Great Britain and the Creation of the League of Nations: Strategy, Politics, and International Organization, 1914-1919

By George W. Egerton | Go to book overview

Introduction

Recent years have seen a wealth of scholarly publication on British foreign policy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a period during which British statesmen responded to manifold challenges to the security of the home islands and the overseas empire and which culminated in the Great War. The themes of imperial rivalries, naval competition, continental commitments, and dominion relations have been analyzed by historians in light of the copious documentation now available. The politics and diplomacy of the war years and peacemaking have attracted many students of British history. The result of this new scholarship has been a major enlargement of our knowledge about Britain's position and role in world politics of this period, as well as the domestic underpinnings of her foreign policy.

There are, of course, gaps in the historical record and there will always be room for revision and changing insight. One such gap concerns the question of international organization debated in wartime British politics and the role of the British government in the creation of the League of Nations. The American part in the creation of the league, particularly the dramatic role of President Wilson, has been amply chronicled by historians. There remain, however, important uncertainties concerning the British side of this venture, most specifically the role of Lloyd George and the coalition government that he headed. Can we accept the assertions of Lloyd George that he and his government were consistent in their devotion to the league and entitled to major credit for its creation? 1

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