Georges Clemenceau: A Political Biography

By David Robin Watson | Go to book overview

15

MILITARY STRATEGY

I FOCH BECOMES SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER

Clemenceau's firm hand in the area of policy and strategy was an important factor in the re-establishment of national self-confidence. He put a stop to the secret sessions of Parliament which had been threatening the authority of the government. Criticism had now to be made either by interpellation in public session, or in the Parliamentary committees.

Although Pétain, the commander-in-chief on the western front, had won great authority by his re-establishment of morale after the mutinies, he did not seek the independence from political control that Joffre had enjoyed in the first two years of the war. Foch's position as chief-of‐ staff provided an alternative source of military advice for the civilian authorities. 42 Clemenceau was not in the unhappy position of Lloyd George, who thought that Haig and Robertson (the British equivalents, respectively, of Pétain and Foch) were linked in a sort of tacit conspiracy that prevented any consideration of alternative military policies by the government. Foch and Pétain were totally dissimilar in their temperaments and their views on strategy. Pétain was cautious, perhaps overcautious, and determined to reduce casualties to the minimum, while Foch had a much more aggressive spirit. This allowed Clemenceau to retain ultimate authority in his own hands. 43 To help him exercise it,

____________________
42
G. Pedroncini, Le Haut-Commandement et la conduite de la guerre Mai 1917‐ Novembre 1918 (Sorbonne thesis, 1971) is the indispensable source on this question. The soutenance de thèse of 22 May 1971, reported in Le Monde, 9 June 1971, gives some indication of Pedroncini's views on the relations between Foch, Pétain and Clemenceau.
43
He said so to the Senate Army committee on 14 December 1917: 'Foch is a man who exactly counterbalances Pétain's faculties, both good and bad. They fit together because they are not alike; as they give out different notes they allow one to make a reasoned judgement.' Archives of the Senate, Commission de l'Armée, Auditions des Ministres.

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Georges Clemenceau: A Political Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Georges Clemenceau - A Political Biography *
  • Contents 5
  • Illustrations *
  • Acknowledgements 11
  • Part One - Childhood, Youth and the Commune I84i-1871 *
  • 1 - Childhood and Youth 15
  • 2 - The Commune 34
  • Part Two - The Radical Attack I87i-1889 *
  • 3 - Challenger from the Left 59
  • 4 - Clemenceau versus Ferry 81
  • 5 - Boulangism 101
  • Part Three - Defeat and Resurgence I889-1906 *
  • 6 - Panama 117
  • 7 - The Dreyfus Affair 138
  • Part Four - The First Ministry I906-1909 *
  • 8 - Minister of the Interior 167
  • 9 - Clemenceau as Premier 183
  • 10 - Clemenceau as Strike-Breaker 200
  • 11 - Foreign Policy 215
  • Part Five - Opposition I909-1917 *
  • 12 - In Opposition before the War 237
  • 13 - Opposition in Wartime 249
  • Part Six - Pere-La-Victoire I9i7-1918 *
  • 14 - Second Ministry: Domestic Politics 275
  • 15 - Military Strategy 293
  • 16 - Russian Intervention and Victory 315
  • Part Seven - The Peace Settlement and after I9i8-1929 *
  • 17 - The Versailles Treaty 331
  • 18 - The Middle East and Russia 366
  • 19 - Domestic Politics and Last Years 380
  • Part Eight - Conclusion *
  • 20 - Conclusion 397
  • Appendices Sources and Bibliography Index *
  • Appendix I 411
  • Appendix II 414
  • Appendix III 416
  • Appendix IV 417
  • Appendix V 424
  • Appendix VI 428
  • Appendix VII 434
  • Sources and Bibliography 438
  • Index 455
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