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Britain’s Grand Strategy of Restrained Punishment


approved in 1921). In 1925, a one-power naval standard was adopted (Peden 1979, 6).

In 1933, the COS provided a detailed report of the existing de‹ciencies in the defenses of the empire. They argued that only from a position of strength could Britain negotiate with Germany, Japan, and Italy. The mil- itary recommended a large rearmament program, including the upward revision of the navy’s existing one-power standard to a two-power stan- dard, completion of a ‹fty-two squadron bomber and substantial reinforce- ments of the Fleet Air Arm, and an army expeditionary force to defend the Low Countries. In response to the free traders’ call for economy and reten- tion of the Ten Year Rules, proponents for higher defense spending argued that the danger of underrating Britain’s defense might lead to “defeat in war and complete destruction,” while the danger of overrating the nation’s ‹nancial resources could “only lead to severe embarrassment, heavy taxa- tion, lowering of the standard of living and reduction of social services” (Shay 1977, 201).

British naval men scorned the Washington and London Naval Confer- ences. Economic nationalists were determined that the country’s “lead” in disarmament should go no further. At the Washington Naval Conference, Britain accepted a one-power standard in battleships and established a naval holiday from battleship construction until 1936.21 As a result, the Admiralty was faced with scrapping twenty capital ships. At the London Naval Conference, delegates agreed to limit cruisers, destroyers, sub- marines, and smaller auxiliary ships. Because of these treaties, between 1923 and 1934 there could be rebuilding and re-equipping of the ›eet on only a minor scale. The military also called for greater imperial defense, including the construction of a naval base at Singapore. Singapore was selected as the site to defend Britain’s interests in the Far East. The Admi- ralty argued it was essential that Singapore be built up to defend itself dur- ing the six weeks it might take for the main ›eet to arrive.

Empire Organizations

Empire organizations such as the British Commonwealth Union, the Imperial Lobby, and the Empire Industries Association lobbied for imper- ial preferences, the importance of empire markets, and safeguarding home industries from foreign competition.22 They called for empire self- suf‹ciency in foodstuffs and committed Britain to tax empire goods less heavily than foreign goods. There were renewed calls for Britain and the other empire countries to admit empire products free or at lower rates

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