The Auckland Star: WITH WHICH ARE INCORPORATED The Evening News, Morning News and The Echo.
TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 1909. GERMANY'S TRIUMPH.
t - For the cause that leeks assistance. For the wrong that heeds resistance, For the future in the distance. And the good that we can do.
It is too early yet to decide whether Russia's sudden and unexpected submission to Germany's demands means simply that M. IsTolsky's nerve failed him at a critical moment in ithe negotiations. Apparently puhlic opinion in Russia is shocked and' humiliated by the collapse of the Foreign Minister before German threats. But whatever be the true cause of this sudden reversal of policy, there is no doubt tha-t for the moment it means a complete and splendid triumph for the Kaiser. It is only a few weeks since the Continental Press wae filled with eulogies on King Edward and flattering comments on the New Triple Alliance—England, France, and Russia— as a counterpoise to German influence in "world politics." Nearly everybody seems to have assumed that the old Triple Alliance was dead and buried, that Germany was hopelessly isolated, and that the Kaiser would be compelled to acquiesce in the terms dictated to Europe by the new arbiter of ite destinies. But to-day everything i 3 changed. After protesting vehemently that Austria should not be allowed to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina without consulting the other Powers, Russia has suddenly retracted her refusal; England has promptly followed suit; France and Italy remain dfeqreetly silent; and Austria (now openly backed by Germany) enters triumphantly into her new heritage. The Kaiser has scored all along the line, and once more Germany in prestige and authority stands for the moment as high among the Powers as ever she has attained since she risked her existence in the struggle for Empire forty years ago. The historian of the future will doubtless find interesting material in the secTet records of international diplomacy for 1908-9; but though such sources of information are riot yet available to us, we can fully appreciate the " Daily Mail's " conjecture that the Kaise/s best argument has been " the mailed fist" once more. It is quite possible that Germany has been playing her usual game with Russia, and that M. Isvolsky, when confronted by a threat of war, simply lost his head. But whether Germany seriously meant to go to extremes or not, the Kaiser's " bluff" was at once successful. No one knows better than M. Isvolsky that the Russian army is etill quite unfit to meet Germany or any other firstclass Power in the field, and as boon as he had persuaded himself that Germany was prepared to mobilize rather than give way, only one course seemed open to him. The Kaiser has thus employed once more with complete success the methods he used to effect the overthrow of M. Delcasse when the Moroccan difficulty first reached an acute stage. Isvolsky is not made of such unyielding stuff as Doleasse, and he bowed at once before the Kaiser's menaces; while as to Russia, tha Kaiser has found her far more easily amenable than France to his will. The Russians, overawed by Germany's trueulence, have consented to withdraw from the course that the traditional policy of the Czars has marked out for them in the Near East during the past century, and Austria—with Germany in the immediate background—steps at once to the front to control the destinies of the Balkan States. Wβ have spoken of the "New Triple Alliance" and the close and cordial understanding that appeared for the time to unite England, France, and Russia. Was it, then, impossible for these three great Powers united to make head against Germany and Austria combined? To answer the question, we have only to consider for a moment the effective military and naval strength of the Powers concerned. The "Daily Mail" possibly oversteps the mark when it estimates the combined armies of Germany and Austria at eleven million men. But there is no doubt that Austria and Germany, acting together, could put into the field a far larger and more effective fighting force than France and Russia; and it is obvious that they would enjoy the immense advantage of operating between their two enemies, and keeping them apart. These considerations prahfably appeal with greater force to France thari to Russia or England. For the Kaiser has never disguised his determination to make France the. scapegoat for any reverse tha-t Germany may suffer elsewhere, and his threat to cross the French frontier in the days of the Algeciras Conference has not been forgotten. Morocco is nothing to Go-many,
but the Moroccan difficulty is kept alive by the Kaiser as a. convenient way of putting pressure on France; and if the long-dreaded war should come, England, in spite of the "entente," will not be able to save France from Germany's (vengeance. "In the event of hostilities," says Mr. Austin Harrison in his interesting brochure, "England and' Germany," "Germany would invade France within a few hours after the declaration of war directly through Belgium; nor can there be any question that all her military plans are drawn up with that intention. The British Fleet, Germans say, may destroy our navy—if they can get at it—but we shall be in Paris in a short time; and the price of peace will be some £750,000,000, and tlie entire Prenph navy, to say nothing of ports and forts and other useful accessories." The French understand all this quite as well as the Germans, and it is at least conceivable that Russia was acting under French advice when she gave way before the Kaiser's threat of war.
As to England, whatever may be the truth about the naval scare, it is certain that all her fleets could never save France from destruction if once the Germans crossed the frontier. And it follows logically that if the "entente" of which the world has heard so much of late is to have any political and permanent weight, England ought to have a large army to place at France's disposal if ever she should need help against Germany. According to the estimate of French and German military experts, England should be prepared to supply at least 300,000 well-trained troops to assist France in an emergency; and we know that England's whole effective fighting force barely exceeds that number. Thus tested, the "entente" is a very small factor in "world politics," and Germany can quite afford to ignore it. For the time being, so long as Austria and Germany hold firmly together, there is no doubt that they control the situation, and all the high-flown assertions that the world has heard with bated breath from England and France and Russia, as to the necessity for upholding the Treaty of Berlin and securing justice for Turkey, have vanished into thin air. Sir Edward Grey, who, we presume, may be trusted to make the best of the situation, has now officially announced that England, like Russia, has withdrawn her objection to the annexation, and that if Servia still refuses to agree, she must be overruled. The international conference from which so much nas tieen expected thus becomes an empty for" ■<■ Uty, except that it will probably be requested to set the seal on the ignominy of the Powers by formally abrogating the Treaty of Berlin. Sorvia and Turkey have been forced to learn once more the bitter truth of the historical maxim, "Put not your trust in princes," and England's diplomatic efforts during the past five years have been almost completely obscured by Germany's triumph. Austria has been well rewarded for the support she
gave the Kaiser at Algeciras. But •looking to the future, we may still doubt if either Germany or Austria will be able to force their way far into the Balkans against the resistance of Bulgaria and th« Slav States, and we may speculate with keener interest than ever upon the possible effect of the death of Francis Joseph on the constitution of the Dual Monarchy and th-a value of the Triple Alliance.