ROLAND G. USHER
THE failure of their designs in South Africa and in South America turned German eyes to the northern, part of the former continent, to the great dominion which the French possessed in Morocco. The strategic value of Morocco was undeniable, for it flanked the whole southern shore of the Mediterranean at the entrance opposite Gibraltar and extended far down the African coast. Together with Algeria and Tunis, it practically gave the French the whole of Africa east of the Libyan Desert, north of the Congo and of the Sahara Desert. Of this vast domain Morocco proper is one of the richest and most valuable parts. It is larger in area than Germany. Its exports and imports are considerable, each amounting to about fifteen million dollars annually. The climate is temperate, the soil fertile and varied, rich in minerals, and capable of almost indefinite development; the sparse population, amounting only to about five millions of people, most of them too barbarous and indolent either to use their country themselves or to oppose its use by some one else, would afford Germany an admirable field for colonization and the development of a market. As has already been said, the Germans had attempted to rouse the natives against the French, and, more especially in the southern part of Morocco, had attained conspicuous success. The actual outbreak, however, resulting from their influence was crushed with exceeding dispatch by the French, and the Germans began to be aware that the peaceful penetration of Morocco with French consent was more than improbable. In the summer of 1911, therefore, the Germans ventured upon a decisive step, and sent the warship Panther to anchor in the port of Agadir with the clear intention of interfering somehow in the state of affairs in Morocco. The port chosen for this demonstration seemed, despite rather conflicting testimony, to possess great possibilities as a naval station; the hinterland was reputed to be exceedingly rich in minerals; the river, which enters the sea at this point, was of considerable size and drained a very fertile district. Furthermore, Agadir was far enough removed from Fez and the seat of French authority to make it possible for the Germans to hold it without rousing too much apprehension in the minds of the French of clashes in the future. The excuse for the German interference officially put forward --- the protection of the Europeans at Agadir---was an obvious pretext too slim to deceive any one. The number of Europeans in that part of Morocco was exceedingly few, and they were in absolutely no danger. The really logical ground which Germany took was that she could not recognize the validity of an agreement, permitting the French and English to monopolize Morocco, to which she had not been a party. She denied, in fact, the right of other European nations to make with each other contracts and agreements, concerning the disposition of the world in general, which should be binding upon any but themselves. She demanded, therefore, a new agreement which should recognize her obvious interests and to which she should be a party. As a possible equivalent, in case England and France should be unwilling to make such dispositions in Morocco as her interests made desirable, she demanded the cession to her by France of a: district adjoining the small territory she already possessed at Kamerun. This district was a part of the French Congo, the southernmost part nearest the river, and its value far exceeded its area. In fact, it did in all probability equal in actual value at the moment the whole German colonial empire. In addition, it flanked the Congo, and also was situated adjacent to the little strip of territory along the river by which Belgium obtained access to her great domain in the Congo valley. The strategic value of the spot was as undeniable as its commercial importance. Perhaps Germany might succeed in cutting off the Belgians from the sea and compel them either to pay tolls or cede a portion of their estate in order to regain access to it.
The movement upon Morocco had a secret purpose quite as important as any other of its varied aspects. The Germans had long known of the existence of a secret understanding between England and France, but they had not been able to discover its exact terms, and it was of the utmost consequence for them to know whether or not the arrangement was solely defensive and applied to aggressive movements against either country in Europe, whether the agreement promised either country the other's assistance in case either should take the offensive, or whether it extended as an offensive and defensive alliance to the protection of both French and English interests in every part of the world. To discover, therefore, its precise limitations, the Germans proposed to raise an issue with France, whom they did not fear, which would promptly bring to the fore the question whether England should aid France in obtaining a decision favorable to her upon an issue in which England had no direct interest. Whatever happened, the Germans could scarcely fail to obtain some valuable indications of the strength and extent of the Anglo-French Entente, and might even succeed in compelling one or the other of them publicly to acknowledge its existence and perhaps its terms. There was, therefore, much that Germany might gain from this aggressive movement at Agadir, and she did not seem to be greatly in danger of losing anything.
The event was eminently successful in drawing from England and France an acknowledgment of their hitherto secret understanding and an explicit statement of its extent. The English evidently considered that it amply covered the present case, which made clear to the Germans that the arrangement was by no means purely defensive, and that it certainly did not confine itself to encroachments upon the contracting countries in northern Europe, --- information of the utmost importance. Supported thus by England and by the enthusiasm of the French people, the French Ministry forced the issue upon Germany and practically presented to the latter the alternative of receding from her demands or of undertaking war. In Germany the popular feeling in favor of war ran high, and even the best and coolest advisers of the Emperor seem to have counseled the undertaking of at least a demonstration in force upon the French frontier, more, perhaps, with the notion of discovering the possible rapidity with which the French army could be mobilized than with any intention of fighting. Whether the Imperial advisers merely intended to prepare for all eventualities or were willing to yield to popular and military pressure and declare war, the Government certainly attempted to procure in Berlin the ready money necessary to finance the mobilization of the army. There then became evident the fact which probably astonished the Germans as much as it did every one else in the world outside of the few men in London and Paris who were responsible for it. It seems that German business was being transacted upon capital borrowed abroad, and that the German merchants had so extended their borrowing operations that more than ninety per cent of the current business transactions depended upon call loans or time loans secured in London and Paris. The moment the international situation became tense, a concerted movement was undertaken by the few men who controlled financial movements in those capitals for the recall of these loans. The result was as astonishing and as disastrous as it was intended to be. The ready cash in Germany was promptly moved out of the country, and many merchants found themselves compelled to sell securities to meet their pressing obligations. Not only, therefore, was the German nation for the moment seriously strained for gold, but the sale of securities was so considerable as to assume the proportions of a financial panic. The banks in Germany were on the verge of being compelled to suspend specie payments and were many of them almost bankrupt. There was no money to be had in Germany with which to begin the war. The Government, with unheardof effrontery, appealed for loans to the great French and English banking houses, depending obviously upon the bankers' greed being stronger than their patriotism. The financial kings promptly informed the Emperor that they would be only too glad to furnish him such sums as he might require in exchange for proper securities and an engagement in his own handwriting not to use the loan for military purposes. The latter condition being obviously out of the question, the Emperor appealed to the American financiers and received from them a reply substantially the same. Thus unexpectedly was revealed the real financial strength of England and France and the value of the alliance with the United States. Germany had been defeated, for her enemies had it in their power to prevent her even from taking the field. Surely no defeat. could have been more crushing or more humiliating.
