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wrote joyfully that the Anglo-French understanding
was incompatible with the Franco-Russian Alliance,
since a rapprochement between Saint Petersburg
and London would never be possible. This rap-
prochement was thereafter accomplished. Sup-
ported by Russia, her Ally, and by Great Britain,
her friend, and the Ally and the friend being recon-
ciled, France was possessed in Europe of peculiar
moral authority. And the new link that was riveted
in the chain of understandings procured her — in
the diplomatic order of things — the maximum of
securities it was permissible for her to wish for.

Neither by its text nor by its tendencies was the
Anglo-Russian agreement a menace to any one.
It was aimed at no one, and isolated no one. But it
added one more element to the combinations which,
since 1904, "had contributed to free the balance of
power in Europe from the hold of Germany. Coming
after the Franco-Russian Alliance, after the Franco-
English, Franco-Italian, and Franco-Spanish under-
standings, it fortified European liberty and, like
them, dealt a blow to the Bismarckian system, to
the edifice of preponderance which William II had
striven in 1905 to restore, and which the Conference
of Algeciras had shown to be so fragile. To resume,
officially, in September, 1907, the attacks made two
years earlier against the ^'isolators" of Germany


would have been to discredit more clearly a
manoeuvre already tried and found wanting. The
semi-official press of Berlin took care not to at-
tempt this, and Prince von Buelow even thought it
advisable to say, in a speech he made during the .
autumn, that neither the Empire's happiness nor '
its greatness were built up from the divisions of
the other Powers. The Pan-German press was
less prudent. Those papers which had denounced
in the Franco-Japanese understanding a fresh essay
of '^ encirclement " did not fail to discover another
in the Anglo-Russian agreement. The Deutsche
Tageszeitung asserted that '^Germany had no reason
to be satisfied on seeing certain difficulties removed
between the two nations, since, under given circum-
stances, the continued existence of such difficulties
might have been useful to her." The Frankfort
Gazette itself wrote : ' ' The kingdom of English India
has not for a long time been so secure from Russia
as it is now. If England, therefore, without there
being any immediate need for it, is coming to this
understanding with her ancient adversary, the
motive of her doing so must be sought elsewhere.
Probably we are not making a mistake in seeking ,
for it in Europe."

German recriminations in 1905 had sufficed to
emphasize the character of the Franco-English ^l
agreement of 1904. Those of 1907 likewise helped!
to enlarge the scope of the Anglo-Russian one.
At the outset, the negotiators of this agreement
had not been thinking of Germany. They had


done their best to liquidate old Asiatic quarrels,
the possible revival of which was a source of anxiety
to them. Gradually, under the state of mind created
in Europe by the persistence of German ill-humour,
it occurred to the Cabinets of London and Saint
Petersburg that their colonial agreement might serve
as the guiding principle of their further cooperation
in Europe for the settlement of questions which
certain oppositions rendered difficult of solution.

In February, 1908, during a debate in the House
of Commons, Sir Edward Grey gave a hint of this
general value which he attributed to the Anglo-
Russian understanding. In the ensuing month
of June, Edward VII went to Revel on a visit to
Nicholas II; and, in the toasts that were proposed
when the Czar alluded to "the limited scope of the
1907 agreements," Edward VII added, '^I believe
that the Convention recently made will contribute
to tighten the bonds uniting the people of our two
countries; and I am sure that it will lead to a
satisfactory, amicable settlement of some important
questions in the future." On the same day, a
semi-official note, telegraphed from Revel, empha-
sized the meaning of this declaration: "The pour-
parlers,^' it said, ''which have been carried on, for
some time past, between the two Governments
concerning Macedonian affairs, may be considered
as about to result in a complete understanding.
Nothing now is wanting but a definite form to be-
given to the agreement, which, it may be hoped,
will serve as a basis for a general understanding


between the Powers interested in the work of reforms
in Macedonia." Though couched in the most
correct terms with regard to the other Powers, this
note, in reahty, announced that the Anglo-Russian
agreement of 1907 relative to the Far East had
given birth to a new one, relative to the Near East,/
between the two countries.

