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nothing more should be said about the policy which
these rapprochements had emphasized. The meet-
ing of the Conference appeared to sanction the
deference of France to this request. The debates
of this same Conference were about to prove to the
Chancellor that the "eviV was deeper seated than
he had imagined; and that Europe, after once shak-



194 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

ing off Germany's diplomatic yoke, did not intend
to submit to it again.

Ill

The Conference of 1906 was a disappointment to
Germany. The fact was that, owing to the ease
with which she had triumphed in the preceding
year, she had neglected to take into consideration
the durable realities underlying ephemeral appear-
ances.

When, on the 15th of January, 1906, the delegates
of the Powers met at Algeciras, the situation in
Europe was no longer what it had been six months
earlier. First of all, in France, a material and moral
change had occurred. A reflecting uneasiness had
succeeded the scare. Military measures had been
taken, and this was known. Ninety-four million
francs had been spent on ammunition, thirty mill-
ions on equipment, twenty-six millions on railways.
The press, which in the beginning had been divided
and hesitating, had now recovered itself, and had
rallied the minds of the public to the idea of resistance
being necessary, after so many concessions. On
the other hand, in August, 1905, Russia had signed
peace with Japan. And, in spite of the disorganiza-
tion inevitably caused by an unsuccessful war, she
had resumed her place in Europe. England, who,
if France had been willing, would have made war
in 1905, had seen in Germany's success a fresh
motive for acting in conjunction with us for the



CONFLICT OF THE ALLIANCES 195

purpose of establishing the European balance of
power. On the 1st of September, 1905, in view of
the Conference, Spain had strengthened the ties '^
that bound our two countries together. Last of all,
and above all, the circumstances of an International
Conference were less favourable than a tete-h-tUe
to the game of menace and '^ bluff" practised by
Germany in the previous year. If a rupture were
aimed at, it would be less easy to realize amidst the
cumbersome machinery of an international gather-
ing; and, by reason of the time lost, would appear
less specious. If intimidation and moral pressure
were the object, Europe's presence at the debates
would allow us to find support and to create majori-
ties. It was not so difficult for us to remain cool.
Our risks were not so great.

This was not suspected at Berlin. There they
relied on the docile aid of the two Powers of the
TripUce. William II reserved to himself the task
of personally influencing the Czar so as to get him
to adopt a neutral attitude. From England and
Spain an adhesion was reckoned on, which France
alone would, have paid for. What was simpler
than to say to them: ''You have treated with
France about Morocco. You, English, have with-
drawn in her favour ; you, Spaniards, have pledged
yourselves to her. Now, recover your liberty. You,
English, have secured in Egypt the advantages
promised you by the Franco-English agreement.
You, Spaniards, have been obliged to give up, in
favour of France, a considerable portion of the



196 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

profits you were hoping for in Morocco. Come, let
us talk, and talk about Morocco. Let us draw up a
scheme by which you will each get your share, and
we, ours. As to the solution, you will find us accom-
modating, since we have no fixed intention, or rather
we have only one, namely, to oust France, and to
publish her discomfiture to the world." This,
you may say, is hypothesis. No ! not if the history
itself of the Conference demonstrates that such
was the policy of Germany; if it makes plain that,
while ready to accept all sorts of combinations which
France refused, she pursued one design only: to
wit, that of breaking down the diplomatic system
which Prince von Buelow, three months previously,
had said was a thing of the past, a thing that must
be abandoned forever.

The initial stage of the negotiations ^ lasted from
the 15th of January to the 19th of February and was
taken up with private conversations. On the 25th
of January, Mr. von Radowitz, the premier German
plenipotentiary, entered into pourparlers with his
French colleague, Mr. Revoil, yet without formulat-
ing any precise proposals concerning essential ques-
tions, such, for instance, as the police organization,
which France asked might be placed under her
control. At the same time, in order to entice Spain
away from us, Germany offered her the police of all
the ports, renewing the ofTer at Algeciras after
making it at Madrid. Through a semi-official
agency, the South German Imperial Correspondence,

^ See our book on the Algeciras Conference, 2d edition (1907).



