Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

In Asia Minor also the conversion of many Armenians from the Gregorian to the Orthodox faith, with the object of securing Russian protection, is significant of the fact that the Young Turks have to reckon with the Great Power of the north as the Old Turks did in the past; and they show their appreciation of this truth by the steps they are taking to fortify the Bosphorus against a possible attack by the Black Sea fleet.

Of the more remote Powers, Germany is popularly supposed to be Turkey's defender. This defence, however, is not of great value. The recent Russo-German agreement, concluded behind Turkey's back, provides for a simultaneous penetration of Germany into the Turkish provinces of northern Asia Minor and of Russia into the northern parts of Persia. This agreement, coming at a moment when Turkish chauvinists were calling upon the Kaiser to protect Persia, and indirectly their own eastern flank, against a Russian advance, shows how far Germany is prepared to sacrifice her own interests on the altar of Turkish friendship. Not less illuminating has been the Kaiser's attitude towards the Turco-Italian question. To the Porte's appeals for intervention on Turkey's behalf, he virtually replied that he could only exert his influence with his Italian ally after that ally had obtained all he wanted from Turkey-a reply the inadequacy of which was scarcely palliated by the platonic expressions of sympathy in which the German Press was allowed to indulge. The truth of the matter is that Germany regards the Ottoman Empire as a field of exploitation, to be cultivated, at the minimum of outlay and the maximum of profit, so long as it exists. But should there occur circumstances threatening its existence, not even the least intelligent of observers can for a moment doubt that Germany will hasten to make the best possible bargain for herself.

For the rest, it is well to bear in mind that Austria is, like Italy, Germany's ally; and, should Vienna be induced to follow the example of Rome, Berlin would maintain a similar attitude of connivance. Meanwhile Germany is dexterously turning the Germanophile sentiments of the Young Turks to account in various ways, especially by obtaining an extension of her railway operations in Asia Minor through the Anatolian and Baghdad companies. These semi-political enterprises are encouraged by the Turks in the belief that they strengthen the military position of the Ottoman Empire; but from a German point of view their chief importance lies in the fact that they further German penetration into the Middle East, and prepare the way for the appearance of a German navy in the Mediterranean. That this conclusion is not mistaken can be seen from the latest concession to the Germans of a new line to the port of Alexandretta-a concession which practically amounts to the acquisition by Germany of a long-coveted naval base in the Mediterranean. The sole important result the Young Turks have achieved by their cultivation of German friendship is the alienation of the Western Powers.

The attitude of those Powers towards the Italian attack was very enlightening. The Porte, disappointed with the reply it got from Berlin, turned to London for assistance. The British Government expressed its regret at being unable to do more than Germany in the matter. England, it is true, made up partly for her official coldness by unofficial expressions of pro-Turkish sympathy through the Press. France could do even less than that, seeing that the occupation of Tripoli by Italy had been agreed upon between Rome and Paris eleven years ago as an event that was to follow upon the establishment of a French protectorate over Morocco. Turkish Ministers, finding themselves left without assistance from any quarter, realised the urgency of joining one or other of the groups into which European Powers are divided. But neither the Triple Alliance nor the Triple Entente appeared eager to meet their advances. Experience has taught the Western Powers the need for prudence in dealing with a State the fate of which, thanks to the blunders committed by its new rulers, is so problematical ; while two of the partners to the Triple Alliance entertain, as has been shown, ambitions with which Turkey's admission into the partnership is utterly incompatible. The Young Turks are thus left to face the consequences of their actions alone; and their future remains as uncertain as their past has been unwise.

Art. 10.—THE GROWTH OF EXPENDITURE ON ARMA

MENTS.

1. Naval Expenditure (Principal Naval Powers). (White

paper No. 26) of the Session 1911.) London : Wyman. 2. Progress of the Nation. By G. R. Porter, F.R.S.

London : Murray, 1851. 3. Economic Annals of the Nineteenth century, 1801-20.

By William Smart, LL.D. London: Macmillan, 1910. 4. The National Expenditure of the United Kingdom.

London: The Economist,' 1911. 5. Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia,

1901-10. Published under the authority of the Minister

for Home Affairs. Melbourne : McCarron, 1911. 6. The Canada Year Book, 1910. Ottawa: Parmelee, 1911. THE question whether, having regard to her national wealth, resources and responsibilities, the expenditure of Great Britain upon armaments is excessive, and the further question whether there is reasonable ground for the belief that she will be able to maintain the present level of expenditure, and if necessary to increase it, without imposing an insupportable burden of taxation upon the people of the United Kingdom, are matters of great importance. The British public, both at home and in the Overseas Dominions, is beginning to appreciate the true political significance of the general increase in naval power which has recently taken place. At the same time it is beginning to feel the weight of the economic burdens which this increase entails.

