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effect, form a combination of Great Britain, Russia, and
France. This was made easier because of the Russo-
Japanese War. For a long while British statesmen had
believed that as France was the nearest and most imme-
diate danger, so, farther away, the great danger came from
Russia. Russia had long been steadily expanding her
dominion in Asia, slowly, but in a manner that seemed not
to be resisted. Many Englishmen believed that this prog-
ress would one day bring the Russians down to India, to
the Persian Gulf, and even to the Mediterranean, and that
it might threaten the British Empire with destruction.
It was for this reason that England had joined with
France to protect Turkey in the Crimean War, and later
had successfully opposed Russia after the Russo-Turkish
War in 1878. With respect to India the danger seemed
even greater, for if the Russian Empire expanded down to
the Indian frontier it was conceivable that at last the
country might be invaded with a great army wliich Britain,
thousands of miles away, could never resist. For some
years before the war with Japan Russia seemed to have
turned away from European interests and to be en-
grossed with advancing in Asia, so that Great Britain
was more and more apprehensive.

But after 1905, when Russia defeated seemed less dan-
gerous than before, she again turned back to Europe, and,
as was soon seen, entered into rivalry with Germany
rather than Great Britain. All this took place at a time
when British suspicion and dread of the German Empire
were steadily increasing. It took place also at a time
when France, the ally of Russia, was becoming ever more
closely bound to England. The result of all these fac-
tors was that in 1907 the British and the Russian govern-

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merits settled their differences in friendly and generous
spirit much as France and England had done shortly
before. In this arrangement Russia agreed that the con-
trolling influence in Afghanistan and in Tibet should be
held by Great Britain, who thus got a secure frontier for
India, and practically Persia was divided between the two
powers. After 1907 there were, over against the Triple
Alliance, the secret agreement between Russia and France
or the Dual Alliance, the Entente Cordiale of Great Britain
and France, and the Anglo-Russian Accord of Great
Britain and Russia, These three arrangements now
came to be spoken of together as the Triple Entente, and
for the next seven years men understood that Europe
was dominated by the two rival combinations. Triple
Alliance and Triple Entente.

But while this was destined to check Germany soon, it
could not do so at once, and in the very next year, in
company with her principal ally, she secured another more
signal triumph. This time it was in the east of Europe, and
had to do with the greatest of Teutonic interests, control of
the Balkans. In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia
and Herzegovina, in spite of a general European treaty, the
Treaty of Berlin, and in direct defiance of Russia's wishes.

By the Treaty made under the auspices of the Congress
of Berlin the two Turkish provinces of Bosnia and Herze-
govina had been put under the control of Austria-Hungary,
though sovereignty continued to be vested in Turkey.
Actual connection with Turkey ceased, however, and the
government of the Dual IMonarchy set to work to bring
order to the districts and make them thoroughly sub-
servient to its rule. The people were largely debarred
from professional and governmental positions and treated
as inferior to Hungarians or Germans, but considerable
material prosperity was brought about, and in many
respects the condition of the South Slavs in these provinces
was better than the condition of those who ruled themselves

The Triple



The Bosnia-

Bosnia and



The Young
Turk Revo-

Bosnia and

in the neighboring states of Servia and Montenegro. As
time went on, Austria-Hungary came to regard them as
really a part of her domain, and Turkish ownership rather
as a fiction. Thus things continued until 1908. In that
year occurred the so-called Young Turk Revolution in the
Ottoman Empire, in which the older regime was over-
throwTi by a band of zealous young leaders. They wished
to make reforms, but they desired above all things to
restore Turkish greatness, and believed that this could
be done only by reviving a spirit of Turkish nationalism
and welding all parts of the Empire together. Ignoring
the Austrian possession of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the
Young Turks invited the population of the provinces to
send representatives to an assembly in Constantinople.
This seemed an attempt to prepare for Turkish possession
of the country again if later on that could be brought
about. But in the generation that had elapsed since
the beginning of Austrian occupation the provinces had
become more and more important in the schemes which
Austria and Germany were conceiving. Possession of the
provinces gave the Dual Monarchy assured control of a
large part of the east shore of the Adriatic, and an impos-
ing position in the Balkans, while possession of the country
was necessary for the Teutonic scheme of controllmg the
way down to Turkey and the greater domain across the
straits. Under no circumstances would either Germany
or Austria see the loss of the provinces threatened, and so
Austria acted at once. October 3, Austria-Hungary cast
aside the provision of the Treaty of Berlin, without con-
sulting the other parties to the Treaty, and announced that
Bosnia and Herzegovina were annexed.

