« VorigeDoorgaan »
instance. This sounded somewhat reassuring for British interests, as England had never wished to oppose a Franco-German arrangement over the Congo; the only thing she could not admit-for obvious reasons-was that Germany should get a footing in any part of North Africa.
The Franco-German diplomatic conversations, however, almost immediately took a bad turn. First as to Morocco. Asked on the 13th of July what sort of régime Germany was prepared to recognise in Morocco, Herr von Kiderlen answered that she would simply grant France 'sufficient authority to preserve Morocco from anarchy.' Such a vague formula was rather alarming, for it amounted to the same offer as in 1909, and left the same door open to further difficulties with Germany–difficulties of exactly the same kind as those which had caused the clash in 1911. If France was to grant important compensations in the Congo, she ought to receive in exchange a full protectorate over Morocco, and to get rid of the misunderstanding underlying the 1909 agreement. At the same time, while going back on his Moroccan promises, Herr von Kiderlen put forward an utterly unacceptable scheme, according to which France was to hand over to Germany the whole of the French Congo from the river Sangha to the sea.
The extent of the German demands was made known on the 20th of July, by M. Paul Cambon and Sir Francis Bertie, to Sir Edward Grey. It is not surprising that the British Secretary for Foreign Affairs should have wondered what Germany was driving at. Perhaps she was contemplating a rupture. More probably she was only pushing her claims with regard to the Congo in order to ask for some territory on the Moroccan coast. rate, the question was worth asking. What the answer was, on the 21st of July, is known precisely from the best German source, the evidence submitted to the Committee of the Reichstag. The German Ambassador made a long, obscure declaration, in which he not only avoided giving any positive assurance as far as the landing in Agadir was concerned, but rather bitterly complained about England's attitude. Certain phrases of the declaration had even a threatening tone:
If our proposals on the Congo are, as you say, unacceptable [said the Ambassador), this proves that France attaches less importance than is generally supposed to the free exercise in Morocco of pretensions which have never been made the object of an international decision. She must then agree, as well, that a foreign warship may enter a Moroccan harbour. 6
The end of the declaration is even more disquieting :
If you care so much for the integrity of the Moroccan territory, why don't you, first of all, ask France for explanations ? The occupation of the
• The italics are my own.
Shawya, and the invasion of the whole interior of Morocco by the French army, amount, much more than the recent German action, to a decided interference in Moroccan affairs.
After the Press campaign started on the 13th of July, after the sudden change for the worse of the Franco-German conversations, such an answer could only lead Sir Edward Grey to think that something ought to be done in order to make Germany understand that she could not touch Morocco without injuring British interests. Hence Mr. Lloyd George's speech. The result was attained on the 24th of July, when the German Ambassador emphatically declared that no landing had taken place in Agadir and that Germany had never intended to create there a naval base. How useful British interference had been, not only to England, but to France, is clearly pointed out by M. André Tardieu :
The first consequence [he writes) of the Anglo-German incident was that the German Government had evidently pledged itself to England not to seek for territorial advantages in Morocco. If one thinks of the uncertainty which prevailed in that respect, of the contradictory statements which had appeared in the German Press, of the utterances ascribed to Herr von Kiderlen, such a result had a real value. A real value first for England, who in 1911, as in 1904, did not admit the possibility of a German establishment in the Shereefian Empire; a real value also for France, whose interest in the matter was not less evident than that of Great Britain.
If any further proof should be deemed necessary of the wisdom Great Britain displayed when she interfered in the Franco-German dispute, it would be found in the difficulties which arose during the last stage of the negotiations. Some of Mr. Morel's main contentions are that the German Government has shown throughout an absolute straightforwardness; that it never made any objection to the establishment of a French protectorate over Morocco; that it defended Europe's interests in the Congo question against French selfishness; that Great Britain behaved, therefore, wrongfully when she showed the least suspicion of the German Government's intentions. Now it is true enough that Herr von Kiderlen expressed his willingness to let France be master of Morocco. But when he was asked in September to assent to a written definition of the régime which was to be set up in Morocco, then, with characteristic rapidity, he invented a score of new proposals. First of all, France was to have only a limited political control over Morocco; she was to occupy the interior of the country solely with the Sultan's consent; she was not to be entrusted with diplomatic representation of Morocco abroad, but only to be informed by Germany of all the diplomatic arrangements which might be made between the German and the Shereefian Governments. In the second place, Germany asked for number of economic privileges. She was to be the dominant
Power south of the Tensift River, from Marrakech down to the southern border of the Suss : in that part of Morocco every enterprise would have to be 70 per cent. German and 30 per cent. French; that proportion would be reversed north of the Tensift. Thus, after promising to be satisfied with the principle of mere economic equality in Morocco, if she only received proper territorial compensation elsewhere, Germany tried, as she had done in 1909, to create again for her own benefit an economic condominium equally distasteful to Europe and to France. It took M. Jules Cambon over one month—from the 4th of September to the 14th of October—to get from Herr von Kiderlen terms which, though not perfect, were at least more satisfactory.
