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Trial by Friendship

Trial by Friendship: Anglo-American Relations, 1917-1918

Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 286
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    Trial by Friendship
    Book Description:

    During the crucial period of 1917-1918, the United States superseded Great Britain as the premier power in the world. The differing strategic perspectives of London and Washington were central to the tensions and misunderstandings that separated the two dominant powers in 1918 and determined how these two countries would interact following the Armistice.

    David R. Woodward traces the projection of American military power to western Europe and analyzes in depth the strategic goals of the American political and military leadership in this first comprehensive study of Anglo-American relations in the land war in Europe. Based on extensive research in British and American archives, the study focuses on Woodrow Wilson and David Lloyd George, whose relationship was poisoned by the mutual suspicion and hostility generated by their disagreements over strategy and military policy.

    President Wilson sought to use his country's military effort in western Europe as a tool to gain acceptance for his "new diplomacy." The British, anxious over the Turko-German threat to Asia and their worsening manpower situation, sought to utilize American military intervention for their own political/military purposes.

    Woodward's use of unpublished sources provides new perspectives on war leadership, and his analysis of the British-American interaction serves as a case study of the inevitable tension between national self-interest and efforts at collective security, even among nations that share many cultural and political values.

    For historians and anyone interested in military history and World War I,Trial by Friendshipfills a gap in the study of Anglo-American relations by providing a strong, well- written study on an area of American history that has received scant attention from scholars.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5845-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations and Maps
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Prologue
    (pp. 1-3)

    On June 28, 1914, in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, an assassin’s bullet precipitated a chain of events with unforeseen and dramatic results for the destinies of the United States and Great Britain. The great war unleashed by this event accelerated an important trend in international affairs: the replacement of Great Britain by the United States as the world’s greatest power.

    Britain declared war on Germany on August 4. No British soldiers had fought in Western Europe since Waterloo, but Britain committed its small, elite fighting force to the Continental war. At the center of this decision was the fear...

  6. 1 From Rapprochement to the House-Grey Memorandum
    (pp. 4-25)

    The roots of cobelligerency with its underlying tension can be traced to the Anglo-American rapprochement that developed from 1898 to 1914 as America entered the world stage. Throughout much of the nineteenth century, international trends had favored both Britain and the United States over all other powers. The defeat of Napoleon and the 1814-15 peace settlement created a rare equilibrium in Europe, and Britain’s supremacy on the high seas served to shelter both countries from any realistic threat of invasion. Both consequently enjoyed the luxury of maintaining limited peacetime land forces. Britain refused to embrace the mass conscript army that...

  7. 2 From Mediator to “Associate Power”
    (pp. 26-43)

    Wilson’s mediation efforts made the British government confront for the first time an America suggesting that it was prepared to take a decisive part in world politics. Confident of victory, the British believed during the spring and summer of 1916 that they could rebuff Wilson’s potential threat to a favorable British peace without serious consequences. As the military stalemate continued into the fall, however, this was no longer true. America’s economic ascendancy over the British grew by the day. In contrast to Lloyd George, many British leaders were not so sanguine over their country’s economic and financial dependency on the...

  8. 3 The Balfour Mission and Americans Abroad
    (pp. 44-68)

    The assessment by the British Chief of the Imperial General Staff of America’s ability to influence the outcome of the war differed little from that of the German warlords who gambled for victory with the resumption of unrestricted U-boat warfare in February. On February 13, 1917, Robertson wrote a fellow general, Sir A.J. Murray: “I do not think that it will make much difference whether America comes in or not. What we want to do is to beat the German Armies, until we do that we shall not win the war. America will not help us much in that respect.”¹...

  9. 4 Britain as the Cornerstone
    (pp. 69-80)

    While the Balfour mission lobbied for American support in Washington, Entente fortunes took a serious turn for the worse. After bitter controversy with his high command, Lloyd George had succeeded in placing the BEF under the strategic direction of Nivelle, the French commander-in-chief, before the Allied spring offensive got under way on the western front. But Nivelle’s offensive, which began on April 16, fell far short of achieving its grandiose objectives. On April 18 Robertson told the War Cabinet that “generally speaking, the French attack ha[s] not achieved apparently the results expected.” More ominous than Nivelle’s failure to drive through...

