms trying to "peacekeep" in the Middle East...
  6. michael1 Well-Known Member

    May 6, 2017
    That's right, missionary work was generally the responsibility of the church not the state for the British. The same was true for the Spanish and Portuguese I believe.
  7. MickCz Well-Known Member

    Dec 23, 2013
    The basic problem is...what is "an Empire" ?

    Some current historians do not view "the British Empire " as an Empire at all but an economic trade...enforced and protected by the Royal Navy. But an Empire as in spending State money on occupying and holding foreign thanks. Thus in South Africa after the second Boer War the Afrikaners were very quickly allowed to dominate....provided they didn't cause much trouble.
    Interestingly, Indian Independence was merely the replacement of one British ruling class by another...both Nehru and Jinnah were educated as barristers in London. They were essentially British ruling class by education, attitude...and ambition. Both succeeded in detaching their chosen areas from a dying "Empire ". They would have done well in the British East India Company...
  8. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    You are mixing me up with someone else.
  9. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    Now leaving aside controversies that, if they make no comparison to the after-1900 period, should be in another subforum, there is another aspect of the relevant period (1918-1939) to consider: the aversion to alliances.
    The alliance systems were widely seen as one of the causes for the cascading declarations of war in WWI. And many thought that the minor powers who got involved were those who fared worse. Even Romania, thanks to siding with the right side, was formidably rewarded in 1918, but had to pay for that with huge destruction and loss of lives.
    Belgium had not been in an alliance, it was a neutral - but, it had been covered by a treaty that amounted to a "guarantee". The result was it being turned in one of the main battlefields, with German Schrecklichkeit in the rear areas, to boot.
    Conversely, several other minor countries, such as Holland, the Scandinavian states, the usual Switzerland, had remained unscathed and fared relatively well.

    So the fad of the 1920s-30s was neutrality. ISTR a Belgian author that argued that without the mutual guarantees over his country, Belgium would have exited the war much less damaged.
    The default position for the new states was neutrality. Traditionally neutral states remained neutral. And Belgium (!!!) after having been allied with France, backtracked to neutrality. Invest in an independent army that, albeit small, will be costly to overcome even for a great power, and try to walk a fine line, appeasing here and there.

    For a peace-loving, cautious democracy that needs a robust casus belli to risk war, like Britain at this time, such a situation isn't conducive to interventionism. Sending troops to the continent because the Germans are annexing Austria? But Austria never wanted to be an ally of ours. How can we intervene?
    Grand Admiral Thrawn likes this.
  10. michael1 Well-Known Member

    May 6, 2017
  11. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2009
    They used the press gang because the navy wanted trained seamen, but the those men preferred the merchant service.
  12. TDM Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2018
    Trying to equate the UK invading France, Russia and Germany to the US/coalition invasion of or fighting in Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan etc is to fundamentally misunderstand the difference in scale of these conflicts.

    If nothing else what is the rest of the world going to be doing when the UK goes all psycho and like the "Roman Empire" leaving aside the fundamental difference in waging war in the C20th and the C1th (not that the Roman empire often acted like this even in their own context)

    As to your earlier point about HVIII and E1 as some kind of exemplars of British military might let off the leash and cowing the world vs. pre and post WW2 "pussies", I suggest to take a look at the history of both's external adventures in armed conflict
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  13. MatthewB Banned

    May 15, 2019
    Ontario, Canada
    The cost to the USA of its 18 year military invasion and adventure in the Middle East exceeds the scale of all US wars outside of WW2.
    • The U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers $5.9 trillion since they began in 2001.
    • The figure reflects the cost across the U.S. federal government since the price of war is not borne by the Defense Department alone.
    • The report also finds that more than 480,000 people have died from the wars and more than 244,000 civilians have been killed as a result of fighting. Additionally, another 10 million people have been displaced due to violence.
    That's a pretty big investment of manpower, lives and treasure that the USA is willing to spend in overseas wars, something Britain was never willing to undertake in defence of its empire.
  14. Kalga Yell's Shipyard

    Feb 27, 2014
    Somewhere over the madness
    Some things need to be considered:

    -are the costs adjusted for inflation and as a percentage of government spending?
    -tbf, most of the dead are from the opponents that the US were/are fighting, US causalities are relatively "light" (this is not to dismissive of death of US service personnel, but rather pointing out that things could be a lot more bloody)

    Oh and you want to talk about overseas fighting?
  15. TDM Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2018
    Your first line makes my point for me
    MatthewB likes this.
  16. Garrison Well-Known Member

    Feb 24, 2012
    Milton Keynes UK
    And here you totally misread the situation. The fundamental fear of the British was not that they would lose if there was another European war, but that even if they were technically on the winning side the only beneficiaries would be the outside powers, that is the USA and USSR. In this they were completely correct, in the aftermath of WWII the USA and the USSR became the dominant global powers and Britain was reduced to 2nd class status. The fundamental issue is less a lack of aggression than a failure to understand that Adolf Hitler saw the world completely differently, seeing war not as a disaster to be avoided but as the crucible in which the Aryan race would be purified and prove its superiority. This lead to appeasement going on far past the point where it should have been abandoned as a failure, that point being the idiocy at Munich.

    Japan in turn was a nation that wasn't taken seriously as a threat by any of the major players, and again if it had been headed by any sort of reasonable government this would have correct. Japan ended up launching a war against the USA and Great Britain with no clear idea how to achieve victory beyond one or both of its enemies running up the white flag because they didn't have the will to fight.
  17. Saint_007 The King Of Nothing

    Sep 17, 2011
    I'd say that's the biggest problem people had when dealing with Hitler. People thought he was a sane, rational leader willing to work within the constraints of current geopolitics; contain communism, try and rebuild from the last war and avoid losing it all to the USA and USSR, etc... Problem was, he wasn't exactly a savvy politician, but a clever demagogue who lucked his way into power and was now working hard to make his insane vision come true. Most countries handle politics like business. They didn't realize the ones commanding Germany weren't logical people, so when they tried logic and appeasement, it ended badly.

    Of course, that leads to the flip side of the argument. When Germany started strongarming other countries, it eventually triggered a war that ended up costing the Germans everything. The downside of constantly acting tough is that some day, someone bigger than you will be calling your bluff. Or at least someone who can seriously make you bleed.
  18. Jellico Well-Known Member

    Dec 14, 2017
    I think we can make the argument that the Romans were following the traders too. It is probably a prerequisite to having an Empire that lasts longer than one highly successful warlord.
    Garrison likes this.
  19. Michele Well-Known Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    Sorry to disagree. Sizable parts of the Roman hegemony became that because of highly successful warlords. The weirdness there is that during the Republican era, the warlord was not an emperor, wanting to enlarge his own domains. He was a patrician wanting popularity, booty for his soldiers (who would then be faithful to him personally), a triumph to show what an exceptional general he was, and new provinces for his friends to govern (and pluck).
    In a way, the military victories and attendant conquests were part of the process of turning the republic into an empire, not a consequence of an imperial thrust.
    Ian_W likes this.
  20. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Aug 2, 2015
    I'm going to put my hand up to defend Chamberlain here.

    In 1938, the British Army didn't put it's hand up to fight. Neither did the RN. Nor the Poles. Nor the French. And the RAF wasn't ready.

    The Americans were several years away.

    And the Czechs ? At the end of the day, they surrendered without a fight.

    Appeasement wasn't a mistake. It bought enough time for the Spitfire and Hurricane to be ready.
    MickCz and Michele like this.