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DIPLOMATIC AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
PAUL S. REINSCH
University of Wisconsin The year 1911 was characterized during its latter half by unusually high tension among the great powers of Europe. Latent rivalries and ambitions came to the surface in such a way as not only to endanger and even directly to disturb the peace of the world at the present time but also to threaten even graver complications for the future. Although in the controversies of the year interests of prime importance were not involved, yet the continued suspense and friction resulted in a very decided aggravation of international rivalry, and served especially to render more acute the chronic mutual suspicion between Great Britain and Germany. Consequently, notwithstanding all the efforts which had been made to bring about a better understanding and eventually to secure mutual engagements with respect to a limitation of armaments and a reduction of the tremendous burden of military preparation, there has developed a situation which is for the present very unpromising. In fact new efforts are being made still further to increase armaments, and the temper in which European nations find themselves is only too favorable to further exertions in this direction.
THE POWERS OF EUROPE
The year opened peacefully enough and for the time being relations between Great Britain and Germany seemed to tend towards permanent improvement. In March the German Reichstag, notwithstanding a somewhat negative declaration on the part of the Chancellor, passed a resolution favoring an understanding regarding limitations of armament and arbitration. In May Mr. Lloyd-George encouraged the British public
in hopes for a reduction of expenses in behalf of the navy. But trouble had already commenced. In March the French Government decided to undertake a military expedition into the interior of Morocco and especially to Fez. The German Government considered this a departure from the treaty of Algeciras and therefore as creating a new situation in Morocco which called for a diplomatic readjustment. This position was taken notwithstanding the fact that the German Government had in the agreement of February 9th, 1909, recognized that France had special political interest in Morocco. At first the German Government maintained an expectant attitude, but when France made no indication of a desire to give Germany concrete satisfaction on account of the changed condition of affairs, Germany on July 2d, sent a war vessel to the Moroccan port of Agadir. According to the declarations of the German Government this was done only for the purpose of protecting the interests of German subjects at that point, but it was also a technical move to indicate that Germany believed that she possessed certain unliquidated rights in Morocco. Whether or not it was intended as a threat of war in case France should not give the desired satisfaction, it was so understood both in France and Great Britain, and caused great excitement in the public opinion of these two countries. The British Government evidently believed that the Germans were ready to take serious action if necessary, and on July 21st, Mr. Lloyd-George declared in a public speech that peace at the cost of having British interest ignored would be a humiliation.
Diplomatic negotiations went on between Germany and France for months under the cover of secrecy. Public opinion excited by the danger of war, in dark as to the actual interests involved, was kept at a high tension. Finally on November 4th, as a result of all these painstaking negotiations and complicated moves and countermoves, two agreements were signed at Berlin by the representatives of France and Germany. In the agreement regarding Morocco the German Government renews its declaration of 1909 in the following form: “The imperial German Government declares that, since in Morocco
it pursues only economic interests, it will not impede France in its purpose to aid the Moorish Government in the introduction of all administrative, judicial, economic, financial, and military reforms, which may be requisite for the good government of the realm.” This undertaking is further specified in additional articles. The French Government on its part makes an explicit declaration in favor of the “open door.” In article 4, the French Government declares “that being determined to adhere to the principle of complete freedom of commerce in Morocco, it will not permit any unequal treatment in customs, duties, taxes and other dues, nor in the making of tariffs for railways and river transportation, as well as with respect to transit trade.” In these negotiations therefore the German Government placed itself squarely on the principle of the open door, and secured from the French Government a complete, specific, and unequivocal recognition of that policy.