On the 27th of January, 1908, Baron von Aehr-
enthal, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Austro-
Hungarian Government, announced to the Delega-
tions that he hoped soon to obtain the Sultan's
assent to the proposal he had made of prolonging
the Austrian railways as far as Mitrovitza. This
was an initiative allowed by the twenty-fifth article
of the Treaty of Berlin, but one which was calculated
greatly to consolidate Austria's situation in the
Balkans. In its spirit, if not in the letter, this
initiative was contrary to the Balkan agreement
concluded in 1897, and renewed in 1903 between
Austria and Russia, with a view to the maintenance*
of the statu quo. The almost exclusive place held
by Asiatic questions in Russia's preoccupations
between 1896 and 1905 had rendered the use of
this agreement more profitable to Vienna than to
Saint Petersburg. Under the nominal direction of
the two ''Powers sharing in the understanding," the
reform policy had been pursued but slackly under
the real control of Austria, to whom Russia accorded
in every case a docile approbation. As a warrant
for their intervention, the other Powers retained the
rights bestowed on them by the Treaty of Berlin.


But their action, at first intermittent, remained
purely diplomatic. Russia and Austria alone,
through their ''civil agents," acting in conjunction
with Hilmi Pacha, the Turkish Inspector-General
of Macedonia, played a political role on the spot.
It was only reluctantly that they had consented
to the creation of the ''Financial Comptrollers"
who superintended the management of Macedonian
finances in the name of the other Powers. In real-
ity, the Austro- Russian Syndicate's plan of reforms
pledged no one to anything. And Great Britain's
efforts to obtain more serious guarantees from the
Sultan were rewarded with but poor success. It
was quite clear that, benefiting by Russia's forced
adhesion, Austria, taking thought for her own
interests — at which no one need be astonished —
was practising in the Balkans a policy that was more
Austrian than European.

The project relative to the Mitrovitza railway
was merely a fresh manifestation of this policy.
But, at the moment when it was announced by the
Baron von Aehrenthal's speech, the situation was
no longer the same as it had been in preceding years.
After three years' peace, on the morrow of the sign-
ing of agreements with Japan and Great Britain
which liquidated the Asiatic dream, Russia made
"her reappearance in Europe" and Mr. Isvolsky
took no pains to hide the fact. "The Russians
intended to recover their prestige, which had been
diminished. They made it a point of honour with
themselves to preserve the highest rank on the his-


toric field of their military and diplomatic victories,
on the territory they had sprinkled with their
blood. They had renounced a direct domination
over the Balkan peninsula. But they intended to j
remain for the people they had freed old friends
and protectors for always." ^ '

The Austrian scheme seemed to them a provoca-
tion. Being anxious to modify the policy of re-
nunciation which had been imposed upon them by
their understanding with Austria, they found in^
Austria's own action a reason or a pretext for such \
modification. They seized the opportunity to free
themselves, and, by breaking the pact of 1897,
to replace the Macedonian question on its historic ;
footing, that is to say, before the six Powers.

Such was the object of Russian policy from the
month of February, 1908. And the Anglo-Russian -
agreement acted as its lever. On the 3d of March,
Sir Edward Grey had proposed to the Powers a
programme of reforms much more radical than all
previous ones. On the 26th of the same month,
Russia addressed to all the Chancelleries, and no
longer to Austria alone, a project which, though
less '^advanced" than the English one, yet showed
a step forward, compared with previous proposals,
issuing from the Austro-Russian understanding.
This project, in fact, indicated the Saint Petersburg
Cabinet's abandonment of the understanding. On
the 4th of April, Great Britain, who had probably

* See Rene Pinon's article, " Railways and Reforms," in the
Revue des Deux Mondes for May 15, 1908.


been advised beforehand, signified her adherence
to it; and, by standing aside for Russia, allowed
her the honour of resuming the moral direction of
Macedonian reforms in the presence of all the Powers.
Although every Government assented in principle
to the Russian scheme, there were slight differences
in the way in which the assent was given.

