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7 The House Mission and Anglo-American War Aims President Wilson had rebuffed Lloyd George's efforts in September 1917 to establish a special relationship between London and Washington . Having come around to the view that concentration on the western front served his country's interests best, he refused to advance the prime minister's strategic views in Allied councils. His apprehension about the Welshman had, if anything, been magnified by Wiseman's curious and disloyal actions. On several important occasions Wiseman, who might have been expected to represent the views of his prime minister to House and Wilson, assumed the role of an honest broker. Wiseman's distaste for Lloyd George's machinations , which served to undermine the influence of the Foreign Office, was no doubt genuine; but his frequently hostile analysis of Lloyd George's motives fed the suspicions of the American leadership, however much it may have increased their confidence in the British intelligence agent. What especially shook Wilson was Wiseman's assertion that full American participation in Allied conferences might result in "shifting the center of gravity of the war from Washington to London and Paris."1 In discussing British efforts to get him to send a political representative to Europe, Wilson emphasized to House that he would trust no other person to represent his views. "No one in America," he told the Texan, "or in Europe either, knows my mind and I am not willing to trust them to attempt to interpret it."2 Although Wilson was prepared to coordinate American military policy more closely with that of the Allies, he had no intention of creating the special Anglo-American alignment in military policy that Lloyd George wanted. To the contrary, he remained intensely suspicious of Lloyd George and the right-wing Tories in the War Cabinet. Moreover, perhaps influenced by Wiseman, he never did appoint a permanent political representative in Europe to speak for him. His only concession, then and later, to appeals for America's political participation in Allied councils of war was to send House, the individ- The House Mission and War Aims 113 ual whom he believed knew his mind best, to represent him for brief periods. As noted, Wilson declared that he had "no intention of loosening his hold on the situation."3 Before departing for Europe on October 29 as the president's special emissary, House discussed at length with Wilson "questions of strategy on each of the fronts," including "the campaign in Asia Minor, and the partition or non-partition of Turkey."4 House's diary does not reveal the exact nature of this discussion, but the two men almost certainly agreed that the United States should not become involved in furthering the expansion of the British Empire in the Middle East.5 To accompany House as the War Department's representative, and provide him with professional military advice, Wilson chose Bliss, who had earlier expressed alarmist views about Allied intentions to diminish the AEF's role through amalgamation. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Benson, an Anglophobe, represented the Navy Department. House arrived in London in the midst of a violent controversy over the powers of the new Supreme War Council, which had been created at Rapallo, Italy, on November 7.6 Sir Henry Wilson's relationship to Robertson quickly became the central issue of the emerging political crisis. The military party charged that Lloyd George, rather than encouraging unity in military policy, had created a flawed system of dual military advice in his attempt to make General Wilson, as the British permanent military representative on the inter-Allied General Staff, independent of the British General Staff. "Dual advice can only lead to delay, friction, weakening of responsibility and lack of confidence amongst the troops," Robertson told Lord Derby.7 When Lloyd George returned to London from Paris on November 13, he was met with a barrage of press criticism. "Hands Off the British Army!" thundered the Star. Other papers warned that support for the concept of unity of command should not be confused with support for civilian meddling in military strategy. In Parliament there were ominous rumblings from both Unionists and supporters of Asquith. The beleaguered Lloyd George dined with House alone that night, asking for American support for the new Supreme War Council. House, who had been lobbied by Robertson the previous day, was not about to be used in Lloyd George's attempt to divert British resources away from the western front to Palestine or...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813158457
Related ISBN
9780813118338
MARC Record
OCLC
654772526
Pages
286
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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