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Dickinson, G. Lowes (Goldsworthy Lowes) / The European Anarchy
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Tony Towers and PG Distributed Proofreaders


By G. Lowes Dickinson



Europe since the Fifteenth Century--Machiavellianism--Empire and the
Balance of Power

Belgian Dispatches of 1905-14.

The Policy of Great Britain--Essentially an Overseas Power

The Policy of France since 1870--Peace and Imperialism--Conflicting

The Policy of Russia--Especially towards Austria

The Policy of Austria-Hungary--Especially towards the Balkans

The Policy of Germany--From 1866 to the Decade 1890-1900--A Change

German "Romanticism"--New Ambitions.


Relation to Great Britain--The Navy.

Great Britain's Efforts for Arbitration--Mutual Suspicion


The Bagdad Railway



Before the War--The Outbreak of War

The Pursuit of Power and Wealth


Change of Outlook and Change of System--An International
League--International Law and Control


1. _Introduction_.

In the great and tragic history of Europe there is a turning-point that
marks the defeat of the ideal of a world-order and the definite acceptance
of international anarchy. That turning-point is the emergence of the
sovereign State at the end of the fifteenth century. And it is symbolical
of all that was to follow that at that point stands, looking down the
vista of the centuries, the brilliant and sinister figure of Machiavelli.
From that date onwards international policy has meant Machiavellianism.
Sometimes the masters of the craft, like Catherine de Medici or Napoleon,
have avowed it; sometimes, like Frederick the Great, they have disclaimed
it. But always they have practised it. They could not, indeed, practise
anything else. For it is as true of an aggregation of States as of an
aggregation of individuals that, whatever moral sentiments may prevail, if
there is no common law and no common force the best intentions will be
defeated by lack of confidence and security. Mutual fear and mutual
suspicion, aggression masquerading as defence and defence masquerading as
aggression, will be the protagonists in the bloody drama; and there will
be, what Hobbes truly asserted to be the essence of such a situation, a
chronic state of war, open or veiled. For peace itself will be a latent
war; and the more the States arm to prevent a conflict the more certainly
will it be provoked, since to one or another it will always seem a better
chance to have it now than to have it on worse conditions later. Some
one State at any moment may be the immediate offender; but the main and
permanent offence is common to all States. It is the anarchy which they
are all responsible for perpetuating.

While this anarchy continues the struggle between States will tend to
assume a certain stereotyped form. One will endeavour to acquire supremacy
over the others for motives at once of security and of domination, the
others will combine to defeat it, and history will turn upon the two poles
of empire and the balance of power. So it has been in Europe, and so it
will continue to be, until either empire is achieved, as once it was
achieved by Rome, or a common law and a common authority is established
by agreement. In the past empire over Europe has been sought by Spain,
by Austria, and by France; and soldiers, politicians, and professors in
Germany have sought, and seek, to secure it now for Germany. On the other
hand, Great Britain has long stood, as she stands now, for the balance of
power. As ambitious, as quarrelsome, and as aggressive as other States, her
geographical position has directed her aims overseas rather than toward
the Continent of Europe. Since the fifteenth century her power has never
menaced the Continent. On the contrary, her own interest has dictated that
she should resist there the enterprise of empire, and join in the defensive
efforts of the threatened States. To any State of Europe that has conceived
the ambition to dominate the Continent this policy of England has seemed
as contrary to the interests of civilization as the policy of the Papacy
appeared in Italy to an Italian patriot like Machiavelli. He wanted Italy
enslaved, in order that it might be united. And so do some Germans now want
Europe enslaved, that it may have peace under Germany. They accuse England
of perpetuating for egotistic ends the state of anarchy. But it was not
thus that Germans viewed British policy when the Power that was to give
peace to Europe was not Germany, but France. In this long and bloody game
the partners are always changing, and as partners change so do views.
One thing only does not change, the fundamental anarchy. International
relations, it is agreed, can only turn upon force. It is the disposition
and grouping of the forces alone that can or does vary.

