Fist Of History

Net Neutrality and the Interstate Commerce Commission – a lesson from history [OPINION]

November 14th, 2014

John-D-Rockefeller-sen

Usually I try to avoid using the Fist to talk about current political issues by bringing history to bear, but in this case I decided it was appropriate to do so, as long as I flagged it as an opinion piece.  The current debate on net neutrality seems to rest, in part, on a debate about whether or not internet service providers should be forced to treat all content identically when delivering, i.e. if internet providers should be bound by the idea of the “common carrier.”  This in turn is challenged by others who argue that the government should not be allowed to get into the business of regulating the internet, should not treat internet providers as “common carriers”, and also it is perfectly reasonable for internet providers to charge different amounts based on the need, or ability to buy preferential treatment, of certain internet businesses over other internet businesses.  The last is the topic that I find personally most concerning, as the United States has dealt with this issue in the past, in the form of the Standard Oil Company, John D. Rockefeller (pictured above), and eventually the Interstate Commerce Commission.

640px-Standard_oil_octopus_loc_color

John D. Rockefeller eventually formed the Standard Oil Company (unflattering depicted above) but he began building an oil producing combination through a combination of buying up local oil producers and negotiating special rates for his product to be shipped on the railroads.  Furthermore he negotiated that in the event his rivals product was shipped, the railroads would pay him a bonus equal to the difference between his special rate and his competitors shipping rate.  This plan was codified in the South Improvement Company.  (It also agreed to share all his competitors rates, shipping schedules, and costs with Rockefeller.)  In turn the oil traffic was divided up among the various member railroads to provide a fixed rate of shipment and a guaranteed market share to each member, cutting the “chaos of cost cutting competition.”

Now the South Improvement Company never took off, Rockefeller’s rivals called foul and public pressure, along with near violence in some areas, led to the collapse of the scheme.  Rockefeller though simply continued with his previous method of operation, including negotiating secret deals and rate rebates so that his oil shipped at lower prices than his competitors, despite it being the same oil.  This in turn was the foundation upon which the Standard Oil monopoly was based, and although it was later broken up through the Sherman Anti-Trust Act this naked favoritism in the use of a commonly valued commodity moving network led to the Progressive’s pressuring the United States government to reform railroad.

How_times_have_changed_U._Keppler_1914

This led to the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887 and, with it, the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission.  Now the commission was not all success and wonder, it ended up becoming to some a major regulatory burden on the free market and a point of protection for the industries it was trying to regulate, but what it did do was eventually force a system of uniform rates on the railroads and made them into a true “common carrier” of cargo.  This was done solely to prevent a future deal in which “sweetheart” deals could be struck by some companies to gain favor in using a common freight delivery system over their competitors, competition considered unfair.  Considering the role the internet plays in commerce today, and its commonalty with the railroads of the past, it seems to my eye history provides a solid lesson in what happens if regulation to enforce uniform rates and fair access is not enforced.

Hint – it ends up with a lot of independent producers being gobbled up by one sneakier/more success competitor that uses rate manipulation to gain an edge.

Sources:  Wikipedia entries on South Improvement Company, Interstate Commerce Commission, Interstate Commerce Act, John D. Rockefeller, two different articles in the Marquette Law Review on the Interstate Commerce Act, a Wired article that discusses the connection between the act and the internet, and a contrary blog post on the subject

Heinkel He 162 – Germany’s Super-Cheap Jet Fighter

November 12th, 2014

Heinkel_He_162_Freeman_Field_IN_1945

By 1944 Nazi Germany was facing a rather serious problem, the combined British and United States heavy bomber attacks on occupied Europe and Germany were proving disruptive to Germany’s ability to wage war, more critically though the widespread deployment of the United States P-51 Mustang had led to the German air force suffering massive casualties in both pilots and equipment.  The need appeared for an aircraft that met three seemingly conflicting design goals:

  • A high-speed fighter capable of evading the P-51 Mustang and being able to attack massed bomber formations successfully
  • A high-performance fighter capable of succeeding in a dogfight with a P-51 Mustang
  • The new plane had to be made of non-strategic materials as much as possible, with a preference for the use of wood as much as possible
  • The plane had to be cheap enough that it was cost-effective to simply ditch damaged planes and replace them with an entirely new fighter
  • The plane had to be simple enough to fly that it take minimal training to fly it successfully

Despite the challenging requirements every German aircraft manufacturer submitted a design, due to the expected high volume of fighters produced, the winner of the contest though was the entry by the Heinkel corporation, specifically the eventually designated He 162 (pictured above.)  A light-weight fighter the Heinkel He 162 is the epitomizes the idea that “four out of five ain’t bad.”