The Germans made the best possible out of a bad business. They secured after long negotiations the addition of some territory to Kamerun, but they were compelled to agree to the French control of Morocco, to recognize, moreover, a control far more considerable and exclusive than before and which placed in the hands of France much more authority in administration. Subsequently, France came to terms with Spain, who had shown a good deal of uneasiness in regard to the changed conditions in Morocco, and whose Premier had officially made statements regarding the determination of Spain to protect her interests in Africa, which were little short of defiance. That Spain was animated in this by direct suggestions from Berlin seemed eminently probable, and, even if it were not so, and she was acting purely upon her own initiative and in her own interests, it was not expedient to allow her to continue dissatisfied at this juncture. France and England, therefore, took pains thoroughly to pacify the Spaniard.
The victory in Morocco, the clear evidence that Germany's financial situation made war impossible for the moment, suggested to the Triple Entente the expediency of action in Persia, where matters were progressing in a direction favorable to Germany's designs, whether or not they were the result of her suggestion. The strategic position of Persia is of great significance. Her territory marches with the boundaries of Asia Minor and flanks the Baghdad Railway and the rich district of the Tigris and Euphrates upon which England has long had designs. It controls the northern coast of the Persian Gulf, the coast road to India, the most important harbors, and, from a military point of view, is absolutely essential to the safety of the English in India. On the other hand, the roads to the Black and Caspian Seas from India, the Persian Gulf, and southwestern Asia all pass through Persia, whose condition becomes therefore a matter of the utmost consequence to Russia. The railway has not yet penetrated this section of the world, and the old caravan routes are still of great commercial value. It is obvious that Persia is of vital importance to England and to Russia, neither of whom is willing to allow the other exclusive possession, and neither of whom can permit that territory to fall into the hands of people unwilling to recognize their interests. While less dangerous than possession by Germany, the creation in Persia of an independent state, with an efficient centralized government maintained by Persians in the interests of Persia, proclaiming as its chief raison d'être the exclusion of foreigners and the emancipation of Persia at the earliest possible moment from the financial shackles binding her to England and Russia, would be, from every point of view, quite as objectionable to the latter nations as any contingency they could imagine. The Shah had been continued upon the throne, the new constitution accepted by them because they had not expected the new government to be very different from the old; but the ability of Mr. Shuster, the Treasurer, the integrity and energy of his assistants, their evident intention to administer the state solely in the interests of Persia, and, above all, the enthusiastic response from the Persians, proved both to the English and the Russians that a state was in process of formation whose strength was growing daily and whose determination to accede to no more demands from them grew firmer month by month. Such a Persia might effectively stand in the way of their important interests. Moreover, neither of them considered the alternative for Persia to lie between her practical ownership by some European nation and her actual independence. The English feared, with probably good reason, that their recognition of the new state, followed by the withdrawal of their representatives, publicly or secretly, would be simply the signal for the absorption of Persia and the complete destruction of the new government by Russia or by Germany. The same apprehensions were felt at St. Petersburg. Both Russia and England, therefore, agreed that, from the point of view of Persia herself, it would be better in the long run for them to retain possession than to permit the longer continuance of a state of affairs, which might, in a few years, make Persia the battle-ground of the two coalitions, with results to the Persians which could easily be imagined. Naturally, they did not expect the Persians to accept this view of the situation, and realized that the use of force would be indispensable.
A casus belli was easily found and could have been as easily created. Every step taken by the new Persian government was a tacit, if not an open, nullification of the treaty relations in existence between Persia and the two countries. Mr. Shuster and his administrators, and, in the main, the more efficient and able of the Persians, were ejected from office, and the old, inefficient, corrupt administration was restored, in fact if not in name. The result upon politics in the Near East was a defeat for Germany. As in the case of Morocco, her interference resulted only in strengthening the hold her enemies already possessed. Certainly, for the moment at any rate, the Baghdad Railway was outflanked and the possible extension of the German commercial route to the rich markets of the East was rendered for the time being highly improbable. Until some considerable change takes place, the commercial value of the Baghdad Railway will be confined to the possibility of developing the district of Asia Minor which it traverses.
