Democracies at the Turning Point: Britain, France, and the End of the Postwar Order, 1928-1933

Democracies at the Turning Point: Britain, France, and the End of the Postwar Order, 1928-1933

Democracies at the Turning Point: Britain, France, and the End of the Postwar Order, 1928-1933

Democracies at the Turning Point: Britain, France, and the End of the Postwar Order, 1928-1933

Synopsis

"Between 1928 and 1933, the victorious Great War allies Britain and France abdicated responsibility for shaping the postwar European order. This book is about the failure of their leadership. With the Locarno agreements in place, British leaders refused to take on security problems beyond Germany's western frontier. France sought to "organize" the peace through reconciliation with Germany and European integration, but its increasingly defensive military posture curtailed its ability to lead Europe. In effect having abandoned the structures created after the Great War to maintain the peace, the former allies after 1933 would respond to the initiatives of the dictators." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Looking at British and French foreign and defense policies in the 1920s and 1930s from the other side of the Second World War carries certain dangers. of course history is always a dialogue between past and present, but must the leaders of this period continue to stand in the dark shadow of 1940? One is tempted to look at the interwar period as one of smallminded and shortsighted policies, of blindness to obvious dangers, of decadence and lassitude in the democracies which allowed the evils of dictatorship to proliferate. Especially during the Cold War the apparent lack of vigilance in the face of a clear threat was difficult to understand.

Now that the Cold War is over, however, the interwar years no longer seem so distant and foreign. the absence of a clear "world order," the reluctance of the affluent democracies to make the sacrifices necessary to preserve such order as exists, and uncertainty about long-term economic prospects recall those grim days. of course, there also are fundamental differences; but the dialogue between that past and our present has become more interesting.

To empathize is not to excuse. Plagued as they were by the memories of the last war, imperial rumblings and economic constraints, British and French leaders exposed their countries to catastrophe by allowing the order they had established at the end of the First World War to unravel. That order was not as "elegant" as the nineteenth-century Concert of Europe or as stark as the U.S.-Soviet confrontation, but it might have worked had Britain and France maintained a cooperative relationship in the 1920s and 1930s to offset Germany's obvious capacity to dominate Europe economically, if not politically. Instead, in their haste to put the Great War behind them, the former allies allowed the order they had established after the war to disintegrate. This book examines the mentality of the British and French foreign policy establishments during the crucial years 1928 to 1933, as the initiative in European politics passed from the victor powers to the revisionists.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.