Surprises of the same kind occurred during the negotiations relating to the Congo. On the 23rd of July Herr von Kiderlen had agreed with M. Jules Cambon that the right of pre-emption which France had possessed since 1884 over the Belgian Congo should in no way enter into the Franco-German negotiations. Nevertheless, at the very end of those negotiations, on the 26th of October, Germany suddenly asked that France should abandon that right in favour of Germany.' When the French Ambassador reminded the German Secretary of State that he had promised not to make such a demand, Herr von Kiderlen answered that he had changed his mind, as the compensations offered by France were so ridiculously small. To grant such a demand would have been as unlawful as dishonourable, for the right France possesses over the Belgian Congo cannot be transferred to another Power without Belgium's consent, and, on the other hand, such a cession would have been as dangerous for British interests as for France herself. The way out was found by the Russian Government, which suggested that both Powers should agree that, in case a territorial change should occur in the Conventional Congo basin, the signatory Powers to the Act of Berlin should have a word to say in the matter. That formula was submitted on the 30th of October by the French Government to the British, which approved of it. It was accepted by Herr von Kiderlen on the 1st of November, three days before the treaty was signed. Up to the very last moment Germany had driven such a hard bargain that a rupture was still possible, if not probable.
It would be foolish to deduce from all this that Germany must be severely blamed for the method she applied, either in the interpretation of the 1909 agreement or in the discussion of the treaty of last year. That method is always and everywhere the same. It consists in changing the principles each time they clash with the interests. Thus Germany stood for economic equality in
? That demand is construed by Mr. Morel to mean that Germany was afraid lest France might injure Europe by stealing the Belgian Congo for herself and her friends. (See Morocco in Diplomacy, p. 194.)
Morocco as long as she had no particular agreement with France. After February 1909 she tried to break that economic equality for her own benefit, and to drag France into a kind of condominium. Then again, during the summer and autumn of last year, she did her best to obtain for herself some important economic privileges in Morocco, and she returned later on to the policy of the open door only because she could not get a privileged treatment. The same variety of points of view can be observed in every detail of her action. According to circumstances, she would protest that she did not object in the least to French preponderance in Morocco, and would at the same time refuse to recognise the lawfulness of that preponderance. These changeable tactics have been often termed scornfully : Deutsche Realpolitik. As a matter of fact they amount simply to a very strong and practical conception of German interests. It would be as childish to call this an immoral diplomacy as it is to apply that flattering qualification to the diplomacy either of France or of England.
At the same time, however, the history of the past three years affords the best possible justification of the cautiousness shown by England, as well as by France, in their relations with Germany. It can no longer be disputed that, whenever the German Government signs a general diplomatic agreement, it does its best afterwards to carry the interpretation of such an agreement to the extreme point which corresponds to Germany's narrowest interest. It appears equally clear in the light of the facts that a diplomatic negotiation with Germany is never a safe one, and that the ground you may have gained on a German negotiator may be lost the moment after he has acknowledged it. For these reasons it is by no means absurd to fancy what might have happened had Sir Edward Grey supported France less firmly. The German demands might have been driven up to a point where French opinion, which backed up its Government very strongly during the last stage of the dispute, would have preferred the risks of a great war rather than an unfair settlement. A German landing in Agadir would have very likely precipitated a catastrophe of that kind. By expressing, at the most critical moment, England's will, not only to stand by France, but before all to defend British interests in Morocco, Sir Edward Grey has certainly done more to strengthen the peace of Europe than if he had listened to the peace-crank open-air preachers who are trying to ruin England for the benefit of humanity, even as the French unified Socialists are doing their best to kill their own country in the name of democratic principles. The crisis of 1911 is worth meditating over in that respect. It contains a lesson for the future.
THE FAILURE OF POST-BISMARCKIAN
The rise of Prusso-Germany from insignificance to greatness has been meteoric. Two hundred years ago Frederick the First, the first King of Prussia, ruled over 1,500,000 people; and Berlin, his capital, had only 20,000 inhabitants when, in 1688, he succeeded his father. The country was scarcely civilised and very poor. Prussia held then a position in the world not dissimilar from that occupied now by Servia or Bulgaria. To-day the King of Prussia is at the same time Emperor of Germany. He rules over 66,000,000 people and Greater Berlin has a population of about 4,000,000. Since 1871, when the German Empire was founded, Germany's population has increased by 25,000,000, and that of Berlin has nearly quadrupled. In 1871 Germany was a poor agricultural country. To-day Germany is the leading industrial, commercial and maritime State on the Continent, and the richest nation in Europe, for her wealth is greater than that of France and of Great Britain. She has successfully challenged Great Britain's industrial supremacy-her industrial production is greater than ours—and she is now challenging our maritime supremacy as well. In a very few years she will have twenty-four Dreadnoughts and super-Dreadnoughts permanently in commission in the North Sea. Her political, military and economic progress appears irresistible.
The success of a nation depends upon the people, its rulers, and its institutions. In democratic countries the people are the most important of these three factors. The policy of the United States, Great Britain, France, is made by public opinion, by the ideals, the instincts, and the desires of the masses, sentiments which through public discussion have crystallised into a definite national policy. In democracies the nation rules, the government carries out the popular will, and the statesmen are merely the mouthpieces of the people. In monarchical countries, such
, as Germany or Russia, the process is reversed. The monarch is the source of all power. He governs with the assistance of