By Nicholas A. Lambert
Earlier than the 1st international conflict, the British Admiralty conceived a plan to win quick victory within the occasion of conflict with Germany—economic war on an extraordinary scale.This mystery procedure known as for the country to use Britain's powerful monopolies in banking, communications, and shipping—the crucial infrastructure underpinning worldwide trade—to create a managed implosion of the realm economic climate. during this revisionist account, Nicholas Lambert exhibits in vigorous aspect how naval planners persuaded the British political management that methodical disruption of the worldwide financial system may result in German army paralysis. After the outbreak of hostilities, the govt shied clear of complete implementation upon figuring out the level of most probably collateral damage—political, social, fiscal, and diplomatic—to either Britain and impartial international locations. Woodrow Wilson particularly bristled at British regulations on alternate. a brand new, much less disruptive method of monetary coercion used to be swiftly improvised. the outcome was once the blockade, ostensibly meant to starve Germany. It proved principally useless as a result of enormous political effect of financial pursuits on nationwide pursuits and the ongoing interdependencies of all international locations upon the graceful functioning of the worldwide buying and selling system.Lambert’s interpretation solely overturns the traditional figuring out of British process within the early a part of the 1st international battle and underscores the significance in any research of strategic coverage of knowing Clausewitz’s “political stipulations of war.”
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Extra info for Planning Armageddon: British Economic Warfare and the First World War
85 Ottley’s principal assistant for strategic planning in 1905 was Captain George Ballard, another important character in our story. Like Ottley, Ballard was a torpedo oﬃcer and highly regarded for his intellect and character. ”87 Ballard’s work also impressed Sir John Fisher— so much so that in early 1907 the First Sea Lord apparently invited him to succeed Ottley as the next DNI. 88 Advancement within the service still lay through the ﬂeet, and sea time remained a prerequisite for promotion. ” Between January and April 1907, for instance, Ballard chaired a small committee of oﬃcers tasked with providing the First Sea Lord with an “independent” appraisal of various naval plans for war against Germany (see below).
Jeune école theory called for warships to evade combat with the Royal Navy and instead attack Britain’s merchant marine. The expectation was not to cut oﬀ Britain from her overseas markets and sources of supply, but rather to create a panic in the maritime insurance markets suﬃcient to paralyze a large proportion of British commercial traﬃc. For the jeune école, ravaging British overseas commerce (in deﬁance of international law) was an eﬀective means to the end of convincing British merchants that pursuing the conﬂict would lead to their ﬁnancial ruin and that they should therefore pressure their government to sue for peace.
72 Even as they dealt with possible alliance issues arising from the Moroccan crisis, Admiralty oﬃcials still worried about a very diﬀerent set of alliances arising from the situation in the Far East. There, the Russo-Japanese War was raging, and the operative British alliance was not the 1904 entente with France but the 1902 treaty with Japan. Thus the prospect was not to help France against Germany, as over Morocco, but rather to ﬁght against France (Russia’s ally), Russia (Japan’s enemy), and possibly Germany as well—precisely the threepower Continental coalition that Lord Selborne had identiﬁed as the worstcase scenario when justifying the ﬂeet redistribution scheme in November 1904.
Planning Armageddon: British Economic Warfare and the First World War by Nicholas A. Lambert