Containment Through Reform

The Breakdown of Allied Cooperation and the Resumption of the Cold War

Britain’s alliance with the Soviet Union during the Second World War was one dictated by a common enemy. It was a detente of sorts between two ideologically opposed imperial rivals. With the breakdown of Allied cooperation soon after the war, Cold War tensions returned, intensified by the introduction of nuclear weapons, US interventionism, and Soviet- dominated cultural warfare. Examined here in Part II, these issues were thus incorporated into the imperial conflict. In Cyprus, for example, AKEL combined its enosis campaign against British colonialism with its peace campaign against Anglo-American nuclear warmongering. In Hong Kong, while avoiding antagonizing the colonial government, the CCP continued to expand its influence in the cultural fronts of education and labour.

In this new geopolitical context, British policy-makers found the empire to be both an invaluable asset and a costly weakness. On the one hand, the empire was Britain’s main (if not only) claim to great power after the devastation of the Second World War. Its global reach allowed the assertion of some autonomy, despite the country’s economic dependence on US support. On the other hand, in a war of rival imperialisms, Britain’s formal colonialism was no match for the anti-colonial neo-colonialism of the Soviet Union. As this section will argue, policy-makers thus sought to reform British colonial rule, not only to pacify local discontent but also to contain Soviet imperialism. In the Cold War, these two threats © The Author(s) 2017

C. Sutton, Britain’s Cold War in Cyprus and Hong Kong, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-33491-2_6

were interlinked, as the latter thrived on the former. In Cyprus and Hong Kong, however, London’s ‘new deals’ failed to curb communist activities, and the governments abandoned reform for repression.

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