CONFLICT OF THE ALLIANCES 197

Italy received a similar offer. Finally, on the 3d
of February, Count von Tattenbach, who was
the second German plenipotentiary, suggested to
England's representative the idea of separating
from France. In the same week, four solutions,
each differing from the others and from those that
had been previously put forward, were proposed
by Germany's representatives in interviews with
the governmental delegates or communications to
the Governments themselves of Spain, the United
States, Russia, and Italy. There was thus a clear
manifestation of attempts to dissociate these Powers
from France, the sole, visible, and avowed aim being
to isolate her, no respect being paid to the question
at issue. On the 9th of February, one of the Wolff
agency's telegrams announced that Germany had
rejected the French proposals. This rejection, which
was irregular in its form, occurred after the repre-
sentatives of Russia, Italy, and the United States'
had informed Mr. von Radowitz that these pro-
posals had their approbation. On the 19th of Febru-
ary, the Germans again rejected what was proposed
both concerning the police and the question of
finances; and, simultaneously, strong pressure was
brought to bear on the Duke of Almodovar, Spain's
plenipotentiary, with a view to securing his detach-
ment from our side. Meanwhile, in Saint Peters-
burg, the German Ambassador, Mr. von Schoen,
was trying to shake Count Lamsdorff in his
fidelity to our cause. And in Rome, Count von
Monts was advising Italy to ''resume her liberty of



198 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

action." At Madrid, Mr. von Stumm declared that,
in case Spain behaved badly, the Emperor William
would not be able to return the visit which he had
received from the latter in 1905. In Algeciras every
one believed that there would be a rupture. Every
one found the French proposals reasonable. Every
one was astonished at Germany's resistance. The
astonishment was natural enough, if only the Moroc-
can question was regarded. But, on the other
hand, no one had any need to wonder, who placed
himself so as to see that the Chancellor's sole aim
was to affirm Germany's supremacy in Europe
through this thwarting of the French projects.

During the second period (February 20-March
14), the Conference held sittings for the discus-
sion, first of the Bank question, next that of the
Police. At the conclusion of the debates on the
former subjects, German intransigence still con-
tinued to show itself, notwithstanding French
concessions. In the meantime (February 21),
Prince von Buelow, availing himself of Baron
de Courcel's presence in Berlin, proposed a com-
promise to the eminent Ambassador which, since it
went counter to the principles we had invoked from
the beginning, would have certainly caused us to
fall out with England and with Spain. On the 1st
of March, William II replied to a communication
of the Russian Prime Minister, Count Witte, by
recommending the same compromise to him. To
two telegrams of Mr. Roosevelt advocating the
creation of a Franco-Spanish police checked by re-



CONFLICT OF THE ALLIANCES 199

ports of the Italian Legation at Tangier, the Emperor
replied by a double refusal. The 'isolating" action
therefore was being continued. The French Govern-
ment was of opinion that they could not, without
danger, allow it to develop further. On the 3d of
March, seeing that no decisions were being reached
with reference to the Bank, Mr. Revoil asked that
the Police question should be brought up for dis-
cussion. Mr. von Radowitz opposing this, a vote
was taken, with the result that ten delegates sup-
ported the French side, and three, the German.
Although the point to be settled was merely one
of procedure, it was seen that Europe had cast the
die and won. Tired of Germany's injunctions, she
had expressed her sentiments. The ''Guardian''
of European interests, as the Berlin papers called
her, was deserted by all her wards except one ; and,
when the Conference had to decide as to the best
way of entering upon reforms, she was backed up
only by Austria and by the compromising help of
Morocco, the latter being desirous of thwarting, by
every means possible, the Conference's labours
tending to reform.

This warning was understood at Berlin, since
now, for the first time, either in Paris through the
medium of the Prince of Monaco, or at Algeciras
through the voice of Count von Tattenbach, the
Chancellor's Government showed themselves dis-
posed to be more conciliatory. It is in fact easy
to see that, by demonstrating through its debates
and votes the isolation of Germany, the Conference



