British Foreign Policy 1920s

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To what extent did Britain achieve its foreign policy aims in the Great War and via the post war treaties? World War I was to be the ‘the war that ended all wars’ and by 1919 there was a strong British sentiment that another war should be avoided at all costs and this belief shaped British foreign policy in the following post war years. Although Britain largely wanted to withdraw from Europe its main aim was to maintain its status as a ‘great power’ across the globe. Invariably this meant Britain was linked to Europe as from this stemmed other aims; to ensure no single power would dominate Europe, to avoid getting involved in European wars, to avoid long term alliances or creating long term enemies (as this would make war more likely) and to maintain naval domination. These aims were achieved to varying degrees of success. As a result of the Great War, the British Empire was extended even further, notably in Africa and the Middle East, helping to secure their power status across the globe. Their ‘great power’ status was further cemented by the post war treaties that ended some of the world’s empires notably the Ottoman Empire (under the Treaty of Sevres) and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (under the Treaty of Saint-Germain). Russia also was incapable of dominating Europe at this time as its empire had fallen and the country was consumed by civil war. But most importantly, the Treaty of Versailles weakened Germany to the point that it would not be economically or militarily able to pose a threat in Europe for some years. Huge reparations were placed on Germany, the figure being fixed in 1921 at £6,600,000, and their army was limited to 10,000 men whilst their airforce was scrapped entirely. The Germany navy was also severely limited, for example it was allowed no submarines and only 6 battleships, so in terms of Europe at least Britain retained its naval domination.
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