But Europe is not the only scene of the conflict between empire and
the balance. Since the sixteenth century the European States have been
contending for mastery, not only over one another, but over the world.
Colonial empires have risen and fallen. Portugal, Spain, Holland, in turn
have won and lost. England and France have won, lost, and regained. In
the twentieth century Great Britain reaps the reward of her European
conflicts in the Empire (wrongly so-called) on which the sun never sets.
Next to her comes France, in Africa and the East; while Germany looks out
with discontented eyes on a world already occupied, and, cherishing the
same ambitions all great States have cherished before her, finds the
time too mature for their accomplishment by the methods that availed in
the past. Thus, not only in Europe but on the larger stage of the world
the international rivalry is pursued. But it is the same rivalry and it
proceeds from the same cause: the mutual aggression and defence of beings
living in a "state of nature."

Without this historical background no special study of the events that led
up to the present war can be either just or intelligible. The feeling of
every nation about itself and its neighbours is determined by the history
of the past and by the way in which that history is regarded. The picture
looks different from every point of view. Indeed, a comprehension of the
causes of the war could only be fully attained by one who should know, not
only the most secret thoughts of the few men who directly brought it about,
but also the prejudices and preconceptions of the public opinion in each
nation. There is nobody who possesses these qualifications. But in the
absence of such a historian these imperfect notes are set down in the hope
that they may offer a counterpoise to some of the wilder passions that
sweep over all peoples in time of war and threaten to prepare for Europe
a future even worse than its past has been.

2. _The Triple Alliance and the Entente_.

First, let us remind ourselves in general of the situation that prevailed
in Europe during the ten years preceding the war. It was in that period
that the Entente between France, Russia, and England was formed and
consolidated, over against the existing Triple Alliance between Germany,
Austria, and Italy. Neither of these combinations was in its origin and
purpose aggressive[1].

And, so far as Great Britain was concerned, the relations she entered into
with France and with Russia were directed in each case to the settlement
of long outstanding differences without special reference to the German
Powers. But it is impossible in the European anarchy that any arrangements
should be made between any States which do not arouse suspicion in others.
And the drawing together of the Powers of the Entente did in fact appear
to Germany as a menace. She believed that she was being threatened by an
aggressive combination, just as, on the other hand, she herself seemed to
the Powers of the Entente a danger to be guarded against. This apprehension
on the part of Germany, is sometimes thought to have been mere pretence,
but there is every reason to suppose it to have been genuine. The policy of
the Entente did in fact, on a number of occasions, come into collision with
that of Germany. The arming and counter-arming was continuous. And the very
fact that from the side of the Entente it seemed that Germany was always
the aggressor, should suggest to us that from the other side the opposite
impression would prevail. That, in fact, it did prevail is clear not only
from the constant assertions of German statesmen and of the German Press,
but from contemporary observations made by the representatives of a State
not itself involved in either of the opposing combinations. The dispatches
of the Belgian ambassadors at Berlin, Paris, and London during the years
1905 to 1914[2] show a constant impression that the Entente was a hostile
combination directed against Germany and engineered, in the earlier years,
for that purpose by King Edward VII. This impression of the Belgian
representatives is no proof, it is true, of the real intentions of the
Entente, but it is proof of how they did in fact appear to outsiders. And
it is irrelevant, whether or no it be true, to urge that the Belgians were
indoctrinated with the German view; since precisely the fact that they
could be so indoctrinated would show that the view was on the face of it
plausible. We see, then, in these dispatches the way in which the policy of
the Entente could appear to observers outside it. I give illustrations from
Berlin, Paris, and London.

On May 30, 1908, Baron Greindl, Belgian Ambassador at Berlin, writes as

Call it an alliance, _entente_, or what you will, the grouping of the
Powers arranged by the personal intervention of the King of England
exists, and if it is not a direct and immediate threat of war against
Germany (it would be too much to say that it was that), it constitutes
none the less a diminution of her security. The necessary pacifist
declarations, which, no doubt, will be repeated at Reval, signify very
little, emanating as they do from three Powers which, like Russia and
England, have just carried through successfully, without any motive
except the desire for aggrandizement, and without even a plausible
pretext, wars of conquest in Manchuria and the Transvaal, or which,
like France, is proceeding at this moment to the conquest of Morocco,
in contempt of solemn promises, and without any title except the
cession of British rights, which never existed.

