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The economic history of the war was characterised by multiple transformations, of the mechanisms that allocated labour and capital and of traditional market arrangements for production and distribution. This chapter discusses war economics in terms of the relationships between governments, markets and business associated with the mobilisation of vast resources and manpower, the creation and allocation of the new capacities for production, and the uncertain outcomes of economic and institutional change over the long run. As the war progressed, it became increasingly apparent that both the weight and the allocation of resources were critical considerations for the prospects of military success. Indeed, in the latter stages of the war, macroeconomic pressures, in the shape of economic crises in supply, manpower and civilian morale, became determining factors. The profound misery of humanity's economic and social experience between the wars flowed more or less directly from the Great War.
There is a widespread view that Franco-American relations have been consistently difficult at least since the presidency of Charles de Gaulle, but not so difficult as to prevent the two countries from joining together in times of crisis. The reality is more complex: the state of relations between France and the United States has not been a stable quantity but has instead oscillated over time, with a series of rifts and reconciliations. But the current crisis is more severe and goes deeper than previous ones, and is therefore likely to last longer – or even to become permanent.
To understand this, it is essential to realize that the French have recently experienced a major change in their worldview: they no longer see close bilateral Franco-American cooperation, even on terms favorable to France, as a central interest. The reasons for this change of heart are manifold, including the transformation of geopolitics, ideological shifts within French society, and changes in the structure and conduct of French domestic politics. But the inescapable result of these various changes is that maintaining positive relations with the United States is no longer a priority for a large portion of the French political class. Thus, while maintaining Franco-American relations on an even keel has never been an easy task, repairing the breach in bilateral relations occasioned by the Gulf War of March 2003 will therefore be even more difficult than in times past.
This study attempts to explain how in the twentieth century the concept of a European order which had evolved from the European balance of the nineteenth century, but with an added democratic dimension after 1919 and 1945, played a role in international relations, despite the two world wars which almost put an end to it; how it helped to sustain the concept of a minimum of European solidarity, despite numerous national and ideological conflicts; and how, at the start of a new century, this concept may again be significant for a continent that has not had a similar opportunity to establish a lasting peace since the Congress of Vienna. The concept of a European order may in particular serve as a way of accommodating Russia, which has no real prospect of becoming a member of the European Union.
David Lloyd George is usually considered to have lived up to his reputation for wiliness at the Paris Peace Conference. Woodrow Wilson remains the principled man, despite having succumbed to the tricks of corrupt Europeans. And Georges Clemenceau is generally believed to have led France well during the war, but to have been no more than an ineffective and irritated old man during the peace conference. I would like to revise this judgment and to argue that Clemenceau, the man who coined the phrase “politicians never resign and seldom die,” was, on the contrary, at the height of his political and intellectual power and extracted probably the most that could have been expected for France, a country among the victors, on the one hand, but, on the other, exhausted far more than its allies or enemies.
french War Aims
It is first of all necessary to keep in mind French war aims as they had evolved since the beginning of the war and been agreed upon by the government during the autumn of 1916. Apart from the return of Alsace-Lorraine, there was general agreement that German geopolitical, military, and economic power should be drastically reduced. Germany was widely considered to have striven for, and largely achieved, a hegemonic position in Europe. Thus it would be necessary to reduce its territory: Russia would take the Polish part of Prussia; France would retake Alsace-Lorraine and annex the Saar. There was no complete agreement in government circles on the Rhineland. Some favored annexation. Others thought this went too far and suggested that it should instead be cut off from Germany and transformed into two states closely linked to France and Belgium. At the very least it would be permanently occupied by French forces
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