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Maintaining The Peace Notes

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Maintaining the Peace: 1919-1923



After Versailles the public hoped for a return to normalcy. In Britain social reforms were overdue, unemployment problems needed solving and there was a desire to return focus onto the empire. Britain's armed forces were reduced under the 'Ten Year Rule'. Problems quickly developed in Ireland, Egypt, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Britain's relationship with France was also troublesome. During this period Lloyd George became increasingly captivated by foreign policy, determined to make new, open diplomacy work. He attended 23 victor power conferences in 1920-22. Lloyd George's new attitude greatly angered the Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, and their relationship quickly turned sour.

Britain, France & Reparations:
- France continued to demand rigid enforcement of Versailles. They feared Germany, a country with 50% more people and 3 times the industrial capacity.
- France needed reparations to repair war damage, falling back on them when an alliance or continuing economic cooperation was not forthcoming.
- On 27th April 1921 the Reparations Commission produced a final reparations bill of 132 billion marks (£6600 million). This was to be paid for in annual 2 billion mark instalments and a 27% tax on German exports.
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Britain claimed 22% of the reparations, but had large loans to pay back to the USA. In the Balfour Note on August 1st 1922 Lloyd George pressed the US for a moratorium on inter-allied debts, arguing that this would allow reparations to be lowered and thus increase the likelihood of them being received. The proposal met little approval in either country. Britain was owed more than it owed the US, meaning it would be a net loser if it went through. By late 1921 Germany were already in default, so to help settle French grievances Lloyd George started talks with the French over a potential military alliance to assure their security. These talks broke down. The French demanded too much of the British military, particularly at a time of supposed disarmament. As a result France made alliances with the new states of Eastern Europe: Poland (1921) and Czechoslovakia (1924).

Disarmament Talks:
- After Versailles there were intensive efforts at international disarmament. This began with the Washington Naval Conference which commenced in November 1921.

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