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Discuss the view that during the 1920s the British always put their imperial interests before their commitment to the peace and stability of Europe.

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Introduction

Alexander Zafiriou Discuss the view that during the 1920s the British always put their imperial interests before their commitment to the peace and stability of Europe. Britain, to an extent, was more concerned with her empire than with European affairs during the 1920s. She only deployed the army when her empire was involved, for example in Ireland, India or Australia. On the other hand, by 1929 there was no immediate threat of war, and as Winston Churchill said, "The state of Europe was tranquil", partly because of the many treaties that were signed during the 1920s that Britain orchestrated. But the main revisionist argument against Britain during this period was that they did not do enough to ensure the peace and stability of Europe as the second world war did break out less than ten years later, but this was not only due to increased concern in the empire. Britain also had domestic concerns; public opinion played a major role in the actions employed by the government and that the government were looking to minimise needless costs due to the fragile economic situation in the country after world war one and therefore did not want to send an army into a situation that did not concern her. ...read more.

Middle

Major politicians, although not inherently sorry for Germany after this outcome, voiced their concerns over the new arrangements, which could cause a German backlash in the future. Harold Nicholson, a British diplomat in 1919, said, "The treaties imposed on our enemies were neither just nor wise," and even John Maynard Keynes, who was present at the signing of the treaty, said that it was "one of the most serious acts of unwisdom for which our statesmen have been responsible." This created a problem for the government because it meant that they would have to go against the wishes of the public and many important officials who were against the treaty, if they were to involve themselves in European affairs that dealt mainly with the fate of Germany after the war. This is why isolationism seemed the right way to go for the government. As Britain's empire increased after the First World War, so did their troubles. Many of Britain's colonies demanded independence and this meant that Britain had to focus on their own problems before they could deal with those of the League of Nations. India, for example, were unhappy with the slow implementation of an independently run government and so, when riots broke out in Amritsar in 1919, the Government had to react and sent an army to quell this rebellion. ...read more.

Conclusion

This culminated in the Rapallo treaty, which Russia and Germany signed, but this did not work out, as Germany could not pay due to her economical difficulties at the time. Britain's actions here certainly did help keep the peace and stability in Europe intact and after all this and the Kellogg-Briand pact in1928 that guaranteed peace between sixty-two countries, there was no threat of war. Britain's involvement in international affairs in the 1920s, although limited to diplomacy because of economic and political considerations at home, was not altogether overridden by her commitment to her empire. The government made an effort to stabilise central Europe and to make sure that no military conflict would break out. This was secured but was evidently not enough as another world war did break out only ten years later and thus meant that Britain and the other allies had not done enough to secure this peace. Britain's commitments were centred on her empire, as this was a period in which many anti-British uprisings occurred which required the utmost care on Britain's part to dispel. She had to devote her attention to the matters, which concerned her most, and this involved the empire, but Britain certainly did her part to keep international tension to a low. ...read more.

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