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5 - About turn: British strategic transformation from Salisbury to Grey

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Richard Hart Sinnreich
Affiliation:
Independent Scholar
Williamson Murray
Affiliation:
Ohio State University
James Lacey
Affiliation:
Marine Corps War College
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Summary

On a crisp morning in December 1905, a British general by the name of James Grierson and a French major by the name of Victor Huguet had what both later claimed was a chance encounter while horseback riding in London's Hyde Park. Grierson, however, happened to be the British War Office's director of operations and a passionate Francophile, while Huguet happened to be the French military attaché in London. Whether accidental or not, that encounter was followed by another less accidental meeting the following day, and a few weeks later by the inauguration of informal but officially sanctioned Anglo-French “staff conversations” that would continue off and on until the outbreak of World War I in August 1914.

Those conversations, and their contribution to Britain's subsequent decision to participate in a great power conflict on the European continent for the first time since the defeat of Napoleon a century earlier, continue to fascinate diplomatic and military historians. Most agree that, whatever their direct impact on that decision, the conversations themselves reflected a fundamental transformation of British foreign policy, the culmination of more than a decade of mounting concern about the British Empire's continued security and prosperity and the strategic arrangements needed to sustain them.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Shaping of Grand Strategy
Policy, Diplomacy, and War
, pp. 111 - 146
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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