chapter  2
16 Pages

THE CONCEPT AND CONTEXT OF DISARMAMENT, 1919–34

Before embarking on a detailed analysis of British disarmament policy in the years 1919-34, it is important to define what exactly is meant, for the purposes of this study, by the term ‘disarmament’. It has been used to cover all conditions, from the complete abolition of armaments, to the reduction of levels of armaments, and even to the increase in their level where the aim is to achieve a measure of limitation and control. It can thus be seen that the term is open to great misinterpretation, and in order to avoid such misinterpretation a number of political scientists, after the Second World War, began to use the term ‘arms control’ rather than the traditional ‘disarmament’ as the generic word for negotiations which sought to limit armaments by international agreement. Control of armaments, it was felt, removed the apparent anomaly of a ‘disarmament’ agreement which actually led to an increase in their level. As far as Hedley Bull, one of the most important of the British political scientists to adopt this phrase, was concerned, the aim was to counter the proponents of ‘general and complete disarmament’ such as Philip Noel-Baker.1