The aircraft had an impressive top speed and test pilots who took the Heinkel He 162 into the air described it as a pleasure to fly, nimble and reactive.  It also featured an advanced retractable landing gear system that didn’t require hard to maintain parts, had a decent armament, and was constructed of a blend of wood and metal that was cost effective.  In fact the only goal it utterly failed on was being simple to fly – due to a combination of its design and sensitive controls it required a highly experienced pilot to operate the aircraft successfully.  It also had one other minor problem…

Bei Mödlingen, unterirdische Flugzeugproduktion

The Heinkel He 162 was a hybrid plane of metal and wood, wooden wings and secondary structures attached to a metal aircraft body, and to achieve this production quickly and successfully the German manufacturers used glue.  Unfortunately the glue they had to use was not particularly good and the wings had a penchant for falling off – when the plane was taking off, flying, landing, sitting still on a calm day, the wings would just drop off the plane.  The production timeline for the fighter though was so tight and the need so great the German air force did not pull the fighter from production or deployment due to this (and other design problems) – units simply had to “make do” as best they could under the circumstances.

Although only moderately deployed before the end of the war had Germany had more time, and more trained pilots, the Heinkel He 162 might have been a useful addition to its air defense that was viable, rather than insane like some other ideas that appeared in the increasingly desperate years of 1944 and 1945.

Sources:  Wikipedia entry on the Heinkel He 162 and an entry in German Aircraft of the Second World War, including Helicopters and Missiles

 

Danegeld (otherwise known as Taxes Never Die)

November 10th, 2014

640px-Ethelred_the_Unready

Danegeld (Dane Gold) was a tax paid by the English between the late 10th century and the end of the 12th century – a tax based upon land holdings.  Originally the Danegeld was first collected in 991 AD when the English king, Ethelred the Unready (pictured above) lost a key battle against Danish raiders and was advised by Sigeric the Serious, Archbishop of Canterbury, to pay off the Danes rather than having them trash the countryside in a raiding frenzy.  This payment of about 6,600 pounds of silver, about three tons total, was sufficient to convince the Danes to leave rather than trashing the English countryside.

Sweyn_Forkbeard

In 994 AD the Danes returned under their king Sweyn Forkbeard and laid siege to London, where they received another massive payoff in silver sufficient to convince the Danes of two valuable lessons:

  • Raiding is less productive than forcing the locals to pay you not to raid their countryside
  • Being really terrifying can produce large amounts of money without incurring the expense of actual conquest

Using this successful capital raising plan the Danes proceeded to extract increasing large payments from the English:

  • In 1007 AD the Danes agreed to a two year peace in exchange for about 27,000 pounds of silver, or roughly 13 tons of silver
  • In 1012 AD after the Danes raided and killed the Archbishop of Canterbury and burned the abbey they got a payment of 36,000 pounds of silver, or roughly 18 tons of silver
  • In 1016 AD a Dane became the king of England and, after paying off his invasion forces, paid the Danes about 54,000 pounds of silver, or roughly 27 tons of silver

william_the_conqueror

Now in 1066 William the Conqueror took over England and was a powerful enough military force, plus changes in Denmark, that Danish raids on England were far less of a threat.  However the newly established Norman aristocracy/monarchy looked upon this huge amount of silver regularly raised and figured “I want to get some of that.”  So the Dangeld was maintained as a new tax to be paid directly to the English/Norman crown, for use by the king on whatever projects happened to fit his fancy.  From 1066 through to the late 12th century this tax funded foreign conquests, internal military activities, and infrastructure improvements that interested the king.  The tax was collected using the same method as previous collections of Dangeld and only ended when a new system of taxation was designed that rested upon the consent of Parliament and involved taxing a larger overall economic base, taxes on “moveable” property.  It also reflected a change in tax philosophy with the Parliament consenting to taxes, but not granting individual exemptions to influential groups or individuals.

Now I would argue what was key in this taxes history is the name, Danegeld, because of the necessity of extracting the tax to buy off Danes people found the silver, and once they were used to paying the tax they kept on doing so as an expected cost of life even when the threat of raiding had ended.

Sources:  Wikipedia entry on the Danegeld, entry on Studies in the History of Tax Law, entry in Encyclopedia Britannica on Dangeld.

