The years from 1934 to 1937 were a time during which the British Empire was confronted with the emergence of the triple threat of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy. The goal of British policy was easily defined: the protection and promotion of Britain's vast interests. While Neville Chamberlain and Sir Robert Vansittart agreed on the goal, they disagreed on the means to achieve it. Their disagreement stemmed partly from their different understandings of the nature of the Third Reich; Vansittart understood better than Chamberlain the implications of Hitler's Weltanschauung. But their different strategies also reflected the fact that Chamberlain did not share Vansittart's belief in the necessity of pursuing alliance diplomacy to protect the world-wide security and interests of the British Empire. While the prime minister realized that Britain's problems were global in scope, he thought Britain could solve each problem on a bilateral basis. In other words, Britain should approach Germany, Japan, and Italy directly to settle outstanding disputes. Vansittart did not believe, however, that Britain's problems could be solved on a bilateral basis, for the interdependence of events in every region of the globe militated against bilateral solutions.
About the Author:
MICHAEL L. ROI is a Sessional Lecturer at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. /e