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‘No more Hoares to Paris’: British foreign policymaking and the Abyssinian Crisis, 1935

  • ANDREW HOLT

Abstract

Italy's invasion of Abyssinia in October 1935 prompted a major European crisis. This article applies the main theories of foreign policy analysis to the British Government's handling of this crisis. It argues that bureaucratic politics existed, but had little impact on outcomes. Domestic politics had more influence, but did not provide detailed instructions on how to act. The perceptions of key actors, informed by reasoned judgement, determined this. Fears of the threat posed by rival states coalesced with concerns about Britain's own military weakness, leading decision-makers to emphasise the need to act in tandem with France. British policy was therefore motivated by the tension between the public's desire to see action against Italy and the Government's wish to minimise any breach with her allies. These findings highlight the weaknesses of the bureaucratic politics model and show how domestic politics can affect foreign policy outcomes. They also demonstrate the interaction between rational analysis defined in terms of reasoned judgement, and actors' perceptions. It is thus argued that benefits are to be gleaned from combining these theories.

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5 Hollis, Martin and Smith, Steve, ‘Roles and Reasons in Foreign Policy Decision Making’, British Journal of Political Science, 16:3 (1986), p. 283 . See also, Richardson, , Crisis Diplomacy, pp. 1415, 236, 357, 361 .

6 Hollis and Smith, ‘Roles and Reasons’, p. 278; Lebow, Richard Ned, Between Peace and War: The Nature of International Crisis (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 101103, 107 ; Mongar, Thomas M., ‘Personality and Decision-Making: John F. Kennedy in Four Crisis Decisions’, Canadian Journal of Political Science, 2:2 (1969), p. 225 .

7 Allison, Graham and Zelikow, Philip, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 2nd edition (New York: Longman, 1971), pp. 164165 .

8 Frankel, Joseph, ‘Towards a Decision-Making Model in Foreign Policy’, Political Studies, 7:1 (1959), p. 8 ; Halperin, Morton H., Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1974), p. 116 . See also, Maoz, Zeev, ‘Framing the National Interest: The Manipulation of Foreign Policy Decisions in Group Settings’, World Politics, 43:1 (1990), pp. 77110 .

9 Allison, and Zelikow, , Essence of Decision, pp. 256258 ; Halperin, , Bureaucratic Politics, p. 99 .

10 Jervis, Robert, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), pp. 2627 ; Hollis and Smith, ‘Roles and Reasons’, p. 283. See also, Rhodes, Edward, ‘Do Bureaucratic Politics Matter? Some Disconfirming Findings from the Case of the US Navy’, World Politics, 47:2 (1994), pp. 30, 32, 39 .

11 Hollis and Smith, ‘Roles and Reasons’, pp. 275–7; Bendor, Jonathan, and Hammond, Thomas H., ‘Rethinking Allison's Models’, American Political Science Review, 86:2 (1992), p. 315 ; Lebow, , Between Peace and War, pp. 155156 ; Record, Jeffrey, Making War, Thinking History: Munich, Vietnam, and Presidential Uses of Force From Korea to Kosovo (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2002), p. 2 ; Richardson, , Crisis Diplomacy, p. 253 .

12 Frankel, ‘Towards a Decision-Making Model’, p. 5; Jervis, , Perception and Misperception, p. 387 . See also, Lebow, , Between Peace and War, p. 305 .

13 Risse-Kappen, Thomas, ‘Public Opinion, Domestic Structure and Foreign Policy in Liberal Democracies’, World Politics, 43:4 (1991), pp. 480481 ; Barber, James, Who Makes British Foreign Policy? (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1976), pp. 78 ; Vital, David, The Making of British Foreign Policy (London: Allen and Unwin 1968), pp. 7275 . Cf. Wallace, William, The Foreign Policy Process in Britain (London: Allen and Unwin, 1977), p. 88 .

14 Janis, Irving L., Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982), pp. 35 .

15 Jervis, , Perception and Misperception, pp. 32, 68 ; Holsti, Ole R., ‘Individual Differences in “Definition of the Situation”’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 14:3 (1970), pp. 303334 .

16 Richardson, Crisis Diplomacy, p. 268; Lebow, , Between Peace and War, pp. 195202 ; Smith, Steve, ‘Belief Systems and the Study of International Relations’, in Little, Richard and Smith, Steve (eds), Belief Systems and International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 12 ; Jervis, , Perception and Misperception, p. 187 .