200 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

was upsetting the whole design which the Emperor
had so striven to reahze in his pohcy. Unfor-
tunately, just at this moment, the French Chamber
placed the Rouvier Cabinet in a minority, an act
of folly which once more raised Germany's hopesj
On the 10th and 11th of March, Mr. von Radowitz
refused to keep the promises of concessions that he
had made during the morning of the 10th. On the
12th, the various German Ambassadors received
a circular telegram from their Government, asserting
that the majority of the delegates at Algeciras were
hostile to France ; that with a last effort she would
be compelled to capitulate. On the same day. Prince
von Buelow, through the medium of a German
financier who was at Saint Petersburg, telegraphed to
Count Witte: ''Thanks to our concessions every-
thing was going on favourably at the Conference
when, suddenly, Mr. Revoil created fresh diffi-
culties, to the surprise of all the other plenipotentia-
ries, who deem his pretensions unwarranted, and
who, with even the English, incline in our favour.
We hope that Mr. Witte will make his influential
voice heard, if he desires to avoid a final rupture."
Last of all, on the 13th, 15th, and 17th of March,
in three personal telegrams, addressed to Mr. Roose-
velt through the German Ambassador at Washington,
William II appropriated the affirmation and declared
that all the Powers, except the United States, had
abandoned France, so that he urged the President to
prevail upon us to consent.

Never had Germany's hold on the world been



CONFLICT OF THE ALLIANCES 201

asserted with such audacity. If France had yielded,
and if her Allies and friends had not supported her,
Germany would have won the game, not merely the
Moroccan game, which forsooth was a small part of
the Chancellor's great design, but that of the wider
world, the Bismarckian game in favour of her
hegemony against European equilibrium. Happily,
France did not give up ; and no one abandoned her.
On th§ 14th of March, Mr. Leon Bourgeois, who
succeeded Mr. Rouvier at the Foreign office, declared
to the Ambassadors that he had maintained the
instructions to Mr. Revoil in their entirety. Be-
tween the 13th and 14th, the British Government
notified the Powers by a circular telegram that they
supported France on all points and without either
restriction or reserve. On the 18th, Mr. Roosevelt
characterized the German proposals as being inac-
ceptable. On the 19th, by a circular similar to the
English one, the Russian Government informed the
different Chancelleries that they unhesitatingly sup-
ported the French requests. In less than a week,
we had recovered the advantage. Since our isola-
tion had been asserted, we replied by a demonstra-
tion of the help on which we could count. The
German manoeuvre had failed. Europe had not
yielded. In such conditions, the Algeciras debates,
had no further interest for Germany. She had now
but one desire, to finish them off as quickly as
possible, whatever the solution might be. On the
20th of March, Mr. von Tschirschky, Secretary of
State, said to Mr. Bihourd : —



202 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

"I see no further difficulties, since we accept
what you desire."

On the 28th, an agreement was established on all
the principal points. Brutality of procedure, bad
mental analysis, inaccurate estimation of the forces
in presence — Germany's discomfiture exhibited all
these. Obsessed with the idea of triumphing alone
and gloriously, of leaving the Conference in her
character af sovereign of the world, Germany had
rejected with disdainful superciliousness the four
offers of arbitration which had been made to her
during the Conference, to wit, the Italian, Russian,!
American, and Austrian. To these four Powers,
who, with but small difference of detail, were equally
desirous of arriving at an honourable compromise,
she rendered their task so difficult that, after being
at first well-disposed intermediaries, they had be-
come, with their varying means, the auxiliaries of|
our policy. The attempt made to entice England
away had produced the contrary effect and joined
London and Paris in closer bonds. Russia, who at .
the beginning had flattered herself she would be
able to bring about an understanding, had subse-
quently been obliged, in presence of German exi-
gence, to content herself with fulfilling her duty as^
our ally, and had fulfilled it loyally. Spain had re-
mained faithful to us, seeing what little sincerity
there was in advances that were continually accom-
panied by threats. Italy would have been only too
glad to be spared the necessity of taking sides openly.'^
Germany, however, forced her to do so ; and, as she :



CONFLICT OF THE ALLIANCES 203

had given us positive pledges, whilst, on the other
hand, through Germany's will, the Triple Alliance
had always ignored the Mediterranean, she was
bound to grant us her vote. The United States
had supported us for the simple reason that our
proposals appeared to them to be moderate. As
for Austria, although devoted to Germany, she
could not go against plain evidence, and had exer-
cised a conciliatory action, which now and againi
inclined distinctly in favour of France. In short,
throughout the three months, none of our supports
had weakened; and some had even become more
solid. It may also be said that fresh ones had
been created through '^reprobation of Germany," I
as Count Lamsdorff, on one occasion, put the
matter.

