"This is the generation of the great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently of that mortal god, to which we own under the immortal God, our peace and defense." -Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan
Since today is Total Defence Day for Singapore, I thought I would write the following piece against using the Fall of Singapore to justify our national defence.
In Singapore there is a very strong national narrative about how the British “failed” to protect Singapore during WWII from the Japanese because they were alien foreigners to Singapore and diverted most of their resources to defending Britain itself.
However the real question is whether or not Singapore by itself could actually muster the resources to successfully resist the Japanese and the answer is that that has to be very unlikely. The narrative assumes that the British took resources out of Singapore to defend itself, which resources if left behind in Singapore could successfully resist the Japanese. But I don’t think it is unreasonable to say that this is pretty much a fantasy scenario. The British and the Americans were the best bet against the Japanese and without them no national force could possibly resist them e.g. China.
This was something brought to mind by a friend who was arguing for why the British were justified in losing the colonies in order to protect themselves. He used the analogy of how the Britain itself was the brain of the British Empire and the colonies were the various appendages. If you lose your appendage that would be a humiliating thing, but if you lose your head you are pretty much dead. Therefore the common narrative in fact absurdly assumes that it is all right if Britain itself falls as long as the colonies were defended. But that’s absolute nonsense. If Britain itself falls it is more or less game over for everyone else. The Germans and the Italians could pretty much overrun the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and eventually reach India and the colonies. My friend also helpfully pointed out that very few nations were capable of building capital ships and even the dominion nations had to contract Britain to build them.
One might even say that despite the fact that the British obviously prioritised their national existence before the defence of their colonies, they did fight valiantly and did their best to defend the colonies with whatever resources they could spare, and one might be tempted to say that this is a lot more than any local force could have done.