On May 24, 1907, the Comte de Lalaing, Belgian Ambassador at London,

A certain section of the Press, called here the Yellow Press, bears to a
great extent the responsibility for the hostile feeling between the two
nations.... It is plain enough that official England is quietly pursuing
a policy opposed to Germany and aimed at her isolation, and that King
Edward has not hesitated to use his personal influence in the service of
this scheme. But it is certainly exceedingly dangerous to poison public
opinion in the open manner adopted by these irresponsible journals.

Again, on July 28, 1911, in the midst of the Morocco crisis, Baron
Guillaume, Belgian Ambassador at Paris, writes:--

I have great confidence in the pacific sentiments of the Emperor William,
in spite of the too frequent exaggeration of some of his gestures. He
will not allow himself to be drawn on farther than he chooses by the
exuberant temperament and clumsy manners of his very intelligent Minister
of Foreign Affairs (Kiderlen-Waechter). I feel, in general, less faith in
the desire of Great Britain for peace. She would not be sorry to see the
others eat one another up.... As I thought from the beginning, it is in
London that the key to the situation lies. It is there only that it can
become grave. The French will yield on all the points for the sake of
peace. It is not the same with the English, who will not compromise on
certain principles and certain claims.

[Footnote 1: The alliance between Germany and Austria, which dates from
1879, was formed to guarantee the two States against an attack by Russia.
Its terms are:--

"1. If, contrary to what is to be expected and contrary to the sincere
desire of the two high contracting parties, one of the two Empires
should be attacked by Russia, the two high contracting parties are
bound reciprocally to assist one another with the whole military force
of their Empire, and further not to make peace except conjointly and
by common consent.

"2. If one of the high contracting Powers should be attacked by another
Power, the other high contracting party engages itself, by the present act,
not only not to support the aggressor against its ally, but at least to
observe a benevolent neutrality with regard to the other contracting party.
If, however, in the case supposed the attacking Power should be supported
by Russia, whether by active co-operation or by military measures which
should menace the Power attacked, then the obligation of mutual assistance
with all military forces, as stipulated in the preceding article, would
immediately come into force, and the military operations of the high
contracting parties would be in that case conducted jointly until the
conclusion of peace."

Italy acceded to the Alliance in 1882. The engagement is defensive. Each of
the three parties is to come to the assistance of the others if attacked by
a third party.

The treaty of Germany with Austria was supplemented in 1884 by a treaty
with Russia, known as the "Reinsurance Treaty," whereby Germany bound
herself not to join Austria in an attack upon Russia. This treaty lapsed
in the year 1890, and the lapse, it is presumed, prepared the way for the
_rapprochement_ between Russia and France.

The text of the treaty of 1894 between France and Russia has never been
published. It is supposed to be a treaty of mutual defence in case of an
aggressive attack. The Power from whom attack is expected is probably
named, as in the treaty between Germany and Austria. It is probably for
that reason that the treaty was not published. The accession of Great
Britain to what then became known as the "Triple Entente" is determined by
the treaty of 1904 with France, whereby France abandoned her opposition to
the British occupation of Egypt in return for a free hand in Morocco; and
by the treaty of 1907 with Russia, whereby the two Powers regulated their
relations in Persia, Afghanistan, and Thibet. There is no mention in either
case of an attack, or a defence against attack, by any other Power.]

[Footnote 2: These were published by the _Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung,_
and are reprinted under the title "Belgische Aktenstücke," 1905-14 (Ernst
Siegfried Mittler and Sons, Berlin). Their authenticity, as far as I know,
has not been disputed. On the other hand, it is to be assumed that they
have been very carefully "edited" by the German to make a particular
impression. My view of the policy of Germany or of the Entente is in no
sense based upon them. I adduce them as evidence of contemporary feeling
and opinion.]

