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

By C. Kitching

During this attention-grabbing learn, Carolyn Kitching examines the function 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 one strength able to mediating among conflicting French and German calls for over the Treaty's disarmament clauses, and this research unearths that the normal interpretation of British coverage on the convention should be vastly revised.

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

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The methods of disarmament which it most favoured were those adopted 36 Britain and the Geneva Disarmament Conference by the disarmament clauses of the peace treaties, supplemented by some form of budgetary limitation, and it also recommended that delegates try to achieve the abolition of conscription. Finally, it recommended that delegates should gradually lead nations to rely for their security on the obligations to which they were already committed. In effect, the Three-Party Committee came up with nothing new; with the exception of a commitment to some form of budgetary limitation, which it felt Germany would be unlikely to accept, it merely restated Britain's traditional policy.

The French, Cecil observed, `attached tremendous importance to the question of trained reserves' and he thought it was `extremely doubtful that agreement would ever be got on this specific point'. This question of trained reserves, of course, had an immediate effect on the question of the nature of armies themselves. Brigadier Temperley, who would become one of Britain's delegates to the Disarmament Conference, had had a long conversation whilst in Germany, with General von Seeckt. The latter had expressed the opinion that there was no advantage in having a very large army so far as numbers were concerned: `[I]n his opinion, what was wanted was a regular force of some 200,000 men, backed up by very large reserves' who would be given `the sort of training which was given to Boy Scouts'.

The Admiralty representative, Captain Philips, also objected to any suggestion of naval reductions, preferring the wording which had been suggested by the First Lord of the Admiralty which underlined `the impossibility of our remaining at this low level unless corresponding reductions are made by other Powers'. Cadogan warned that `he was very doubtful of the wisdom of our Delegates actually announcing in public any statement implying an increase on our part'. The deliberations and conclusions of this committee served only to highlight potential problems.

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