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An argument without end: Britain, France and the disarmament Process, 1925-1934

Webster, A.ORCID: 0000-0002-9727-9516 (2002) An argument without end: Britain, France and the disarmament Process, 1925-1934. In: Philpott, W.J. and Alexander, M.S., (eds.) Anglo-French Defence Relations Between the Wars. Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke, England, pp. 49-71.

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One of the key elements shaping the Anglo-French defence relationship during the inter-war period was the issue of disarmament: how to balance the tide of popular enthusiasm for an end to ‘militarism’ which followed the first world war with the needs of national security and international stability.1 Regarded by many as the litmus test (or indeed the very purpose) of the League of Nations, the success of disarmament became a shorthand expression for a postwar return to peace. Yet years of intricate negotiations came to nothing, for the disarmament talks revealed underlying differences of intent between Britain and France over how to create security in the postwar era. There was a constant tension between the two powers’ status as former wartime allies both ostensibly dedicated to the peaceful management of international affairs through the League of Nations, and their conflicting interests as the only two unrestricted great powers in Europe. Fundamentally, the innumerable technical disagreements that divided the two countries’ governments over how to limit armaments reflected political differences between the perspectives of a maritime and a land power. The British argued that with peace now restored to Europe, significant cuts to continental armies were possible. These cuts would in and of themselves create an even stronger ethos of peace and security.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan
Copyright: © Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2002
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