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Singapore's Rise And Fall During World War II

British rearmament began in the mid-1930s following a build-up by the German Navy, and the scaled-back Singapore Naval Base opened in 1939, on the eve of the Second World War in the Pacific Theater. With the fall of ally France and the invasion of Italy on Ethiopia, the British high command faced a situation that exceeded their military strategists' worst nightmares. Meanwhile, Japan moved into southern IndoChina, while placing growing pressure on Thailand (McIntyre 165). British Prime Minister Churchill took it on faith that the U.S. would be an ally in any war involving Japan.

In the face of ever-increasing reliance on American economic and industrial assistance, British needed to share military intelligence information with the United States. Churchill called for joint Anglo-American planning and possible cooperation in Asia (Watson 114). In the British view, Singapore was critical to the defense of India, Australia and New Zealand. However, American interest in Asia, while substantial, was not as deep as Britain's.

If the defense of Singapore was of utmost importance to British strategy, American interests dictated a far different position. While Singapore was fundamental to maintaining Empire security, U.S. policy boiled down to a belief that, as important as the Island was in the Far East, America was not prepared to support Singapore at the expense of security in the Atlantic and Mediterranean regions.

The American position was propelled by the promise of raw materials of the Far East and the overt desire to avoid antagonizing Japan (McIntyre 103). Consequently, America's most valuable possession in the Far East, the Philippines, was written off as indefensible (Morton 87). While Churchill made repeated requests for the presence of the U.S. Asiatic fleet in Singapore during 1940, Roosevelt was embroiled in a presidential election year for an unprecedented third term in office. The bitterness of World War I a...

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Singapore's Rise And Fall During World War II. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:16, August 17, 2017, from
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