Courtesy Reuters

Unity of Policy Among Allies

IN TIME of war, strategy provides the means for implementing policy. Unified strategy between allies, then, is dependent for its effectiveness upon unified policy. This was overlooked in the Allied preparations before the war of 1914-1918. The nature of the Entente Cordiale between Great Britain and France precluded political preparation. It was not an offensive or defensive alliance but merely, as its name implied, a friendly understanding concerning matters in spheres where the interests of the two countries met. The British Government had permitted what were called "military conversations" between the British and French General Staffs, but on the strict condition that they should be secret and that they should not in any way commit the Government to action before the event. So while there were military understandings there were no political engagements. The full preparations which modern war requires could not be made.

I think it is true to say that the British did not realize that this was any handicap. Allied policy in the event of a war with Germany would be clear and simple -- defeat her as soon as possible. Since the casus belli would be an aggression by Germany upon France or Belgium, or both, the war would take place on the Continent of Europe. Meanwhile, British naval superiority would make the mopping up of the German colonies a simple business requiring no great effort. In this view, there was no need for a special organization to deal with such political problems as the war might present. The ramifications of a great war were not foreseen. The French undoubtedly desired a definite alliance, precise commitments and detailed preparation, political as well as military; but they were far too anxious to obtain British help to do anything which might endanger its arrival when the crisis came, and they were well aware of the reluctance of British governments to commit themselves in advance. The upshot was that no preparations for the direction and control of Allied policy were

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