20 Pages

The British Official Mind and the Lausanne Conference, 1922–23: Erik Goldstein

The First World War and its aftermath saw Britain, briefly, become the predominant power in the Aegean. Through the occupation of Constantinople, the creation of an Army of the Black Sea, maritime supremacy, and a close relationship with Greece Britain attempted to achieve predominant control over one of the world’s strategic maritime lines of communication, the Straits and the Aegean. The core of Britain’s traditional interests lay with the Suez Canal and the bordering lands, but its aspirations of in this period were greater. As the Australian prime minister, Billy Hughes, exclaimed, ‘We are like so many Alexanders. What other world’s have we to conquer?’1 Brtain’s aspirations became tightly tied to those of Greece and its leader, Eleftherios Venizelos. When his regime collapsed, Britain maintained a tenuous attempt to retain its regional position, an effort which finally led to the debacle of the Chanak crisis. It was in the wake of this failed effort to impose British hegemony upon the Aegean world that London attempted to salvage something of its aspirations at the Lausanne Conference of 1922-23.