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Imperialistic games in starting world war i

Three major international crises - two Moroccan crises 1905—1906 and 1911 and the Bosnian annexation crisis 1908—1909 - transformed international politics as the Triple Entente emerged to challenge the older Triple Alliance. Threats of war in the Balkans in 1912—1913 with Austria-Hungary against Serbia or against Montenegro or against Russia presaged events after the assassination.

Coupled with imperialism were a dynamic armaments race naval and military and increasingly virulent nationalism.

These developments did not necessarily make war inevitable; the great powers consistently managed to contain the situation. Within months the United States defeated an old imperial power, Spain.

In November 1901 London renounced any claim on construction of a canal in Central America. Britain had begun its retreat from universal imperial intentions and the United States was now a world power. While Tirpitz privately envisioned the naval construction to be aimed specifically at Britain, London was not immediately alarmed. Only later did German naval proliferation threaten Anglo-German relations. The late summer of 1898 saw a third seminal event for London, far away on the upper Nile at an obscure site called Fashoda.

Here British troops confronted French troops led by Captain Jean-Baptiste Marchand 1863—1934who had crossed much of Africa in a desperate attempt to gain leverage against the British in Egypt and Sudan.

Talk of war came and then faded.

  1. While no formal decision was reached, the civilian ministers accepted the prospect of a British army on the Continent. The annexation tumult ended fifteen years or more of cooperation between Vienna and St.
  2. This was totally inadequate. Even a visit by Berchtold in April to see San Giuliano had done little to ease the situation.
  3. Petersburg over Persia and other colonial issues. France conceded Egypt to Britain and the British pledged to support French efforts to control Morocco.
  4. This antagonised the French government and precipitated a series of angry diplomatic responses and feverish press reports. Indeed, even Archduke Franz Ferdinand, a staunch opponent of a military showdown, worried about the future.

British naval supremacy, as well as French political chaos after the Dreyfus Affair, led Paris to yield to London. Morocco, not Egypt, became his intended conquest.

First, he squared the situation with the Italians, recognizing their future rights to Tripoli. He offered nothing to Germanyeven though it was a signatory to an 1880 treaty guaranteeing Moroccan independence. Fashoda had opened the door to better Anglo-French relations. London did not fare well in the years after the Fashoda incident.

On the Continent there was loose talk about intervention in the Boer War. To offset these threats, Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, Marquess of Lansdowne 1845—1927the British foreign secretary, made a wholly unexpected move, negotiating a defensive alliance with Japan in January 1902.

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This agreement, made with a non-European, non-Anglo-Saxon power, marked a profound departure for Britain. Lansdowne did not stop there; he now turned his attention to Paris. Negotiations followed; the outlines of an imperial deal were soon in place. France conceded Egypt to Britain and the British pledged to support French efforts to control Morocco.

The two countries also resolved long-standing disputes about fishing rights off Newfoundland. Signed on 8 April 1904, the agreement did not go to British parliament for ratification and it had no military dimensions. The agreement represented imperialism at its zenith.

World History/Causes and course of the First World War

At no point in the ensuing Russo-Japanese War did either the French or the British consider intervention. The land struggle in Manchuria proved costly, with the Japanese finally prevailing. In Russia virtual revolutionary conditions erupted. Under pressure he agreed to the creation of a parliamentary body, the Dumabut he soon worked hard to undermine his own concession.

London tracked these events carefully. Soon the British Foreign Office saw another opportunity. Sir Arthur Nicolson 1849—1928the British ambassador to Russiaopened negotiations with Alexander Izvolsky 1856—1919the new Russian foreign minister, on a range of issues including Persia and the Indian frontier.

The two countries came to an agreement, again called an entente, in August 1907; this represented another British success in securing its imperial realm. Though the agreement was touted as anti-German in origin, it really grew out of imperial interests.

Like the French accord, it had no military component. Paradoxically, within months the Triple Entente, though never precisely called that by Grey and the Foreign Office, began its subtle evolution into a more distinctly anti-German alignment. Recent research shows that Berlin attempted to disrupt the new entente while also making overtures to Russia. Both efforts failed, the first more spectacularly and dangerously than the second.

In early 1905 he and the French leadership expanded their peaceful penetration into Morocco, which alarmed Berlin. The German leadership decided to remind France of its international commitments to Morocco and to test the entente in the process. But Berlin failed to be subtle in this maneuver.

Every spring Wilhelm travelled to the Mediterranean; this time the Wilhelmstrasse the German Foreign Office convinced the reluctant Kaiser to land at the Moroccan port of Tangier.

  • Vienna quickly found itself on the defensive;
  • Trade remained at high levels and there were talks of a possible way to divide Portuguese colonies in Africa in the future.