3. _Great Britain_.

Having established this general fact that a state of mutual suspicion and
fear prevailed between Germany and the Powers of the Triple Entente, let us
next consider the positions and purposes of the various States involved.
First, let us take Great Britain, of which we ought to know most. Great
Britain is the head of an Empire, and of one, in point of territory and
population, the greatest the world has ever seen. This Empire has been
acquired by trade and settlement, backed or preceded by military force.
And to acquire and hold it, it has been necessary to wage war after war,
not only overseas but on the continent of Europe. It is, however, as we
have already noticed, a fact, and a cardinal fact, that since the fifteenth
century British ambitions have not been directed to extending empire over
the continent of Europe. On the contrary, we have resisted by arms every
attempt made by other Powers in that direction. That is what we have meant
by maintaining the "balance of power." We have acted, no doubt, in our own
interest, or in what we thought to be such; but in doing so we have made
ourselves the champions of those European nations that have been threatened
by the excessive power of their neighbours. British imperialism has thus,
for four centuries, not endangered but guaranteed the independence of the
European States. Further, our Empire is so large that we can hardly extend
it without danger of being unable to administer and protect it. We claim,
therefore, that we have neither the need nor the desire to wage wars of
conquest. But we ought not to be surprised if this attitude is not accepted
without reserve by other nations. For during the last half-century we
have, in fact, waged wars to annex Egypt, the Soudan, the South African
Republics, and Burmah, to say nothing of the succession of minor wars
which have given us Zululand, Rhodesia, Nigeria, and Uganda. Odd as it
does, I believe, genuinely seem to most Englishmen, we are regarded on
the Continent as the most aggressive Power in the world, although our
aggression is not upon Europe. We cannot expect, therefore, that our
professions of peaceableness should be taken very seriously by outsiders.
Nevertheless it is, I believe, true that, at any rate during the last
fifteen-years, those professions have been genuine. Our statesmen, of both
parties, have honestly desired and intended to keep the peace of the world.
And they have been assisted in this by a genuine and increasing desire for
peace in the nation. The Liberal Government in particular has encouraged
projects of arbitration and of disarmament; and Sir Edward Grey is probably
the most pacific Minister that ever held office in a great nation. But our
past inevitably discredits, in this respect, our future. And when we
profess peace it is not unnatural that other nations should suspect a

Moreover, this desire for peace on our part is conditional upon the
maintenance of the _status quo_ and of our naval supremacy. Our vast
interests in every part of the world make us a factor everywhere to be
reckoned with. East, west, north, and south, no other Power can take a step
without finding us in the path. Those States, therefore, which, unlike
ourselves, are desirous farther to extend their power and influence
beyond the seas, must always reckon with us, particularly if, with that
end in view, by increasing their naval strength they seem to threaten our
supremacy at sea. This attitude of ours is not to be blamed, but it must
always make difficult the maintenance of friendly relations with ambitious
Powers. In the past our difficulties have been mainly with Russia and
France. In recent years they have been with Germany. For Germany, since
1898, for the first time in her history, has been in a position, and has
made the choice, to become a World-Power. For that reason, as well as
to protect her commerce, she has built a navy. And for that reason we,
pursuing our traditional policy of opposing the strongest continental
Power, have drawn away from her and towards Russia and France. We did not,
indeed, enter upon our arrangements with these latter Powers because of
aggressive intentions towards Germany. But the growth of German sea-power
drove us more and more to rely upon the Entente in case it should be
necessary for us to defend ourselves. All this followed inevitably from
the logic of the position, given the European anarchy. I state it for the
sake of exposition, not of criticism, and I do not imagine any reader will
quarrel with my statement.

4. _France_.