The second agreement deals with the compensations accorded by the French Government to Germany in return for the abstention of the latter from any political interference in Morocco. The territory ceded consists of parts of the French Congo Colony, comprising 375,000 square kilometers. The strips of territory are so arranged as to connect the German colony of Kamerun with the system of navigation of the Congo River, and also so as to surround Spanish Guinea on the land side completely with German territory. As a part of this rectification of boundaries Germany ceded to France that portion of Northern Kamerun which lies between the Logone and Chapi Rivers. Great disappointment was manifested by the German public when these results of such long and painful negotiations became known. The economic value of the ceded territories seemed too questionable to have been the object of so much international work and worry. When the Chancellor made his statement to the Reichstag on November 9th, he was received with expressions of open dissatisfaction on all sides. Subsequent explanations before the Finance Commission of the Reichstag, however, led to a clearer appreciation of the difficulties which had confronted the German Government,
The statement made by Sir Edward Grey in the House of Commons debate, on November 26th, while in every way correct, was so cool towards Germany as to add materially to the belief in the active hostility of Great Britain, which was based on the knowledge of the readiness of the British government to aid France on the Continent with a contingent of 150,000 troops, and on the sea with an attack upon the German fleet. The acute feeling of disappointment of the German people resulted therefore in increased bitterness against Great Britain rather than against France.
While the negotiations between Germany and France were going on, Italy startled the world by issuing an ultimatum to Turkey which practically asked for the immediate session of Tripolis. As a ground for this surprising action Italy set forth, inter alia, the grievances that it had been treated by Turkey with scant respect, that her reclamations had not been considered, that the Italian flag had been violated in the Red Sea, and that Italians in Turkish dominions had been subjected to molestations. On the day immediately following the issuance of this unacceptable ultimatum, war was declared by Italy and the coast towns of Tripolis were occupied. Determined resistance, however, met the Italian forces as soon as they attempted to penetrate into the interior. Up to the end of the year the occupation was only such as could be directly protected by the guns of the Navy. Notwithstanding the incomplete character of the conquest the Italian Government on November 5th issued a manifesto declaring that Tripolis had been annexed to the Italian Kingdom. The Parliament engaged in academic discussions as to whether now, after this formal annexation, the Turks and Arabs who offered any resistance were not to be treated as rebels rather than as belligerents. Meanwhile, the military measures of security taken by the Italian army in the occupied places were of relentlesss severity. These circumstances together with the ruthless manner in which the war itself was commenced rendered Italy subject to the sharpest criticism by the public opinion of the entire world, to which, of course, answer was made to the effect that other nations too had broken treaties
or disregarded international law, and that they also had been charged with cruelty in their warfare. During the early stages of the war Italy showed a disposition to extend hostilities to the Balkan coast and to the Aegean Sea. But the Chancellaries of Europe, apprehensive that such action would result in a general conflagration, prevailed upon Italy to restrict her military actions to the African coast. The incidental reprisals mutually taken by the warring powers were not unusually severe, but Italian imports into Turkey were, by decree of September 29th, forced to pay a duty of 100 per cent, while Italy similarly increased the charges upon Turkish imports. As a compensation for benevolent neutrality in the presence of the African enterprise of Italy, France was permitted to occupy the Oasis of Djanet, while Great Britain, through her protectorate over Egypt as an intermediary, occupied the Bay of Solum in Cytenaica.
While conquests, protectorates, and “compensations” of more or less value were thus falling to the Western European powers, Russia on her part, was exerting herself to establish her control in Northern Persia. Russian foreign policy never seemed to admit any consequences of the severe defeat suffered by Russian arms in the Japanese war. The forward policy has continued uninterrupted in all directions, but especially in Mongolia and Persia. Nor was European Turkey entirely neglected. When, early in the year, Turkey remonstrated with Montenegro on account of the assistance lent by that principality to the revolutionary movement in Albania, the Russian Government quite decidedly took the part of Montenegro. The Italian war seemed to give an opportunity to Russia, on her part, to bring pressure to bear upon Turkey. As a matter of fact, demarches were made by the Russian Ambassador at Constantinople, looking to the opening of the Dardanelles to Russian men of war, in contravention of the provisions of the Treaty of Berlin. But the European powers, including Great Britain, were not favorable to such a modification of the treaty at this time; so the Russian efforts were discontinued. On the plea that the Russian Ambassador had acted entirely