Britain and the Geneva Disarmament Conference: A Study in by C. Kitching

By C. Kitching

During this attention-grabbing examine, Carolyn Kitching examines the position which Britain performed on the Geneva Disarmament convention, an occasion which marked a watershed in inter-war diplomacy. Failure to arrive contract in Geneva hastened the cave in of the Treaty of Versailles, and gave the golf green gentle for German re-armament. Britain was once arguably the single energy able to mediating among conflicting French and German calls for over the Treaty's disarmament clauses, and this research unearths that the conventional interpretation of British coverage on the convention has to be vastly revised.

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Extra info for Britain and the Geneva Disarmament Conference: A Study in International History

Sample text

The Draft Disarmament Convention was intended to be the basis from which the World Disarmament Conference would negotiate an international disarmament agreement. However, despite the years of labour, the Convention satisfied no-one. It had never been the intention that it would define actual figures, but the compromises which had been made in its formulation ensured that it could hardly even form the basis for discussion. 2 The British Foreign Office clearly recognized the significance of the Draft Convention: The completion of the work of the Preparatory Committee and the fixing of the date of the Disarmament Conference bring us right up against it.

14 This instantly made a mockery of the aim of reducing the level of armaments, as France at that time had 1320 planes against the United Kingdom's 790. A reduction from a nominal 1500 would, in Britain's case, mean a theoretical doubling of her current capacity. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Alexander, agreed as to the necessity of very careful preparation in the fighting departments. ' The Committee's discussions ranged away from Britain's own perceived requirements to the position of other participants at the Conference.

The Director of Military Operations and Intelligence in the War Office, General Charles, backed up Dreyer's point by stating that the very wording of Article 8 ± `the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety' ± clearly meant that the Article `was not intended to imply that states should give information which they considered inimicable with their national security'. Both Charles and the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Newall, felt that the Draft Disarmament Convention required the submission of even greater publicity regarding war materials and reserves than was at present laid before Parliament.

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