The Decision to Disarm Germany
The Coalition’s first election manifesto had spoken of reducing Britain’s armaments, and during the campaign Lloyd George had not only expressed his commitment to a general limitation of armaments but had specifically introduced the issue of German disarmament. In deciding Britain’s peace conference position on both general and German disarmament and on the broader question of the maintenance of postwar stability, British leaders had, of course, to take into account the public expectations created by their wartime and campaign utterances. J. C. Smuts presented his desire to undo the wartime Allied territorial arrangements to the advantage of the British Empire in the broader terms of Britain’s probable postwar position vis-a-vis the other Great Powers. While the main emphasis was on territorial terms, Lloyd George included disarmament among the ‘other large and vital problems on which attention should be concentrated immediately’ in order to formulate guidelines for the conversations.