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Title: Starvation or privation? : British assessment of blockade before and during the First World War
Author: Lytton, Avram Steven
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 0121
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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While much has been written on the organisation, administration and planning involved in the British blockade of the Central Powers during the First World War, little attention has been paid to intelligence assessment. I investigate the assumptions that underlay the blockade effort, the evolution of these assumptions and how they fit into wider policy and strategy. How did British leaders conceive of blockade and what effect did they think it was having? How and why did this change? Did it matter? I show that assessments of blockade before 1914 were ambiguous as to effect, and universally pointed to the problems of neutral supply and the threat that stoppages of trade posed to Britain. At the outset of the war, assessment contributed first to an ad hoc and cautious approach to blockade, before suggesting ways that operations could make it decisive in 1915. Blockade assessment following the German successes in the Balkans in 1915/16 contributed to a general feeling of pessimism amongst British decision-makers and helped lead to the advent of planning and organising for a long war. From 1916-18, blockade assessment also played a central role in the little explored plans for a post-war economic war against Germany. It also connected blockade with the League of Nations and the proposed sanctions mechanism for it. By the end of the war, assessment was the hinge on which blockade became economic warfare. Thus, blockade assessment mattered to British planning and policy and was central to grand strategy during the First World War. In a war of attrition, blockade assessment framed expectations and informed actions. By examining the significance of blockade assessment, we can better understand the basis of British policy, strategy, and grand strategy in the early Twentieth Century.
Supervisor: Maiolo, Joseph Anthony ; Philpott, William James Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available