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Facing the Second World WarStrategy, Politics, and Economics in Britain and France 1938-1940$
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Talbot C. Imlay

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199261222

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199261222.001.0001

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The Strategic Dimension in France

The Strategic Dimension in France

(p.23) 1 The Strategic Dimension in France
Facing the Second World War


Oxford University Press

The French went to war in September 1939 convinced that the conflict would be long and confident that victory would come in time. Once the French and British mobilized the latent yet superior resources of their two countries and empires, the balance of power would swing decisively in their favour, paving the way to victory. In the meantime, the Allies would remain largely on the defensive, waging economic warfare to weaken their enemies while avoiding premature and potentially costly offensive action. Some scholars criticize this strategy for the disastrous complacency it supposedly fostered, while others endorse its grasp of military and economic realities. This chapter argues that the French never fully embraced the long-war strategy. Although useful as a general guide for French strategic thinking for much of the 1930s, the strategy began to unravel towards the end of the decade.

Keywords:   balance of power, long-war strategy, French, strategy

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