 

Election Fun – 19th century style

November 4th, 2014

girlgangsters1800s

In honor of the 2014 election I thought it fitting to talk about elections during the “Good Old Days” of democracy, specifically the early to middle 19th century in the United States.  Back in those days voting was not really an “individual” activity but was considered more of a “community endeavor” in which your vote was a broader reflection of the general feelings of your neighbors and those who made up your social and economic class.  Enforcement of this outlook came from many sources, including pressure and patronage from your local political machine, active pressure from the clergy on the subject, and of course the very real possibility of being brutally beaten for voting incorrectly.

19th century street gangs played a pivotal role in many local urban elections, through the fine tradition of “cooping” – an activity in which these adorable ruffians would grab random citizens who were unwilling to exercise their right to the franchise, beat the crap out of them, often force alcohol down their throats, and then deliver them to the polling station where they could cast their ballot with the help of the street gang members.  To further enhance their voting presence the street gangs would often take the drunken and injured voter back outside of the polling place, change their clothing and give them a free shave or haircut, and then run them through the ballot lines again.  Quite often with the help of these “voting enhancement” gangs some citizens got to vote a large number of times throughout the city.  One theory on the death of Edgar Allan Poe is he was a victim of a street gang helping him exercise his franchise in this manner.

tweed-sq

Another fine 19th century voting service provided for the general citizens was ballots with built in extra-convenience, specifically ballots were printed by local party organizations and came with the entire parties ticket pre-printed on the ballot to assist you in speeding your way through the polls.  If a citizen happened to want to split their votes in most electoral districts this was considered undesirable and inefficient and was simply not an option in early to mid 19th-century elections.  After all a voter was encouraged to support a specific party in its totality as this further assisted the efficiency of local government on many levels.  The parties also helpfully printed these prepared ballots on colored paper, to allow for easier identification of which party you happened to be supporting.  As an added bonus hired street thugs who stood outside the pooling place could tell, based on the color of the ballot paper you were carrying, if you were voting for the right party in the right district.  Often those who misunderstood how this arrangement operated were escorted, violently, from the voting booth before they could cast an incorrect ballot.

Ah the good old days of elections – so efficient, so streamlined, and so much more of a community building experience for everyone!

Sources:  Wikipedia entries on the Death of Edgar Allan Poe, Cooping, the Five Points Gang, and Straight-Ticket voting

Operational Ariel – the forgotten 1940 evacuation

October 30th, 2014

220px-Royal_Air_Force-_France,_1939-1940._C1742

The Dunkirk evacuation of 1940 is a famous example of pulling semi-success out of a disaster, with over three hundred thousand British and allied troops being pulled from the beaches of Dunkirk amidst air attacks by Germany and with the threat of a sudden tank assault shattering the beachhead entirely.  Less well known is the follow-up evacuation from western France code-named Operation Ariel, where roughly an additional two hundred thousand British and allied soldiers were removed back to England.  Unlike Dunkirk, with its flash and explosions, Operational Aerial was conducted without much German interference and the troops being evacuated were not front-line combat troops but instead were mostly made up of support troops and administrative staff, as well as some major combat units.  Although the operation was marred with some minor casualties overall the maneuver was successful, skillfully carried out, and the rescued troops and equipment made up a key core of the reconstituted British army that was able to resume the war later in 1940.  (It was from these and the men at Dunkirk that re-enforcements could be drawn to take part in the British North Africa campaigns.)

Bretagne_map

What makes Operation Ariel more interesting than just a second-round version of Dunkirk though is the somewhat daffy plan developed by Winston Churchill in 1940 to create a national redoubt in Brittany (pictured above) to provide a last bastion of defense against Germany and a point where continued resistance on the European continent could take place against the German army.  Churchill actually sent two fully equipped and fresh defenses into France after the Dunkirk evacuation to combine with the support troops trapped in western France to form what he grandly called “the Second British Expeditionary Force.”  The general in charge of this new venture, Sir Alan Brooke, arrived in France on 13 June 1940, a full nine days after Britain had abandoned its positions in Dunkirk.

Alan_Brooke_at_desk_1942

Brooke (pictured above), upon reviewing the situation, decided that France had been crushed and any additional British troops staying in France would be wasted resources.  He spent his first day calling the British high command, which quickly agreed, and Churchill, who did not quickly agree, that the national redoubt idea was foolish.  It took much arguing but eventually Brooke carried his argument and saved an additional two hundred thousand troops from being turned into a bonus prize for the victorious German army to capture.  The Brittany national redoubt was one of many ideas Churchill desperately put forth in an effort to keep some sort of French commitment in the war – other ideas he advocated were that France continue the war from its colonies and a permanent French/British national union, which would have made the two nations into one single legal entity and transferred the remaining French military assets into British assets.  None of these plans came to fruition and France, as a nation, dropped out of the war shortly after Operation Ariel was concluded.