Let us turn now to France. Since 1870 we find contending there, with
varying fortunes and strength, two opposite currents of sentiment and
policy. One was that of _revanche_ against Germany, inspired by the old
traditions of glory and hegemony, associated with hopes of a monarchist
or imperialistic revolution, and directed, in the first place, to a
recovery of Alsace-Lorraine. The other policy was that of peace abroad
and socialistic transformation at home, inspired by the modern ideals of
justice and fraternity, and supported by the best of the younger generation
of philosophers, poets, and artists, as well as by the bulk of the working
class. Nowhere have these two currents of contemporary aspiration met
and contended as fiercely as in France. The Dreyfus case was the most
striking act in the great drama. But it was not the concluding one. French
militarism, in that affair, was scotched but not killed, and the contest
was never fiercer than in the years immediately preceding the war. The
fighters for peace were the Socialists, under their leader, Jaurès, the one
great man in the public life of Europe. While recognizing the urgent need
for adequate national defence, Jaurès laboured so to organize it that it
could not be mistaken for nor converted into aggression. He laboured, at
the same time, to remove the cause of the danger. In the year 1913, under
Swiss auspices, a meeting of French and German pacifists was arranged at
Berne. To this meeting there proceeded 167 French deputies and 48 senators.
The Baron d'Estournelles de Constant was president of the French bureau,
and Jaurès one of the vice-presidents. The result was disappointing. The
German participation was small and less influential than the French, and
no agreement could be reached on the burning question of Alsace-Lorraine.
But the French Socialists continued, up to the eve of the war, to fight
for peace with an energy, an intelligence, and a determination shown
in no other country. The assassination of Jaurès was a symbol of the
assassination of peace; but the assassin was a Frenchman.

For if, in France, the current for peace ran strong in these latter
years, so did the current for war. French chauvinism had waxed and
waned, but it was never extinguished. After 1870 it centred not only
about Alsace-Lorraine, but also about the colonial expansion which took
from that date a new lease of life in France, as it had done in England
after the loss of the American colonies. Directly encouraged by Bismarck,
France annexed Tunis in 1881. The annexation of Tunis led up at last to
that of Morocco. Other territory had been seized in the Far East, and
France became, next to ourselves, the greatest colonial Power. This policy
could not be pursued without friction, and the principal friction at the
beginning was with ourselves. Once at least, in the Fashoda crisis, the two
countries were on the verge of war, and it was not till the Entente of 1904
that their relations were adjusted on a basis of give-and-take. But by that
time Germany had come into the colonial field, and the Entente with England
meant new friction with Germany, turning upon French designs in Morocco. In
this matter Great Britain supported her ally, and the incident of Agadir
in 1911 showed the solidity of the Entente. This demonstration no doubt
strengthened the hands of the aggressive elements in France, and later
on the influence of M. Delcassé and M. Poincaré was believed in certain
quarters to have given new energy to this direction of French policy. This
tendency to chauvinism was recognized as a menace to peace, and we find
reflections of that feeling in the Belgian dispatches. Thus, for instance,
Baron Guillaume, Belgian minister at Paris, writes on February, 21, 1913,
of M. Poincaré:--

It is under his Ministry that the military and slightly chauvinistic
instincts of the French people have awakened. His hand can be seen in
this modification; it is to be hoped that his political intelligence,
practical and cool, will save him from all exaggeration in this course.
The notable increase of German armaments which supervenes at the moment
of M. Poincaré's entrance at the Elysée will increase the danger of a
too nationalistic orientation of the policy of France.

Again, on March 3, 1913:--

The German Ambassador said to me on Saturday: "The political situation
is much improved in the last forty-eight hours; the tension is generally
relaxed; one may hope for a return to peace in the near future. But what
does not improve is the state of public opinion in France and Germany
with regard to the relations between the two countries. We are persuaded
in Germany that a spirit of chauvinism having revived, we have to fear an
attack by the Republic. In France they express the same fear with regard
to us. The consequence of these misunderstandings is to ruin us both. I
do not know where we are going on this perilous route. Will not a man
appear of sufficient goodwill and prestige to recall every one to reason?
All this is the more ridiculous because, during the crisis we are
traversing, the two Governments have given proof of the most pacific
sentiments, and have continually relied upon one another to avoid

On this Baron Guillaume comments:--

Baron Schoen is perfectly right, I am not in a position to examine German
opinion, but I note every day how public opinion in France becomes more
suspicious and chauvinistic. One meets people who assure one that a war
with Germany in the near future is certain and inevitable. People regret
it, but make up their minds to it.... They demand, almost by acclamation,
an immediate vote for every means of increasing the defensive power of
France. The most reasonable men assert that it is necessary to arm to the
teeth to frighten the enemy and prevent war.

