salesie, on 23 February 2012 - 11:15 PM, said:
You tell us that the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary along with several cabinet ministers put their own interests before the country's by agreeing to a declaration of war and not resigning en-masse. Which means, by definition, that you believe that the country's best interest was not to go to war in 1914 under any circumstances. Now that is a valid opinion to hold, but there are many who have the counter opinion that it was definitely not in the country's interest to allow German control of the continent.
I wonder if you actually read any of what I wrote?
You said "Which means, by definition, that you believe that the country's best interest was not to go to war in 1914 under any circumstances
That's not a logical conclusion to draw. I cannot imagine how you got that conclusion. As it happens I believe that they did the right thing in facing down their own Party comrades and getting a declaration of war.
Niall Ferguson (The pity of War) was the one who argued that we'd have been better staying out, I don't subscribe to that idea.
Nor am I an admirer of the "modern mythology". Very, very far from it. The revisionists are far more appealing intellectually.
You've inverted another piece of it as well.
Grey and Asquith along with others, who believed that war was inevitable, put the country's interests ahead
of their own and those of their party. Not vice versa. Morally it was a very brave thing to stand up to their friends. It could have resulted in the wreck of the Liberals, and under the LG Coalition in 1916 it did exactly that.
But up to August 2nd 1914 their party colleagues of the Liberal Radical persuasion, from Lloyd George downwards, were vehemently anti-war. At the series of cabinet meetings after the news of the Serbian Ultimatum from Austro-Hungary was heard they would not see any cause for Britain to declare war. For them it was unthinkable under any circumstances. Simon, and the others who quit, stuck to that principle. I disagree with their views, but admire moral courage wherever it can be found.
Asquith told Samuel, in the afternoon of August 2nd "I shall stick by Grey in any event". Which meant that Grey drove Government policy. And Grey was of the definite opinion that war was inevitable.
The remainder took a view best summarised in a letter that H. Samuel sent to his wife later that day:
"Had the matter come to an issue, Asquith would have stood by Grey in any event, and three others would have remained. I think all the rest of us would have resigned. The consequence would have been either a Coalition Government or a Unionist Government, either of which would certainly have been a war ministry
J. A. Pease sent a note to Burns which said "for the majority of the Cabinet to now leave meant a ministry which was a war one and that was the last thing (Burns) wanted
Pease to his wife "The P.M. is anxious that we should see this thing through as a party and says he wants as many of his colleagues to stay with himas he can get, so as not to go outside the Party
". Here is revealed the implication that Asquith might form a Coalition if the Radicals deserted him.
Simon to C. Addison (a Liberal M.P.) "an important consideration with (Simon) was that ... if a block were to leave the Government at this juncture, their action would necessitate a Coalition Government which would assuredly be the grave of Liberalism
The Liberals in Cabinet whose gut instincts had always been anti-war were complicit in allowing British involvement in that very war to come about purely in order to prevent a Coalition or a Unionist Government.
They may well have done the right thing, which is
my opinion, but they did it for purely party political ends, to keep the Unionists out of power.
The best single chapter about the political turmoil leading to the maintenance of Liberal Government and the declaration of war is probably Ch.8 of 'The policy of the Entente'.
my opinion. It's historical, documented fact. The references for sources about these quotes are all drawn from that chapter.
I'm not going to list them here, as you have an aversion to lists of sources. Go and buy or borrow a copy and check them out yourself.