17 Lebow, , Between Peace and War, pp. 224228 ; Janis, Irving L. and Mann, Leon, Decision Making: A Psychological Analysis of Conflict, Choice, and Commitment (New York: Free Press, 1977) ; Jervis, , Perception and Misperception, p. 406 . See also, pp. 369–72, 380; Neustadt, Richard E. and May, Ernest R., Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision-Makers (New York: Free Press, 1986), p. 235 .

18 Record, , Making War, Thinking History, p. 3 ; Jervis, , Perception and Misperception, p. 17 .

19 May, Ernest R., “Lessons” of the Past: The Use and Misuse of History in American Foreign Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. ixxii ; Jervis, , Perception and Misperception, pp. 271, 281282 ; Record, , Making War, Thinking History, pp. 129, 155156, 164 .

20 Lebow, , Between Peace and War, p. 102 ; Jervis, , Perception and Misperception, p. 28 .

21 Hall, Hines H., III, ‘The Foreign Policy-Making Process in Britain, 1934–1935, and the Origins of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement’, Historical Journal, 19:2 (1976), p. 478 .

22 Barbar, , Who Makes British Foreign Policy?, pp. 6465 ; Vital, , British Foreign Policy, p. 48 ; Steiner, Zara, ‘Decision-Making in American and British Foreign Policy: An Open and Shut Case’, Review of International Studies, 13:1 (1987), p. 16 .

23 Wallace, , Foreign Policy Process, p. 113 ; Barbar, , Who Makes British Foreign Policy?, p. 90 .

24 Wallace, , Foreign Policy Process, p. 88 . See also, Barbar, , Who Makes British Foreign Policy?, pp. 94, 97 .

25 Barbar, , Who Makes British Foreign Policy?, p. 18 .

26 Watt, D. C., ‘Divided Control of British Foreign Policy – Danger or Necessity?’, Political Quarterly, 33:4 (1962), pp. 373374 ; Wallace, , Foreign Policy Process, p. 46 ; Steiner, ‘Decision-Making’, p. 3. See also, Barbar, , Who Makes British Foreign Policy?, pp. 79 .

27 Wallace, , Foreign Policy Process, p. 13 . See also, Barbar, , Who Makes British Foreign Policy?, pp. 78, 22, 26 .

28 Barbar, , Who Makes British Foreign Policy?, pp. 3435 .

29 Wallace, , Foreign Policy Process, pp. 4041 ; Vital, , British Foreign Policy, pp. 57, 89 ; Reynolds, David, Britannia Overruled: British Policy and World Power in the Twentieth Century, 2nd edition (Harlow: Longman, 2000), p. 45 ; Heclo, Hugh and Wildavsky, Aaron, The Private Government of Public Money: Community and Policy Inside British Politics, 2nd edition (London: Macmillan, 1981), p. 203 .

30 Hennessy, Peter, Whitehall (London: Fontana, 1990), p. 78 ; Heclo, and Wildavsky, , Private Government, p. 162 ; Wallace, , Foreign Policy Process, p. 74 .

31 Barbar, , Who Makes British Foreign Policy?, pp. 52, 60 ; Wallace, , Foreign Policy Process, p. 10 .

32 Heclo, and Wildavsky, , Private Government, p. 379 . See also, Jennings, Ivor, Cabinet Government, 3rd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959), p. 124 .

33 Wallace, Foreign Policy Process, pp. 22, 51; Cross, J. A., Sir Samuel Hoare: A Political Biography (London: Cape, 1977), p. 188 .

34 See Barton to Simon, DBFP, XIV, No. 163 (19 February 1935); Barton to Simon, British Documents on Foreign Affairs [hereafter BDFA], Series G, Vol. XXVIII, Doc. 132 (20 February 1935); Barton to Simon, DBFP, XIV, No. 217 (26 March 1935); Barton to Hoare, BDFA, G, XXIX, Doc. 15 (30 June 1935).

35 Hoare to Barton, DBFP, XIV, No. 474 (20 August 1935); Drummond to Hoare, BDFA, G, XXIX, Doc. 6 (I June 1935); Drummond to Vansittart, DBFP, XIV, No. 56 (22 December 1934); Drummond to Hoare, DBFP, XV, No. 60 (10 October 1935).

36 Memorandum by Campbell, DBFP, XIV, Appendix III (9 August 1935). See also, Barton to Hoare, BDFA, XXIX, Doc. 15; Draft memorandum by Jebb for the Dominions, J 3584/1/1, FO 371/19123, The National Archives, Kew, Richmond upon Thames, London [hereafter TNA] (2 August 1935).

