Feeble Foreign Policy

Wednesday February 12th 1936

The Cabinet had been expected to discuss the recommendations of the Defence Requirements Committee (DRC) that had had been meeting since 1934, but it was not to be. The DRC had been established to set a coherent pattern for Britain's armaments spending after a decade when the Ten Year Rule had dominated, applying the principal that Britain would not be involved in a major war in a rolling ten year time horizon. It had served as an intellectual justification for spending as little as possible on the armed forces. The institution of the DRC marked the formal end of the Ten Year Rule but not the adoption of any coherent programme of military spending. Politically unchallenging drift remained the unacknowledged policy of the Baldwin government.

Th topics actually discussed at the meeting provided a litany of Britain's ineffectual diplomatic policy. A formal alliance between France and Russia would be allowed to pass without comment. Britain's only real potential ally against the dictatorships in Italy and Germany was left in a vacuum. The BBC was to be headed away from any comment on Europe's dictatorships, Fascist or Communist. A Ministry of Defence was undesirable because the Secretary to the Cabinet thought that his own baby, the Committee for Imperial Defence, provided all the coordination that was needed.

If Stanley Baldwin had a strong suit as Prime Minister, it was not foreign policy.


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