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The league of the three powers was known as the Triple Alliance. It was made for a definite period and has been renewed from time to time. Italy did not formally withdraw from it until May, 1915. The text of the treaties between Italy and the Teutonic powers has never been published in full; but, judging from the clauses that are known, we infer that these treaties embody substantially the same engagements as those of the Austro-German alliance, with additional agreements regarding the Balkans.”
Bismarck had thus succeeded in his policy of isolating France. But this period of isolation ended in 1891, when France and Russia formed the Dual Alliance. The terms of the agreement have not been made public, but apparently there are binding engagements as to joint action in certain international situations. In July, 1914, the French ambassador at Berlin told Von Jagow, German secretary of state, that France's obligations to Russia were as binding as those of Germany to Austria.3
The formation of the Triple Alliance and the Dual Alliance had divided Europe into two hostile camps. Great Britain for a while stood aside in isolation, maintaining a policy of neutrality toward both groups. She thus had the power of tipping the scales in favor of the side
2 For the articles that have been published, see p. 182. 8 F. Y. B., 74.
to which she might throw her support. There were causes of friction between Great Britain and members of both groups, and she might at any time give up her position of neutrality and identify herself with one side or the other.
The friendship that Bismarck had cultivated between Germany and Great Britain began to wane in the ’nineties. The Conservative party, which ruled England from 1895 to 1905, favored imperialism and a strong foreign policy. In the meantime, Germany too had entered upon a policy of industrial development and colonial expansion. As a result of these imperialistic ambitions a feeling arose in both countries that the interests of Germany conflicted with those of Britain. Jealousy and suspicion now took the place of the friendship and confidence that formerly existed between these two great kindred peoples. It was thought by many Englishmen that Germany had an ambition to deprive their country of her maritime supremacy and to rule the world." On the other hand, the charge was made in Germany that England was trying to isolate her and thus prevent her from playing an important part in world politics. These unsatisfactory relations were aggravated by Germany's attitude toward the Boer struggle with the British (1899–1902). "The British were especially aroused by the more or less open favor and sympathy which the em
peror and official classes of Germany showed to the Boers." 4
In addition to this general feeling of distrust, there were specific instances of friction between these two great powers. One important controversy was that over the Bagdad Railroad, the construction of which was in line with Germany's ambition to extend her influence over Turkey. Germany began her policy of economic penetration of the Ottoman Empire about 1875, at which time the Anatolian railroad from Scutari (opposite Constantinople) to Konia was built for the Turkish Government by German engineers. This road afterwards came into the possession of a German corporation, and in 1899 Emperor William II obtained from the Sultan permission to extend it through Bagdad to the Persian Gulf. Along with the railroad franchise there went the privilege of building branch roads, and broad mining, irrigation, and other concessions.
Germany's avowed purpose was economic, the desire to develop the rich natural resources of Mesopotamia to the advantage of both this neglected district and Germany. It is more than likely, however, that her aims were political as well as economic. If her plan we realized, she would have convenient bases for
4 Hayes, Political and Social History of Modern Europe, II, 699-700.
propaganda against Egypt and India in time of peace and of attack in time of war.
It is no wonder, therefore, that British public opinion took affiright and British statesmanship determined to thwart the scheme. The classes in England and Russia engaged in commerce and shipping on the Tigris River contended that the economic interests of their respective countries would be menaced. The patriots in England feared for the safety of the empire. The result was that Great Britain determined to shut off the road from the Persian Gulf.
The only suitable terminus for the road was in the little principality of Koweit, the ruler of which was virtually independent of Turkey. In 1899 England signed a secret treaty with the Sheik of Koweit, pledging him protection on condition that he would not dispose of any of his territory without the consent of the English Government. Great Britain also signed an agreement with Russia in 1907 whereby protectorates over southern and northern Persia were established by these two countries respectively. In this way the Bagdad Railroad was shut off not only from the Persian Gulf but also from central Asia.
The result was very unfortunate for the relations between Germany and England. The German people were aroused to renewed bitter
ness against Great Britain which country, they considered, had prevented the success of an important business venture purely out of jealousy and ill will.
Germany, however, persisted in her plan and a few years later succeeded in getting the consent of both Russia and Great Britain to the completion of the railroad. Russia agreed to give up her opposition by an understanding arrived at in 1911, and Great Britain by one that had been negotiated, though not consummated, just prior to the outbreak of the war in 1914. Thus just on the eve of the Great War, England and Germany had virtually settled amicably one important cause of difference between them.
Another cause of friction between England and Germany was “the rapid development of Germany's naval power.” Emperor William thought that Germany's future lay on the ocean, and the imperial navy under his fostering care had been growing rapidly. This increase in the German navy made it necessary for England to build more ships. For Britain must maintain her naval superiority if she is to keep in touch with her colonies and thereby hold her empire together. Besides, if Great Britain should lose control of the sea, her enemy could starve her into submission in a few months. Self-preservation, therefore, demands that the island kingdom must remain as strong on the water as any