The danger of ferment in Egypt among the native population and the military weakness of the English in that country did not escape the Ministry in London. Accordingly they sent to Egypt England's ablest soldier, Lord Kitchener. His mission was to improve the military dispositions of the force already available and the preparation of adequate plans for efficient defense. For the nonce, however, his important work was confined to the counteracting of the effects produced in the natives' minds by the German agents. To the educated and the officials, he was to make clear the undoubted fact that for them the alternative was, not the continuance of the present nominal relations between them and England, which left in their own hands a very extensive authority in local affairs, or their complete independence from interference by any one, but between the continuance of the status quo and their annexation by some member of the Triple Alliance, who would be forced by the exigencies of military occupation, or by the necessities of the defense, to impose upon Egypt a good deal severer a régime than the English ever intended to create. For them to continue schemes for the expulsion of the English would simply mean that they were exposing themselves to the tender mercies of the Triple Alliance. The strategic position of Egypt, the extraordinary fertility of the Nile Valley and its great exports of cotton and grain, the existence of the Suez Canal, all made it impossible for Egypt to be governed solely in the interest of the Egyptians. The rest of the world was too intimately affected by conditions in Egypt to permit the Egyptians to disregard their claims. That such circumstances as these would mean nothing to the bulk of the population was only too apparent. Lord Kitchener, therefore, inaugurated a series of enlightened judicial and agricultural reforms, intended to relieve the pressure of the Government upon the people themselves, and thus in an exceedingly practical manner remove the only possible grievances which would appear vital to the great bulk of the population. According to apparently trustworthy reports, he has succeeded to a remarkable degree in rousing the enthusiasm of the fellaheen for English rule. He has certainly endeared himself to the population, and secured over them a personal influence which may conceivably be a factor of importance at no distant date in the destinies of empire.
Another great diplomatic victory seems to have been won by the English in India. The approaching coronation of George V as Emperor of India made possible the assemblage at Delhi of all the potentates of India and allied states. Their conjunction at one moment might conceivably result in the completion of plans for concerted revolt against the English, if any such were on foot, whether due to German, Russian, or native influence, but their presence might also be utilized for the execution of a diplomatic coup of the very first consequence. It would depend, however, for its success upon the presence of the King. No English sovereign had ever set foot in India, and it was considered that the King would certainly expose himself to assassination by undertaking to be crowned in person at the approaching Durbar at Christmas, 1911. At the same time, unless the information regarding the state of affairs in India was entirely wrong, the danger of an attack would be confined solely to his being shot or destroyed by a bomb from the crowd during some public ceremony. The stake for which to play was undoubtedly great, but the Ministers were not in favor of the King's assuming the necessary risks.
George, however, displayed a wholly admirable courage and an unexpected firmness of decision by insisting upon undertaking the difficult task. His presence in India, his coronation and safe return would be the most dramatic and conclusive possible refutation of the tales so rife in Europe about the disloyalty of the Hindus and the precarious condition of England in India. The event more than justified the expectations. The King rode through the streets as he might have ridden through London; he sat alone with the Queen upon a great throne, fully exposed to thousands of people; he sat again alone with the Queen, with no guards in sight, upon a parapet near the road down which passed a great stream of Hindus of all conditions. The opportunities for his assassination were many. More than once the rumor spread that he had been killed. The tension during his stay was certainly extreme. But nothing happened. The moral effect of the Durbar in India and in Europe was great.
The real purpose, however, of the King's presence in India was far otherwise than the mere demonstration that he could be there for some weeks without being shot. He undertook the extremely difficult task of explaining by word of mouth to the Indian potentates the intricacies of the international situation and their practical relation to India. Coming from him by word of mouth such representations could not fail to have weight. They would certainly have never been believed had the rulers learned them from any subordinate, however exalted in station. Besides, there can be little question that the King confided to them many things which it is not considered wise that most men should know. Undoubtedly, he explained to them the fact that the alternative for the Hindus, as it is for the Egyptians and the Persians, is not actual independence from English rule, but a choice between the rule of England, Russia, or Germany. He can have had no great difficulty in demonstrating the honesty and excellence of English administration, and the great moderation of the English Government in never spending outside India a penny of the money collected in India; that the only benefit England has ever received directly has been the legitimate profits of trade; that Russia or Germany would offer more favorable terms is not likely; that the English were more than ready to meet the reasonable demands of the Hindus halfway; and that the English would consider reasonable anything which did not involve the loss of their trading monopoly or the weakening of the defensive strength of India against Russia and Germany. Naturally, these are purely conjectures of what the King must have said. The results are also purely conjectural, but certainly any statement at all of the realities of the situation cannot fail to have been convincing. It is hard for an impartial observer to see any possible advantage to the Hindu of an exchange of rulers.
The year 1911, therefore, was one of pretty conspicuous success in all directions for England and France. Everywhere they seemed to have successfully met Germany, and everywhere to have disproved her prophecy that their colonial empires would fall to pieces of their own weight. However real the weakness might be, however possible the success of Germany's schemes, the weakness certainly was not apparent, and the probability of Germany's success did not seem immediate.