The results of the Conference were important,
gauged by the interest Germany had had in sum-
moning it. The aim of German policy, manifest-
ing, as it undoubtedly did, indifference with regard
to Morocco, was to use the African conflict as an
occasion for reprisals in Europe ; to prove to France
that the Anglo-French Entente was inefficacious;
at the same time, to fortify the Triple Alliance byi ^
detaching Italy and Spain from the Western powers ;
in a word, to restore the situation which Bismarck
had bequeathed to William II. And the undertak- ,
ing was an utter failure. Not only had the two
countries, reconciled by the agreement of the 8th
of April, 1904, remained refractory to every effort
made to disunite them, but, in the trial, their En-



204 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

tente had changed its character ; and, after being
originally signed for the purpose of liquidating the
past, it had become a principle of action. This
action had influenced Madrid and Rome. The
visible solidarity of French and English policy had
likewise made its impression on the Italian and
Spanish nations. It had attracted them to the
extent of transforming the primitive tour de valse
into a durable connection. The Franco-English
binomial had acquired weight. It had changed
from the static to the dynamic condition. Even
the Franco-Russian Alliance was strengthened by
the crisis through which it had passed. On the
morrow of the Russian defeats, German threats
had shown to adversaries, as well as to friends,
of the Dual Alliance, the need there was for its ex-
istence. Last of all, for the first time at Algeciras
the representatives of Russia and England, brought
into contact by their cooperation in a work of gen-
eral behoof, had exchanged amicable and reason-
able views respecting the situation of both coun-
tries. The combinations in which France had her
place marked had lost nothing by this '' experiment
of resistance." In accepting Europe's intervention
between the Sultan of Morocco and herself, our
country had done nothing more than record the
inevitable consequence of her set-back in 1905.
For the rest, her essential interests in the Moorish
Empire were safeguarded by the privilege of exe-
cution she shared with Spain, in putting into force
the police and finance reforms she had proposed.



CONFLICT OF THE ALLIANCES 205

In Europe, she maintained her rank; and her
diplomatic resources were increased rather than
diminished.

Germany's discomfiture was proved by the fact
that what she had tried to demoHsh remained still
in existence. The odds, therefore, turned against
her. After winning the first two games, she lost
the final one that should have given her complete
victory. She was not any more isolated after Al-
geciras than she had been before, since she kept her
two allies. But, if the term 'isolation" is taken
in the sense given to it by Prince von Buelow in
1905, to wit, a grouping of Powers outside of Ger-
many's dictation, such isolation continued. Her
own allies had made her understand that, while
correctly fulfilling their obligations towards her,
they were not wiUing to merely follow in her wake.
Italy did not give up her Mediterranean agreements.
To the theory of an autocratic Triple Alliance, she
had opposed the doctrine of a constitutional Triplice
in which each of the contracting parties propor-
tioned their contributions to their profits. Austria,
who was fulsomely congratulated by William II,
had acted less as a ''second" than as a mediatrix;
she had contrived to show that she had her own
policy, a thing many had doubted; and that she
did not mean to accept peremptory orders from Ber-
lin. So far, therefore, from having widened her
field of action, Germany had, on the contrary, nar-
rowed it. Instead of augmenting her authority,
she had diminished it. Nothing of what was ma-



206 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

terial had been lost; but she had not obtained the
moral success on which she had relied.

This judgment was that which, in general, was
expressed by the German press. ''Neither van-
quisher nor vanquished," said the Cologne Gazette.
The pronouncement would have been true, if, at
Algeciras, Germany had not been seeking victory.
"Neither Bismarck's genius nor Talleyrand's subt-
lety could have obtained more," was the opinion
of the Berliner Tagehlatt, which, however, added;
''But Bismarck would never have gone to Alge-
ciras." The Tcegliche Rundschau spoke of Germany's
isolation; and the Tageszeitung summed up by say-
ing: "After commencing with a flourish of trum-
pets, our Moroccan policy finishes by a surrender;"
while the Hamburger Nachrichten exclaimed: "In
reality, France has obtained everything at the Con-
ference; her concessions are purely those of form.
On essential points, we have done nothing but
yield." A few months later, the Hannoversche
Courrier added, "Our diplomacy has been blind."
And at the end of 1906, the Frankfort Gazette summed
up the general impression by saying in substance:
"The Moroccan adventure has warded off none of
the risks against which it was pretended measures
were to be taken. . . . Germany's position has
been aggravated instead of being improved. Ger-
man diplomacy has made itself disagreeable to every-
body. . . . The telegram to President Kruger ;
the propaganda against the Yellow Race or against
America; Pan-Islamic intrigues in Africa, — mistakes