37 Vansittart to Drummond, quoted in DBFP, XIV, No. 59 (28 December 1934), note 2.

38 Templewood, Viscount, Nine Troubled Years (London, Collins 1954), p. 166 ; note by Oliphant, DBFP, XIV, No. 490 (20 August 1935); Chamberlain diary (29 November 1935), quoted in Macleod, Iain, Neville Chamberlain (London: Muller, 1961), p. 188 ; Cross, , Hoare, p. 236 .

39 Hall, ‘Foreign Policy-Making Process’, pp. 480, 484.

40 Taylor, , Origins of the Second World War, p. 125 .

41 Middlemas, Keith and Barnes, John, Baldwin: A Biography (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969), pp. 876877 .

42 Vansittart, Lord, The Mist Procession: The Autobiography of Lord Vansittart (London: Hutchinson, 1958), p. 525 , Hall, ‘Foreign Policy-Making Process’, pp. 477, 499; Hardie, Frank, The Abyssinian Crisis (London: Batsford, 1974), p. 156 ; Chatfield to Vansittart, DBFP, XIV, No. 431 (8 August 1935); Chatfield to Fisher (25 August 1935), quoted in Marder, Arthur, ‘The Royal Navy and the Ethiopian Crisis’, American Historical Review, 75:5 (1970), pp. 13301331 ; Parker, R. A. C., ‘Britain, France and the Abyssinian Crisis’, English Historical Review, 89:361 (1974), p. 319 .

43 Marder, ‘Royal Navy’, pp. 1336–7; Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, p. 553 . Hardie, , Abyssinian Crisis, pp. 150, 155 ; Cross, , Hoare, p. 236 .

44 Hennessy, , Whitehall, p. 85 . See also, Jennings, , Cabinet Government, p. 127 .

45 Earl of Avon, , The Memoirs of the Rt. Hon. Sir Anthony Eden, Vol. II: Facing the Dictators (London, Cassell, 1962), p. 242 ; Baer, George W., Test Case: Italy, Ethiopia, and the League of Nations (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1976), p. 147 ; Cross, , Hoare, p. 201 ; Dutton, David, Anthony Eden: A Life and Reputation (London: Arnold, 1997), p. 45 ; Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, p. 833 ; Rose, , Vansittart, p. 164 ; Templewood, , Nine Troubled Years, p. 138 ; Thorpe, D. R., Eden: The Life and Times of Anthony Eden, First Earl of Avon, 1897–1977 (London: Chatto and Windus, 2003), p. 157 .

46 Avon, , Facing the Dictators, p. 303 ; Cross, , Hoare, p. 264 . See also, Templewood, , Nine Troubled Years, pp. 178, 191 ; Templewood, , Nine Troubled Years, pp. 137138 .

47 Note by Vansittart to Hoare and Eden, BDFP, XV, No. 251 (23 November 1935); minutes by O'Malley and Vansittart, J 2389/1/1, FO 371/19112, TNA (3 June 1965); Dutton, , Anthony Eden, p. 47 ; Doerr, Paul W., British Foreign Policy, 1919–1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), pp. 181183 ; Cross, , Hoare, p. 204 ; Medlicott, Norton, ‘The Hoare-Laval Pact Reconsidered’, in Dilks, David (ed.), Retreat From Power: Studies in Britain's Foreign Policy of the Twentieth Century, Vol. 1: 1906–1939 (London: Macmillan, 1981), p. 126 .

48 Medlicott, ‘Hoare-Laval Pact’, pp. 124–5; Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, p. 892 ; Rose, , Vansittart, p. 180 .

49 Robertson, James C., ‘The Origins of British Opposition to Mussolini over Abyssinia’, Journal of British Studies, 9:1 (1969), p. 127 ; Avon, , Facing the Dictators, p. 302 ; Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, pp. 871, 899 ; Parker, ‘Britain, France and the Abyssinian Crisis’, p. 318; Baer, , Test Case, p. 48 ; Watts, D., Stanley Baldwin and the Search for Consensus (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1996), p. 115 ; ‘Conference of Ministers’, CAB 23/82, TNA (21 August 1935). See also, Frankel, ‘Towards a Decision-Making Model’, p. 10.

