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examination of M. Cruppi, French Foreign Minister in the Monis Cabinet (in office at the time of the Fez expedition), by the Senatorial Committee, shows that, in June, compensation in the French Congo was being discussed by the French Ambassador at Berlin with the German Foreign Minister. The only question was how much of the French Congo and what part of it was to be ceded. That German desires first bore upon the particular part of the French Congo indicated in The Times' map is probably true. In the opening encounter of most negotiations the man who wants asks more than he expects to receive; the man who stands to give does not state the maximum he is prepared to concede. Germany is, doubtless, a hard bargainer. Her 'demand' was presumably in the nature of a first feeler. Moreover it was accompanied by offers-offers to cede German territory in West Africa to France by way of exchange. The Times did not mention this. But the French Foreign Minister is explicit :
M. Cambon, looking at a map with M. Kiderlen Waechter, the Secretary of State, said to him: "Very well, we can arrive at some exchanges. We will abandon you Togoland, we will give you territorial concessions in the Upper Cameroon. But this is what we ask, etc.'
The picture of these two elderly gentlemen bending their heads and waving their respective forefingers over the map of Africa is very different from the pistol-to-your-forehead, stand-and-deliver, Claude-Duval sort of thing portrayed for the edification of the British public in The Times. As a mattter of fact the bargaining has ended in Germany obtaining a little less than one-fifth instead of one-third the French Congo, and giving a small fraction of the Cameroons instead of Togoland and the whole of German Bornu (Upper Cameroons). And the British Government, not even directly concerned, was prepared to stake a war on it!
The day after the appearance of The Times announcement Sir Edward Grey sent for the German Ambassador-i.e. on the 21st of July. He said, he had been made anxious by the news which appeared the day before as to the demands which the German Government had made on the French Government.' Those demands, he went on to remark, it was obviously impossible for the French Government to concede.' The negotiations might break down. 'According to native rumours,' the Germans were landing and negotiating with the tribes round Agadir, and if the negotiations came to nothing Britain would "Voici ce que nous demandons.' But demander means to 'ask' rather than to demand.' If the Germans had meant ' demand' in the sense attributed to them, the sentence would have read, 'Voici ce que nous RECLAMONS,' or ' Voici ce qu'il nous faut.'
15 The rumours were untrue. They do not appear to have been credited in France, Mais il nous est apparu, d'après nos renseignements, que si l'Allemagne envoyait un bateau à Agadir, elle n'avait pas l'intention d'y opérer un débarquement.' M. de Selves, id.
have to become a party to a discussion of the matter.' In giving an account of this conversation to the House, Sir Edward Grey made it clear that he was still labouring under what the French Foreign Minister has conclusively demonstrated to have been an 'hallucination,' viz.-that Germany was meditating a partition of Morocco, and that assuming the failure of the projected Congo compensation settlement, the negotiations would be forced back ' upon something in the nature of a partition of Morocco '-that is to say, really, the acquisition by Germany of a portion of Morocco, because France and Spain had, with the knowledge of the Foreign Office, already partitioned Morocco between them by the secret Franco-Spanish Convention of October 1904. Without giving the German Ambassador time to communicate with his Government, Sir Edward Grey saw the Prime Minister and Mr. Lloyd George, and the same evening, the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a speech at the Mansion House, in the course of which he said:
But if a situation were forced upon us in which peace could only be preserved by the surrender of the great and beneficent position Britain has won by centuries of heroism and achievement, by allowing Britain to be treated where her interests were vitally affected, as if she were of no account in the Cabinet of Nations, then I say emphatically that peace at that price would be a humiliation intolerable for a great country like ours to endure. The purport of those words was unmistakable. The Times punctuated them the next morning: Mr. Lloyd George on British prestige': Significant reference by Mr. Lloyd George': 'Firm British attitude.' Such were the headings accentuated by a leader very similar in tone to that of July 20, entitled The European Crisis,' in which German policy was inter alia compared with the proceedings of Dick Turpin.' Taking their cue from The Times other papers followed, and the clamour of denunciation became general.
In the light of our present knowledge, a survey of the events of the 20th and the 21st of July induces a feeling of utter amazement. British diplomacy had taken upon itself to interfere provocatively on the side of France, not in pursuance of any British interest in Morocco which France might be supposed to be defending, not, indeed, in connexion with Morocco at all, but in order to reduce, at Germany's expense, the bill which France had placed herself by her own acts in the position of having to pay. Whether the bill as originally presented constituted an overcharge or not, was not our affair. France was not a baby in arms. We had no call to play the part of wet nurse. In the very territory which Germany asked for, British commercial interests had been treated with contumely and the Act of Berlin, which applied to the greater part of it, cynically disregarded to British
detriment. The Foreign Secretary had not even given himself the trouble to ascertain what we now know to have been the case from the French themselves, that Germany, in presenting a bill in one hand, had presented a credit note for rebate in the other, in the shape of a German dependency [one of the most flourishing and best administered in West Africa, as Miss Mary Gaunt has recently borne witness], and a substantial part of another. (Note that Sir Edward Grey, in defending his attitude before the House of Commons, made no allusion to this very important factor in the Franco-German bargaining.) The Foreign Secretary had adopted the 'Dick Turpin' version of the compensation conversations; had afforded the German Government no opportunity of stating its case, for bear in mind. that the Congo compensation question was never raised by the British Foreign Office before the 21st of July; and, saturated with the anti-German prejudices which permeate the minds of his advisers, had dictated to the Chancellor of the Exchequer an utterance not, perhaps, very dignified in itself, and nicely calculated, in view of all the circumstances, to produce that bitterness and resentment from which the whole European situation and our own interests in every part of the world almost are now suffering. The 21st of July may have been a good day for the great manufacturers of war material. It was a bad day for the British. taxpayer. On that day a policy of blind defence of French colonial interests-a policy which has no sanction in any arrangement or understanding or commitment known to the British people, a policy which the British people would reject unhesitatingly, if Britain possessed to-day public men of sufficient courage and independence to place its nature and its effects before them-touched high-water mark. God grant the nation may awake to its peril before folly and heedlessness, autocratic obstinacy, lack of imagination and personal prejudices have swept it into the abyss of carnage and of suffering. We stand at the parting of the ways.
