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standing with Germany? Where, in any part of the world, are we suffering from Germany's action? Per contra, where have we stood in Germany's way? What have we done to earn this sudden enmity, when only last May the formation of an Anglo-German Friendship Society, supported by men of eminence representing every phase of political and religious thought, seemed to presage the emergence of both peoples from the unhealthy atmosphere of mutual recrimination and suspicion in which both had for several years been plunged? Well, we can only attempt an answer to these questions by contemplating honestly in their nakedness of detail the events of the past few months and the events leading up to them; by forcing ourselves to look at the facts.
Briefly-I shall make the assertion good-a study of the facts reveals beyond possibility of doubt two things of vital moment to the nation. First that the Anglo-French 'Declaration' of April 1904, which was an understanding strictly limited in scope, affecting specific causes of dispute between ourselves and France, has been converted by a Liberal Ministry into something entirely different from that which its text, both the public and the lately issued private text, proclaims; into something entirely different from that which the Foreign Secretary in the Unionist Ministry responsible for negotiating it declares its purport to have been. As tested by the Morocco affair, it has been transformed into an arrangement under which a British Foreign Secretary has undertaken to make the French case, in an interest purely French, his own; and consequently, but without its consent, that of the nation. It has become at once the justification and the excuse for a policy which was prepared last summer to contemplate war with Germany; nominally on the ground of a suspicion which I shall show to have been altogether unfounded, that Germany was seeking to acquire a territorial position in Morocco; in reality, as I shall prove, over the precise acreage of equatorial African jungle which France was willing to cede to Germany in exchange for a French protectorate over Morocco. There is, as Admiral Fremantle remarks in the United Service Magazine for January, 'no secret' that a Liberal Ministry had actually determined to go to the extremest lengths in assisting France-or rather, the more intractable and jingo elements in that country-to reap the fullest advantage from the violation of an international Act to which Great Britain was a signatory party, and that the people of this country narrowly escaped suffering the consequences of that monumental folly. The people of this country are to-day confronted with the situation that, without their knowledge or consent, they have become enmeshed in a sort of military convention binding them to uphold the actions of ephemeral French Governments, here to-day, gone and forgotten to-morrow; so
irresponsible that-as the disclosures before the French Senatorial Commission record-Foreign Ministers initiate negotiations without consulting their colleagues, Prime Ministers act likewise, French ambassadors abroad are bewildered by contradictory instructions, secret engagements are entered into by this or that member of the Cabinet on his own initiative, not only without the knowledge of the French Chamber, but outside the ken of his fellow-members; so badly served that their foreign department is admittedly honeycombed with intrigues and rival factions, the most confidential documents frequently communicated to favoured journalists, the most extraordinary combinations' resorted to in interests often personal and sometimes venal. It has come to this-that the British people must turn to the columns of a Parisian journal, whose foreign editor appears to use successive Ministries as he lists, in order to be informed of the nature of their national commitments. Thus it was to Le Temps that the British people were indebted for their acquaintance with the secret clauses of the 1904 Declaration.' It was to Le Matin that the British people were indebted for their knowledge that France had, seven years ago, with the concurrence of the Foreign Office, arranged for a partition of Morocco with Spain at the very time that M. Delcassé was solemnly assuring Europe, and the Sultan, of French disinterestedness-a fact, only known two months ago, which should induce Englishmen who have not lost all sense of fair play to revolutionise their judgment of German Moroccan policy in 1905. It is again Le Temps which in its issue of the 30th of November informs them, inter alia, that in 1905, in 1908, and again in 1911 the military liabilities ['engagements '] of Britain and France led to combined action being prepared by the respective Headquarters Staffs.
Now if there is one thing which stands out with crystal clearness it is that this unwarranted transmutation of the 1904 'Declaration' involves us, and must continue to involve us while it is tolerated, in a condition of perpetual antagonism with Germany, accompanied by recurrent panics as unworthy of our greatness as they are inimical to the normal march of our material affairs. To speak of a rapprochement with Germany while these unauthorised liabilities remain unchallenged by the nation is useless. That is the dominating factor in the situation. It appears to have been steadily burked in the Parliamentary discussions of December. And yet we are sacrificing everything to it, shedding attributes which British statesmen of far higher calibre than this generation has produced regarded as inseparable from the national greatness, pitching our moral cargoes overboard and neglecting our commercial interests. How potent this factor has become in confusing plain issues and turning general
principles topsy-turvy is but too apparent. Englishmen used to pride themselves above all other nations in keeping faith. 'An Englishman's word is as good as his bond' was, and was considered to be, a national asset. One need not necessarily be a 'crank,' a 'fanatic,' or a friend of every country but one's own to experience a shock of mingled alarm and shame at the way in which reminders of this erstwhile boast are contemptuously dismissed nowadays as food fit only for sentimentalists and fools. There must be something seriously wrong with our rulers when the latter wave aside with a few perfunctory words such solemn obligations as we undertook towards Persia and Morocco. The airy manner in which the Act of Algeciras has been elbowed out of the Morocco controversy is astounding. If our adherence to the Act of Algeciras in 1906, with its announced object of assisting the Shereefian Government to bring about certain reforms, based upon the sovereignty and independence of H.M. the Sultan and the integrity of his dominions,' was inconsistent with our previous commitments towards France, why did we adhere to it? Why did we sign an Act-constituting in effect the Public Law of Europe in relation to Morocco-which laid down that if the provisions of antecedent treaties, conventions, and agreements between the signatory Powers and Morocco conflicted with the stipulations of the Act, the latter should prevail, if we did not see our way clear to uphold the Act? Having done so, we not only raised no protest when the French started the process of tearing up the Act, but we supported them. That attitude is defended on the ground of honour,' of our obligations contracted towards France by our Declaration' of two years before, in which we agreed to disinterest ourselves in Morocco so far as that Power was concerned, in exchange for substantial advantages elsewhere. But what an astonishing perversion of the word such an argument involves! Our disinterestedness in any selfish sense affirmed in 1904 was undoubtedly confirmed in 1906, but upon it had been grafted a joint responsibility with France to preserve the independence and integrity of Morocco. In short, while in the Declaration' of 1904 we abandoned our traditional policy of an independent Morocco for which British diplomacy had worked, with German support, for many years, the Act of 1906 bound us to uphold the independence of Morocco. After Algeciras our 'honour' was primarily concerned in honouring our own signature at the foot of the Act. If it is a question of honour, British honour lay in the direction of helping the rulers of a people declared by us to be independent, whose only crime was their weakness (as it is that of the Persians), and who, after leavening the Occident with their intelligence and their civilisation, had fallen upon evil days.