50 Marginal note by Vansittart, DBFP, XIV, No. 175 (25 February 1935); Vansittart to Hoare (10 July 1935), quoted in Parker, ‘Britain, France and the Abyssinian Crisis’, p. 298; Hoare to Clerk, BDFA, XXIX, Doc. 62 (25 October 1935); Waley, Daniel, Public Opinion and the Abyssinian War, 1935–6 (London: Temple Smith, 1975), p. 68 ; Robertson, James C., ‘The Hoare-Laval Plan’, Journal of Contemporary History, 10:3 (1975), p. 453 ; minute by Thompson, J 2224/1/1, FO 371/19111, TNA (5 June 1935).

51 Robertson, James C., ‘The British General Election of 1935’, Journal of Contemporary History, 9:1 (1974), pp. 150, 152 ; Watts, , Stanley Baldwin, p. 113 ; Waley, , Public Opinion, pp. 6869 ; Cross, , Sir Samuel Hoare, p. 251 ; Parker, ‘Britain, France and the Abyssinian Crisis’, p. 323; Patrick to Hoare (12 December 1935), quoted in Cross, , Sir Samuel Hoare, p. 250 .

52 Doerr, , British Foreign Policy, p. 163 ; Luckowitz, D. C., ‘British Pacifists and Appeasement: The Peace Pledge Union’, Journal of Contemporary History, 9:1 (1974), p. 115 ; CC 42 (35) 3, CAB 23/82 (22 August 1935); draft memorandum for the Dominions by Jebb, J 3584/1/1, FO 371/19123, TNA (2 August 1935).

53 For the complete results of the Peace Ballot, see Adams, R. J. Q., British Politics and Foreign Policy in the Age of Appeasement, 1935–39 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1993), p. 161 .

54 Avon, , Facing the Dictators, pp. 237, 254 ; Cross, , Sir Samuel Hoare, p. 212 ; Bell, P. M. H., The Origins of the Second World War in Europe (London: Longman, 1986) ; Dutton, , Anthony Eden, p. 49 . See also, Robertson, ‘Origins of British Opposition’, p. 122; Hoare to Chamberlain, DBFP, XIV, Appendix I(c) (18 August 1935).

55 Minute by Vansittart, DBFP, XIV, No. 301 (8 June 1935). See also, note by Vansittart to Hoare, DBFP, XIV, No. 308 (16 June 1935); minute by Vansittart, J 2459/1/1, FO 371/19113 (17 June 1935); CC 42 (35) 2, CAB 23/82, TNA (22 August 1935).

56 Doerr, , British Foreign Policy, pp. 184185 .

57 See Parker, ‘Britain, France and the Abyssinian Crisis’, p. 311.

58 Amery, L. S., My Political Life, Vol. III: The Unforgiving Years 1929–1940 (London: Hutchinson, 1955), p. 176 .

59 Robertson, ‘British General Election’, pp. 159–60; Northedge, F. S., The Troubled Giant: Britain Among the Great Powers, 1916–1939 (London: London School of Economics and Political Science 1966), p. 421 ; Amery, , My Political Life, p. 180 .

60 Templewood, , Nine Troubled Years, p. 176 .

61 Amery, , My Political Life, p. 183 .

62 Avon, , Facing the Dictators, p. 306 . See also, Young, G. M., Stanley Baldwin (London: Hart-Davis, 1952), p. 217 .

63 Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, p. 891 ; CC 56 (35) 2, CAB 23/82, TNA (18 December 1935).

64 Birn, Donald S., ‘The League of Nations Union and Collective Security’, Journal of Contemporary History, 9:3 (1974), p. 132 .

65 Drummond to Simon, DBFP, XIV, No. 66 (30 December 1934); Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, p. 836 .

66 Reynolds, , Britannia Overruled, p. 59 ; Thorpe, , Eden, pp. 141142 .

67 Drummond to R. Cecil (29 December 1931), quoted in Robertson, ‘Origins of British Opposition’, p. 133.

68 Cross, , Sir Samuel Hoare, pp. 205, 257258 ; Cooper, Duff, Old Men Forget: The Autobiography of Duff Cooper (Viscount Norwich) (London: Hart-Davis, 1953), p. 190 ; Marder, ‘Royal Navy’, p. 1341.

69 Minute by Vansittart, DBFP, XIV, No. 175 (25 February 1935).

70 Minute by Campbell, DBFP, XIV, No. 304 (12 June 1935); Parker, R. A. C., Chamberlain and Appeasement: British Policy and the Coming of the Second World War (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1993), p. 47 ; Eden to Ormsby Gore (August 1935), quoted in Avon, , Facing the Dictators, p. 249.

