Chapter

European Security, 1919–39

Derek Drinkwater

in Sir Harold Nicolson and International Relations

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780199273850
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602344 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199273855.003.0006
European Security, 1919–39

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Sir Harold Nicolson’s approach to the questions of inter-war European security represented an evolution from an idealist outlook at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 to a more measured degree of idealism during the late 1920s. As the 1930s advanced, and the League of Nations and action based on the principles of collective security proved unable to quell the Japanese, Italian, and German aggression, Nicolson sought to devise new methods of resolving the major questions of peace and war. His solution was liberal realism, a fusion of idealism and realism. It was an amalgam of Aristotelian and Thucydidean principles of statecraft and diplomacy. By the late 1930s, with Germany rejecting reasonable revisions of the Treaty of Versailles, he began to believe that war could only be avoided if the democracies and the USSR initiated a cohesive strategy of alliance diplomacy while pursuing dialogue with the dictators. The Munich Agreement of 1938 and the steady unravelling of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement finally convinced Nicolson that war was inevitable.

Keywords: appeasement; Aristotelian; collective security; idealism; League of Nations; liberal realism; Munich Agreement; realism; Thucydidean; Treaty of Versailles

Chapter.  20598 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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