Balance of Power or Principle of Nationality? The Evolution of French Plans towards East-Central Europe during the War

Isabelle Davion


In August 1914, France had already defined a pattern of war aims which would be shaped andamended during the next four years. Regarding East-Central Europe, two approaches presentthemselves to the French policy-makers: the classic system of alliances to maintain the balanceof power, and the new internationalist doctrine implying the priority application of the principleof nationality. Both these concepts reacted to the geopolitical evolutions which occurredduring the Great War. The article analyses these evolutions of the French concept of a ‘worldorder’ in East-Central Europe between 1914 and 1918 primarily through an examination of thecase of Poland.

Key Words: First World War, security policy, alliances, self-determination, war aims, successorstates.



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