By B. J. C. McKercher
This assortment examines the complicated fight for supremacy carried out among the USA and Britain within the decade following international conflict I. the purpose is to throw gentle on an important interval within the historical past of British and American international coverage and on 20th-century foreign affairs.
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Geneva was suggested as a suitable headquarters for the league. The 'Brief Conspectus' limited the obligations of league members to respect and enforce the guarantee of peace, applying the sanctions proposed by the Phillimore committee only against a state which resorted to war without first submitting the dispute to international examination for a reasonable interval. For Foreign Office advisers, 30 Ideology, Diplomacy, and International Organisation such a limited league would be a major step forward in international relations, and coincided dearly with British interests, particularly if America became a full partner in a new world concert.
At the same time, leading Conservatives like Bonar Law, Curzon, Austen Chamberlain, and Balfour, together with realists like Churchill, the War Secretary, and William Hughes, the volatile Australian Prime Minister, doubted the viability of any collective system of security, and opposed the sacrifices of national sovereignty that such a system involved. Chamberlain doubted that the Americans 'would put their forces at the disposal of an International Council', and argued that, in any event, such schemes involved 'more than we could effect even in our own Dominions' on the point of calling for military support.
44 It was while the Covenant was being revised that the peace conference entered its climactic period of crisis in late March and early April as the French pressed their Rhineland claims in face of British and American resistance, while the latter themselves quarrelled bitterly over the American naval construction programmes. The joint Anglo-American treaty of guarantee to France, which Lloyd George had obtained from Wilson upon the latter's return to the peace conference, represented a potentially pivotal element in the strategy of continuing Anglo-American cooperation that the Prime Minister and his government had undertaken to pursue.