There he would assure the sultan of German support. The 31 March visit marked the start of the first Moroccan crisis. From April to June some feared the prospect of war. Germany had won the first round, but during the summer of 1905 German diplomatic aggressiveness managed to alienate Rouvier, as well as the British Foreign Office and Lord Lansdowne.

Moving deftly, French Ambassador Cambon worked to push the British into open support as the quid pro quo for the Egyptian concession. Lansdowne disliked the blackmail but did not totally reject it. Admiral Sir John Fisher 1841—1920first lord of the admiralty, who had previously ignored the German navy, talked privately of a preemptive attack on it. Then, in late December 1905, secret military conversations between the British and French armies started.

What had once been just an imperial treaty now developed into the possibility of British military assistance to buttress French imperial claims.

These secret conversations were kept from the Cabinet; only Grey, Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 1836—1908and Richard Burdon Haldane 1856—1928secretary of state for war, knew of them.

Indeed, it took until fall 1911 for the entire British Cabinet to learn of them. Soon the crisis passed. The Conference at Algeciras in early 1906 ended the standoff, giving the French certain police functions in Morocco, though not complete control.

Berlin still retained some leverage but the advantage had shifted to France. Perhaps more significantly, a military dimension had been added to the imperialistic entente and it had imperialistic games in starting world war i the German attempt to disrupt it. The much-chastened tsar found a solicitous cousin proposing a major revamping of Russo-German relations. But when the tsar returned to St. Petersburg, his officials convinced him that the new agreement ruined the French alliance and would deprive them of desperately needed French capital.

The submissive tsar informed Berlin and turned to face the domestic chaos in Russia. Three additional observations about the critical years from 1898 to 1907 are necessary to understand the strategic revolution taking place.

First, in 1905, General Alfred von Schlieffen 1833—1913 completed the first draft of his famous war plan. While commentators have recently argued that it was fundamentally a plea for additional troops and could only work with a defeated Russia, the plan and its basic parameters shaped subsequent German military planning.

In 1906 the new chief of the Prussian General Staff, Helmuth von Moltke 1848—1916used the war plan as the starting point for his later changes. Schlieffen had set the course, for better or worse. By 1907 suspicion about any German action was the rule of thumb. This attitude did not prevent negotiations with Germany over naval issues, but the bureaucratic apparatus under Grey construed every German action from the worst possible angle.

The recently created Committee of Imperial Defence examined the question of a possible German invasion. More importantly, some British army officers thought British troops might be on the Continent. The Anglo-French entente was not yet an alliance, or even a virtual alliance.

Still, it had become more than simply an imperial division of the spoils.

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The interaction of these two shaped much of European diplomacy from 1906 through the summer of 1909. In the end the two men ensured their countries would be permanently estranged. Not surprisingly, he returned to two previous areas of Romanov imperial interest: The schism between the two neighbors grew progressively wider, which in turn offered the Russian minister new possibilities.

Turkish power imperialistic games in starting world war i Macedonia and the Balkans appeared weaker than ever. Covetous eyes now turned toward possible gains at the Straits and perhaps elsewhere.

A third factor also gave Izvolsky confidence: The new Anglo-Russian entente protected Russian interests without surrendering the possible future resumption of expansion. Having been the most recent Habsburg ambassador to Russia, Aehrenthal wanted to restore the monarchy as a great power. The new men wanted to make their imprint upon Habsburg history and both did - but not with altogether pleasing results. Aehrenthal had two specific policy objectives: Movement on the rail lines immediately drew Russian attention.

Izvolsky also fretted about developments in the Turkish capital. A stronger government there would hurt Russian interests.

His concerns aligned with those of Aehrenthal. The two ministers agreed to meet at the Buchlau estate in Moravia, the home of Habsburg ambassador to Russia, Leopold Graf Berchtold 1863—1942.

In the talks Izvolsky accepted the formal annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina while Vienna pledged to back Russian demands for passage of its warships through the Straits.

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The two had reached an imperial accord. Had their deal succeeded in strengthening - not ruining - Austro-Russian relations, a wholly different Balkan scenario might have emerged.

But the agreement almost immediately unraveled. Both ministers misplayed their opportunity, each soon accusing the other of treachery. Before Izvolsky could complete his scheduled travels in western Europe, Aehrenthal decided to act, alarmed by news that Bulgaria intended to proclaim its independence from Turkey far ahead of schedule.

He probably also wanted to celebrate his success by announcing the annexation on 5 October at a meeting of the Habsburg Delegations, the closest thing to an imperial parliament.

Pan-Slavic groups denounced the betrayal of Bosnian Serbs for no appreciable gains at the Straits. Numerous Russian, Habsburg, and Serbian troops were called to the colors; war seemed a real possibility.