To what extent Foreign Policy



There are various factors which were a significant influence to British Foreign Policy from 1902 to 1939. One of these factors was the _______________________.

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Protection of the Empire

  The Empire covered almost three quarters of the world’s land after World War One, and so needed to be protected. For example, the Anglo-Japanese alliance of 1902 meant that interests in the Far East were secure. Britain also adopted the policy of appeasement in the 1930’s to avoid a war on three fronts (Japan in the Far East, Germany in Europe and Italy in Africa). The Empire was at its peak after World War One, and cuts in expenditure on the armed forces would make it difficult to defend the huge expanse of territory if a war occurred.


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Other Countries

The fear of other countries played an important role during the entire period. After World War One, Britain had to move away from Splendid Isolation, to create a “balance of power” amongst the new rivalling countries and their expansionist aims. An example of this is the Entente Cordiale in 1904 and the Anglo-Russian Convention in 1907. These agreements were formed to compete against the rising power and aggression of Germany. Britain announced its fear of communism from Russia, and the vengeance of Germany over the harsh Treaty of Versailles in the Hankey Memorandum, during the Peace Conference. Britain wanted to avoid a war at all costs despite appearing to encourage it through the German Naval Agreement of 1935 and the HMS Dreadnought Naval Race.

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In the 1930’s, this policy of appeasement played an important role in influencing foreign policy. Britain needed to adopt appeasement due to economic problems after World War One and the Great Depression. Public opinion also favoured appeasement and did not want another war so far away from home with mass casualties. Appeasement would give Britain time to rearm, and with the fear of communism growing, the need for allies also increased. Britain saw Italy as a potential ally against Hitler. When Mussolini invaded Abyssinia in 1935, Britain and France appeased him, instead of punishing Italy, acting outside the League of Nations to protect their own interests. For example, Britain continued to trade coal and kept the Suez Canal open to Italian ships, as well as creating the secret Hoare-Laval Pact, where good parts of Abyssinia were given to Italy. A major case where appeasement was shown was during the Munich Conferences (22nd-29thSeptember 1938) with Hitler. Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler, firstly in Berchtesgaden, then Bad Godesberg, and in this final meeting had attempted to avoid war over the Sudetenland. It was agreed that the Sudetenland would be given to Germany, without conferring with Czechoslovakia.

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Appeasment continued

Hitler pledged not to go any further and to maintain peace with Britain, so Chamberlain returned home with a “piece of paper”, proclaiming “peace in our time”. Britain had also previously felt that Germany’s reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936 was acceptable, as the Germans were “marching into their own back yard”. During Anschluss in 1938, Britain also believed that starting a war over the unification of a country with Germany, where 99.75% of the population voted in favour of it during a plebiscite, was unreasonable. Even though Hitler was obviously violating the Treaty of Versailles, Britain turned a blind eye to these events. One of the reasons for the appeasement of Hitler from 1933-1939 was that Nazism would be a "Bulwark" against communism. Britain also feared that their armed forces were not as strong as Germany's, so appeasement would give them time to rearm.

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Collective Security

Appeasement replaced the idea of Collective Security. Collective Security played a role in the influence of foreign policy throughout the period. It failed due to the members of the League of Nations being more interested in their own security and aims than those of the League’s.But the Locarno Pact of 1925 could be seen as a success for Collective Security, as it tried to diffuse the potential problem of a border clash between France, Belgium and Germany, acting as a guarantor with Italy. Collective Security may have failed out of fear of aggression from other countries.

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Had enough of war

From a British perspective, the Naval Race (Fisher’s Naval Reforms) and Haldane’s Army Reforms were attempts to avoid war, as matching or exceeding the strength of Germany would deter aggressive acts in the future. Avoidance of war was a large influence on British Foreign Policy too. Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary after 1906, wanted to create this “balance of power” to avoid war. This can be seen in the Agadir Crisis of 1905, where Britain used both the carrot and the stick to avoid antagonising Germany. Britain made France give Germany a part of the French Congo (carrot) but warned Germany of future British interference (stick). The idea of the "lost generation" was still fresh in people's minds, and so many opposed war and favoured appeasment. Lloyd George also feared that too harsh a peace would provoke Germany into going to war to overutrn it. The alliance systems before World War One were also defensive.

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In conclusion, it can be argued that the ____________ was one of many influences on British Foreign Policy from 1902 until 1939, alongside ______________ etc.

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