Book Quotes – Niall Fergusson

“[In 1914 at the outbreak of the first world war] … it also worried Sir John French, Nicholson’s successor as Chief of the Imperial General Staff that the Belgians might be prepared to disregard a limited infringement of their territory. The meeting concluded that

‘In order to bring the greatest possible pressure to bear upon Germany it is essential that the Netherlands and Belgium be entirely friendly to this country, in which case we should limit their overseas trade, or that they should be definitely hostile in which case we should extend the blockade to their ports.’

In other words – if the Germans had not violated Belgian neutrality in 1914, Britain would have. This puts the British Government’s much-vaunted moral superiority in fighting ‘for Belgian neutrality’ in another light.”

From The Pity of War by Niall Fergusson (1998)


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