VICTORY FROM DEFEAT: THE TRIPOLITAN WAR
THE English and the French were by no means satisfied with the character of the measures which they had undertaken for thwarting the schemes of the Triple Alliance.(19) Indeed, they had merely succeeded in holding their own, had in no sense placed any barrier in the way of the execution of Pan-Germanism, nor could they do so by such measures as they had previously espoused. Something structural was necessary, basic, fundamental in character, going to the root of the German scheme, which they very well realized was not in the least touched by their successes in Persia and Morocco. It was clear that Italy was for many reasons the least ardent member of the Triple Alliance and had the least to gain from the success of Pan-Germanism. Her hatred of Austria was still vigorous, and the necessary possession by Austria of the Balkans, her inevitable growth in naval power, the obvious advantage to the coalition of her securing control of the Adriatic and the Ægean, could not fail to rouse in the minds of the Italians certain eminently natural apprehensions. To strengthen Austria along the Illyrian coast meant to increase her strength in that very quarter least acceptable to Italy,(20) for Trieste could not fail to become a rival of Venice, and the increase of Austrian power in the Adriatic would necessarily interfere with Italy's ambitions to control the whole commerce of that sea. Nor was control of the Adriatic less essential to her as an outlet for the commerce of the Po Valley than it was for Austria. To say that Italy could ship her goods to the western seaports along the Mediterranean, could easily be met by saying that Austria could also ship her goods by rail wherever she wished. Moreover, Italy had been steadily penetrating the eastern shores of the Adriatic by the familiar peaceful methods of loans and investments, and had already large interests in Albania, Scutari, and Epirus, whose proximity to Italy made her interest in them natural. Nor could the fact that the present Queen of Italy is a Montenegrin princess fail to rouse concern at Rome for the future of that country. There were, therefore, vital reasons for supposing that Italy was not bound to the Triple Alliance by chains of interest much stronger than those which made her position in it peculiar. The complete success of the scheme would not be likely to be thoroughly agreeable to the Italians because of the amount of strength it would necessarily give to their traditional foe. In addition, the existing dynasty was bound by strong ties of gratitude to France and England, without whose assistance the present kingdom of Italy could hardly have been created. Italy's interests would normally point in the same direction where her natural sympathies might be assumed to lie.
Her ambitions were well known to England and France. As in Germany and Austria, the unification of the country, the development of its resources, the benefits of centralized government, had resulted in an increase in the population and in production, which required colonies or markets to permit the continuance of national growth at its present rate. Like Germany, too, Italy found herself a debtor country, with heavy interest charges to meet, with the economic conditions unfavorable, and, consequently, with a national budget constantly in arrears. In one way and another, she had acquired along the Red Sea territories, large in area, limited in resources, with a tiny nomadic population, and a climate and soil unsuited for colonization. These colonies had already cost her money out of all comparison to their value. She had long had designs upon the great district lying between the French domain in Tunis and the English boundary in Egypt, a vast area some four hundred thousand square miles in extent, sparsely populated, and in nearly every way admirably adapted to her needs. Unquestionably, the land was exceedingly fertile, for it had been perhaps the richest province of ancient Rome, and from its revenues innumerable governors had grown rich. The fact that the population was scanty and the products small made it especially desirable as a field for development by Italian capital and labor. Indeed, the statesmen anticipated that the revenue from the customs, plus the indirect results of its trade with Italy herself, would not improbably suffice to produce a credit balance in the national exchequer. Long before the actual unification of Italy, the House of Savoy had made known to England and France its desires to annex this province, and had received from them at various times more or less vague promises to respect her claims to it or to further her designs upon it. It had, however, never been able to secure any more tangible evidences of their willingness to give it possession than vague oral diplomatic promises.
England and France, after studying carefully the situation in the Mediterranean, concluded from the fact of Italy's continued alliance with Germany and Austria and the certainty that Austria would claim, as her share of the plunder, the Balkans and the eastern coast of the Adriatic, that Italy's part could be nothing less, and was not improbably nothing more, than Tripoli. In any case, whatever she was promised, she would be compelled to wait for until the success of a scheme whose execution was barely begun and which might not succeed at all. They, therefore, approached Italy, offered to insure her possession of Tripoli at once without fighting, without expense, and without delay; if she should put forward some technical casus belli and should make a vigorous show of force in Tripoli, she could then be accorded possession by a treaty with the Turk, whose terms the three conspirators would arrange to their mutual satisfaction. Incidentally they would test the efficiency of the new Turkish army. She would, of course, in return desert the Triple Alliance, and form an alliance with them, whose strength would secure them all possession of everything they desired in the Mediterranean for some decades. The Italian navy added to the French navy would so far preponderate over the Austrian and Turkish fleets that the English Mediterranean squadron could be practically withdrawn. Thus, without at all endangering the security of its control of the Mediterranean, the new alliance could make so immediate and considerable an increase of strength to its naval forces in the English Channel as to outnumber the German fleet for a good many years to come. Italy's position flanking the Adriatic would make Austria's control of that sea improbable; the strength of the new alliance would make exceedingly difficult any further accessions of territory by Austria in the Balkans; and thus Italy would be secure. By rendering impossible the effective use of the Ægean by Austria, the possibility of an attack by the latter's fleet from the rear of Malta upon the English lines of communication with Egypt and India, and upon the Italian lines of communication with her new possession, would be eliminated; Sicily and Sardinia would strengthen the lines of advance already centering at Malta and would make the position of the allies in the western Mediterranean literally impregnable. With Tripoli in Italy's hands, even the success of Germany and Austria in creating their proposed confederation, stretching from the North Sea to the Persian Gulf, would not be serious. Of course, while the Turk retained even nominal control of Tripoli, the fact that he was only too obviously falling deeper and deeper into the clutches of Germany and Austria would make the occupation of Tripoli by a strong Turkish army, directed by Germany, an eminent possibility. Germany by such means might place a military force in a place very dangerous to Egypt and Tunis. Once Italy was fairly in possession, Germany could occupy Tripoli only by force, and Italy's active participation in the struggle would be assured. Tripoli would bind Italy to the Anglo-French alliance by the solid chains of self-interest.