A dangerous crisis ensued. Turkey, most directly ag-
grieved, strongly protested, but could do nothing, and
after a while accepted pecuniary compensation and ac-
quiesced. Great Britain and France, who had signed the
Treaty of Berlin, were affronted, and they protested. To


Russia, also a si^matory, and much more greatly interested
because of her position and ambition in the Balkans, the
affront was far greater and she insisted that the matter be
laid before a European congress. ]\Iost furious of all was
Servia, the neighboring independent South Slavic state.
She had long hoped that when the day came of the break-
ing up of European Turkey, the Bosnians and their kins-
men would be united in a greater Servian kingdom, like
that which had flourished centuries before, in the days
before the coming of the Turk. And she had hoped that
possession of Bosnia and Herzegovina would help her
toward the outlet to the sea without which she could
never be great. If the provinces now were finally in-
corporated into Austria-Hungary, the dream of future
Servian greatness would never be realized. Accordingly,
while Russia was prepared to oppose the action as strongly
as she could, Servia was resolved to fight to the death,
and could with difficulty be restrained from attacking her
powerful neighbor.

Austria refused to discuss her action any further. She
was willing that a European congress should be called, but
the taking of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be regarded as
a fait accompli. Russia resisted firmly, and was supported
by her two partners in the Triple Entente. Servia, be-
lieving that she would be helped by Russia, made ready
for war. With grave and anxious months the winter of
1908-9 passed slowly. Then suddenly the matter was
ended when Germany decisively intervened. She was
apparently in the delicate position of having to offend one
of her friends. She had enormous interests in Turkey,
and her greatest hope for the future lay in making the
Turks friends and dependents. Not less important was
the alliance with the Dual Monarchy, whose position she
would at all costs maintain. But her very able ambassa-
dor in Constantinople, Von Bieberstein, v/ho was already
busy in winning the allegiance of the Young Turks,

Russia and
Servia in the


Russia to
yield, 1909




position of
the German

persuaded them that it was best to accept the inevitable,
and so Turkey and Austria came to agreement. Mean-
while, Germany gave full support to Austria against Rus-
sia and the Entente. German troops were massed in
formidable array along the Russian frontier, so that after-
ward the kaiser could say that he had stood forth beside
his ally "in shining armor." A messenger was sent to the
tsar, presumably to ask whether Austria's action was
satisfactory. Russia was in no condition to fight, for
she had recovered little as yet from the disasters of the
war with Japan, and it was doubtful whether England,
perhaps France, would be willing to fight because of the
Balkans where they had no direct interest. So Russia
yielded suddenly and completely. At the end of March
the Russian Government declared that it recognized the
annexation as a fait accompli. A few days later Servia,
with bitterest humiliation, signed a document declaring
that she renounced her attitude of protest against the
annexation, and would "live in future on good, neighborly
terms" with Austria-Hungary.

Thus in 1909 Russia had been humiliated and rebuffed
as France had been in 1905. In the east as in the west
of Europe, when Germany spoke with hand on the sword,
German word was law. The old, splendid successes of
Bismarck were being revived and exceeded. In spite of
the formation of the Triple Entente the colossal power of
Germany was not shaken, and she stood as dominant and
terrifying as ever before. She had given command to
France, and Great Britain had not been able to save
France from yielding. She had spoken to Russia in be-
half of her ally, and Russia had yielded completely. Austria
was now the principal power interested in the Balkans as
Germany was in Turkey; and Servia, the little protege
of Russia, had been abandoned helpless, and forced to
promise a friendship which she loathed. What was the
Triple Entente beside the Triple Alliance? And as if to


crown the success slie had gained, Germany now came
to another separate understanding willi tlie Isar. In
November, 1910, tlie Russian ruler was the guest of the
kaiser at Potsdam, and there an agreement was made by
which Russia's position in Persia was acknowledged, and
Russia withdrew opposition to the Bagdad Railway which
Germany wished to complete. So, not only was the
Entente shaken when Germany spoke, but one of its mem-
bers seemed to be drawing away.

This crisis had been brought to an end without disaster,
but like the others it left an evil train behind it, ominous
of woes still to come. The cynical violation of the Treaty
of Berlin by Austria-Hungary was fraught with conse-
quences of evil. All through the nineteenth century, with
the progress toward better things, there had been effort
to have the sanctity of treaties held more reverently.
"Contracting powers can rid themselves of their treaty
engagements only by an understanding with their co-
signatories," said the Declaration of London in 1871, to
which Austria-Hungary had been a party. But among
Germans there had been growing up of late the doctrine
that treaties need not be kept if they were in opposition
to the good of the State, and in the more terrible daj's of
1914 this doctrine was to be reaffirmed when the treaty
concerning the neutralization of Belgium was violated as
a mere 'scrap of paper." The result of Austria's action
in 1908 was to undermine public confidence in treaties and
international engagements, and to make the more cau-
tious men believe that such engagements were good only
while maintained by force.

