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short ones) were fought between great European powers during this century-long period is evidence in favor of the partial success of this peace experiment.
The Concert might have accomplished its purposes more completely but for certain mistakes made in the early years while it was dominated by a reactionary royalist, Prince Metternich. During this period it ignored two powerful forces—the spirit of nationalism and the spirit of liberalism. In some sections of Europe (notably in Germany, in the Habsburg Empire, and in the Italian and Balkan peninsulas) there was a growing demand for a change in political boundaries in the interest of racial and linguistic unity; Metternich opposed all these aspirations and insisted on the maintenance of the status quo regardless of national feeling. The people all over Europe were clamoring more and more for a voice in the government of themselves; Metternich's policy was one of rigid adherence to the autocracy of the old régime. Thus nationalism was allied with liberalism; internationalism, with despotism. Nationalism was progressive; internationalism, reactionary. Nationalism was going with the current; internationalism was pulling against it. Nationalism was supported by patriotism; internationalism by pacifism. In the struggle between these two ideals, the advantage, though
not altogether the right, was with nationalism. The result was a complete triumph for nationalism and the eclipse (temporary it is to be hoped) of internationalism. A triumphant, undisciplined nationalism is in large part responsible for the war of 1914. If internationalism had in the beginning joined forces with democracy instead of autocracy and had made reasonable concessions to nationalism and thus neutralized patriotism, she might have triumphed instead of her opponent. If such had been the result, the summer of 1914 might have ushered in an era of world peace instead of one of world war.
The failure of Europe to unite into a successful permanent league to enforce peace based on the principle of a concert of action left the way open for the formation of smaller groups based on the principle of the balance of power. We thus find that early in the twentieth century the great European powers were alined into two rival groups. Probably as good a startingpoint as any for the history of these groups is the Treaty of Frankfort, signed in 1871. One of the provisions of this treaty was that Alsace and a part of Lorraine should be ceded to Germany. The loss of these provinces was a great humiliation to France. When the proposed treaty was brought before the French assembly for ratification, it is said that the members
broke down and wept over the clause that compelled them to sacrifice a portion of their country's territory. The French people have never allowed this feeling to die out, but on the contrary have been nursing it to keep it warm. They have regarded Alsace and Lorraine as lost provinces, and have kept the statue in Paris representing Strasburg (in Alsace) draped in mourning.
Bismarck realized that this feeling would lead France into another war with Germany unless he could continue to keep the odds against her. After 1871 he did not want war; he preferred a period of peace for the internal development of the newly-created empire. Besides, he thought it would not be safe to subject united Germany to the strain of another war until the cement that held the members of the union together had had time to dry. His policy, therefore, was to isolate France and thus deprive her of all hope of success in a war with Germany. To this end he approached Austria and Russia with a view to allying them with Prussia. Since the war of 1866, he had maintained a very friendly attitude toward Austria. He had also in 1863 offered the Tsar of Russia aid in putting down the Polish revolt and had thereby won his lasting gratitude, Conditions being thus favorable, he was able to bring the rulers of Austria, Germany, and Russia together in Berlin (1872) and
the Three Emperors' League was the result. It was not an alliance but apparently an informal understanding.
The success and permanence of this league was endangered by the rivalry of Austria and Russia in the Balkans. This rivalry became acute at the time of the Berlin Congress (1878). Russia had, without the aid of the great powers, concluded a successful and righteous war with Turkey and forced her to sign the treaty of San Stefano. By the terms of this treaty Turkey was left with only a strip of territory in Europe, and Russia was put in a favorable position with reference to the Balkan states. Great Britain and Austria-Hungary protested against this settlement of the Balkan question, and a European congress was held at Berlin to revise the treaty of San Stefano. The decision of the powers was a diplomatic victory for AustriaHungary and a defeat for Russia. Bismarck supported Austria-Hungary's demands in the congress and thereby strengthened the cordial feeling existing between his country and Austria-Hungary but at the same time incurred the ill will of Russia. The Three Emperors' League now fell into abeyance, and though Russia did not formally withdraw at this time, relations between Germany and Russia were strained for a few years.
Bismarck, feeling that he would have now to
count on the possible enmity rather than on the friendship of Russia, decided to draw more closely to Austria-Hungary. In 1879 Germany and Austria formed a defensive alliance against Russia. The treaty provided that if “one of the two Empires were to be attacked by Russia, the two contracting parties are bound to lend each other reciprocal aid with the whole of their imperial military power, and, subsequently, to conclude no peace except conjointly and in agreement.” If one of the contracting parties should be attacked by any power other than Russia this mutual obligation was to be binding only in case the attacking power were “upheld by Russia.” 1
Italy became a party to the alliance in 1882. To take this step Italy had to suspend a deepseated historic enmity toward Austria, for this power had frequently thwarted efforts on the part of the Italian people to liberate and unify the peninsula. Besides, she still held the Italian-speaking districts of Trieste and Trent, which Italy coveted. One reason for her taking this unnatural step was that she was ambitious to play the role of a great power and was angered at France for having taken Tunis (1881), because she had picked out this region as a suitable field for Italian occupation.
1 For the whole treaty, see Stowell, The Diplomacy of the War of 1914, 540_41.