The splendor of the scheme was too striking not to impress the Italians; the Triple Alliance was broken; Italy advanced upon Tripoli to the consternation of Germany and Austria, who feared for a time that all was lost. Stimulated by the messages from Berlin and Vienna, aroused as well by the new national spirit in Turkey, the Government at Constantinople vigorously declared that it would fight to the last gasp before it would consent to the dismembering of the national domain. The obstinacy of the Young Turks themselves, the assurances of support from Germany and Austria, made it impossible for England and France to give Italy possession of the new colony by the simple method of diplomatic and financial pressure. The Turk, indeed, publicly called upon them to redeem the pledges of support in the existing treaties and forced them officially to record their support of Italy. To every one's astonishment, it became clear that England and France were in no position to assist Italy openly. The hostility of the native races in Tripoli to the proposed arrangement was only too promptly shown; the flames of Moslem indignation ran high throughout North Africa, and for some weeks it seemed not improbable that a holy war against the Infidel might break out. Keen observers believed that a more open support of Italy by England or France would be the signal for the Jehad. Even to gain vastly more than either nation could possibly lose by the delay of Italy's complete possession of Tripoli, such a contingency was not to be risked. In India, too, the Mohammedans, already excited by what they considered English treachery in crushing the new Mohammedan state in Persia, began actively to express their hostility and indignation at her treatment of the Sultan, the head of the Mohammedan religion. At all costs, England felt she must avoid giving further cause for offense. Italy, therefore, found herself committed to a war, which military critics agreed would be expensive, even if not prolonged, and whose result was by no means a foregone conclusion. The prospect was anything but alluring to a Ministry already tired of struggling with an annual deficit, and was particularly bitter because of the former expectation that possession of the new province would in one way or another lighten the financial burdens of the mother country. Actual conquest by the sword would certainly so embitter the natives as to make the government of Tripoli expensive and difficult for years to come. The Italians, in short, had been placed by their friends in a very real dilemma, from which their friends were unable to extricate them and from which, indeed, it was doubtful whether the Italians could successfully extricate themselves without paying a price greater than they were able to afford.
Under such circumstances, with such calamities expected and such hopes unfulfilled, the Italians received from the Wilhelmstrasse whispered communications of cheering import. If Italy would return to the Triple Alliance, pointed out the Germans, her old friends would be able to secure for her without cost or difficulty the possession of Tripoli, and in time a great deal more. Indeed, said the Germans, the present dilemma in which Italy found herself proved conclusively the truth of the German assertions regarding the weakness of England and France. It proved no less astounding a proposition than that the English control of the Mediterranean was a sham.
Italy, in fact, if she would return to the Triple Alliance, might practically reverse the situation in the Mediterranean and bring Tripoli with her for nothing; the strategic positions on which England and France had based their defense of the Mediterranean would be vastly weakened, if not destroyed; the naval force, which they had believed virtually preponderant, would be reduced to a bare equality which would make offensive movements impossible and render the success of defensive movements problematical; not a lira need be spent, not a life sacrificed to make the conquest of the Mediterranean an eminently feasible operation and to strike a more deadly blow at English naval supremacy than it had suffered since the Seven Years' War. Such substantial and probable achievements would have been themselves considered the worthy fruits of a hard-fought and costly war, and here they could actually be had for nothing!
The English had already changed their naval arrangements in the Mediterranean, counting upon the presence of the Italians to neutralize the Austrian navy for the time being, and the French had not yet executed their part of the agreement by concentrating their fleet in the Mediterranean. For the moment, the Italian and Austrian fleets, while not strong enough to take the offensive, would be amply strong enough to prevent any offensive movement by the English or French fleets. Nothing, therefore, could be done to interfere with Italy's execution of the manoeuvre. Once Tripoli was in Italy's hands, the Triple Alliance would be in a vastly more favorable position than it had occupied before the issue arose. They did not possess, to be sure, more power in the Adriatic than before, but they had secured what was infinitely more essential, a naval and military base from which to use it. The difficulty of using the Adriatic as a base had been that its exit could be without great difficulty controlled by an English fleet at Malta. From the ports on the Tripolitan coast, on the other hand, a flank attack could be directed upon the English communications with Suez which it would be extremely difficult to meet from Malta. Under cover of the war, which Italy had come to regard as so unfortunate, the new position, already commanding, could be greatly strengthened. Inasmuch as England and France had lent public countenance to the prosecution of the war and had formally declined to assist the Turk, neither would be able to interfere with the seizure by Italy of every island and strategic point in the eastern Mediterranean which acknowledged nominal sovereignty to the Sultan; thus the coveted Rhodes, the islands of the Ægean, controlling the channels to Constantinople, could all be occupied under cover of this very war, and the strategic control of the eastern Mediterranean thus secured without danger and without cost, which, under other circumstances, could not even have been attempted without precipitating a general European war. In Tripoli, under cover of the war with the Turk, the allies could fortify the coast, create naval stations, build railways into the interior and along the frontiers, and thus equip a base of military operations in Africa from which they could threaten Suez and Tunis at the same time and with the same army. The execution of the schemes for the conquest of the Mediterranean itself had never been intended to precede the occupation of the Balkans and Turkey by the allies, but the chance was not one to be lost.
