Journal Article

The Defence Requirements Sub‐Committee, British Strategic Foreign Policy, Neville Chamberlain and the Path to Appeasement

Keith Neilson

in The English Historical Review

Volume 118, issue 477, pages 651-684
Published in print June 2003 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online June 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/118.477.651
The Defence Requirements Sub‐Committee, British Strategic Foreign Policy, Neville Chamberlain and the Path to Appeasement

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The DRC is normally considered to mark the beginning of British rearmament against Germany, the ‘ultimate enemy’. Credit for the DRC is accorded to Sir Robert Vansittart, the PUS. This article contends, instead, that the DRC was shaped by Sir Maurice Hankey and that its principal focus was on the Japanese menace, in line with the views of the COS. This brought the Foreign Office (FO) into conflict with the Treasury and Neville Chamberlain. The Treasury wished to control naval spending by means of an Anglo‐Japanese rapprochement, at whatever cost to Anglo‐American relations; the FO did not. Only at the Ministerial Committee on Disarmament, where the DRC was considered, was Chamberlain able to put emphasis on the German aerial threat. The result was that British rearmament policy took a different direction. Chamberlain's pro‐Japanese policy is shown to be naive, his understanding of military matters limited and his understanding of foreign policy generally to be naive. The necessity for appeasement in the later 1930's was a result of poor decision making in this early phase of rearmament.

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Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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