The Allies’ war aims changed over the course of the conflict in response to military and diplomatic developments and to pressure from the United States to make them clear as a basis for negotiating peace.
All countries had territorial aims: to evacuate the Germans from Belgium, to restore Alsace-Lorraine to France, for Italy to get the Trentino, and so on. They also wanted to restore their defeated allies, Serbia and Romania, ideally with extra territory.
The British and French wanted somehow to crush Germany’s military capability, both as revenge and as insurance against a second conflict. They also came to want to carve up the Ottoman Empire between them, and to allow the component parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to set up independent states.
US President Wilson also hoped to establish world peace through a League of Nations, which also became an allied war aim.
Seán Lang is a senior lecturer in history at Anglia Ruskin University, and the author of First World War for Dummies.
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