chapter  9
7 Pages


Having analysed the detail of Britain’s approach to the dilemma of confronting the disarmament problem, the study has shown that the method chosen by successive British governments was, as a general rule, merely to react to events and proposals instigated by other powers. The two minority Labour governments did, at least, try to impose their own ideology on their conduct of foreign policy, including the pursuit of disarmament, but their success was restricted by factors largely outside their control. Overall, however, Britain took refuge behind the twin myths that her own unilateral arms reductions had been undertaken to bring about agreement at the League-and so absolved her from making further reductions-and that her own reductions in armaments after 1919 were on a different level and scale from any other power. Accordingly, she left others to make the running at Geneva. With one or two exceptions, the result was a purely reactive policy, with a considerable element of procrastination thrown in for good measure.1