By R. F. Holland
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One point, however, could not fail to be understood. The Commonwealth The Commonwealth Problem: Origins and Formation 1900-25 23 had become a political framework within which very diverse forces existed. It was a fragile and problematic coalition of interests which required continuous management. It was in this important sense that a 'Commonwealth problem' really dates from the mid-1920s. The establishment of the Dominions Office in 1925 is therefore a useful benchmark in our analysis. But before looking at that event a broad view of the inter-war Commonwealth will be presented.
Several references have already been made to the emergence of America as a world power. By the late 1920s the American economy was almost double the size of the British, and was bigger than that of Britain and Germany combined. 4 7 Anxiety as to how to respond to American dominance, and how to bring about some accommodation of AngloAmerican interests, affected Whitehall thinking throughout the interwar years. Anti-Americanism and the Commonwealth idea, indeed, were closely related in that they were rooted in the determination of British policy-makers to retain some unilateral initiative in world affairs.
Any country which could make itself the radial focus of international air communications was clearly in a position to reap considerable benefits. The UK seemed well placed to exploit these possibilities because having British populations dispersed on several continents provided the passengers and mail to make long-distance air travel commercially viable. The aviation challenge underlined the fact that international competition required the mobilisation of technical skills, finance and access to facilities on a new scale, and that if Britain were to respond to this situation Commonwealth cooperation was vital.
Britain and the Commonwealth Alliance 1918–1939 by R. F. Holland