of the breaking up of the colonial empires are still far from clear to us. But even though we may still lack a true perspective on 'decolonization as history', we must in various ways work towards such a perspective. A closer analysis of dif- ferent aspects of the role of the military in the decolonization process and in the postcolonial development of the new states may here offer a contribution to our understanding both of history and perhaps also of things yet to come.
For such a macro-historical viewpoint, consult Geoffrey Barraclough, An Introduction to Contemporary History (Penguin: Baltimore 1968).
The novelist John Masters, in his autobiographic The Road past Mandalay describes in a colorful way (and with perhaps some poetic licence) the change in the wind that the termination of the Second World War was bringing to the colonial empires. Witnessing the Japanese collapse in Burma in early 1945 after the Meiktila battles, he saw the beginning of the race toward Rangoon by the British (and Indian) XIVth army: "This was the old Indian Army going down to the attack, for the last time in history, exactly two hundred and fifty years after the Honourable East India Com- pany had enlisted its first ten sepoys on the Coromandel Coast.... The Nehrus and the Gandhis and the Crippses talked in the high chambers of London and New Delhi; and certainly someone had to. But India stood at last independent, proud and incredibly generous to us, on these final battle- fields in the Burmese plain. It was all summed up in the voice of an Indian colonel of artillery. The Indian Army had not been allowed to possess any field artillery from the time of the Mutiny (1857) until just before the Sec- ond World War. Now, the Indian, bending close to an English colonel over a map, straightened and said with a smile, "O.K., George, thanks. I've got it. We'll take over all tasks at 1800. What about a beer?" (The Road past Mandalay, Bantam, New York 1961, pp. 278-279). Although the actual phrasing may differ from Ripling's "Recessional" from 1897, the message is the same: "The tumult and the shouting dies; / The captains and the kings depart...."
All other factors excluded it is worth observing that the real diehards among the colonial powers, Portugal and Spain, were also those powers not involved in the World Wars.
See, i.a., B.N. Pandey, The Break-up of British India (Macmillan/St. Mar- tin's Press, London/New York, 1969).
Quoted from Michael Edwardes, The Last Years of British India (Casell, London, 1963), p. 44.