Sources:  Wikipedia entries on Operation Ariel and Sir Alan Brooke, entry in Ian Flemming’s Commandos by Nicholas Rankin, entry in Blood, Sweat and Arrogance by Gordon Corrigan.

Operation Unthinkable – moving World War II to World War III in one easy step

October 28th, 2014

Yevgeny_Khaldei_-_Reichstag_After_Fall_of_Berlin_-_1945

With the collapse of Germany in April 1945 pending, and the Soviet Union’s forces having gained military dominance throughout Eastern Europe, Great Britain under Winston Churchill was concerned that Josef Stalin would not keep to his agreements regarding maintaining the balance of power in Eastern Europe.  At the Yalta Conference in February 1945 the Soviet Union, the United States, and Great Britain had agreed that Poland would be allowed a chance to “democratically modify” its currently imposed Communist government to create a new harmonious government between the Polish government in exile, located in Great Britain, and the Soviet Union’s backed government now in place.  Stalin agreed to this in principle but in reality had no intention of allowing anything to form in Poland that might represent a threat to the Soviet Union.  This policy extended to other areas of Eastern Europe under the Soviet Union’s control, including Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Albania.  Churchill though was aware of this risk and in early 1945 ordered the British high command to develop a special war plan to extend the current war into an attack against the forces of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe with the goal of pushing them back and removing Stalin’s influence in Eastern Europe.

churchill

The British high command, deciding that a snappy nickname would outline in a pithy manner their feelings on this plan, named the requested initiative “Operation Unthinkable.”  The plan called for using approximately forty-seven British and American divisions, roughly half the total forces of the Western Allies in Europe, combined with rearmed Polish troops and 100,000 rearmed former German soldiers fighting as a combined force in a surprise attack against Soviet forces located in Dresden.  For this plan to have even a remote chance of success surprise would have to be absolute and the Western Allies would have to also have a high degree of luck in their planned attempted assault.  Even with these factors the British high command considered the plan fanciful due to the cold realities of math, the Soviet Union, even against this massive force, outnumbered the Western Allies by three to one.  Furthermore if surprise was not total and the Soviet Union compelled to peace terms the Western Allies would find themselves in a second total war.

Once it became further clear that the United States was not going to condone such schemes, with the need to redirect forces from Europe for its planned invasion in late 1945/early 1945 of mainland Japan, Operation Unthinkable was transformed into a British defensive plan to hold Western Europe in the event of a Soviet invasion.  The assessment of the British high command though was that any attempt to prevent the Soviet Union from conquering Western Europe by British and European allied forces alone would be impossible and the best chance of defense was aerial and naval assault from a British redoubt.

Sources:  Wikipedia entries on Operation Unthinkable and the Yalta Conference, entry in Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances by Frank Costigliola

Old Cartoons and Old Ads Friday

October 24th, 2014

Gem_Freezer_Ice_Cream_Maker_Ad_1890

Source:  Life Magazine, 1890

Note – you have to read it carefully but one feature is it won’t pinch/mangle fingers

Cartoon_Give_A_Seat_1893

Source:  Life Magazine, 1893

Messinger_Easy_For_Ladies_Saddle_Ad_1896

Source:  Life Magazine, 1896

Note – Ladies, it avoids all injurious pressure!

Cartoon_Fish_Funeral_1900

Source:  Life Magazine, 1900

Cartoon_Gramatical_Clerk_1896

Source:  Life Magazine, 1896

Modene_Ad_1891

Source:  Life Magazine, 1891

Note – this ad in particular I find really terrifying – what was this stuff?  Hoax?  Worse, did it work?

