Sunday, May 20, 2012


By: George Friedman

Published:  May 1, 2012; Geopolitical Weekly, Stratfor

 Alternatively, go to, or just Google the title and the writer’s name.

Level of difficulty: ***** (Due to the content, summary exercises and question 16)


Read the introduction and answer the following questions.

1.       Why exactly does Rudyard Kipling describe British imperial power as recessional?

Read “The Rise of Britain” and answer the following questions.

2.       What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This gave Britain dominance in the North Atlantic” and what was its ultimate significance?

3.       The elimination of France as a contender for power was not the only stroke of luck Britain enjoyed. There were two other facts that aided in Britain’s rise as a military and industrial power. They were:

4.       What conclusion can we draw from the information in the fourth paragraph in this section?

5.       Britain was more similar to Rome than Nazi Germany in that it was not ………………………This was the case because ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Before continuing, summarize the section you have just read in a few sentences.

Read “German and US Challenges” and answer the following questions.

6.       The text states: “The window of opportunity that had opened with the defeat of Napoleon was closing”. The two reasons why this was the case are:

7.       A possibility of major political change occurred as a result of WW I. What was it?

8.       Why exactly did Britain’s management of the empire undergo a change in this period?

9.       It is stated in the fourth paragraph in this section that “WW II, the second round of the German war, broke Britain’s power”. Which statement in the same paragraph best qualifies this statement?

10.   What does “this” refer to in the phrase “But the US had no interest in this”. Use your own words.

Before continuing, summarize the section you have just read in a few sentences.

Read “From Suez to Special relationship” and answer the following questions.

11.   The withdrawal of Britain to the British Isles was precipitated by: ……………………………………….

12.   The twist Britain added to its inclusion in the Bretton Woods is termed: ……………………………..

13.   What were the three benefits Britain derived from the above policy?

14.   What led Britain to opt for a policy of maintaining a balance between the US and Europe rather than providing complete support for US policies?

15.   Read the last paragraph in this section and state clearly what conclusion we can draw from it?

Before continuing, summarize the section you have just read in a few sentences.

Read “Keeping its Options Open” and answer the following question.

16.   After reading this last section, decide which sentence in the section best summarizes it.


This activity is based on another concise and well written little gem. The activity is designed to give maximum practice in analytical questions – to the extent which the text permits – and fill in some more gaps in the students’ general knowledge. I can see the whole task, including the summaries, taking 75 minutes. It could be done with intermediate classes in May and advanced classes earlier in the second term. As with every reading activity I post, check for related videos to get the ball rolling; on tedtalks for instance…

1.       Because it controlled about one fourth of the Earth’s land surface and one fifth of the World’s population. Fifty years… I need to apologize for the lengthy answer but some pieces of information are key points that can’t be skipped.

2.       The elimination of France as a significant naval challenger to Britain for several generations; it gave control over trade routes in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

3.       Napoleon’s devastation of continental Europe; the underdevelopment of the US.

4.       The British Empire was foremost a trading block

5.       Exploitative; the Napoleonic wars having crippled most European powers, Britain was not under military pressure for most of the century.

6.       The unification of Germany and the rapid industrialization of the US.

7.       The Empire could be broken.

8.       Because Britain became more dependent on its Empire.

9.       Britain emerged from the war vastly weaker economically and militarily than the US

10.   Britain’s strategy of remaining aligned with the US and trying to find a foundation for the US to underwrite the retention of the Empire.

11.   The US political intervention against the British, French and Israeli attack on Egypt in 1956.

12.   The lieutenant strategy.

13.   Guide the students to formulate answers as follows: special concessions and considerations, the ability to influence US policy, the ability to prompt the use of US forces.

14.   The cost of maintaining the force relative to the benefits, the danger of being drawn so deeply into the US orbit that Britain would lose its freedom of action.

15.   Britain has been able to retain options while limiting its dependency on either side.

16.   The British strategy represents a classic case of a nation accepting reversal, retaining autonomy and accommodating itself to its environment while manipulating it.

No comments:

Post a Comment