In thus interpreting our national honour we should,
moreover, have been acting in accord with the repeated declarations of French statesmen, who over and over again denied with the most solemn asseverations that they entertained any notion of infringing the integrity of Morocco. Honour is the very worst ground which the apologists for the attitude of the British Foreign Office could possibly have selected. Let us call it expediency, or infatuation, or, if we will persist in calling an extreme narrowness of outlook genius, the highest concept of political sagacity; but in common decency let us leave the word honour out of the discussion, whether in application to ourselves or France or Spain or Germany, alike responsible in varying degrees for a Treaty cynically disregarded.
But this peculiar interpretation of British honour is not more striking than the subordination of the national interest to the supposed interests of Republican France. I assume that no sane man is prepared to urge that the national interest would not have been better served by French designs in Morocco being consummated-presupposing the inevitableness sooner or later of their accomplishment-without giving rise to a dangerous state of tension with Germany, in which we could hardly avoid being involved. On that assumption did not ordinary prudence suggest a totally different line than that actually followed between the bombardment of Casablanca and the occupation of Fez? Since we were apparently determined, despite the Act of Algeçiras, to throw the mantle of our protecting aegis over the Comité du Maroc, over the Etiennes, the Tardieus, and the rest who made the affaire Marocaine, we might at least have stipulated for some share in calling the tune, instead of giving carte blanche and reaping dead sea fruit. It was surely infantile to imagine that Germany was any more likely in 1911 than she was in 1904-05 to agree to France securing Morocco without positive guarantees as to the open door, and without paying her bill of compensation even as France had found it necessary to pay the British, Spanish, and Italian bills. To Britain, relief in Egypt; to Spain, almost the entire northern and part of the Atlantic coasts of Morocco, with a goodly slice of hinterland thrown in; to Italy, a free hand in Tripoli; to Germany-nothing! That was clearly impossible. The national interest imperatively demanded that the mistake committed in 1904, the mistake primarily due to M. Delcassé's obstinacy-that of leaving Germany out in the cold, treating her as a negligible quantity (a volte face, as I showed in my last article, from the Delcassé policy of 1901)-should not be repeated. It was not as though the character of the men and the school desirous of perpetuating the anti-German policy of the past was not known to us. We knew its irresponsibility, its dangerous and heady jingoism, only too well. The men who wished to confront
Germany with the accomplished fact in Morocco, so that no further Conference save one based upon that accomplished factand thus useless from the German point of view-would be entertained, were the men who had engineered Fashoda and, but for their miscalculations and the ability of the British representative at Addís-Abeba, would have succeeded in supporting Marchand with an army of Abyssinians. They were the men who nearly precipitated an Anglo-French conflict on the banks of the Niger and the Mekong, as well as on the Nile. We had suffered from their unscrupulousness and the occult influences they enjoy over the French Foreign and Colonial Departments for a very long time; indeed, we are still suffering. Ordinary foresight dictated by experience required that the British Foreign Office should not permit the national interest entrusted to its charge to be used as a cat's-paw against Germany. Patriotic and clear-sighted Frenchmen not a few saw clearly that a perpetuation of the 1904 policy of ostracising Germany could only be followed at the certain risk of a rupture. M. Francis de Préssensé and others of his school uttered warning after warning. The feeling even found expression in the heart of the French Colonial party itself at the important Congress' relating to North Africa held in Paris in October 1908, M. Réné Millet, for example, saying openly that: 'If Germany is to leave us in peace in Morocco, we must offer her satisfaction elsewhere.' We could and should have made it absolutely clear between the end of 1907 and the end of 1909, that we considered it essential to a peaceful and final settlement of the Morocco problem that France should not prolong a questionable situation without coming to definite terms with Germany.
But if such an attitude were called for then, how much more was it needed during the months which preceded the march to Fez? British friendship was the pivot upon which everything turned in Paris. Does any responsible person in this country really believe that the Fez expedition, and the events leading up to and preparing it, would have been undertaken if the French had not been assured of British support? On that support we were in a position to put a price, since our grant of it made us accessories to the destruction of the Act of Algeçiras. The national interest demanded that we should have done so; and that price should have been a definite understanding between Paris and Berlin on the basis of compensation to Germany for the crowning step which was to convert Morocco into another France,' as the French Minister of War made rather tactless haste to proclaim immediately after the signature of the FrancoGerman convention of last November. Here again our diplomacy should have known-if it was accurately advised by our French friends must, indeed, have known-that the permanent