Churchill's Plan to Win the First World War

As Home Secretary in 1911 Winston Churchill intervened in a debate about Britain’s role in a future European conflict. His observations were remarkably prescient and, had they been implemented, might have shortened the First World War, says Allan Mallinson.

Winston Churchill arriving at a Cabinet meeting in 1910 with Edward Grey (left) and Lord Crewe. Getty Images/Hulton ArchiveIn episode 88 of The West Wing, Warner Brothers’ fictional portrayal of the US presidency, the Speaker of the House of Representatives solemnly recounts the course of the July Crisis in 1914 to the president’s staff:

Franz Ferdinand, who was the nephew of the Austro-Hungarian emperor, was killed by a group called the Black Hand. And because they were a Serbian nationalist society, the empire declared war on Serbia. Then Russia, which was bound by a treaty, was forced to mobilise, which meant that Germany had to declare war on Russia. Then France declared war on Germany, and that was World War I. Because the emperor’s nephew was killed.

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