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withdrawal of Italy from the Triple Alliance that they no longer think it necessary to put an army in the field against Italy, but consider that the entire forces of France are available against Germany."*
Why Italy made the reservation in the case of England will appear when we glance at the origin of the Triple Alliance.
In 1871 Bismarck thought that the Franco-Prussian war, by the military losses and by the immense indemnity which it inflicted on the French people, had rendered France powerless for a generation. But within four years she paid the indemnity and had so far recovered in her armament, commerce, and prosperity that the Iron Chancellor prepared to attack her again, and this time, to quote his butcher's phrase, "to bleed her white." Only the certainty that the other powers would interfere stayed his hand then.
So he set about circumventing France by other means. A league of the three Emperors of Germany, Austria, and Russia was the combination he preferred; but Russia proved an uncertain partner, as she feared Germanization, on the one hand, and, on the other, she was the encourager of pro-Slavic aspirations which ran counter to the Germans' ambition. Bismarck, therefore, looked about him for an alternative plan.
He would keep the friendship of Russia -even though Russia declined a formal league and he would lure Italy into the Germanic alliance. England, he knew, could not be persuaded to enter a Continental combination. Her commercial interests pointed elsewhere, and she still clung to her policy of splendid isolation. But Italy was unattached; and while she was the least formidable of the six great powers, Bismarck saw that he could make good use of her for his own purposes. The adroitness by which he drew her into his net is in direct contrast to the bovine diplomacy by which Kaiser William II. and his subservient Chancellors
*Bernhardi: "Germany and the Next War." English popular edition, Page 138.
have succeeded, during the past twenty years, in smashing all their alliances and in alienating the sympathy of the civilized world.
After the completion of Italian unity in 1870, the new Italian Kingdom found itself harassed not only by the many details of solidifying the civil Government, but also by the perplexities of international relations. The abolition of the Pope's temporal power made her, in theory at least, an object of odium to zealous Roman Catholics throughout the world. Her nearest neighbors-France and Austria-having long been the most loyal supporters of the head of the Roman Church, Italy could not be sure that either or both of them might not intrigue against her in behalf of the restoration of the Papacy. There was also in Italy a group of patriotic Jingoes-the Irredentists-bent on "redeeming " from Austria territory whose inhabitants they claimed were Italian in language, ideals, and situation. The Irredentist propaganda naturally increased the rancor which Austria felt toward the Italians over whom she had recently despotized.
When Crispi, who was passing from his earlier character of conspirator and Radical to that of constitutional statesman, made the tour of the European Chancelleries, in 1877, he found Bismarck profuse in his expression of good-will toward Italy. If we are to believe Crispi, the Chancellor was ready then to draw up a treaty with her, and went so far as to hint that he approved of Italy's aspirations. Among these were the possession of Tunis and a foothold on the east coast of the Adriatic. The next year, at the Berlin Congress, however, Italy's interests were ignored, and, instead, Austria was encouraged to extend her dominion south of the Balkans, and the French were at least not discouraged from coveting a stronger position in the Mediter
Finally, in 1882, France seized Tunis, to the immense indignation of the Italians, who had come to regard that as their predestined province. For it lay only a few hours by steamer from the southern coast of Sicily; it commanded
the passage between the western and eastern Mediterranean; and, above all, it was the symbol of Italy's colonial ambition. To have a colony, if not several, was then regarded as the sign of being a first-class power; and that Italy should be tricked out of Tunis seemed to advertise to the world that she was not a first-class power. For her protests availed nothing.
The Italians did not know then, nor for a long time afterward, that the French seizure of Tunis was directly due to Bismarck's instigation. Lord Salisbury, also, who seems to have been in the plot, approved it for his own reasons. Bismarck's motives were plain-he wished to entangle France further in African colonial ventures. It had taken forty years, many thousand soldiers' lives, and great expenditures for France to make Algiers reasonably safe. As Tunis would increase the French burdens, it followed that every regiment needed there would diminish the strength of the armies with which France guarded herself from a German attack on her eastern frontier.
Having roused the Italians to wrath by this ruse, Bismarck had no difficulty in persunding them to join the Triple Alliance. He hardly needed to suggest that, if they had felt anxious at the possibility of French hostile premure before, they had an even greater reason for such anxiety now that the French controlled the Mediterranean south of them. We may suspect also that Bismarck pointed out, non special induce ment, that, if Italy joined the alliance, she would be free from the likelihood of an attack by Austria
Accordingly, in 1921, Italy entered into partnership with Germany and Austria for mutual defense The only powers likely to nonnil them at that time were France and Runola, for England was still Jolated, and Homarck, although he felt a strong antipathy trevard the Enslish, was too shrewd a statesman either to scorn or to provoke them As late as 120, he approved of Italy's seeking an pudende with England.
At the time Italy joined the Triple she felt, no doubt, an unwontest spn pal
security. Were not two powerful empires standing by, ready to defend her? Her wounded pride, also, was solaced by her admission on equal terms into such a league. Neither France nor any other nation could henceforth taunt her with being a second-rate power.
The immediate result of the alliance was the spread of German commercial and financial enterprises throughout the peninsula, and the steady growth of Italian bad feeling toward France. A large group of Italians made Gallophobia their guiding principle. They remembered that, in the sixties, Napoleon III. had maintained at Rome that French garrison which prevented them from emancipating the States of the Church from Papal control, and from completing the unification of Italy. They remembered that Napoleon annexed Nice-Garibaldi's birthplace-to France, and that the French chassepots at Mentana dispersed Garibaldi and his red shirts bent on capturing the Eternal City. In the eighties, the Italians had good reason to suspect that the French Clericals were busy devising some imbroglio through which the Pope might be restored to the temporal power.
