British Aspirations and Compromise
British interests at the Paris Peace Conference were represented by Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who developed an easier relationship with Woodrow Wilson than French Premier Georges Clemenceau. However, the prime minister was capable of diplomatic sharp dealing and deception when necessary.
Leading British concerns included the following:
- Primacy on the Seas. British economic and diplomatic strength were rooted in a vigorous international trade, protected worldwide by the British Royal Navy. They held little interest in Wilson's call for freedom of the seas and wanted to continue a long tradition of ruling the waves with little interference from other nations.
- Territorial Gain. To keep merchant and naval vessels afloat, the British needed to expand a network of repair and fueling stations across the globe. They hoped to divide German island possessions in the Pacific with their ally Japan and secure access to a newly important fuel — oil — by gaining a position of primacy in the Middle East. The British also hoped to acquire some German holdings in Africa.
See also Wilson's Search for Peace