Back to Grey and World War I 

Back to Grey and World War I

Still reading.

Grey spends some time on an offer of arbitration that Woodrow Wilson extended, before the U.S. entered the war, by way of Wilson's friend Colonel House.

[blockquote]Colonel House expressed an opinion decidedly favourable to the restoration of Belgium [to independence from Germany], the transfer of Alsace and Lorraine to France, and the acquisition by Russia of an outlet to the sea, though he thought that the loss of territory incurred by Germany in one place would have to be compensated to her by concessions to her in other places outside Europe.[/blockquote]

Once again, there was a lost opportunity for both sides--but perhaps particularly for Germany.

[blockquote]How does it all look now? In the light of after-events, it is clear that Germany missed a great opportunity of peace. If she had accepted the Wilson policy, and was ready to agree to a Conference, the Allies could not have refused. They were dependent on American supplies; they could not have risked the ill-will of the Government of the United States, still less a rapprochement between the United States and Germany. Germans have only to reflect upon the peace that they might have had in 1916 compared with the peace of 1919.[/blockquote]

Did the Allies also miss an opportunity?, some years after the mighty peace of 1919, the condition of Europe is sufficiently disappointing to make it interesting to imagine what the course of events might conceivably have been if the Allies and Germany in 1916 had told President Wilson that they were ready for the Conference he was prepared to summon.

....The terms were such as must have demonstrated the stultification and failure of Prussian militarism. Granted that militarists are incorrigible and would have desired to prepare a new war, would the German people have been so disillusioned about war as to depose militarism from control?

....if a Wilson peace in 1916 had brought real disillusionment about militarism, it would have been far better than what actually happened.

Grey also spends a fair bit of time on the question whether Britain should accepted early offers from Greece to come into the war on the Allied side. Grey argues that unless Greece made substantial concessions to Greece and Bulgaria, the Greek entry into the war would surely have brought both Turkey and Bulgaria in on the side of Germany.

Greece was not at all ready to make the concession that might placate Bulgaria. She was not going to risk war on the side of the Allies with a view to giving up territory. The consequences of accepting the Greek offer would have been to unite Turkey and Bulgaria even more actively; to annoy Russia (would have had to defend itself in the south, instead of concentrating on Germany to the west); to precipitate the very thing that our diplomacy was charged by our military authority to delay, namely, war with Turkey.

At this point Grey gets back to Gallipoli. Of Churchill's two "escapades," Grey defends Antwerp as not "the mere madcap exploit of a passion for adventure, which it was for some time afterwards assumed to be"; he does not quite defend Gallipoli in the same way. Here he says the suffering of Gallipoli, in hindsight, made some people wish Greece had somehow come into the war earlier--forgetting the real situation at the time.

What is stiking in all of this is that Grey presents Britain as almost helpless to do anything other than keep reinforcing the lines in France. At the mercey of the U.S. in one way, Germany and Russia in different ways. If still a giant, then a helpless giant.

There's also good stuff on correspondence between Grey and Theodore Rossevelt, which I'll save for another post.

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