World War I Intrigue – Felix Sommerfeld in Mexico and the United States

October 22nd, 2014

Sommerfeld

The key question in World War I after the initial conflict of 1914 was resolved was what role the United States would end up playing in the conflict, for Great Britain, France, and Russia the United States was a key supplier of credit, munitions, arms, and secondary equipment needed to sustain their herculean efforts in the conflict.  In turn, for Germany, working to prevent the United States from contributing to the conflict to any greater extent, and keeping the United States from entering the conflict, were key goals until 1917.  One example of this effort is the mysterious work of Felix Sommerfeld (pictured above on the far left), who from the period of 1908 through 1918 Sommerfeld worked as a German agent in Mexico and the southwestern United States.  Sommerfeld was trained as a mining engineer and had a very colorful background prior to entering German service, including spending time in the United States as a prospector, briefly as a U.S. soldier in the Spanish-American War (he deserted), and also fighting as a German soldier during the 1900-1901 German expedition to suppress the Chinese Boxer Rebellion.  How Sommerfeld ended up working as a German agent is a mystery but from 1908 through 1917 he was very busy in Mexican politics, specifically working as an illicit arms merchant funneling U.S. weapons into the Mexican Rebellion and sending regular reports on the situation in Mexico, and U.S. policy towards Mexico, back to Germany.

In the tumult of the Mexican Revolution Sommerfeld ended up initially working for the Mexican government under President Madero (1911 – 1913) where he served as the head of the Mexican Secret Service and used that position to build a massive spy network within the United States.  He also had connections with several famous mercenary soldiers and recruited them to help suppress an uprising against Madero in 1912.  With Madero’s fall in 1913 Sommerfeld left Mexico under the protection of the German ambassador and got involved in the new movement to overthrow Mexico’s new leader, Victoriano Huerta.

Pancho_Villa

As part of that effort he drummed up financial and military support for Pancho Villa, the northern Mexican military leader and political focal point of one major effort to overthrow Huerta.  The question that comes up, and cannot be answered, is did Sommerfeld have any influence on Villa’s decision to launch a raid into New Mexico in 1916 in an attempt to bring the United States into the Mexican civil war?  Villa did the raid in the hopes of dragging U.S. forces southwards into Mexico deep enough to provoke a conflict between Huerta’s forces and the U.S. military, a conflict that might destabilize Mexico and bring Villa a new opportunity at winning a leadership position in Mexico.  For Sommerfeld, and Germany, a 1916 U.S./Mexican war would have probably kept the United States tied up during a critical point in World War I and cut the availability of United States support to France, Great Britain, and Russia.  Had the plan succeeded and the United States intervened with a massive military force, it might have changed the course of the war.  As it happened the U.S. sent in a token force and the situation was defused.

Sommerfeld was arrested eventually when the United States entered the war, he fades from history after the end of the war.

Sources:  Wikipedia article on Felix A. Sommerfeld, entry in Revolutionary Mexico:  The Coming and Process of the Mexican Revolution by John Mason Hart, review of the book Hiding in Plain Sight by the CIA, and entry in the Life and Times of Pancho Villa by Friedrich Katz.

World War I – 1914 – Now What?

October 21st, 2014

Trench_Warfare_2

It is 2014 and this date marks the century mark of the Great War, or World War I for those who don’t mind spoilers.  Mid-October 1914 marked the end of what was later called the “Race to the Sea”, a series of flanking maneuvers and brutal contact battles between the German Army and mainly the French army, working with the remains of the British army, in a desperate bid to get to an open point where either side could resume the offensive.  Behind both armies was left a long thin line of trenches, marking the end of easy ground maneuvering between both armies and the closing of the earlier rapid advances at the start of the war in August 1914.  Traditionally at this point most articles on the subject focus on a long series of individual brutal battles and close with an observation that by late October 1914 the French and British began their next attempt, a series of short sharp mass battles to try and break the enemy trenches before the winter closed in and ended serious campaigning between the two sides.  (Another spoiler, the French and British did not manage to successfully breakthrough and end World War I in late 1914.)

Tannenburg

What is key to remember is the context of the Race to the Sea period, Germany had just given the Russian army on its eastern front a series of backhanded smacks that had sent the Russians reeling in late August 1914 but that victory had been due to a combination of excellent German luck and terrible Russian planning and implementation.  The Russian army remained a threat, and in late October 1914 was still lurking as a real risk that Germany, wrapped up in its major efforts on its western front, might face a sudden Russian surge that, at worse, crushed Germany and at best tied down additional German resources.  So for the German military leadership this time in October 1914 they were facing a serious strategic nightmare, on the one hand they had not successfully crushed the French, but they had captured a huge amount of valuable territory and French industrial resources, withdrawing from it would seem to signal a failure of their war efforts which, by all logic, had been successful.  Granted they hadn’t knocked the French out of the war by capturing Paris but France was severely weakened, if Germany could just hold on long enough the thought was France would not be able to maintain the war.  As well Germany still hoped in 1915 that a method for a certain breakthrough in the west would occur.