CONFLICT OF THE ALLIANCES 207

and nothing but mistakes. . . . And what has it
all resulted in? We have left the Boers to stew in
their own juice. The Japanese have beaten the
Eussians. The Sultan of Morocco has to submit
to Franco-Spanish police. Was it worth while
raising such a hubbub?"

The official manifestations themselves were quite
as little disposed to exult as the newspapers. On
the 14th of November, 1906, Mr. Bassermann, one
of the National Liberals in the Reichstag, said: —

We have entered upon an era of travels, speeches, telegrams,
and amiable advances lavished on all sides.

To-day, the Triplice has no practical utility.

The Italian press and people incline more and more towards
France.

Austria has been too much eulogized for playing the role of a
"brilliant second," which she herself disclaimed.

The Franco-Russian Alliance remains intact; and the atti-
tude of France towards us is not so good as it was.

The interview at Cronberg between the English and German
sovereigns does not prevent England from pursuing her ancient
policy, which tends to isolate us.

We are living in a period of alliances between other nations.

The Anglo-Russian understanding is fraught with grave con-
sequences for us, and Bismarck already had the coalition night-
mare.

Our policy lacks calmness and consistency; and one sees
clumsy hands upset plans that had been well laid.

Abroad, all this is noticed with attention and distrust. We
do not see that there is any imminent danger of war ; but there
is the danger that comes from a sudden relaxation of strain.

The Chancellor himself had altered his tone.
Speaking during the same sitting, after Mr. Basser-
mann, he used language characterized by its ex-
treme moderation, indifference, and resignation: —



208 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

I may remark here more especially that we have no thoughts
of slipping in between France and Russia, or between France
and England.

Nor have we any idea of producing a rupture of the friend-
ship between any of the Western Powers. Such is not the ob-
ject of our efforts whether secret or avowed.

The Franco-Russian Alliance, since its conclusion, has not
been a danger to peace ; on the contrary, it has acted as a weight
contributing to the regular movement of the world's clock.

We hope that the same thing may be said of the Anglo-
French Entente Cordiale.

The good relations between Germany and Russia have in no
wise tended to break the Franco-Russian Alliance.

Nor can the good relations between Germany and England
be in contradiction with the Entente Cordiale either, if its ob-
ject is pacific.

He thus appeared to recognize the fresh condi-
tions of equilibrium which, both before and during
the Conference, the German semi-official press had
not ceased denouncing as an attack on Germany's
rights. The dream he had conceived, that of re-
storing, through Morocco, the threatened Bis-
marckian edifice, had not stood against the reality
of things. In the ardour of the struggle, there was
a good deal of indignation aroused, on this side the
Vosges, by the manner in which Germany behaved.
Without approving all that was said, one may re-
call, at this distance from the past, Bismarck's say-
ing that 'indignation is not a political state of mind."
And as one understands better, one is less inclined
to grow angry. The prodigious display of effort,
activity, and intrigue which distinguished German
policy during those three months could not be ex-
plained — and would be blamable and ridiculous —



CONFLICT OF THE ALLIANCES 209

if Morocco had been the only stake that was being
played for, if the only questions had been those of
deciding about a few gendarmes and meagre Cus-
toms duties. Let it rather be supposed that this
effort and activity and intrigue were meant to build
up, on the threshold of the twentieth century, the
most extraordinary structure of political power"
that had ever been raised since the time of Napo-
leon I; to save Bismarck's work from the assaults
of age; to secure Germany in the domination of
Europe that had belonged to her from 1871 to 1891,j
— and even to 1902 ; to oppose these new combina-


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Online LibraryAndré TardieuFrance and the alliances: the struggle for the balance of power → online text (page 14 of 22)