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International and Commonwealth aspects of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, 1911-1922 Stipke, Ulrich Heinz

Abstract

The present international situation is characterized by the division of the World in two power blocs. The countries of the Western World have united themselves in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as the first effective large scale example of regional collective security in world history. The spiritual foundation of NATO is the idea of the Atlantic Anglo-American community based on mutual friendship and cooperation between Great Britain and the United States. But it was by no means certain that these two great powers of the Anglo-Saxon race should cooperate in close association with each other in world politics. After World War I, the British Empire found its world supremacy - undisputed so far – challenged by the potential and increasing strength of the United States. Great Britain had then to make her decision whether she was to antagonize the United States or to become her cooperative partner in international politics. The test-case was offered by the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. The global importance of this Alliance cannot be over-estimated. It was one of the strongest pillars of Britain's foreign policy, and contributed, to a substantial degree, to Japan's ascendancy in the Far East; it influenced decisively United States foreign policy immediately after 1919 - being to a large extent one of the deeper causes for the isolationist withdrawal of the United States from the system of international cooperation as established at the Paris Peace Conference -, and presented Great Britain with the decision to choose definitely-between Japan as Britain's ally in the Pacific and the realization of the Anglo-American Community. It is the purpose of this thesis to point out these implications of the Alliance on international politics, particularly during the crucial years from 1919 to 1922. An elucidation of the problem from the British aspect is all the more important because it reflects the change in the constitutional development within the British Commonwealth after World War I. Finally, Britain's foreign policy towards Japan in that short period sheds significant light on the British attitude towards the political development in the Far East during the Manchurian Crisis in the beginning of the 1930's. It furnished the key for understanding the British appeasement and flirtation with Japan as it became evident by Sir John Simon's policy in 1932.

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