The beginning of this universal movement in favour of the acquisition of naval armaments, which has had such a disturbing effect on international politics during the past ten years, may be ascribed in part to the lessons that were taught by the Spanish-American war of 1898, the South African War of 1899-1902, and the RussoJapanese war of 1904–5. These conflicts established in the most convincing manner the vital importance of preparedness for war, and not less the supreme importance of sea-power. There are, no doubt, a great many intensely patriotic people in this country who sincerely believe that armaments are the cause of war; but contemporary history proves conclusively that unpreparedness for war does not ensure peace. Neither Spain nor America was ready for war in 1898; but that did not prevent the outbreak of hostilities. Great Britain was utterly unprepared for war in South Africa in 1899, but that circumstance did not make for peace; on the contrary, there is every reason to believe that it precipitated, as it certainly prolonged, the conflict. By the beginning of 1904, the Japanese preparations for war were completed; but Russia was ill-prepared as well as badly informed. Japan, however, might have hesitated to enter upon the war with Russia, had the latter country taken care to perfect her armaments on an adequate scale. The unreadiness of Austria in 1866 did not save her from Prussia : while it is practically certain that the unpreparedness of France in 1870 and the completeness of the Prussian armaments induced Bismarck, Moltke and Von Roon to precipitate hostilities. The present conflict between Italy and Turkey affords another illustration of the same point. Whatever may be the outcome of the operations on land, this war has proved once again the imperative necessity of naval armaments, wherever either party in a conflict has to cross the sea. The rulers and statesmen of the great World-powers are now convinced that, in order to avoid war, it is necessary to be fully prepared for war both on land and sea. There has been imminent danger of the outbreak of a great European war on at least four occasions within the past fifteen years; but the magnitude of modern armaments,

; the vast cost of war under existing economic conditions, and the disastrous consequence of failure, have exercised a moderating influence upon the war policies of the principal Powers to an extent which it would be difficult to exaggerate.

In addition to the foregoing influences, which tended to create a universal movement in the direction of the acquisition of naval armaments, another and even more potent force began to make itself felt during the South African war, namely the determination of Germany to acquire a great navy. The preamble to the Germany Navy Act of 1900, under which the modern German Navy has been created, affords a valuable indication of the motives and intentions of its founders; and, though it Vol. 216,—No. 430.

Q

has frequently been quoted, the following reproduction of it will not be out of place.

'In existing circumstances, in order to protect Germany's sea trade and colonies, there is one means only, namely, that Germany should possess a fleet of such strength that even for the mightiest naval power a war with her would involve such risks as to jeopardise its own supremacy. For this purpose it is not absolutely necessary that the German fleet should be as strong as that of the greatest sea-power, because, generally, a great sea-power would not be in a position to concentrate all its forces against us. But even if it should succeed in confronting us in superior force, the enemy would be so considerably weakened in overcoming the resistance of a strong German fleet that, notwithstanding a victory gained, the enemy's supremacy would not at first be secured any longer by a sufficient fleet.'

It would be difficult to advance a more powerful argument in favour of the two-Power standard than is afforded by the preamble to the German Navy Act. The objects defined in the preamble have been attained by Germany with astonishing ease. Her constructive resources and her national wealth have been underrated both by herself and by this country. Within the short period of eleven years Germany has stepped from a negligible position into that of the second naval Power in the world, without straining her resources to an appreciable extent and without weakening her army. It is true that her navy has been built largely by means of borrowed money, but the Imperial debt of Germany is relatively one of the smallest in Europe. The Imperial finances have been reorganised within the past four years; and Germany can continue on her present financial lines for many years to come without courting financial disaster.

It is instructive to note the growth of expenditure upon armaments by the United Kingdom during the past 110 years.

At the end of the eighteenth century the war with France, which had been dragging on for seven years, had added 270,000,0001. to the National Debt; and it had also involved an increase of 17,000,0001. in the amount of the annual taxes. The population of Great Britain then numbered 10,834,623, and that of Ireland was estimated at about 4,000,000 (this estimate was,

« VorigeDoorgaan »