This was the last great diplomatic triumph that
Germany was destined to win. The success of 1908-9 was
speedily followed by two setbacks which so far disturbed
her position of supremacy in Europe that she was willing
at last to make one more effort to get back her hegemony
or else impose her will by force. And, as will be seen, it

The Pots-
dam Accord,

tional en-

The chang-
ing current
of affairs



strength of
the Triple

France gains
in assurance
and strength

her strength

was such an attempt that led straight to the cataclysm
of the Great War.

The Entente Cordiale had been followed by humiliation
for France, and the formation of the Triple Entente had
not been able to save Russia from surrender a year later
on; but actually the opponents of Germany and the
Triple Alliance were coming more closely together and
feeling that they could count on one another more certainly
for support. Especially was this the case with England
and France. They were strengthening their forces, and
they were, apparently, strengthening year by year their
determination not always to yield at Germany's behest.
In France there was going on steadily both a revival of
courage and assurance and a great rebirth of national
feeling, which made people less disposed than before to
crouch before the Germany which had conquered them
once. In Great Britain there was each year more vivid
apprehension of possible danger from the greatness of the
German Empire, resolution to be on perpetual guard,
and determination under no circumstances ever again to
let France alone confront German aggression or suffer her
to be crushed. The policy of Russia was more obscure, and
depended, apparently, more on the personal character of
the ruler, who was known to be partly under the influence
of the kaiser. Yet, it was evident that Russia's principal
ambitions were now in the Balkans, and that she was thus
brought again into direct rivalry with the Teutonic
powers. It was certain that she was rapidly recovering
the naval and military strength that had been lost at
Mukden and Tsushima. It was very evident also that
the policy of Italy was now in conflict with that of
Austria-Hungary, at the same time that Italy had renewed
good relations with France, so that Italian support could
no longer be counted on for Germany and Austria in any
great war. All these factors had to do with the changes
that now took place.


The third of the great disputes between the opposing
combinations came in 1911, and again it had to do with
Morocco, After the Conference of Algeciras, France
went steadily on with the work which the powers had
committed to her. She also tried to come to an under-
standing with Germany, and apparently for a while suc-
ceeded in so doing. Thus encouraged she proceeded to
take control of Morocco as far as she could. She had been
permitted to occupy certain towns and maintain order,
and under pretext of policing the distracted country she
pushed an armed force farther and farther into Morocco.
To Englishmen and Frenchmen it seemed, doubtless,
that France was going quietly about what she had been
so brusquely and even brutally forbidden to do. On
the other hand, it must have seemed to Germans that
France was furtively accomplishing that which they had
tried to prevent in 1905, and what the European Congress
of the following year had refused to permit. It looked
as if Morocco was about to become a French possession,
whatever appearances were maintained, and Germany re-
solved that this should not happen without her consent
and without a share of the country for herself.

Accordingly, without preliminary warning, July 1, 1911,
it was announced that German commercial interests in
Morocco were being threatened, and that hence a German
warship had been sent to the harbor of Agadir, on the
Atlantic coast of jMorocco, to protect them. But it was
at once apparent that German interests were insignificant
in the district, and that there was no unusual disorder. It
was clearly realized that Germany had intervened this
time as before, and at once there resulted a crisis which
brought the nations to the brink of war.

The moment was well chosen, as was the moment for
the Austrian ultimatum to Servia three years later. France
was torn by socialist and industrial agitation. There had
just been a great strike on the railroads, broken only

The second
crisis, 1911


Britain and





Strike of
the railway'
workers in

The dip-

Feeling in
France and
in Great

when the government had mobilized the trainmen as
soldiers to run the trains, and the anger at this was so
great that the discontented were practising acts of sabot-
age, wrecking and destroying wherever they could. Min-
istry was following ministry in quick and bewildering
succession, and the government seemed weak and un-
stable. In Great Britain also there was widespread
industrial discontent, and there had just been disorders in
Liverpool and London greater than people could remem-
ber. Moreover, the country was in the very midst of the
great constitutional struggle over the power of veto of the
House of Lords, and the people were divided by a contest
more bitter than anything since the passage of the Reform
Law in 1867. Russia had recently entered into the Pots-
dam Agreement with Germany, and Russia was in any
event little interested in Morocco, which concerned her
directly not at all.

The question now resolved itself into another great
contest between the Entente and the Alliance, or more
particularly between Germany and England and France.
Between the French and the German governments began
a series of "conversations," while France sought to learn
how far Britain would give her support. The French
Government, which had itself effectually set aside the
Algeciras Agreement, was yet able to maintain that Ger-
many's action distinctly infringed the Agreement; while
Germany, it would seem, with more bluntness, declared
that France had made the Agreement of no force, and that
in the new order of things which had arisen Germany
must have a part of Morocco, or else, as she hinted, some
compensation elsewhere.