A convinced Gallophobe and crafty intriguer like Crispi, therefore, easily inflamed Italian indignation, so recently excited by the seizure of Tunis and by Clerical intrigues, and he counted it a gay feather in his cap when, in 1889, he declared a tariff war on France. Hard times for Italy followed; the commerce of the country was dislocated, and although Crispi tried to get compensation by negotiating special terms for trade with Germany and Austria, the new customers did not make up for the old. Germany could not furnish capital as France had done. Paris was, and is, the financial capital of the European Continent.
On this side Italy lost and Bismarck mained by the Triple Alliance-for he had attained his purpose of splitting France and Italy apart. What advantage did the Italians derive from the agreement? The reply commonly given is, protection. But, we ask, protection from whom? Not From Frances because it is clear enough
that, whether the Triplice existed or not, Germany would have attacked the French, if they had attacked the Italians; so that Italy had in Germany a logical protector, to whom she need not have sacrificed her initiative.
Her only other possible assailant was Austria, and it may fairly be argued that the alliance restrained Austria from attack; but Austria permitted herself every other unfriendly act toward Italy except open war; and Germany looked placidly
The fact that Germany, the chief Protestant nation in Europe, was the ally of Italy, might also be regarded as a support to the Italians in their long conflict with Papal pretensions; but how little Germany cared for Italy's welfare in this struggle appeared in 1903, when Kaiser Wilhelm prevented the election of Cardinal Rampolla as Pope. Rampolla, if not a Liberal, was a devoted Italian; Sarti, who defeated him, was a Reactionary, controlled by the Jesuits, hostile to Italy.
When we look at Germany's action in other affairs we find pleasant words but no tangible profit. From her geographical position Italy claimed an interest in the status of the Balkan Peninsula, and particularly in the eastern shore of the Adriatic. Germany pretended to favor her interests-according to Crispi, Bismarck even went so far as to ask, "Why don't you take Albania?"-but it was Austria that Germany steadily pushed on into the Balkans; and in 1908, when Austria, with Germany's connivance, appropriated Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Italians realized that they had been tricked again, as they were in the case of Tunis.
Since 1908 the Teutonic partners, growing more and more arrogant, have shown indifference to the concerns of their Italian ally, who, seeing no future for her in Europe, swooped down on Tripoli, the only stretch of North African littoral not already possessed by the French and by the English. Persons on the inside at Rome whispered that, if Italy had not occupied Tripoli when she did, Germany would have forestalled her; for the
Kaiser, furious at being thwarted in Morocco and at having failed to bully France into submission, as he had done in 1905, had determined to seize Tripoli, come what might. More than one Foreign Office has ample proof to settle this assertion.
Its plausibility is patent-Germany was already in close league with Turkey, and, looking forward to a war on England, she saw the advantage of owning territory and a naval base within easy reach of the Suez Canal.
Certain it is that both Germany and Austria frowned on Italy's Libyan enterprise, and that, in their intrigues in the Balkan Peninsula, in 1912 and 1913, they ignored their Italian partner.
And yet as long ago as 1895 Germany admitted that Italy was hardly getting a fair return from her bargain with her Teutonic allies. On March 5, 1895, Senator Lanza reported an interview he had just had with Emperor William, who said: "He had found Count Kálnoky (the Austrian Premier) * * * still uneasy lest we (Italy) may come to consider the Triple Alliance insufficiently advantageous, merely because it cannot supply us, at once and in times of peace, with the necessary means of satisfying our desires with regard to the territories of Northern Africa and others as well. His Majesty added: "Wait patiently. Let the occasion but present itself and you shall have whatever you wish.'"*
In spite of the Kaiser's assurance, Italy has got less and less return from the Triple Alliance every year since 1895.
It appears, therefore, that Italy long ago opened her eyes as to the real profit the alliance brought her. When England loomed up as the objective which Germany resolved to destroy, Italy quite logically let it be understood that she would not engage in a fight against England. Over thirty years of political alliance had created no sympathy among the Italians for the Germans. Like all other Europeans, they resented the arrogance of the Teutons who strode over their country.
*Crispi's "Memoirs," iii., 326-7.
But deeper, far deeper than personal dislike of bad manners was the fundamental antagonism between the Italian and the Prussian ideal. The Italians were pledged to Liberty, the Germans to Autocracy, bulwarked by militarism. In their long struggle for independence the Italians had had the sympathy of the best Englishmen, and in Palmerston, and especially in Lord John Russell, they found very powerful political helpers. But never since Bismarck took the helm of Prussia had one word in behalf of Democracy and Freedom been lisped by Monarch or Minister. For Italy to abandon her democratic ideal and to revert to the feudal-despotic ideal of the Pan-Germanists is unthinkable.
If she goes into the war, as now seems probable, it will be to uphold the Allies, who are fighting against Teutonic am
bition inspired by despotic aims. Selfpreservation demands that choice-because, should Germany win, she will not spare Italy. A stronger reason than selfinterest, or than fear, however, will guide the Italians. In their past civilization and in their modern ideals they belong with the Western powers. They know the origin of their national independence. And if any Ministry should attempt to send them to replenish the wasting armies of Germany and of Austria, they would invoke the memory of Victor Emmanuel and of Garibaldi, of Mazzini and of Cavour, and refuse to be partners in schemes to aggrandize the Hapsburgs and the Hohenzollerns.
"I am the son of Liberty," said Cavour; "to her I owe all that I am." That, too, is Italy's motto, which she will not deny.