Great Britain, France, and Italy were favourable
to the Russian proposals without restriction. On
the contrary, Germany and Austria were, above all,
desirous of preserving and, indeed, of improving, the
intimate relations with Turkey by which they had till
then profited. Consequently, negotiations, in view
of a definitive understanding, were bound to be
long and difficult, when, in July, 1908, the revolu-
tion broke out. This event could not but help,
as the events of previous months, in turning Rus-
sian policy more towards London and Paris than
towards Vienna and Berlin. They, therefore, fitted
in with the general tendency manifested in Europe
since the Conference of Algeciras.

This tendency was still further brought out in
1907 by the dual agreement signed by Spain in the
month of May with France and England. The
Franco-Spanish and Franco-English rapprochements
had, by this time, entered into the general course of
things. Spain's treaties with France in 1904 and
1905, and the marriage of Alfonso XIII to Princess
Battenberg in 1906, permitted no doubt on the
point. The agreements of 1907, though not con-
stituting an alliance or involving military engage-


ments, marked progress in the political intimacy
of the three nations. They were drawn up as
follows (the text of the Anglo-Spanish agreement
being identical in its terms with the Franco-Spanish
one) : —

Animated by the desire to contribute by all possible means
to the preservation of peace, and convinced that the mainten-
ance of the territorial statu quo and of the rights of France and
Spain in the Mediterranean and in the part of the Atlantic wash-
ing the coasts of Europe and Africa should serve efficaciously to
attain this object, while being profitable to the two nations,
who, moreover, are united by ties of ancient friendship and com-
munity of interests : —

The Government of the French Republic desire to inform the
Government of his Catholic Majesty of the following declaration,
with the firm hope that it will help not only to strengthen the
good understanding so happily existing between the two Govern-
ments, but also to serve the cause of peace.

The general policy of the Government of the French Republic,
in the regions above indicated, aims at the maintenance of the
territorial statu quo, and, in conformity with this policy, the
Government are firmly resolved to preserve intact the rights of
the French Republic over their insular possessions as well as
their maritime ones situated in the said regions.

In case fresh circumstances should arise, which, in the opinion
of the Government of the French Republic, are calculated to
modify or to contribute to modify the present territorial statu
quo, the Government will enter into communication with the
Government of his Catholic Majesty, in order to enable the two
Governments to concert together, if judged desirable, as to the
measures to be taken in common.

A Spanish note, expressed in similar language,
replied to the French note. Thus fresh precision
was added to existing arrangements. Spain, France,
and Great Britain have, all three of them, posses-
sions in the Western Mediterranean and in the East


Atlantic. Some are insular, others European, and
others again African. The governments of Madrid,
Paris, and London, being united by ties of friendship,
have an evident interest in there being no modifica-
tion, without their consent, of the statu quo in these
regions. And still greater is the interest they have
in maintaining constant communication with their
respective possessions, if complications should arise.
Their understanding helped them to procure this
twofold security. The necessity of Franco-Spanish'
cooperation in Morocco, resulting not only from
bilateral treaties, but from the general provisions
of the Algeciras Conference, was an additional
reason for making an arrangement which, neither
in reality nor yet in its form, was a threat or an
attack against any one.

The German Press, none the less, denounced the
offensive intention of the dual declaration of the
16th of May — just as, in the months to come, she^
was to denounce the aggressive character of the
Franco-Japanese agreement, the Anglo- Russian agree-
ment in Asia, and the Anglo-Russian agreement in
Macedonia. Thus was pursued, in the same terms,
and with parallel consequences, the diplomatic
debate which we have seen arise and develop ;
on the one hand, after twenty-five years' diplomatic
servitude, Europe claiming the right to settle her
own affairs and to guarantee her balance of power;
on the other, Germany seeing in this activity a
proof of hostile intention and an effort to isolate
her. Bismarck had disappeared twenty years be-


fore ; but still round him, and his work, his plans,
his dreams, this world-game was played. The
dead man continued ''to speak." And doubtless
for long to come Europe will hear the muffled
echoes of this great voice from beyond the tomb.