On April 16th he reports a conversation with M. Pichon, in which the latter

Among us, too, there is a spirit of chauvinism which is increasing,
which I deplore, and against which we ought to react. Half the theatres
in Paris now play chauvinistic and nationalistic pieces.

The note of alarm becomes more urgent as the days go on. On January 16,
1914, the Baron writes:--

I have already had the honour to tell you that it is MM. Poincaré,
Delcassé, Millerand and their friends who have invented and pursued the
nationalistic and chauvinistic policy which menaces to-day the peace of
Europe, and of which we have noted the renaissance. It is a danger for
Europe and for Belgium. I see in it the greatest peril, which menaces the
peace of Europe to-day; not that I have the right to suppose that the
Government of the Republic is disposed deliberately to trouble the peace,
rather I believe the contrary; but the attitude that the Barthou Cabinet
has taken up is, in my judgment, the determining cause of an excess of
militaristic tendencies in Germany.

It is clear from these quotations, and it is for this reason alone that
I give them, that France, supported by the other members of the Triple
Entente, could appear, and did appear, as much a menace to Germany as
Germany appeared a menace to France; that in France, as in other countries,
there was jingoism as well as pacifism; and that the inability of French
public opinion to acquiesce in the loss of Alsace-Lorraine was an active
factor in the unrest of Europe. Once more I state these facts, I do
not criticize them. They are essential to the comprehension of the
international situation.

5. _Russia_.

We have spoken so far of the West. But the Entente between France and
Russia, dating from 1894, brought the latter into direct contact with
Eastern policy. The motives and even the terms of the Dual Alliance are
imperfectly known. Considerations of high finance are supposed to have
been an important factor in it. But the main intention, no doubt, was to
strengthen both Powers in the case of a possible conflict with Germany. The
chances of war between Germany and France were thus definitely increased,
for now there could hardly be an Eastern war without a Western one. Germany
must therefore regard herself as compelled to wage war, if war should come,
on both fronts; and in all her fears or her ambitions this consideration
must play a principal part. Friction in the East must involve friction in
the West, and vice versa. What were the causes of friction in the West we
have seen. Let us now consider the cause of friction in the East.

The relations of Russia to Germany have been and are of a confused and
complicated character, changing as circumstances and personalities change.
But one permanent factor has been the sympathy between the governing
elements in the two countries. The governing class in Russia, indeed, has
not only been inspired by German ideas, it has been largely recruited
from men of German stock; and it has manifested all the contempt and
hatred which is characteristic of the German bureaucracy for the ideals of
democracy, liberty, and free thought. The two Governments have always been
ready to combine against popular insurrections, and in particular against
every attempt of the Poles to recover their liberty. They have been drawn
and held together by a common interest in tyranny, and the renewal of that
co-operation is one of the dangers of the future. On the other hand, apart
from and in opposition to this common political interest, there exists
between the two nations a strong racial antagonism. The Russian temperament
is radically opposed to the German. The one expresses itself in Panslavism,
the other in Pangermanism. And this opposition of temperament is likely
to be deeper and more enduring than the sympathy of the one autocracy with
the other. But apart from this racial factor, there is in the south-east
an opposition of political ambition. Primarily, the Balkan question is
an Austro-Russian rather than a Russo-German one. Bismarck professed
himself indifferent to the fate of the Balkan peoples, and even avowed a
willingness to see Russia at Constantinople. But recent years have seen,
in this respect, a great change. The alliance between Germany and Austria,
dating from 1879, has become closer and closer as the Powers of the Entente
have drawn together in what appeared to be a menacing combination. It has
been, for some time past, a cardinal principle of German policy to support
her ally in the Balkans, and this determination has been increased by
German ambitions in the East. The ancient dream of Russia to possess
Constantinople has been countered by the new German dream of a hegemony
over the near East based upon the through route from Berlin via Vienna and
Constantinople to Bagdad; and this political opposition has been of late
years the determining factor in the relationship of the two Powers. The
danger of a Russo-German conflict has thus been very great, and since the
Russo-French Entente Germany, as we have already pointed out, has seen
herself menaced on either front by a war which would immediately endanger

