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Britain's search ...
Britain's search for support against an assertive Germany represented its first acknowledgement of relative decline in the international system. The British sought to conceal the extent of their policy shift, denying the entente relationship had any military or naval dimension. In fact, from late 1905 to the war, there were secret military and naval conversations between the two governments. Mr. Williamson, focusing upon the content and conduct of the covert planning, examines the assumptions of entente strategy and its operational consequences.
In the years after 1905 the military and naval talks would become a British substitute for a formal alliance commitment to the French; this use of the secret talks, which misled the British cabinet for years and the British parliament down to August 1914, possibly also explains Germany's failure to assess correctly Britain's support for France. Williamson thus helps put Fritz Fischer's arguments about German policy into a comparative framework.
The Politics of Grand Strategy also examines the domestic ramifications of the secret staff planning and the ineptness of radical leadership in the British Cabinet in trying to block the Continental strategy. The author analyzes the problems of civil-military relations, the difficulty of controlling zealous staff officers, and the inherent risks of all forms of strategic planning.
This second edition has a new preface that analyzes the abundant new literature appearing since 1969 on British military and intelligence operations, on the evolution of French strategic planning, and on the clashes of the entente and alliance systems.