Sunday 5 October 2014

Franco-British Empire - Alternative History

What would have happened if the French and British had combined forces after world war II? It isn't as far fetched as it sounds.

I believe that a combined Franco-British empire with American financial support could have staved off decolonisation and communism whilst maintaining peace and stability in the middle east and, more importantly its colonies would now be independent healthy, wealthy, well-educated countries instead of the poverty, war and corruption ridden wastelands that has been left behind after the departure of empire.
The sun never seats on the Franco-British Empire

A Franco-Anglican union was first proposed during World War II, to try and keep the French fighting the Germans.

Anyway why didn't it happen? Here's the first attempt - WWII:

They first tried to combine when the Germans took Paris in WWII, de Gaul loved the idea. But the French under Pétain decided Vichy France was a better proposition.

Churchill and de Gaul loved the idea

Reynaud supporter Charles de Gaulle had arrived in London earlier that day, however, and Monnet told him about the proposed union.[1] De Gaulle convinced Churchill that "some dramatic move was essential to give Reynaud the support which he needed to keep his Government in the war".[2] 
The final "Declaration of union" approved by the British War Cabinet stated that[1]
France and Great Britain shall no longer be two nations, but one Franco-British Union. The constitution of the Union will provide for joint organs of defence, foreign, financial and economic policies. Every citizen of France will enjoy immediately citizenship of Great Britain, every British subject will become a citizen of France.
However not all French agreed, leading to a German controlled Vichy France winning out:

Other French leaders were less enthusiastic, however. At the 5 p.m. cabinet meeting, many called it a British "last minute plan" to steal its colonies, and said that "be[ing] a Nazi province" was preferable to becoming a British dominionPhilippe Pétain, a leader of the pro-armistice group, called union "fusion with a corpse". While President Albert Lebrun and some others were supportive, the cabinet's opposition stunned Reynaud. He resigned that evening without taking a formal vote on the union or an armistice, and later called the failure of the union the "greatest disappointment of my political career".[1]

Second attempt - The Suez crisis (1956)

The second attempt was during the Suez crisis, when the British and French combined forces to take back the Suez canal from Egypt, but Eisenhower pulled the plug on it by threatening the withdrawal of American loans to Britain. This lead to the end of the British and French empires.

Before decolonisation commenced everything came to a head at Suez in 1956. The Suez crisis occurred when Egyptian president Nasser nationalised the Suez canal. Without the revenue stream of the canal as well as the subsidised shipping tariffs the British Empire was doomed. So the French and British hatched a plan to take back the canal with Britain's middle eastern proxy force, Israel, contributing most of the man power.

In September 1956, due to a common foe during the Suez Crisis, an Anglo-French Task Force was created. French Prime Minister Guy Mollet proposed a union between the United Kingdom and the French Union with Elizabeth II as head of state and a common citizenship. As an alternative, Mollet proposed that France join the Commonwealth. British Prime Minister Anthony Eden rejected both proposals and France went on to join the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community and strengthened the Franco-German cooperation.[3][4]

British and French attach Egypt to 'liberate' the Suez canal.
Israel provided most of the manpower

Why didn't it happen? Britain was heavily in debt to the USA. Eisenhower was worried that Eisenhower Soviets would gain the upper hand in the middle east if he didn't reign the Franco-British-Israeli axis in. Eisenhower threatened to recall American financial aid to the British that was being used to rebuild Britain's economy after WWII devastation if they did not immediately pull out of Egypt. His main concern was that the Arabs would side with the Russians in the cold war if he didn't reign in 'the western imperialists'. 
Richard Nixon wrote in the 1980s, “I talked to Eisenhower about Suez;
he told me it was his major foreign policy mistake.”

Face with Eisenhower's financial aid threat, the English wimped out and the French instead cozied up to the Germans, signing the Treaty of Rome in 1957 which lead to the eventual creation of a German dominated European Union. Britain on the other hand has been in a state of decline ever since.

Wait a minute, Israel was a British pawn??

YES. See the state of Israel owed its existence to the British wanting manpower to defend the Suez canal.. that was the main reason for the Balfor declaration.. but you wont hear about that in History class:
I myself had not previously thought of Zionism as much more than a sentimental fantasy. But Sykes soon persuaded me that, from the purely British point of view, a prosperous Jewish population in Palestine, owning its inception and its opportunity of development to British policy, might be an invaluable asset as a defence of the Suez Canal against attack from the north and as a station on the future air routes to the east....
Amery had entered a similar thought into his diary on July 26, 1928: "Our ultimate end is clearly to make Palestine the centre of a western influence, using the Jews as we have used the Scots, to carry the English ideal through the Middle East and not merely to make an artificial oriental Hebrew enclave in an oriental country."

Third and final attempt, before the treaty of Rome: 'Plan G' Inviting Europe to join the British Commonwealth

At a time when Germany and France, together with Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, were planning for what later became the European Union, and newly independent African countries were joining the Commonwealth, new ideas were floated to prevent Britain from becoming isolated in economic affairs. British trade with the Commonwealth was four times larger than trade with Europe. The British government under Prime Minister Anthony Eden considered in 1956-57 a "plan G" to create a European free trade zone while also protecting the favoured status of the Commonwealth.[19][20][21] Britain also considered inviting Scandinavian and other European countries to join the Commonwealth so it would become a major economic common market. At one point in October 1956 Eden and French Prime Minister Guy Mollet discussed having France join the Commonwealth. Nothing came of any of the proposals.[22]

What could a Franco-British Empire have achieved?

  • Prevention of decolonisation of British & French Empires. A combined British and French war machine controlling the Suez canal and financially supported by the Americans could have held nationalist movements and communists in check, preventing the need to decolonise. 
  • Former British colonies would have been better off: The British always planned to give colonies dominion status once they reached a level of political and economic development. If you look at what happened to British colonies once they left the empire, war and poverty overcame most.
  • Prevention of French military defeat to in its former colonies. The British had already defeated an insurgency in Indo-China during the Malayan emergency. Their help in south east asia probably would have helped turn the tied against the communists in the Vietnam war. The same goes for Algeria.
  • Prevention of German political and financial takeover of Europe.  After Suez, French plans for Union with Britain were dashed as was plan G, which was to bring western Europe into the commonwealth. This lead to France signing the treaty of Rome, leading to the EEC which was followed by the EU and ultimately to German domination of Europe.
  • A more stable world order, especially in the middle-east. The Americans have done a rather terrible job at maintaining world order since the fall of the Soviet Union. They just don't get it. Do I think the Sykes–Picot Agreement would have done a better job of maintaining peace in the middle east than the current Israeli-Saudi Arabia-USA axis? YES.

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