Lloyd George, Curzon and the Control of British Foreign Policy 1919-22

By Bennett, G. H. | The Australian Journal of Politics and History, December 1999 | Go to article overview

Lloyd George, Curzon and the Control of British Foreign Policy 1919-22


Bennett, G. H., The Australian Journal of Politics and History


Humanities and Cultural Interpretation, University of Plymouth

Determining how governments arrive at their policies, and which ministers have more influence than others in this process, is a particularly difficult exercise. The parameters of the policy-making process constantly fluctuate according to the problems facing the government, the nature of the personalities involved and a host of less tangible factors. This is particularly tree in the field of foreign policy which at times has been determined by the collective wisdom of the cabinet, or, in other occasions, by the autocratic will of a Foreign Secretary or prime Ministers. Despite such fluctuations, there remains a significant body of opinion which regards the formation of foreign policy during the Lloyd George peacetime government, from 1919 to 1922, as in many ways threatening to breach the traditional parameters of foreign policy-making. Many contemporaries saw something deeply sinister in Lloyd George's influence over Britain's external relations in this period. Subsequent historians have perhaps been rather too quick to accept some of these opinions. It is then, perhaps time to re-assess the position of the Foreign Secretary in the making of British foreign policy in the years immediately after the end of the First World War.

During the late nineteenth century the control of foreign policy was characterised by its secrecy, and the exclusivity of the small number of ministers and officials who devised and conducted it. The views of the general public and the press were not thought to have any role in framing foreign policy and even within the government circles the making of foreign policy was vested in an elite. Indeed, the affairs of the Foreign Office were routinely subject to direct Prime Ministerial control. In the late nineteenth century this had been amply demonstrated by the foreign policy interventions of Benjamin Disraeli from 1874 to 1878, over the head of his Foreign Secretary the Earl of Derby, and Lord Salisbury's combination of the posts of Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary after 1885. Although Arthur Balfour's indolence as Prime Minister from 1902 to 1905 allowed Lord Lansdowne the freedom to run his own department, Balfour still took a very keen interest, and played an important part in the development of British foreign policy. With the arrival of Sir Edward Grey at the Foreign Office in 1906 the formation of policy became still more exclusive. Increasingly, the shaping of foreign policy was left in Grey's hands, especially after the dying Campbell-Bannerman was replaced by Herbert Henry Asquith in 1908. As Zara Steiner has observed: "During his first two years in office ... [Grey] enjoyed a large measure of freedom.... When Asquith replaced Campbell-Bannerman, Grey's position was further strengthened, for the new Prime Minister was not only an old political ally but shared Grey's views on the European situation. Asquith was content to leave the direction of affairs in his colleague's hands".(1) With his fellow ministers preoccupied with particularly pressing domestic issues, Grey was only too happy to keep foreign affairs away from the prying eyes of the Cabinet, restricting the circulation of some important Foreign Office papers to a select coterie.

The appalling consequences of war in 1914 generated mounting criticism and condemnation of the nature of the old diplomacy and the methods of those who had conducted it. That criticism came from various quarters -- from the Union of Democratic Control (UDC) to President Wilson of the United States. Whilst Wilson demanded that in future all covenants should be open and openly arrived at, the UDC called for democratic control of foreign policy and the creation of an international system to ensure that the war to end all wars really had achieved that result. With foreign policy submerged into the general conduct of the war until 1918, and then channelled by the confines of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, it remained to be seen just how the foreign policy-making process might operate and continue to evolve in peacetime. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Lloyd George, Curzon and the Control of British Foreign Policy 1919-22
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.