It is useless to examine further the history of these proceedings. The increasing tension which followed, the war preparations which ensued-for all this, and for whatever the sequel may be, we have to go back to those first three weeks of last July and the lack of foresight which preceded them. But what of the future? Fair words we have had in plenty. Words, words, words,' they are worse than useless if the influences responsible for the episode of last July are to prevail, and if the national interest is to continue to be subordinated to factors in France which, in the name of France, are bringing upon that country the direst perils. Is it not time that we considered France a little less and Britain a little more? The attraction of personality
lends a picturesque touch to our national discussions. But it is sometimes apt to blunt plain issues. Among those who are driven to criticise adversely the policy identified with the present Foreign Secretary, there are probably none who do not respect and even admire the personal qualities of the man. They admire his detachment from selfish ambitions, his disinterestedness, his courageous obstinacy. They feel the sympathy of deepest respect for a tragedy which in some men's lives lays a grasp of ice upon the soul. But pushed beyond reasonable limits sentiments of this kind become a danger to the State, and it is in the highest degree threatening to the national interest that they should be allowed to blind the public to the perilous paths the nation is being made to tread. The accept-my-policy-or-I-resign' attitude is incompatible with the requirements, the responsibilities, and the enormous stakes of a modern democratic commonwealth whose multifold interests place it at the mercy of those who direct its foreign policy, and whose future may be compromised for a generation by prejudices, whether temperamental or other, in the management of its relations with foreign Powers. It is no longer possible for one particular department in the State to be entirely isolated from the national life; to cut itself off completely from all contact with those deep-seated currents which, in the long run, govern the destinies of the peoples; to keep wholly out of touch with national sentiment save for an occasional and perfunctory debate in a congested House of Commons.
A point has been reached in our relations with Germany when a change for the better must ensue or speedy war result. That war we have narrowly escaped in connexion with the transfer, in which we ourselves were not concerned, of a slice of Equatorial African forest, sparsely populated by primitive races and by a handful of fever-stricken white officials and rubber exploiters; sombre, savage, primeval in the gloom of its great trees and matted creepers. Criminal absurdity could touch no lower depths. That risk must not be repeated. That war must not be; will not be, if the nation rouses itself to a realisation of what has taken place. If those who govern our foreign policy have persuaded themselves of its inevitableness, the nation cannot afford the luxury of retaining them in power. They must give way to men without fixed ideas and prejudices, less haughtily indifferent to public feeling, and with a keener appreciation of the revolution in national interests which growth of population and the international interlocking of industrial and commercial needs have wrought.
The best minds in France are just now grappling with an identical problem as it affects the French people. They are giving us an example from which we may profit with advantage.
The course has been taken of appointing a Senatorial commission on non-party lines, composed of the leading and most experienced statesmen in the nation, to sift to the bottom the whole story of the Moroccan affair. Successive Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries who have been concerned in these transactions are hailed as witnesses and cross-examined. The substance of the investigation is given to the nation. The step is unprecedented. But so is the story to be dissected. From first to last, from M. Delcassé's first secret negotiations with Spain in 1901 to the Anglo-French 'Declaration' of 1904, with its secret clauses, and M. Delcassé's secret Convention with Spain in October 1904, signed with British concurrence, whereby Britain, France, and Spain combined in the unsuccessful attempt to exclude Germany from a position she had lawfully acquired, and whereby, without the knowledge of the French nation, France was dragged into the Morocco adventure, ignorant of the fact that virtually the entire Mediterranean littoral had, by the act of her Foreign Minister, passed from her possible control; through the whole gamut of the abortive negotiations over the French Congo conducted by the Briand and Monis Cabinets, the N'Goko Sangha scandal, the intrigues of the Tardieus and Etiennes, and so on; the plots and counterplots woven by diplomatists in the process of strangling the Moors, who are now engaged, and presently will be on a much larger scale, in laying down their lives (and killing as many French and Spanish peasants as possible before they do) in the defence of their independence solemnly guaranteed by the Powers, are as inexpressibly revolting as they are utterly opposed to the interests of the peoples whose destinies are juggled with as though they were merely counters in the game. The sordid background of personal ambitions and financial manoeuvres which lies behind it all accentuates, to those who know something of it, the disgust which honest men must experience as the narrative slowly unfolds. That the people of Britain, France, and Germany, perhaps of Austria, Russia, and Spain as well, were very nearly precipitated into murderous strife as the result thereof, is a greater incentive to the growth of really dangerous, because irresponsible and non-constructive elements in society than all the writings and appeals of which the supporters of conditions that can produce such a travesty of human government stand in so much dread. That the French have been able to appreciate the gravity of the issues so far as they are concerned is a tribute to that genius for statecraft, and for something deeper than statecraft, which has manifested itself at critical periods throughout their history. It almost leads one to hope that a process of purification may be the ultimate outcome, which will purge French political life, and especially free the great Foreign and Colonial
VOL. LXXI-No. 420