Post-WW2 if only Britain has the Bomb.

Imagine a world where America stayed out of WW2…

In this thread I suggest that Britain would eventually win the war in the West without America because it would develop the Atomic Bomb. As in our timeline, the Nazis never really tried.

So perhaps it’s about 1950. Berlin has been obliterated. Many nukes have been used to destroy Germany’s armies. Imagine further that Stalin & co are radio-active dust somewhere. (After all, Churchill wanted to continue the war). A decapitated Russia is in chaos as various factions vie for power. The use of nukes in Europe brings a negotiated peace between Britain and Japan. The Japanese war in China continues.

What now for the world? Do we see a continuation of Pax Britannia? Does India still pursue independence, perhaps seeing rule by Britain as a lesser threat than Japan? What about the relationship between Britain and America and the Monroe Doctrine?

There is no such thing as History; only Economics.

Britain was stone broke in 46; broker than the US is today.

No dough = no empire.

Seems to give the question short shrift.

To revive the question, how about Britain, backed by its nuclear arsenal, imposes reparations on the vanquished and taxes on the protected. To keep things simple, let’s say that for a while at least Britain recognizes some of the follies that lead to WWII and its own somewhat precarious position (nukes or no nukes) and doesn’t retributively or overly impose financial burdens.

I don’t buy this in my scenario. Britain would perforce have had to work through it’s broke state and would have had technologies beyond any other country. Quite apart from the Bomb, there would be computers, advanced aeroplanes (would America have the jet?), and many more. Goods made in Britain would be more technologically advanced than anywhere else, thus commanding a significant premium.

Even assuming all that was true, it’s unlikely that anyone would have developed the atomic bomb in any reasonable time frame without the hundreds of Jewish scientists who fled the Holocaust (mostly for the US).

Assuming the US didn’t enter the war but did offer them refuge, chances are they’d still have come here rather than risk remaining in Britain during a second German aerial bombing campaign.

If not for the Holocaust (or, more accurately, the growing persecution of German Jews, since the Holocaust had not yet happened), Edward Teller would probably have remained in Germany. Eugene Wigner had already left for the US by 1931. Einstein didn’t leave until 1933. Without all three, the Manhattan Project would probably never have happened.

In any case, I highly doubt Britain could have come up with the $2 billion that it cost to develop a workable A-bomb, especially considering the chance that the project might never bear fruit.

ETA: The Japanese could never have occupied India. They didn’t have the manpower to fully occupy China, which was a much more immediate concern. It’s not that India was in any condition to resist occupation, but unless China was pacified and Chinese troops were actively being recruited into the Japanese army it simply couldn’t have happened.

The “broke” state results from Churchill having, figuratively and more or less literally, “spent down Britain’s capital” to fight the war, especially in its early stages, owing to the poor decision-making of the previous two P.M.s. (Cf. America collecting Britain’s gold reserves held in South Afrida, the transferrence to American control of a nationalized indusry, the reason for Lend-Lease in the first place being that Britain was down to its last billion of assets with which to buy weaponry). To posit what would be the economic consequences of a Britain-with-an-atomic-monopoly war requires a wide variety of assumptions, but I would presume that ending the war having gone broke and not seeking any recompense is not one of them.

Well, with American non-involvement they wouldn’t have taken the gold reserves, or any of that. In the interest of stopping this quibble, assume that Britain emerges from WW2 solvent.

The Germans still build the bomb first.

You really have to ask yourself exactly how this could happen. Most of the top atomic scientists were in the US. There’s no way they’re going to leave. There were tens of thousands people working on the Manhattan Project. IIRC, Oak Ridge consumed something like 15% of the total power output of the entire US (ie it used more electricity than the whole of the UK). The complexes covered tens of thousands of acres and were totally safe from German Bombers. Unless you want to say “Wizards did it”, the whole premise doesn’t make it out of the box.

The US utilized more than six times the amount of electricity the UK did in 1943? :dubious:

The population of the UK in 1941 was 48 million - only 14 million fewer than today. The population of the US has more than doubled since then - but at the time, it was only 2.8 times as big.

I disagree. There were moves afoot to have it done by private industry, and plenty of the U.K. was outside the range of German bombers. For that matter, we could have made the Bomb in Canada.

Anyway, this is a red herring. My OP assumes that Britain does indeed develop the Atomic Bomb. And I respectfully suggest to those posters who disagree with my set-up that this is not the thread in which to post such disagreement.

I think Europe is in a world of trouble.

If as many nukes as you seem to posit were used, I think large portions of Western and Central Europe are Radioactive Wastelands. Depdning upon wind directions it’s possible large parts of Britian itself are no longer viable.

That aside.

With a defeated Germany, would Britain even sue for peace with Japan? Under the terms of the OP, Britain have nukes now. I would expect the British war effort to shift to Asia to reclaim the British territories there, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. In the face of the cost of the war, reclaiming those areas to access the resources might be quite attractive.

As to America, I don’t see why the Britain/Amercian pre-war relationship would change overly. Unless I’m mistaken the Monroe Doctrine only applied to the America’s, and I can’t see Britain taking an interest there.

Britain could not have developed the bomb on it’s own, not enough money.Tapioca Dextrin is right.

You might as well ask what would have happen if The Netherlands had developed the Bomb.

Kim Philby and company would get the nuke secrets to the Soviets, much as they did in the “real” timeline.

Luxembourg. One of the world’s two nuclear powers. Lichtenstein being the other. Bi-polar superpowers, straddling Europe.

Wait…was that a mouse that just roared?

IIRC, none of the Cambridge Five had access to nuclear intelligence.

So what about Pearl Harbour? If you want to set up a counter factual history, you have to think about the world as it really was. For there to be no attack on America, either Japan would peace loving Lotus eaters, or the US would have to be populated by corn husking surrender monkeys.

If you want you posit a counter factual, you have two choices.

  1. You can propose a big change and ask how this can have occurred.
  2. You can propose a small change and ask what the consequences might be.

What you can’t do is ask “if Queen Victoria was secretly a space vampire, what would happen to the British Empire”? IMHO, the OP is heading in this direction, but is expecting a serious answer. Fun, but futile.

Donald Maclean certainly did. He was Secretary of the Combined Policy Committee on Atomic Development, the organization that oversaw American, British, and Canadian development of atomic weapons and wrote the plans for their use.

It’s fair to say that Britain was pretty impoverished before the war.

I have looked into local and industrial history and you can see the living conditions and the working conditions were pretty poor, even for the time.

It may be surprising but in truth we in the UK really did not experience much advancement in industrial and social conditions until the late 1950’s, and that was only catch up, whilst post war Germany and Japan forged ahead.

You can see this with their program for rearming in the last couple of years before the war, one of the reasons that has been credibly put forward for the Munich agreement was that Britain’s forces were in no shape at all to got o war and was in no position to make real threats regrarding the Sudetenland.

Britain was already a generation behind in building capital warships, the Washington treaty was not renewed and so work on building their next generation battleships began, but was never completed Lion, Temeraire etc and in the event this was completely stopped as they simply did not have the industrial capacity to be certain these ships would be completed in time to contribute to the war effort.

Given that Britain could not accelarate production in these warships (and also they gave much higher priority to escort vessels) I really cannot see how Britain had any chance of constructing atomic weapons.

I have seen articles that state that in terms of atomic development, Britain was actually well ahead of Germany, and that in fact Germany was headed toward something of an atomic cul-de-sac.

All the same, its quite a leap from reactor technology and nuclear theory, and the sheer cost was well beyond Britain.