Britain and the Problem of International Disarmament, 1919-1934

Britain and the Problem of International Disarmament, 1919-1934

Britain and the Problem of International Disarmament, 1919-1934

Britain and the Problem of International Disarmament, 1919-1934

Synopsis

In the aftermath of the Great War, multilateral disarmament was placed at the top of the international agenda by the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations. This book analyzes the naval, air and land disarmament policies of successive British governments from 1919 to 1934, articulating their dilemma either to fulfil their obligations or to avoid them.Daring and controversial, the present study challenges the hitherto accepted view that Britain occupied the high moral ground by drastically reducing its armaments and argues that, during this period, British disarmament policy was reactive and generally failed to provide the leadership that this extremely sensitive time in international politics demanded.

Excerpt

Britain's approach to the problem of international disarmament during the period between the two world wars has received very little attention compared with the amount of research carried out on British foreign policy in general. the importance of the subject has, in the main, been overlooked by those who have attempted to explain the breakdown in international relations which resulted in the Second World War. Yet the disarmament question is a significant factor in this breakdown, being closely inter-linked with the search for security and stability which were so notably absent during the period. the present study seeks to redress this imbalance in the historical literature by analysing Britain's attitude towards disarmament in the crucial years 1919-34.

The majority of studies of international disarmament between the two world wars have covered either specific conferences or issues or shorter time periods than that covered in the present study. These include Dick Richardson's study of the 1924-9 Baldwin administration, The Evolution of British Disarmament Policy in the 1920s (1989), Brian McKercher's study of the same period, The Second Baldwin Government and the United States, 1924-1929 (1984) and an analysis entitled The Washington Conference, 1921-22, edited by Erik Goldstein and John Maurer (1994). Christopher Hall's Britain, America and Arms Control, 1921-37 (1987) basically covers the naval disarmament question. As regards older works, John Wheeler-Bennett published two studies covering the disarmament and security questions, Information on the Reduction of Armaments (1925) and Disarmament and Security Since Locarno, 1925-1931 (1932). He also published two books on disarmament per se. One, entitled Information on the Problem of Security (1917-1926) was co-edited with F.E. LanGermann in 1927, while the other, an in-depth study of the World Disarmament Conference of 1932-4, The Pipe Dream of Peace, was published in 1935. These studies are all very thorough, but are dated and suffer from Wheeler-Bennett's marked anti-French, pro-German bias. Other studies of the World Disarmament Conference are Dick Richardson's unpublished ma thesis entitled The Problem of Disarmament in British Diplomacy, 1932-1934 (1969), and John Underwood's unpublished Ph.D. thesis entitled The Roots

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