I. Sentiment and business. — Souvenirs of the Independence
struggle. — Two Sister Republics. — Politics and the
" imponderable." — Franco-American manifestations. —
Words and deeds. — Franco-American commerce. — Com-
mercial agreements. — Possible improvements. — France
and the American financial crisis of 1907.

II. Politics. — France and the Monroe Doctrine. — American
affairs. — France and the " big stick." — Asiatic affairs. —
United States and the "Open Door." — Mr. Hay and
Russia. — United States and Japan. — Franco-Japanese
agreement and the United States. — European affairs. —
United States and the Moroccan crisis. — Conference of
Algeciras. — Reasons of the American policy. — United
States and the Franco-Russian Alliance. — United States
and the Entente Cordiale. — United States and the balance
of power in Europe.

Between the United States and France there
exist no poUtical ties in the form of an aUiance, just
as there exists none between the United States and
any other country in Europe. Such ties are forbid-
den by the Monroe doctrine, which, at the same time
that it proclaims the moral control of the Union over
the whole of America, affirms, by way of counter-
balance, the Union's indifference to European ques-
tions. A similar prohibition comes from General



Washington's political testament, which advised his
fellow-countrymen never to contract alliances. How-
ever, a nation of eighty million souls, materially or
morally master of a whole continent, mingling with
increasing activity in the economic life of the world,
at present possessed of a first-class navy and of
strength which is destined to grow still more, a na-
tion animated by ardent patriotism and a lofty
national pride, cannot live '' huddled up like a petty
shopkeeper in a tiny shop." Whether they wish it
or not, the United States have a policy of world
importance. During the last ten years, they have
been seen participating, sometimes in the first rank,
not only in the solution of American problems, but
in that also of Asiatic questions, and even of Euro-
pean ones. It is therefore impossible to avoid giv-
ing them a place, among our allies, our friends, and
our rivals, in the aggregate tableau of our foreign

Until now, at the base of relations established be-
tween France and abroad, we have found there was
interest. In the case of the United States the basis
is in sentiment. Franco-American relations have
developed in an atmosphere of reciprocal sympathy.
And it is such sympathy which confers on them, still
to-day, their best originality. To exaggerate the
action of this 'imponderable" would be to expose
one's self to errors. To deny it would be to run into
them. If certain events had not occurred, if some
others had happened which the march of history has
thwarted, perhaps these sentiments would have lost


a part of their sincerity and ardour. But, favoured
by circumstances, they have flourished without let
or hindrance ; and the twentieth century American
not only feels no embarrassment in expressing them,
but feels none either in inspiring himself with them.
The American gratitude is a fact, and as, in the order
of facts, nothing contradicts or hampers it, there is a
readiness to translate it into deeds. As Elihu Root,
Secretary of State, lately said, it is a reality with
which one must count and on which we can rely.

One of the most distinguished historians of Amer-
ica wrote recently : —

On two occasions, the conduct of the French Government
was decisive in affecting the future of the Union, so much so
that one may wonder what would have been its destiny if France
had acted otherwise. Without the help of France, the thirteen
revolted colonies would not perhaps have succeeded in conquer-
ing their independence at the time they did, and, even if they
had, would not perhaps have secured the boundaries which, in
fact, were their guarantees. Without the purchase of Louisiana
— and it must be remembered that France took the initiative
of the transaction, — the movement of expansion towards the
West, although inevitable in any case, would have brought
about other results. If France had kept Louisiana long enough
to settle there a considerable French population, there might,
to-day, have been among the whites of the Southwest a strug-
gle between two rival nationalities for the supremacy. Or else,
if England had conquered it and added it to her possessions
in Canada, what would have been the future of the United
States ?i

It may be said that the American people, in their
aggregate, however much they are modified every
year by immigration, have the feelings attributed to

^ Archibald Gary Coolidge, The United States as a World Power.


them by their historians. The statues of Lafayette
and Rochambeau standing opposite the White House,
their portraits placed in the Congress Hall by the
side of Washington's, are not the cold affirmation of
an official courtesy, but the living expression of a
national friendship. As Archbishop Ireland said to
me: ''The United States have forgotten nothing.
An American learns to love France when learning
the history of his country. The past has not ceased
to act on the present. American sentiment cannot
detach itself from France. The immigrants that ar-
rive on our shores are numerous, it is true. But in
the air we breathe there is something that assimi-
lates them in less than a generation. And the new-
comers are like those that have American ancestors.
When learning the history of their new country, they
also learn to love France, the great benefactress of
our Republic. During the first fifty years of our
history, the souvenirs of French help and friendship
were almost contemporary. They have now be-
come definitely incorporated in our traditions."