In France the German demands made a profound im-
pression on a people always sensitive, and then in the midst
of a revival of patriotic and national feeling. Germany's
action seemed harsh and unprovoked. Few people
wanted war, and most Frenchmen dreaded it; but while


there was from the first a spirit of conciliation and no
outburst of popular wrath, there was also an unexpected
firmness and a decision not to bow down again. In the
midst of the negotiations France went steadily on arming
and preparing for the worst. In Britain political dissen-
sions were hushed and put aside for the moment, as all
parties stood close together. There was great popular
sympathy for France and determination to support her.
It was clearly realized that Germany, already dangerous
to Great Britain on the seas, would be far more so if she
got possession of part of INIorocco, at the northwest comer
of Africa, within easy striking distance of the Strait of
Gibraltar, and lying right on the flank of the sea route to
South Africa, constituting thus a menace both to Brit-
ain's short- and long-water route to the East. For France
the presence of Germany there would be no less a trouble
and danger. It would always be possible for her to make
easy attack on the French Empire in northern Africa, and
always possible for her to stir up disaffection among the
natives of Algeria and Tunisia.

Accordingly the two powers stood resolute and un-
daunted. All the French fleet was concentrated in the
Mediterranean, and it was known that Britain's great
fleet was ready in the Channel and in the North Sea. In
the negotiations that were being carried on between Ber-
lin and Paris, France, brought to bay, refused to let Ger-
many have any share of Morocco. But if Germany would
agree to give her a free hand there, she would from her
other possessions grant compensation to Germany else-

The German Government was soon in a difficult po-
sition, much, indeed, like that in which it was during the
last days of July, 1914. Germany had intervened with
bold determination twice before. Each time her weaker
opponents had yielded, and there had been no trouble
because they had yielded. But now she had spoken

Spirit of de-
in France

France re-
fuses to

of Ger-



The German
Empire not
for war

The German



commandingly again, and this time her word was not be-
ing obeyed. It presently became apparent that to en-
force what she demanded war might be necessary, and it
was also apparent that most of the German people were
not sufficiently interested m Morocco to give enthusiastic
support. The socialists were bitterly opposed to such a
war; most of the people did not feel that a vital interest
of the nation was at stake; and it could not be pretended,
as it was three years later, that Germany was being at-
tacked by envious foes who were trying to effect her de-
struction. None the less, an important and influential
part of the population, all those who had been strivmg
for the creation of a greater German Empire and for the
expansion of German sea power, insisted that a part of
Morocco must be obtained, or, at least, certain coaling
stations. But France, supported by Great Britam,
firmly refused to consider yielding to Germany any part of
the country; if, however, the Imperial Government ac-
knowledged her absolute political supremacy in Morocco,
so that it would not in the future be called in question,
then she would cede to Germany about a third of her
Congo territory. From this offer she would not swerve.
Therefore, in the anxious weeks of August and Septem-
ber, 1911, it seemed that any day war might break out.
The French people dreaded the prospect of such a war,
for they realized, as they did so clearly in 1914, that this
time defeat meant the definitive loss of their position as a
Great Power. But, encouraged by England, they stood
watchful and firm. They were in a position far differ-
ent from that of the earlier years when the Kaiser is re-
ported to have said: "I hold France in the hollow of my
hand." The best judges believed that the French were
superior to the Germans in airplanes and field artillery,
and there could be no doubt that the sea power of the
Entente was overwhelmingly superior to the German.
Brought to the time of decision the German Government


hesitated at last. It is said that the host advisers were
consulted about whether the present opportunity was
favorable for a war, and the answers were against it.
Especially did the financiers oppose a conflict. The
French had been conducting what they called a "financial
niol>ilization." The vast and e.\j)andnig industry of
Germany had been built up partly on borrowed capital,
nuich of it supplied by the French. If the money founda-
tion of this structure were shaken, the whole edifice might
tojjple down in a great industrial panic. The French
were silently calling in their loans, and a colossal panic
seemed imminent with widespread economic ruin. Ac-
cordingly, the French proposals were accepted; there was
no war; and the crisis ended.

By the end of September the danger was passed, and The Mo-
early in November an agreement was signed. Sub- ^°'^^°^"f^'

•^ . ^ ■» r ^'"^^ settled

stantially France established a protectorate over jVIorocco,
guaranteeing to all nations equality of trade; and she
ceded to Germany part of her Congo territory. The ar-
rangement was not completely satisfactory, since French-
men believed that Germany had been bribed to permit
what she had no right to interfere in, and Germans were
bitterly disappointed that they had obtained no part of
Morocco. Germany had, it is true, been so confident of
her strength that she had defied both England and France,
and she had made good her contention that no important
matter could be settled unless she was consulted ; but she
was no longer able to carry her point, and if she had hoped
to drive England and France apart and break up the
Entente Cordiale, it w^as apparent now that the under-

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 34 of 49)