The magnitude of the opportunity, the extraordinary prominence which it gave the Italians at the moment, was appreciated at Rome, and the Italian Government acted with promptitude. The results surpassed the most sanguine expectations. The Italian navy bombarded a few ports, sank a number of Turkish vessels, purely to maintain the fiction of war, and then seized island after island in the Ægean, announcing to the inhabitants that the occupation was no mere military measure but would be permanent. So confident of success were the Italians. The existence of the new naval base in Tripoli, the possession of the strategic points of the eastern Mediterranean by a member of the Triple Alliance, snatched from England the entire control of the eastern Mediterranean and threw her back upon Malta, whose position was instantly changed from that of the central position of England's defensive chain to that of an outpost. Italy's change of front of course promptly suspended active hostilities between herself and Turkey, though the Turk obstinately refused to remove the new Turkish army from Tripoli. After all, from the point of view of the Alliance, this was not altogether regrettable, for it gave a tinge of reality to the military dispositions Italy proceeded to make with promptitude on the coast and along the caravan lines leading into Egypt.
THE AFTERMATH OF THE TRIPOLITAN WAR
MEANWHILE, the Triple Alliance, thus reunited, proceeded with the complementary details of the scheme. The German, Austrian, and Italian naval programmes were at once enlarged, the proposed German fleet was made nearly equal in number to the proposed English Channel squadron and the Austro-Italian fleet was already the equal of the entire French battle fleet; an increased activity of building, therefore, was expected to give the allies in a couple of years something like equality, if not actual superiority, both in the Mediterranean and in the German Ocean. Indeed, the situation had been so changed as to make it difficult for England and France to meet the crisis merely by a rearrangement of the existing forces. The chief reason for their desire to detach Italy from the Triple Alliance was interpreted in Berlin to be their realization that they had practically reached the limit of their resources and could no longer continue to build at the same rate as before. To strengthen the Mediterranean fleet by an alliance with Italy would have enabled them to increase the Channel squadron without additional expense. The coup d'état in the Mediterranean changed the whole naval situation by strengthening the position of the Triple Alliance in that sea, and rendered inadequate the previous dispositions of England and France. A large fleet, more naval stations, and very different equipment of certain stations would be necessary satisfactorily to meet the crisis. To strengthen the fleet in the Mediterranean meant the weakening of the English fleet in the Atlantic and the considerable reduction of the number of vessels which Germany must build to change England's old predominance into something like equality. This, then, was the moment for which the allies had been waiting. There was now a fair chance of their creating within a reasonable time enough ships to compass that equality of armament which England had always declared would be so fatal to her welfare. The military dispositions of the allies, the facilities for prompt mobilization, the railway facilities along the Belgian and French and Russian frontiers, were all considered with a view to their adequacy for actual war. The work on the Baghdad Railway was pushed with the utmost energy; the little band of able men, whom Germany had so long kept in Constantinople, busied in reconstructing Turkey, were recalled to Europe. The German Emperor began, with his usual energy, a round of visits to all the sovereigns of whom anything was expected or from whom anything was feared. To them all he explained, no doubt, the great advantage just secured and made, by word of mouth, promises, assurances, and explanations, which could not have been entrusted to subordinates. Unquestionably, the energy of Wilhelm II, his persuasive powers, and his faith in this gigantic scheme have been of vital importance in securing the cooperation of Germany's present allies and in bringing their plans to their present state of completion.
The English and French, astonished and alarmed at the unexpected turn of affairs, strained every nerve to meet it by preparations which should be more than adequate for any emergency. Both have felt, however, that to avow publicly the extent of the danger would produce an unfavorable effect on English and French public opinion, either by sapping popular confidence in the national strength, or, more probably, by causing a demand for instant war which it would be difficult to resist. In some way, without declaring immediate a danger which may after all be merely contingent, the people must be made to realize that a crisis is at hand of so serious a nature that it can be adequately met only by the immediate adoption of the most extensive naval and military preparations either nation has yet undertaken. So extensive are the plans, so long is the time which will be required for their completion, so great will be the financial burden imposed upon the people, that the average individual, in nations which have systematically encouraged him to have opinions upon matters of national import, is more than likely to deem such plans justifiable only to avert an impending crisis, in which the very national existence would be at stake, and to demand at once financial sacrifices which he is likely to approve only when the danger is exceedingly tangible. The present condition, therefore, which the English and French Governments find it most difficult to meet, is the fact that the time and expense for what they believe to be the necessary preparations are in themselves proof to the average man that the emergency is contingent rather than immediate. They are hampered, as the Germans have always claimed they would be under such circumstances, by the difficulty of convincing the ordinary individual of the expediency of spending as much money in order to postpone or avert a war as would seem to him necessary to prosecute it. To tell the public that the war is already going on, that it is being fought with every variety of weapon, except armies and navies, that England is really in danger, and at the same time to prove to him that the English navy largely outnumbers the navies of the Triple Alliance, is simply to demonstrate the expediency of fighting now before the preparations of the Triple Alliance already announced destroy England's superiority.
