The Hidden Perspective: The Military Conversations of 1906-1914

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A lecture by the Rt Hon Lord Owen CH, former UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.Rt Hon Lord Owen CH

Within weeks of taking office in December 1905, Foreign Secretary Edward Grey agreed to allow the General Staff to enter detailed talks with their French counterparts about sending a British Expeditionary Force to France in the event of a German attack. Neither the Cabinet or Parliament were told. Grey only informed Asquith in 1911, three years after he became Prime Minister, by which time the ‘hidden perspective’ of the Foreign Office was firmly established, influencing political decision making and sentiment.

Britain was the only country with the political and military strength to force Germany and France to negotiate in 1914. In his lecture, Lord Owen will draw on extensive primary sources and argue that the outbreak of war was far from inevitable, and represented eight years of failed diplomacy. With specific reference to the Iraq Inquiry, which is due to publish later this year, he will remind us of the perils of foreign policy not involving the Cabinet which are particularly relevant today.

The Rt Hon Lord Owen CH served as UK Foreign Secretary from 1977 to 1979. He was Leader of the Social Democratic Party from 1983 to 1987 and has held a number of senior international appointments, including EU peace negotiator in the former Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1995. Lord Owen is now an Independent Social Democrat in the House of Lords.

Lord Owen will be on hand to sign copies of his latest book entitled ‘The Hidden Perspective: The Military Conversations of 1906-1914’ (Haus Publishing Limited: March 2014), which will be on sale.

An optional £10 sandwich lunch shall be available from 1215.

This event is open to all RUSI members. To become a member, please click here.

To attend this event, please register online using the "Book your place" button above. If you have any queries please contact Sarah Morrison, Members' Events Co-ordinator, at or call +44 (0)20 7747 2600.

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