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Politics, culture and the security of France : a reinterpretation of French foreign and security policy after the first world war

Jackson, Peter (2011) Politics, culture and the security of France : a reinterpretation of French foreign and security policy after the first world war. French Historical Studies, 34 (4). pp. 577-610. ISSN 0016-1071

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Abstract

French foreign and security policy after the First World War has long been depicted as an attempt to use traditional strategies based on the balance of power and alliance politics to compel Germany to comply with its obligations under the Treaty of Versailles. The evolution of a more conciliatory policy after 1924 is typically understood as a response to pressure from Britain and the United States, as well as to French weakness. This interpretation ignores important internationalist currents in French thinking about security during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and their impact during and after the First World War. It also fails to account for key developments in the French public sphere after that conflict. This articles argues that an approach to security best described as 'juridical internationalism' played dan increasingly influential role in shaping national security policy during the early 1920s. The result was a gradual move away from a policy of confrontation and a growing emphasis on compulsory arbitration and binding mutual assistance. This process culminated in the Locarno Accords of 1925.