Meanwhile they would continue to smack around the Russians as needed and work with their ally, Austria-Hungary, to keep the Eastern front contained.  It wasn’t until later Germany completely shifted gears and made the major focus of the war knocking Russia out of the conflict.

But what is fascinating is by October 1914 Germany, France, and Britain were locked in a savage problem, neither one could disengage from the war but none of the three had a sure-fire technique to regain the initiative and end the war.  Germany needed to resolve the war so it could turn on Russia, out of fear that Russia would field a massive doom army that would smash Germany.  France needed the war to continue to regain its lost territories, and Britain needed the war to continue to re-ensure Belgium and Holland were independent again ending the threat of German control of the key European ports for invading England.

Yet none of these three powers had any clear means to proceed – and the trenches which were a defensive holding stance till things were figured out became the dominant factor in the western European front.

Sources:  Mental Floss article on the Race to the Sea, Wikipedia entry on the Race to the Sea and Paul von Hindenburg

Anglo-German Naval Accord of 1935 – A Perspective

October 15th, 2014

Stanley_Baldwin_ggbain.35233

The Anglo-German Naval Accord of 1935 is, in the overall history of pre-World War II events, from a traditional perspective is probably one of the less important bits of diplomatic maneuvering in 1930s Europe.  During the same period when it was signed, the mid to late 1930s, Germany began to aggressively and openly rearm, seized and re-militarized the Rhineland, aided the Spanish Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, and eventually annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia.  Germany also successfully concluded alliances with most of its neighbors but the two that really mattered were a treaty signed with Italy and, much later, with the Soviet Union.  (Germany also signed a treaty with Japan that was diplomatically vital but in affecting the balance of power it has less impact than the other two treaties, besides making the British Empire even more prone to panic and defensive alliances.)

At its heart the Anglo-German Naval Accord of 1935 was a basic naval arms limitation treaty signed directly between Great Britain and Germany in which Germany pledged to keep its total naval strength at no more than 35% of that of the British fleet, based on tonnage, and also agreed to pursue a balanced program of naval development rather than building a “specialized fleet” – such as one oriented towards commerce raiding.  The treaty allowed Germany to build submarines again for the first time since World War I, within more generous tonnage ratio limitations.  The treaty was considered a major diplomatic success for the British government, led by Stanley Baldwin (pictured above), and for Adolf Hitler kindled hopes that this initial diplomatic success would pave the way towards a broader defensive treaty with Great Britain or, dream of dreams, an alliance that would allow Germany a free hand in continental Europe.

Adolf_Hitler_retouched

The core impact of this treaty though was greater than it might first appear when considered in context and factoring in national pride and human emotion, because the Anglo-German Naval Accord of 1935 was negotiated without consulting the French or Italian governments, as Great Britain had promised to do in the mid-1920s.  From the mid-1920s through the early-1930s Great Britain, France, and Italy were part of what was known as the Stresa front, an earlier alliance aimed at containing any possible German aggression by all three signatory nations – Italy, France, and Great Britain.  As a further blow for France by allowing Germany to have a larger navy, and submarines at all, this treaty refuted the Versailles Treaty, upon whose enforcement French security hopes rested in the 1920s and early 1930s.  With Great Britain renouncing that and pursuing its own private peace France was forced to consider its reliance on Great Britain to be less of a factor and reacted with its own efforts to increase its military size and preparations for war.

220px-Pierre_Laval_a_Meurisse_1931

I would argue though for France, in particular for its leadership (symbolized by the Prime Minister at the time, Pierre Laval pictured above), this treaty underscored a more critical humiliation, France was no longer in command of its own foreign policy.  The British government could sign this major treaty that redefined French and German naval balance, ignore the French government, and then inform them of its actions.  But as France needed British support to have any chance of successfully defending itself against German aggression this treaty probably helped re-enforce feelings in France’s public and leadership of inferiority and an inability to effectively resist.  I would contend that those feelings, that emotional burden, was part of what weighted down France’s military planning and civil leadership and remained a problem for its effective ability to defend itself up till the actual outbreak of the war.  Only the actual defeat of France, and seeing the impact it really had, versus it’s imagined impact, helped galvanize France to emerge from the war with fire in the mid to late 1940s.

Sources:  Wikipedia entry on the Anglo-German Naval Treaty of 1935, entry on the treaty in World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia edited by Spencer Tucker