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    Posted: 02-Apr-2009 at 20:01

According to Sidney Pollard, Britain borrowed some £1,365 million from USA and Canada during WWI. At the same time, however, she lent some £ 1741 million to her allies, notably France, Russia and Italy.

Why is it, then, that the British "debt burden" is commonly attributed to WWI? That it is often marked as an end to her role as a "banker of the world"? I would assume some of the answer to be that the borrowers, notably Russia and Italy, did not pay up. But do you know anything about this, or have any literature to recommend?

Thanks!
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Apr-2009 at 23:28
Great Britain also wound up in debt to her Dominions and to important dependencies such as India.  As these were far more important politically than those other non-Anglo states you mentioned, it was both more important, and more agreeable to make what accomodations Britain could to ease the debt burden with long term friends.
 
The "Socialist Order" in the Soviet Union repudiated Czarist debts for obvious reasons.  They didn't worry about that stuff until they had their own debts.
 
After WW I, Italy was an economic basket case with an emigrating population.
 
France "gives nothing; takes all."  at least according to Churchill  Smile.  However, I don't know enough about the post WW I inter-government debt situation between Britain and France.
 
Britain may have seen the end drawing near after WW I, but Great Britain was really essentially bankrupted by the Second World War.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Apr-2009 at 13:53
WW1 undoubtedly symbolises the beginning of the end for Britain's economic dominance, but in 1918 it was still a wealthy country compared to pretty well anyone else including the US, and it still was come 1939.
 
The end of the era is probably best marked by the Bretton Woods agreements of 1944, in which only dollars and gold - not sterling - played specific roles as world currencies.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote winningstad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Apr-2009 at 14:44
Thank you for some good answers.

My essay is about WWI´s role in British decline as a world power. So far it strikes me that the notion of WWI as a turning point in this resepect is slightly exaggerated (unless you see WWII as a causal result of WWI, but that kind of reasoning is a bit too contrafactual for my taste). As you pointed out Britain remained economically dominant, and held on to the empire until WW2. And militarily WWI left the continental rivals in a shambles. 

Some have argued that the mobilization of colonial troops spurred nationalism in the empire and thus contributed to decolonization later on. While that may be true, it does not strike me as the most important variable. 

What do you think? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Apr-2009 at 18:41
With regard to the use of Imperial troops, it's important that in 1914-1918 South Africa was resolutely pro-British, despite the legacy of the Boer War. In Africa in general Germany was a much more opporessive colonial occupier than the British, which also affected attitudes.
 
On the other hand it might be worth looking at Gallipoli, the sad story of which led to some anti-motherland feeling in Australia in particular.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Apr-2009 at 20:16
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

In Africa in general Germany was a much more opporessive colonial occupier than the British, which also affected attitudes.


are you kidding me? have you ever been to those colonies and asked those people?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Apr-2009 at 11:53
Even I am not that old.
 
I've talked to the children of such people, though in England, not out there. I'm thinking particularly of West Africans (I was pretty active with the pre-independence activists in London in the '50s) and their memories from their parents about Togoland.
 
I'd agree though that the German government adopted a reform program in the last few years before 1914 in East Africa which improved the situation. It's probably also true that the situation was in general better when the African territories became official Crown colonies rather than, in effect, private enterprises.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Apr-2009 at 19:02
particularly Togo was one of the most developed parts of Africa, but i've never met Togans. however Germans are today more liked than English in Namibia and Tanzania even though there were uprisings in both countries.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote winningstad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Apr-2009 at 20:02
How do you think WWI affected Britain´s relative position in the world - military wise? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Apr-2009 at 12:26
Military-wise it didn't make too much difference. However, the US had moved way up, especially at sea, and Germany had moved way down.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote winningstad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2009 at 00:32
That would be my impression too. 

America´s ascendancy as a military power was inevitable anyway. And I guess in terms of their global involvement Pearl Hearbor was probably more important:) 

Thanks anyway, maybe I´ll put my essay up here for review once it´s done? :) 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2009 at 11:38
And for the time being anyway Japan had probably displaced Russia in its position in the military power rankings.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2009 at 19:37
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

And for the time being anyway Japan had probably displaced Russia in its position in the military power rankings.


in which time period?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2009 at 19:51
1917-1942
The Germans also take vacations in Paris; especially during the periods they call "blitzkrieg".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Apr-2009 at 22:15
not at all, in what way was Japan ahead of Soviet Union? in world politics yes, militarically not in a longshot.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 11:21
Actually the question referred to the end of WW1, so much more specifically 1918 and up to say the Washington disarmament conference of 1922. No-one even bothered to invite the Soviet Union, the guest list being limited to the major powers Britain, the US, Japan, France and Italy.
 
Not only was the Soviet navy effectively dead, its army had hardly distinguished itself even against only Poland.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 11:33
Are we seriously going to argue that post WWI Italy was more of a major player on the world stage than infantile Soviet Russia just because they were invited to a conference?
It is not the challenges a people face which define who they are, but rather the way in which they respond to those challenges.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 11:52
The argument was that they had a bigger navy and army.
 
Nevertheless if you're not invited to a major disarmament conference you're hardly any kind of 'player on the world stage' at all.
 
However the question (Winningstad's post of April 12) did not ask who was the bigger 'player on the world stage' but specifically referred to military standing (which I assume included naval).
 
As a matter of fact I'm pretty sure the intelligence departments of the powers involved had a much clearer idea of the military strengths of the powers at the time than anyone has now.
 
We're not talking about potential, or economic strength or size. China was also a negligible consideration militarily at the end of ww1. The Soviet Union at the time was even weaker than Russia had been before 1914, when they had been decisively beaten by the Japanese.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 12:05
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

The argument was that they had a bigger navy and army.
 
Nevertheless if you're not invited to a major disarmament conference you're hardly any kind of 'player on the world stage' at all.
 
However the question (Winningstad's post of April 12) did not ask who was the bigger 'player on the world stage' but specifically referred to military standing (which I assume included naval).
 
As a matter of fact I'm pretty sure the intelligence departments of the powers involved had a much clearer idea of the military strengths of the powers at the time than anyone has now.
 
We're not talking about potential, or economic strength or size. China was also a negligible consideration militarily at the end of ww1. The Soviet Union at the time was even weaker than Russia had been before 1914, when they had been decisively beaten by the Japanese.


There was also the fact that they had just finished intervening in the Russian Civil War, and that inviting the Russians to a disarmament conference right after that would have been a laughable thing to do.

The Soviets, despite their power, were not invited to participate in the Munich Agreement either. This was motivated by the Allies' hostility towards Bolshevism and desire to isolate this nascent state, not a disregard for their military power/potential.


Edited by Constantine XI - 15-Apr-2009 at 12:09
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 16:59
the Washington Naval Conference was of course only attended by Naval Powers, and even if the Soviet Union had been one it wasn't invited for being evil Communist. the Polish victory is significantly overplayed considdering the Soviet Union/Russia was still in it's own Civil War at the time and fought numerous other independence movements all over the place with a completely new untrained army short of experienced officers. however it was the Soviet Union who had second most tanks, ACs and ATs behind Britain but ahead of Italy in the inter-war period.
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