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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 1992
  • Online publication date: October 2009

18 - Adviser and propagandist, 1942–1945


Although Hailey's broadcast after the fall of Singapore did not minimize the military disaster, others drew still more sweeping conclusions. British prestige in Asia, it was said, the hegemony on which the power of men like himself had always rested, had gone forever. Under U.S. leadership, the American columnist Walter Lippmann wrote self-righteously, the Western allies must identify themselves with the Asian struggle for freedom, put off the white man's burden, and purge themselves of the moral taint of imperialism. Whereas the peoples of Burma and Malaya had offered scant resistance, a combined American–Filipino army was still holding out in the Philippines. To Lippmann the difference was obvious. The Americans had set a date for independence.

Did Singapore really demonstrate the failure of civil as well as military policy? asked Hailey soberly in the House of Lords. The fact that a Filipino army was still fighting proved no more than that the Americans had been shrewd enough to train it. The British in India, the French, even the Germans in Tanganyika had done that. Yet the charge that colonial governments had failed to sink roots into the life of the country, as a Times editorial had put it, was not easy to dismiss. Those who made it were not thinking of mere acquiescence – obedience to laws, payment of taxes – but of the sort of heroism displayed in the national resistance of the Chinese, Greek, or Russian peoples.