71 Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, p. 855 ; Jenkins, Roy, Baldwin, (London: Collins, 1987), p. 147 .

72 Foreign Office paper (27 November 1935), cited in Cross, , Sir Samuel Hoare, p. 235.

73 Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, p. 854 .

74 Doerr, , British Foreign Policy, p. 182 . See also, Parker, ‘Britain, France and the Abyssinian Crisis’, pp. 331–2; Smith, Malcolm, ‘The Royal Air Force, Air Power and British Foreign Policy, 1932–37’, Journal of Contemporary History, 10:3 (1977), p. 171 .

75 Phipps to Hoare, DBFP, XV, No. 213 (13 November 1935).

76 See Hoare to Drummond, BDFA, XXIX, Doc. 18 (6 July 1935); Record of Anglo-French conversation, DBFP, XIV, No. 553 (10 September 1935); Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, p. 855 ; Simon to Drummond, BDFA, XXVIII, Doc. 155 (3 May 1935).

77 Hoare to Clerk, BDFA, XXIX, Doc. 23 (29 July 1935); draft memorandum by Jebb for the Dominions, J 3584/1/1, FO 371/19123, TNA (2 August 1935).

78 Mallett, Robert, Mussolini and the Origins of the Second World War, 1933–1940 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), pp. 2124 .

79 Drummond to Simon, BDFA, XXIX, Doc. 4 (23 May 1935); Simon to Barton, DBFP, XIV, No. 58 (26 December 1935); minute by Vansittart, DBFP, XIV, No. 175 (23 February 1935); Templewood, , Nine Troubled Years, p. 185 .

80 Avon, , Facing the Dictators, p. 36 .

81 Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, p. 830 ; Rowse, A. L., All Souls and Appeasement: A Contribution to Contemporary History (London: Macmillan, 1961), p. 26 ; J 2389/1/1, FO 371/19122, TNA.

82 Morewood, Steven, The British Defence of Egypt, 1935–1940: Conflict and Crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean (London: Frank Cass, 2005), p. 12 .

83 Morewood, , British Defence of Egypt, pp. 2728 ; Drummond to Hoare, J 5026/1/1, FO 371/19135 TNA (20 September 1935); Clerk to Hoare, DBFP, XV, No. 81 (15 October 1935); Robertson, ‘Origins of British Opposition’, p. 142; Drummond to Hoare, BDFA, XXIX, Doc. 64 (30 October 1935); Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, p. 851 ; Parker, ‘Britain, France and the Abyssinian Crisis’, p. 312; Cross, , Sir Samuel Hoare, p. 238 .

84 Amery, , My Political Life, p. 186 ; minute by Vansittart to Hoare, DBFP, XV, No. 323 (6 December 1935).

85 Marder, ‘Royal Navy’, p. 1337; Avon, , Facing the Dictators, pp. 244, 247 .

86 Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, p. 850 ; Cross, , Sir Samuel Hoare, pp. 223224 ; Vansittart to Hoare, DBFP, XIV, No. 427 (7 August 1935); Medlicott, ‘Hoare-Laval Pact’, pp. 128–9.

87 Templewood, , Nine Troubled Years, p. 110 ; Middlemas, and Barnes, , Baldwin, p. 880 .

88 Cross, , Sir Samuel Hoare, p. 211 ; Clerk to Hoare, DBFP, XV, No. 378 (15 December 1935).

89 Avon, , Facing the Dictators, p. 238 . See also, Northedge, , Troubled Giant, p. 412 ; Parker, , Chamberlain and Appeasement, p. 102 .

90 CC 43 (35) 1, CAB 23/82, TNA (24 September 1935).

91 Clerk to Hoare, DBFP, XIV, No. 487 (22 August 1935); Parker, ‘Britain, France and the Abyssinian Crisis’, p. 308.

92 Medlicott, ‘Hoare-Laval Pact’, p. 129; CC 46 (35) 2, CAB 28/82, TNA (9 October 1935); Robertson, ‘British General Election’, p. 158; Record of Anglo-French conversation, DBFP, XIV, No. 554 (10 September 1935), Enclosure.

93 See Rhodes, ‘Do Bureaucratic Politics Matter?’

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‘No more Hoares to Paris’: British foreign policymaking and the Abyssinian Crisis, 1935

  • ANDREW HOLT

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