To patriotic gratitude Republican confraternity is '
added. In spite of profound and numerous differ-
ences of temperament and constitution, the Ameri-
cans respect in France the apostle of liberty.
Thomas Jefferson was the friend of Lafayette, Bar-
nave, the Lameth brothers, and all the chiefs of the
Feuillants Club. From the very first day, he was
in favour of the French Revolution; and even the
counter sentiments called forth in the United States
by the excesses of our Convention were not able to


uproot the original sympathy arising from an iden-
tity of principles if not of actions. In spite of tempo-
rary difficulties, — the conflict of 1799, the Mexican
expedition, the Panama affair, — this sympathy has
persisted. When the "citizens" of America look on
the side of Europe, they feel themselves drawn nat-
urally towards the ''citizens" of France. By its
duration, the Republic has borne witness in favour
of our political stability, and her American elder,
while blaming certain of her tendencies, particularly
in religious matters, has accorded her an esteem
which continues to grow as time goes on. No doubt,
in the eyes of Americans, as of the rest of the world,
we still carry the weight of our defeats. But the
consistency of our action abroad, the amplitude of
our colonial expansion, and the diplomatic combi-
nations that we have succeeded in signing, have pro-
cured us suffrages and assured us friendships which,
in any estimation of international forces, must be
appreciated at their value.

Never, indeed, has Franco- American intimacy
taken more trouble to manifest itself than in the
course of the last few years. Following on the
inauguration of the monument to Rochambeau,
there was the Saint Louis Exhibition in 1904,
which supplied the manifestation with the most
magnificent of settings. In the month of Feb-
ruary, 1905, Mr. Jusserand, the French Am-
bassador, officially handed over to the Congress
of the United States Washington's bust by David
d'Angers, of which the original had been burnt in


1851, and the rough clay model had been recently
found at Angers. In the ensuing month of July, an
American squadron came to Cherbourg to fetch Ad-
miral Paul Jones's coffin, which had been discovered
in Paris through the investigations of the United
States Ambassador; and the sailors of the two na-
tions associated themselves together in brotherly
homage paid to one of the most glorious combatants
in the American War of Independence. During the
same year, the retirement of General Porter was
made the occasion of a spontaneous demonstration
of affection, which contrasted with the official cere-
mony usually accompanying the departure of a di-
plomatist. In 1890, an American squadron came to
pay a visit to our French ports in the Mediterranean.
In the month of April following, one of our naval
divisions, being invited to take part in the fetes
given in honour of Paul Jones's memory, was tri-
umphantly received in America. The second cen-
tenary of Franklin, both in Paris and in the States,
was solemnly celebrated with ceremonies in which
the two Governments were united. In 1907, Admi-
ral Stockton's visit to Brest, and the Tricentenary
fetes of Jamestown again furnished an opportunity
for publicly manifesting the reciprocal sympathy
existing between France and America.

The speeches made on these various occasions de-
serve to be remembered, since they emphasize, often
with happy stress, the special character of intimacy
and confidence in the relations existing between the
two Republics. In 1905, Mr. MacCormick, when


handing his credentials to Mr. Loubet, said: ''Dur-
ing the century and more that this Franco-American
alhance has lasted, which, on account of the souve-
nirs left in our minds by the services rendered to the
cause of liberty, has a much greater solidity than if
it had been inscribed in treaties, no cloud has come

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Online LibraryAndré TardieuFrance and the alliances: the struggle for the balance of power → online text (page 18 of 22)