In England, too, the position of parties in the House of Commons is actually hampering the Government in its preparations to meet the crisis, as the Germans have always claimed it would. The Liberals, who are nominally in power, are absolutely dependent upon the support of the Irish Nationalists and of the Laborites. The former group are exceedingly anxious to secure the final passage into law, without substantial amendment, of the Home Rule Bill just passed by the House of Commons. The most important clause of that bill provides for the payment out of the Imperial Treasury to the new Irish Government of a subsidy annually sufficient in amount to pay for the construction of two or more battleships. The Irish Budget has so long shown an annual deficit, and it has so long been evident that the Irish people are paying more taxes than they can really afford, that the advocates of Home Rule know perfectly well that, without substantial assistance from England, Home Rule is impossible. The Irish people are incapable of paying their own bills. But to secure such a subsidy at the moment of moments when English naval supremacy is more nearly in danger than at any time in the last two centuries, when that amount of money annually expended might suffice to maintain England's supremacy, is, as they well know, exceedingly questionable. The pressure of this very situation, however, the absolute necessity which English statesmen feel for directing the affairs of the Empire in accordance with their own conception of its needs and without interference from the Irish Nationalists, convinces the latter that they have the best chance they have ever had to extort Home Rule from England even on these terms.
They have pointed out to the disconsolate Ministry the fact that they can hamper England's utilization of the resources she now possesses to an extent which might be fatal, and that the Ministry which is now in power can remain in power only so long as they are willing, and, concomitantly, that the Ministry which will replace it can remain in power only on the same terms. The very fact that the alternative lies between using what England has and the increase of its force is to them the most important weapon in their arsenal. England must in self-defense come to terms with them. The Labor members are opposed to war on any terms. They have not scrupled publicly to declare that they owned nothing in England which the conquest of England by Germany could possibly take away from them, neither land, nor houses, nor wealth. They have the clothes on their backs; they are promised, so long as they work, enough food to keep them alive. This, they declare scornfully, is the sum total of their interest in the maintenance of the British Empire. Could the Germans offer them less? Whether because the Irish and the Laborites do not believe the danger great, or because they are determined to achieve their own objects, whatever the cost to England, is not clear; but the fact is certain that they have effectively prevented the adoption in the House of Commons of as large an increase of the naval appropriations as the Ministry desired to make, and have stoutly refused to approve conscription in any form.
Knowing this, the Germans could not fail to consider a confession of weakness Mr. Churchill's public promise to decrease the English naval programme in proportion to any decrease in German plans, and his hint that England would be willing formally to guarantee the immunity of the Austrian seacoast from attack if the plans for the increase of the Austrian navy should be abandoned; his scarcely veiled threat, to surpass in number any increase they might attempt to make, they greeted with open derision. They believed that they had powerful allies in the English Ministry and in the English House of Commons, and, so confident were they that these allies would prevent him from executing his threat, that they announced a very substantial increase in the German and Austrian naval estimates. Such action was tantamount to a direct challenge to fulfill his threat, and the amazing fact is that he could not do it. The Laborites and the Home Rulers flatly refused to sanction Mr. Churchill's measures; they flatly declared they would oppose similar measures introduced by the opposite party, in case the Ministry should resign; and compelled the adoption of a compromise measure providing for so small an increase that, by the public admission of the First Lord of the Admiralty, Germany will have within two years twenty-nine ships in the North Sea to England's thirty-three. The Opposition both in the Commons and in the Lords, as well as the foremost naval and military authorities, are insisting in the frankest language that the Supplementary Estimates are utterly inadequate. Naturally, the knowledge of these facts has not diminished the confidence felt at Berlin, Vienna, and Rome, and it has so obviously weakened confidence at Paris, that some of the influential journals have actually begun to question the value of England's support should she lose, not her control of the Channel by actual fighting, but her naval preponderance. Indeed, the contrast is sufficiently striking between the prompt passage of a considerable Supplementary Estimate without dissent by a Reichstag utterly hostile to the administration, and the grudging passage of so slight an increase by the English House of Commons where the existing Ministry nominally controlled so powerful a majority as to have overridden even strenuous opposition to other measures. The Ministry has done what it could to counteract these doubts by secret promises and assurances. The naval dispositions in the Mediterranean have been carefully examined; conferences held between the French and the English authorities; the English and French naval boards went over the ground in person in the summer of 1912, and no doubt arrived at important conclusions. Lord Kitchener's success in Egypt, the results of the King's visit to India, continued success in Persia, also gave the Triple Entente confidence.
The most encouraging aspect of the situation has been the prompt and enthusiastic response of the English self-governing colonies to the appeal of the mother country for assistance. Several have adopted naval programmes; their ships are already under construction; they have promised to add their vessels to the English navy and to leave their direction entirely in the hands of the Admiralty in London. The Canadian Ministry has asked the Parliament to appropriate money for three first-class battleships, and will in all probability succeed in carrying the measure. This aid is so considerable in amount as to be of really substantial importance.
The English also have reorganized the entire administration of their fleet, both for offense and defense; they have created a school for the training in strategy of officers; and have instituted in addition a special board of experts, in whose hands will be placed, in time of action, the direction of operations.
