The development of British war aims, August 1914 - March 1915
The dissertation is divided into six chapters, there is also an
introduction, a conclusion, and an appendix which consists of short
biographical notes on the personalities mentioned in the narrative.
The Introduction outlines the main themes of the study, it includes
a discussion of the sources used, and lists acknowledgements.
Chapter I examines the character of the decision-making process. III
the early part of the First World War, wak aims were decided in very much
the same way as had been foreign policy before the war. Authority was
concentrated in the hands of a small group of men surrounding the Foreign
Secretary Sir Edward Grey. At the same timof the executive eras able to
use the overwhelming popular enthusiasm for the war to assert its
independence from external influences.
Chapter II concerns Prussian militarism. Grey and his colleagues
believed that the military advisers of the German Government had deliberately
precipitated the war$ and that they were the iie Cato rulers of Germany.
The Foreign Secretary refused to consider making any peace which left the
*Prussian military caste" in control of German policy and free to repeat
Chapter III is about British war aims with regard to Western Europe.
Britain went to war to -. tP-ot her strategic interest in the independence
of the North-West of Europe and to safeguard the naval position in Home WatersThe peace settlement was to ensure that in yearn to come Western Europe would
be free from the danger of further German attack. Germany was to evacuate
and compensate Belgium; Alsace-Lorraine was to be restored to France;
German naval power was to be greatly weakened.
Chapter IT explains British war aims with regard to Lustrie-41ungary.
British interests are seen to lie in securing the safety of the i! est of
Europe. Policy towards Central and Eastern Europe was entirely pragmatic:
the future of the Habsburg Empire vas used as a pawn to secure more
Chapter V is centred on the question of Constantinople and the Straits.
Britain and Rassia had few common interestsf Grey tried to buy Russian
co-operation and minimise Anglo-Ruaaien differences with the offer of
territorial expansion at the expense of Turkey.
Chapter VI explores British policy tovsxds the German colonies.
Britain-neither wanted nor needed territorial aggrandisement, but there were
strong arguments - mainly strategic - for retaining German colonies-after
the war. Moreover, Frances Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the Union of
South Africa laid claims to large parts of Germanyfs overseas Empire.
These claims Britain could not refuse. b)here Britain had a reasonably
tree band, in German East Africa, policy tended to fluctuate according to
the fortunes of war.
The main conclusion of this dissertation is that Britain fought for
securityt above all to prevent Germany from dominating Western Trope.
However, the enormity of British interests the diversity of her friendships*
and the dislocating effects of war itself caused her to widen her objectives
as the war went on.