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PREFATORY ESSAY

ix

causans was the jealousy between the German and French nations, or, to speak more accurately, their desire of attaining respectively certain objects, to whose attainment the subjugation of the other was an essential preliminary. Of course the personalities of Prince Bismarck, of Napoleon III., and of others played a large part in the actual conditions of the war. But when France had set her heart on remaining the dominant military power in Europe, and when Germany had made up her mind to convert a confederation of sovereign states into a united empire, an armed conflict between the two countries had become inevitable at no distant date. The outbreak of such a war as this—due to no serious provocation on either side, possessing far less obvious justification than any of the dynastic wars of the 17th and 18 th centuries, and hailed with enthusiasm by the voice of the two nations about to engage in mortal combat—was utterly irreconcilable with the theory that modern civilization, the advance of science, and the progress of humanity, had rendered an aggressive war a practical impossibility. If wars were to be waged in the future, as they had been in the past, whenever any State had an interest in aggrandizing its power or extending its territories at the expense of its neighbours, and saw a favourable opportunity for so doing, certain conclusions followed logically, whose weight no prudent nation could afford to overlook. The first of these conclusions was that any Power which was anxious to hold its own position and retain its own independence must be prepared to defend herself against any other Power, or combination of Powers, by whom she was likely to be attacked. The second conclusion was that if the leading States of the civilized world were to act upon the principle of extending their dominions or consolidating their power whenever they could do so with fair chance of success, any State which did not avail itself of every opportunity presented for aggrandizement without incurring serious danger of reprisals must of necessity fall behind in the struggle for life. It will be found, on examination, that both these convictions, in some instances consciously and, in many more, unconsciously, have influenced the course of events during the period under review. With respect to the first conviction, as to the necessity for increasing their military forces, there has been a marvellous accord on the part of all the leading Powers of the world. It is not an exaggeration to say that the chief occupation of the last twenty-five years of the 19 th century, in as far as Governments were concerned, consisted in preparing for the possible eventuality of war. Reference to any record of national statistics will confirm this statement. For our present purpose it is sufficient to say that, in well-nigh every civilized country, the army and navy have been placed, in times of peace, on what at the commencement of the period in question would have been regarded as on the footing of war. All countries are burdened well-nigh to the full extent of their numerical and financial resources. Various minor States, such as Bulgaria and Servia, have been brought to the verge of bankruptcy by their military expenditure; and it is open to question how long even powerful countries such as Italy, Russia, and Austria can continue to support the constant drain on their resources caused by the necessity, whether real or imaginary, of making themselves ready for war in times of peace. In the majority of instances these military preparations were honestly made for defence, not for defiance. But it is only in accordance with human nature that the possession of power should engender a desire for its exercise. The period of increased armaments has therefore coincided with a period of annexation on the part of all the powerful States of the world. To cite only the main instances, Great Britain has acquired a virtual protectorate over Egypt, and holds joint dominion with Egypt over the Sudan ; has annexed Burma, the Transvaal, and the Orange Free State; and has secured a leasehold of Cyprus, tantamount to a freehold. France has taken possession of Tunis, and has assumed the administration of Indo-China—comprising the formerly independent States of Annam, Cochin-China, Cambodia, and Tongking. Russia has annexed Bessarabia and the northern provinces of Armenia. Germany has planted her flag on the mainland of Zanzibar in Africa and at Kiao-chow in China. Austria has possessed herself of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Italy has assumed the ownership of Massawa, and was only hindered from securing a protectorate over Abyssinia by the disastrous campaign which ended in the defeat of Adowa. Belgium, in fact if not in name, has added the Congo Free State to her European dominions. The passion for territorial aggrandizement has not been confined to Europe. In the East, Japan has obtained a footing in Korea, and would have extended her territory into China