Turning once more to the Belgian dispatches, we find such hints as the
following. On October 24, 1912, the Comte de Lalaing, Belgian Ambassador
to London, writes as follows:--

The French Ambassador, who must have special reasons for speaking
thus, has repeated to me several times that the greatest danger for
the maintenance of the peace of Europe consists in the indiscipline and
the personal policy of the Russian agents. They are almost all ardent
Panslavists, and it is to them that must be imputed the responsibility
for the events that are occurring. Beyond a doubt they will make
themselves the secret instigators for an intervention of their country
in the Balkan conflict.

On November 30, 1912, Baron de Beyens writes from Berlin:--

At the end of last week a report was spread in the chancelleries of
Europe that M. Sazonov had abandoned the struggle against the Court
party which wishes to drag Russia into war.

On June 9, 1914, Baron Guillaume writes from Paris:--

Is it true that the Cabinet of St. Petersburg has imposed upon this
country [France] the adoption of the law of three years, and would
now bring to bear the whole weight of its influence to ensure its
maintenance? I have not been able to obtain light upon this delicate
point, but it would be all the more serious, inasmuch as the men who
direct the Empire of the Tsars cannot be unaware that the effort thus
demanded of the French nation is excessive, and cannot be long sustained.
Is, then, the attitude of the Cabinet of St. Petersburg based upon the
conviction that events are so imminent that it will be possible to use
the tool it intends to put into the hands of its ally?

What a sinister vista is opened up by this passage! I have no wish to
insinuate that the suspicion here expressed was justified. It is the
suspicion itself that is the point. Dimly we see, as through a mist, the
figures of the architects of war. We see that the forces they wield are
ambition and pride, jealousy and fear; that these are all-pervasive; that
they affect all Governments and all nations, and are fostered by conditions
for which all alike are responsible.

It will be understood, of course, that in bringing out the fact that there
was national chauvinism in Russia and that this found its excuse in the
unstable equilibrium of Europe, I am making no attack on Russian policy.
I do not pretend to know whether these elements of opinion actually
influenced the policy of the Government. But they certainly influenced
German fears, and without a knowledge of them it is impossible to
understand German policy. The reader must bear in mind this source of
friction along with the others when we come to consider that policy in

6. _Austria-Hungary_.

Turning now to Austria-Hungary, we find in her the Power to whom the
immediate occasion of the war was due, the Power, moreover, who contributed
in large measure to its remoter causes. Austria-Hungary is a State, but not
a nation. It has no natural bond to hold its populations together, and it
continues its political existence by force and fraud, by the connivance and
the self-interest of other States, rather than by any inherent principle of
vitality. It is in relation to the Balkan States that this instability has
been most marked and most dangerous. Since the kingdom of Serbia acquired
its independent existence it has been a centre drawing to itself the
discontent and the ambitions of the Slav populations under the Dual
Monarchy. The realization of those ambitions implies the disruption of the
Austro-Hungarian State. But behind the Southern Slavs stands Russia, and
any attempt to change the political status in the Balkans has thus meant,
for years past, acute risk of war between the two Empires that border them.
This political rivalry has accentuated the racial antagonism between German
and Slav, and was the immediate origin of the war which presents itself to
Englishmen as one primarily between Germany and the Western Powers.

