Becoming dependent on the kindness of strangers: Britain's strategic foreign policy, naval arms limitation and the Soviet factor, 1935-1937

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Abstract

This article refutes claims that the 1935 Anglo-German naval agreement represented a finite stage of the Royal Navy's interwar naval disarmament diplomacy, and, indeed that the agreement reflected the Royal Navy's preoccupation with dealing with the German naval menace of the late 1930s. Instead it was merely a continuation of a greater strategy to control and contain naval armaments in Europe through diplomatic means. By controlling naval armament levels in Europe the British naval strategic decision-making elite hoped to limit the threat to the empire emanating from Japanese navalism. Japanese naval expansion was a threat which fed off Western naval arms increases and, therefore, the Royal Navy sought to deter Japanese building through limiting the naval expansion of other, smaller, European navies, so that Britain had no need to increase its own home fleet forces. The Soviet Union held a critical point of convergence in this strategy, as any increases it made threatened both Germany and japan. An unchecked Soviet naval programme could inspire either nation to build a larger naval force, a condition that the Royal Navy and the UK wished to avoid. This article explains some of the interconnections of the strategic dilemma facing the British strategic policy makers and how the Soviet Union fit into one aspect of Britian's interwar strategic environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34 - 60
Number of pages27
JournalWar in History
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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