Military Conversations


Military Conversations
(1906–1914)
   Anglo-French military staff discussions of 1905 to 1914, subsequent to the Entente Cordiale of 1904. They were originally authorized by the faltering Tory government of A. J. Balfour, but received their most significant impetus from Edward Grey, foreign secretary in the new Liberal government of 1905. Grey, a Liberal Imperialist with a comparatively realist view of international relations, kept the conversations secret from his more radical cabinet colleagues. The conversations discussed the deployment of a relatively small - by continental standards - British expeditionary force of about half a dozen divisions to operate against potential German invaders in cooperation with the French Army.
   Conversations continued over a number of years, but assumed renewed seriousness after the 1911 Agadir crisis. The conversations were conducted under the explicit conditions that no British commitment was implied; nevertheless they acclimatized the British command structure, including both the military and senior ministers, to thinking of themselves as French allies. The military conversations were a significant part of the increasing division of the major powers into two hostile blocs in the years before 1914.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Herrmann, David G. The Arming of Europe and the Making of the First World War. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996;
    Keegan, John. The First World War. London: Hutchinson, 1998.
   MARK F. PROUDMAN

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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