On the position of Italy it is not necessary to dwell. It had long been
suspected that she was a doubtful factor in the Triple Alliance, and the
event has proved that this suspicion was correct. But though Italy has
participated in the war, her action had no part in producing it. And we
need not here indicate the course and the motives of her policy.

7. _Germany_.

Having thus indicated briefly the position, the perils, and the ambitions
of the other Great Powers of Europe, let us turn to consider the proper
subject of this essay, the policy of Germany. And first let us dwell on the
all-important fact that Germany, as a Great Power, is a creation of the
last fifty years. Before 1866 there was a loose confederation of German
States, after 1870 there was an Empire of the Germans. The transformation
was the work of Bismarck, and it was accomplished by "blood and iron."
Whether it could have been accomplished otherwise is matter of speculation.
That it was accomplished so is a fact, and a fact of tragic significance.
For it established among Germans the prestige of force and fraud, and gave
them as their national hero the man whose most characteristic act was the
falsification of the Ems telegram. If the unification could have been
achieved in 1848 instead of in 1870, if the free and generous idealism of
that epoch could have triumphed, as it deserved to, if Germans had not
bartered away their souls for the sake of the kingdom of this world, we
might have been spared this last and most terrible act in the bloody drama
of European history. If even, after 1866, 1870 had not been provoked, the
catastrophe that is destroying Europe before our eyes might never have
overwhelmed us. In the crisis of 1870 the French minister who fought so
long and with such tenacity, for peace saw and expressed, with the lucidity
of his nation, what the real issue was for Germany and for Europe:--

There exists, it is true, a barbarous Germany, greedy of battles and
conquest, the Germany of the country squires; there exists a Germany
pharisaic and iniquitous, the Germany of all the unintelligible pedants
whose empty lucubrations and microscopic researches have been so unduly
vaunted. But these two Germanies are not the great Germany, that of
the artists, the poets, the thinkers, that of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven,
Goethe, Schiller, Heine, Leibnitz, Kant, Hegel, Liebig. This latter
Germany is good, generous, humane, pacific; it finds expression in the
touching phrase of Goethe, who when asked to write against us replied
that he could not find it in his heart to hate the French. If we do not
oppose the natural movement of German unity, if we allow it to complete
itself quietly by successive stages, it will not give supremacy to the
barbarous and sophistical Germany, it will assure it to the Germany of
intellect and culture. War, on the other hand, would establish, during
a time impossible to calculate, the domination of the Germany of the
squires and the pedants.[1]

The generous dream was not to be realized. French chauvinism fell into
the trap Bismarck had prepared for it. Yet even at the last moment his war
would have escaped him had he not recaptured it by fraud. The publication
of the Ems telegram made the conflict inevitable, and one of the most
hideous and sinister scenes in all history is that in which the three
conspirators, Bismarck, Moltke, and Roon, "suddenly recovered their
pleasure in eating and drinking," because, by publishing a lie, they
had secured the certain death in battle of hundreds and thousands of
young men. The spirit of Bismarck has infected the whole public life
of Germany and of Europe. It has given a new lease to the political
philosophy of Machiavelli; and made of every budding statesman and
historian a solemn or a cynical defender of the gospel of force. But,
though this be true, we have no right therefore to assume that there is
some peculiar wickedness which marks off German policy from that of all
other nations. Machiavellianism is the common heritage of Europe. It is
the translation into idea of the fact of international anarchy. Germans
have been more candid and brutal than others in their expression and
application of it, but statesmen, politicians, publicists, and historians
in every nation accept it, under a thicker or thinner veil of plausible
sophisms. It is everywhere the iron hand within the silken glove. It is
the great European tradition.

Although, moreover, it was by these methods that Bismarck accomplished
the unification of Germany, his later policy was, by common consent, a
policy of peace. War had done its part, and the new Germany required all
its energies to build up its internal prosperity and strength. In 1875,
it is true, Bismarck was credited with the intention to fall once more
upon France. The fact does not seem to be clearly established. At any
rate, if such was his intention, it was frustrated by the intervention of
Russia and of Great Britain.

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