Attitudes towards civil war among British officials, 1900-1924

Watling, Jack Merlin (2018) Attitudes towards civil war among British officials, 1900-1924. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

Civil wars are defining moments in the history of nations, and consequently attract considerable scholarly attention as events. The concept of civil war has received minimal attention among historians however. The original contribution to our understanding of civil war presented in this thesis lies in its analysis of the conceptual evolution of civil war, which had practical legal and policy implications for British officials in the first quarter of the twentieth century. By charting British officials’ responses to conflicts, primarily in Ireland and Russia, this thesis demonstrates how the concept of civil war changed. At the beginning of the twentieth century ‘civil war’ meant the division of a state’s institutions over questions of civic principle, and the continuation of politics by violent means. It was the internal affair of the state. Conflicts in Ireland and Russia did not fit these frameworks, and so the concept expanded to include the breakdown of order, and core assumptions about the dynamics of civil war were reshaped, from a focus on institutions, to an emphasis on communities. Civil war became a threat to international security. These changes fed into a growing acceptance of intervention, and the perception of civil war as a policy opportunity, which was a contributing factor to the emergence of civil war as the predominant form of warfare worldwide. This thesis also contributes to a growing historiography that is integrating national, imperial, European, and world history. The treatment of synchronic crises in Ireland and Russia in this thesis demonstrates how decision making in domestic, imperial, and international contexts were intrinsically interrelated. Civil war is necessarily a paradoxical term, for war is not civil, and therefore cannot be used without elaboration, which provides a valuable lens for gaining new insights into changing ideas about international governance, sovereignty, empire, government legitimacy, and civilization.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > History, Classics & Archaeology
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2019 17:04
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2019 17:04
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/372

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