France has officially adopted the Two Power Standard in the Mediterranean, which is understood to mean that she will create and maintain a fleet sufficiently numerous easily to outweigh the combined Italian and Austrian navies. Spain's assistance or, perhaps, neutrality the allies have bought with concessions in Morocco. Russia, frightened at the prospect of the loss of the position in the Baltic she now possesses, has signed a naval convention with France, which pledges her to a rapid and really considerable increase of her Baltic fleet and the creation of a new naval base almost on the Prussian frontier. The existence of a really powerful Russian fleet in the Baltic might interfere vitally with the further execution of Germany's present plans. Berlin and all North Germany would be exposed to its attack; the Kiel Canal might be destroyed; the rear of the Atlantic squadron would be exposed to its operations; and its strength might be sufficient to compel the division of the German North Sea fleet, an eventuality which would so weaken the forces available for an offensive war as to postpone its date by years, if it did not make its outcome so uncertain as to prevent it altogether.
But the most significant movement is the project for the Trans-Persian Railway which England, France, and Russia have adopted. The line is to run southeast from Teheran to Bushire in the English zone of influence and to follow the coast of the Persian Gulf to Karachi. Unquestionably, a Russian army arriving in India by that route would turn the flank of Quetta and render useless all the fortifications and dispositions yet made to keep Russia out of India. For England to consent to it is to abandon the policy of isolating India from Europe by preventing the establishment of easy communication by land. Should Russia attack from Herat and from the new railroad line at the same moment, nothing could prevent the overwhelming of the English army. Russia has three quarters of a million men enrolled in her army who live within two thousand miles of the Indian frontier. They may not be highly trained, but they will certainly outnumber the English army ten to one, and the combined native and English troops four to one. Lord Curzon voices the convictions of many Anglo-Indians When he declares that the construction of the Trans-Persian Railway is the death-knell of the British power in India. It means, further, the admission of Russia to the rich marts of India, and a recognition of her right to share directly in that trade; and whatever its effect may be on English retention of the sovereignty in India, it will at once end England's practical monopoly of Indian trade. To the British merchant and manufacturer there would seem to be little left worth struggling for, if that is renounced.
Such, however, are not the purposes of that railway, and such will not necessarily be the results of its construction. The project is based upon the absolute necessity for an English military road to India in case Germany and her allies succeed in securing actual control of the Mediterranean. The new road would prevent the use by Germany of the Baghdad Railway and the Persian Gulf as an approach to India. It would enable England, so long as her alliance with Russia lasted, to reinforce the Indian army far more rapidly than would be possible by way of the Panama Canal and the Pacific. In fact, should the Triple Alliance secure control of the Mediterranean, nothing short of some such road would enable England and Russia combined to place enough troops in India to prevent its immediate conquest by Germany. England wishes to keep it; Russia has always dreamed of possessing it; but both would rather see it in the hands of the other than allow Germany to get it. Such an increase of German power would at once endanger the very existence of England and the continued possession by Russia of any territories in the Baltic or in Poland. To the English Ministry, moreover, the danger of losing India because of the new railway's construction seems small beside the undeniable military value of the road as an offensive measure against Germany. The road will run mainly through British territory; it will follow the coast of the Persian Gulf, and therefore can always be controlled by an English fleet; nor will it put Russia nearer the Indian defenses than she is already; the lookouts at Herat can almost see a Russian railway station, and Herat is the key to India, scarcely a fourth as far from the frontier and Quetta as Teheran is from Karachi. In fact, say the English military experts, Russia already possesses quite as favorable a position for an assault as the railway would afford her; but clearly she does not wish to use it, nor will she desire to do so as long as the assistance of England and France is necessary to prevent Germany from overrunning the Baltic.
The feasibility of a military road to India through Russia and Persia has been many times declared. The route through Turkestan, across the Caspian and up the Russian rivers, was one of the commonest roads followed by invasion after invasion from Asia; it was one of the recognized trade routes of Europe during the Middle Ages, and was well worn by the feet of merchants. Upon its existence, the English Muscovy Company depended, and from the trade grew wealthy. Until the construction of the Suez Canal, it was as practicable as any land route and more rapid, though more expensive and dangerous, than the voyage round the Cape of Good Hope. Through it Alexander invaded India, and no less a soldier than Napoleon himself conceived the idea of following the precise route the English and Russians propose to employ in case of need. Napoleon had the whole route carefully surveyed and measured, and his engineers reported its entire practicability.
In addition, if we suppose the existence of a general European war and an attempt by Germany on India at a time when England could spare neither men nor ships from European waters, the new railway would enable her to permit a sufficient Russian force to enter India to defeat the Germans without actually delivering into Russia's hands the keys of the Himalayas, Herat and Quetta. Should Russia after defeating Germany turn traitor, the English in India, with the possession of Quetta and the aid of the fleet set free by Germany's defeat, might still make a good fight. Should Germany decisively defeat the Channel fleet while her allies were overrunning the Mediterranean, the deluge would have already arrived, and India would be irretrievably lost, railway or no railway, and England would be glad to see a nation strengthened by the possession of India which might do battle with the all-conquering German. The Trans-Persian Railway is not necessarily desirable; it seems to the English merely the best of a number of extremely undesirable and regrettable expedients of which unfortunately one must be chosen. So a deputation of the members of the House of Commons and of London merchant princes visited Russia and formally sanctioned the commercial aspects of the military agreement. The incident shows conclusively how dependent England is upon her allies and how much trust she is forced to repose in them. It indicates with even greater certainty the English belief in the feasibility of the German plans for securing possession of the Mediterranean and Suez Canal.
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