  10. 5 Pershing’s War Plans
    (pp. 81-98)

    The pace of the war was initially quite frenetic for Pershing. He had reported to the War Department on May 10 to be told officially that he would command the AEF. Eighteen days later he and his hastily selected staff were aboard the transportBalticon their way to France. Their previous education and combat experience had not prepared them for the siege warfare of barbed wire and trenches. Nor did they appreciate how thoroughly high-explosive shells and rapid-fire weapons dominated the battlefield. Through its emphasis on the American Civil War, the Army War College had reinforced an image of...

  11. 6 The Knock-out Blow in Question
    (pp. 99-111)

    Before President Wilson acquiesced to his generals’ western strategy, which Pershing believed would result in an American victory in 1919, Lloyd George began to equivocate on his policy of the “knock-out blow.”¹ Significantly, the prime minister became interested in a negotiated peace with Berlin only after America came into the war. Setbacks to Britain’s Continental allies, especially Russia’s precipitous decline, and his pessimism about Haig’s offensive weighed far more heavily on his mind in September than the question of American help during the last half of 1918 and 1919.² Russia was hanging in the war by a thread, with socialists...

  12. 7 The House Mission and Anglo-American War Aims
    (pp. 112-129)

    President Wilson had rebuffed Lloyd George’s efforts in September 1917 to establish a special relationship between London and Washington. Having come around to the view that concentration on the western front served his country’s interests best, he refused to advance the prime minister’s strategic views in Allied councils. His apprehension about the Welshman had, if anything, been magnified by Wiseman’s curious and disloyal actions. On several important occasions Wiseman, who might have been expected to represent the views of his prime minister to House and Wilson, assumed the role of an honest broker. Wiseman’s distaste for Lloyd George’s machinations, which...

  13. 8 Before the Storm
    (pp. 130-148)

    The War Cabinet’s strategical focus prior to Hindenburg’s gigantic offensive on March 21, 1918, has an unreal quality about it. As Germany prepared for a war-winning offensive on the western front, the British prime minister and the imperial-minded members of his government increasingly looked eastward, alarmed by the potential Turko-German threat to Britain’s Asian position following Russia’s collapse. Robertson’s repeated warnings that Britain had no choice but to concentrate its military effort in the West to counter the growing German threat were greeted with considerable skepticism by the civilians. Often with a numerical superiority of more than three to two,...

  14. 9 The Western Front Imperiled
    (pp. 149-166)

    General Erich Ludendorff, the German army’s de facto commander, rejected a defensive policy designed to achieve a negotiated peace. Instead, he gambled on victory in Western Europe in 1918 through battles of annihilation against the Anglo-French forces. His all-ornothing strategy depended upon delivering a knock-out blow before the Americans arrived in sufficient strength to change the balance of forces decisively in favor of the Entente. The BEF was his initial target.

    On March 21, called by Hankey “one of the decisive moments of the world’s history,”¹ the main German blow fell on General Sir Hubert Gough’s Fifth Army, which had...

  15. 10 A New Strategic Landscape
    (pp. 167-184)

    During Germany’s two powerful offensives against the BEF in March and April, the bludgeoned British front had bent but not collapsed. But it was a near thing, and there was anxiety in London over the alliance’s ability to withstand further German attacks. During the lull between the second and third German offensives, the British leadership addressed future military prospects. The catalyst for this discussion was a paper by Leo Amery titled “Future Military Policy.” If the Central Powers defeated Italy and France, Amery asserted, Britain and the United States would have to “concentrate our whole military effort on the East,...

  16. 11 Disunity of Command
    (pp. 185-205)

    It has often been remarked that America in World War I had almost no strategic role to play in the land war because the principal theater of the war, the western front, had already been well established by the course of military events prior to April 1917. This argument assumes that Anglo-French strategic policy constituted a monolith, which was far from being the case, especially during the last phase of the war. The political leadership of Great Britain and the Dominions, more concerned than their primary war partners about the Turko-German threat to Asia, sought strategic flexibility to meet this...

  17. 12 Pax Americana?
    (pp. 206-220)

    The war’s unexpected conclusion in November could not have been more advantageous to the British Empire’s geopolitical goals. Nor could the results from the worldwide battlefields have been more surprising. As late as August the British political leadership, believing that the war would not reach a climax in Western Europe until 1919 at the earliest, had favored a conservative Continental military policy designed to further imperial interests.

    British arms in the outer theaters gave Lloyd George the strong negotiating position he sought. Following the Battle of Megiddo in Palestine in mid-September, Allenby’s cavalry pursued the broken enemy, advancing 350 miles...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 221-253)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 254-264)
  20. Index
    (pp. 265-278)