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The Challenge of Hegemony

levels dictated under the Ten Year Rule. With the suspension of the Ten Year Rule, the military services began to make new demands for military expenditure. In response, in 1934, the Cabinet created the Defence Requirements Committee (DRC) with the goal of preparing a program for Britain’s rearmament “for meeting our worst de‹ciencies.”39

The DRC’s Three Reports

Between 1934 and 1935, the DRC issued three reports on Britain’s rear- mament program. Much of the early discussions in the DRC focused on a dispute over Britain’s priorities: whether the Continental or Far Eastern theater would receive priority. The navy favored the Far East, while the air force emphasized the dangers of an air threat from Germany, and the army called for the need for a Continental Field Force. The Foreign Of‹ce (Sir Robert Vansittart) and the Treasury (Sir Warren Fisher) argued that Ger- many posed the greatest threat. Maurice Hankey (the secretary to the CID) was convinced that Japan posed the long-term threat to Britain’s empire.The compromise reached by Hankey was that Japan posed the immediate threat and Germany the long-term threat.

In the initial stages, the DRC’s rearmament program was intended to remedy, by 1939, the worst de‹ciencies in the defense services that disar- mament and the Ten Year Rule had caused, while a longer period would be necessary to remedy all military de‹ciencies.40 According to the DRC’s First Report, in the Far East, the Navy would play the primary role, while the Army and Air Force would help defend ports and bases.41 To deal with Japan, the DRC called on Britain to modernize its old capital ships and to replace obsolete ones, and to build up Singapore’s defense by 1938 in order to demonstrate Britain’s commitment to the region, followed by a new attempt at diplomatic rapprochement with Tokyo.42 The Navy concurred that the most likely threat came from the capital ships of Japan, and not Germany, since the latter was building pocket battleships to raid British commerce (Peden 1979, 114–15). The Admiralty supported the principle of “showing a tooth” to demonstrate Britain’s readiness and capacity to send a suf‹cient ›eet to Singapore to prevent unreasonable Japanese action (Shay 1977, 33; Peden 1979, 110).

The DRC’s Third Report (1935) called for revising the navy’s existing one-power standard to a two-power standard (referred to as the New Stan- dard). The New Standard would ensure that the Royal Navy would be suf‹cient in size to send a ›eet to Singapore to meet the Japanese threat in the Far East, while maintaining a force in its home waters to defend

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