The Washington Conference and the Naval Balance of Power, 1921–2

  • J. Kenneth McDonald
Part of the St Antony's book series


Short of war, there is perhaps nothing like an imminent international disarmament conference to concentrate a government’s mind on national strategy and policy. This essay therefore focusses on the second half of 1921 when Britain and the United States, having drifted into a post-war naval building race, revised their maritime strategies to make possible the naval settlement that resulted from the Washington Conference treaties.


Total Tonnage American Delegation Navy Department Filing Designation Home Water 
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  1. 1.
    A perceptive analysis of Alfred Thayer Mahan’s seapower doctrine can be found in Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (New York, 1976).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See George T. Davis, A Navy Second to None: The Development of Modern American Naval Policy (New York, 1940).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    These developments are discussed in excruciating detail in J. K. McDonald, ‘Lloyd George and the Search for a Postwar Naval Policy, 1919’, in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: Twelve Essays (New York, 1971).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    See Ian Nish, Alliance in Decline: A Study in Anglo-Japanese Relations 1908–1923 (London, 1972).Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    See, for example, V. Wellesley’s long ‘General Survey’, 20 Oct. 1921, Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919–1939, 1st Series, Volume XIV, R. Butler and J. P. T. Bury (eds) (London, 1966), No. 404; and the Foreign Office paper on a tripartite agreement, 22 Oct. 1921, ibid, No. 405.Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    (US Senate, Conference on the Limitation of Armament, Sen. Doc. 126, 67th Cong., 2nd sess. (Washington, 1922), pp. 56–63.)Google Scholar
  7. 53.
    The text of the Washington Treaty for the Limitation of Armament can be found in Harold and Margaret Sprout, Toward a New Order of Sea Power (Princeton, 1946), pp. 302–11.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John B. Hattendorf and Robert S. Jordan 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Kenneth McDonald

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