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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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THE LION, THE EAGLE, THE ROOSTER, AND THE BEAR
British Alliance-Building in the Run-Up to the Great War, 1900-1911

V. S. Gowda

Europe has always been a continent of wildly shifting alliances. The decade before the Great War, however, is notable for just how much of the continent became embroiled in the network of treaties and promises swirling around the Anglo-German rivalry at its core. At the outbreak of war, only seven nations were not obligated by the system to come to the aid of Britain, Germany, or one of their allies. Those seven, too, had informal allegiances and interests that would see them dragged in soon enough.

The process through which the two sides took a chaotic system of shifting loyalties to one defined entirely by a country’s allegiance to either the Entente or Kaiser Pact can be roughly divided into three phases. The first was the formation of the core of each alliance, beginning with the signing of the Entente Cordiale in 1900. British entry into a European alliance forced a continent-wide re-evaluation of the balance of power; for Germany specifically, it signalled the end of over a decade of successfully isolating France.

This prompted a search in Berlin for a formalisation of some of the alliances it had used to keep France alone. The first, and most obvious, was Russia. Since the collapse of Austria-Hungary, Germany’s border with Russia had been its longest. Since the defeat of France in 1887, the Russian Army had been the closest challenger to the German Army. Not only was it the only continental nation with larger reserves of manpower, but it was also engaged in an expensive programme of modernisation, however tortuous and stop-start it was proving.

The Czar proved receptive, hoping German preoccupation with Western Europe would allow him to expand his influence in the Balkans and Scandinavia. Of course, the biggest prize would be the Ottoman Empire. Backed by Germany, Russia could avoid a repeat of the 1851-52 Crimean War, when a Franco-British expeditionary force had thwarted Nicholas I’s bid to deliver a final blow to the ailing Sublime Porte. The treaty of mutual friendship, initially known as the Emperors’ Pact, and modelled after the Entente Cordiale that had precipitated it, was signed in January 1902.


the emperors - Copy.jpg

Emperors Wilhelm II of Germany and Nicholas II of Russia, 1902
Taken at the signing of the Emperors’ Pact, the alliance between the two monarchs pictured would fracture in less than six years

The Emperors’ Pact caused much the same reaction in London and Paris as the Entente had in St Petersburg and Berlin. Arguably, the entire Boer War was an effort to flex the muscles of the Entente’s major guarantor as a message to the Emperors’ Pact. That war and its American counterpart, the Spanish-American War, would kick off the second phase, in which the Entente seemed to lose potential allies left and right.

Spain was the first to go, somewhat inevitably, considering how clear it was that the US had chosen to take Cuba and the Philippines from them with the consent of its new allies in the Entente. The utter disaster that was the Spanish military’s performance was blamed on the unwillingness of the Cortes to adequately fund the national defence, preferring instead to feather their nests, safe in the knowledge that turnismo kept their careers safe. The King, his regency only just ended, took the army up on the promise of restored glory for Spain, and on the 17th of June 1903, the Constitutional Monarchy came to an end. The first action of the new Military Absolutism was to align itself with Germany by seeking to accede to the Emperors’ Pact.*

Spain however, despite recent successes in the Scramble for Africa, was a declining power. The fall into Military Absolutism after a humiliating, but ultimately minor, reverse was a symptom of that decline. Far more cause for concern was the drift of Italy into the Pact. This was a vibrant, growing power, with an expanding naval force and the industrial strength to back it. For the French, it was also the final piece but two to having an enemy on every inch of its land borders. Once Italy acceded to the Pact in November 1904, only Switzerland and Belgium were not a clear and present danger.

The reasons for this drift are less poetic than Spain’s. Quite simply, with Spain and the Ottoman Empire aligned to Germany, the North African colonies of the French and British Egypt became viable targets. The Ottomans would also certainly be interested in reworking the Balkan settlement, and Victor Emmanuel III’s government could see opportunity to expand upon its acquisition of Croatia in the Austro-Hungarian Collapse. Albania, Greece, and Montenegro each seemed enticing targets, if the Turkish could be convinced that the reacquisitions of Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania would be enough to restore the Empire’s wounded pride.


abdulhamid ii - Copy.jpg

Sultan Abdul Hamid II, 1907
Unhappy with the constitutional settlement imposed by the 1841 August Revolution, Abdul Hamid II embraced the March Restoration of 1904, and aligned the Ottoman Empire with Germany

It was the Ottoman alignment with Germany that ultimately brought an end to the many losses of Entente diplomacy. The Parliament that had gained power in the August Revolution of 1841 was more liberal and pro-British than the rest of the Ottoman Establishment. The military, in particular, had always been downright opposed, and, over the years, opposition to liberalism had come to include opposition to Britain. With the Boer War seemingly exposing British weakness, the army finally saw proof that it needn’t fear British intervention if they attacked the Parliament outright. Even better, if this was the quality of British soldiery, Egypt was, perhaps, not forever lost.

The chance to complete an encirclement of what remained of Austria, and turn the Mediterranean into a Pact stronghold was so much of a temptation to the German Foreign Ministry that they became blinded to their main ally’s original reasons for joining the Pact. By early 1905, not only did Germany seem by far the more powerful of the two key players of the Anglo-German Rivalry, but she was the new guarantor of the Ottomans. The latter fact alone would have severely lessened the value of the Pact to the Czar, but that he now seemed committed to supporting a German bid for hegemony, rather than mutual defence, was the final straw.

When Austen Chamberlain returned to the Foreign Office in April 1905, he faced what looked to be almost certain defeat if the Entente he had created was ever called upon. However, unlike his counterpart in Berlin, Oswald von Richthofen, Chamberlain was able to divine the effect of Ottoman inclusion in the Pact upon the Russian calculus. Austria and the Balkan nations caught between Germany, Italy, and the Ottomans were obvious candidates for inclusion in a new security architecture, but the Bear would be the true prize.


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Sir James Colville, 8th Baronet, 1908
As UK Ambassador to the Russian Empire in 1904-1910, Colville was the man tasked with drawing Russia from Germany to the Entente

The man who would be most directly responsible for the work of converting Russia to the Entente was Sir James Colville, 8th Baronet. The Foreign Office’s premier expert on Russia, his appointment can be argued as the best thing Sir Evelyn Wavell did during his tenure as Foreign Secretary, if actually being the Foreign Secretary to sign the instrument creating the Entente is exempted due to being more the achievement of Austen Chamberlain. Sir James had studied Russia since his university days. At 20, he had made his first acquaintance with the UK Embassy in St Petersburg, in order to obtain a copy of the full publication of War and Peace. While rising through the Civil Service, he had used most of his spare money on trips to Russia. By the time he was appointed, he had worked at the Embassy for half a decade. If there was anyone who could coax the Czar to even repudiate the Pact, to say nothing of aligning himself with Britain, it was Colville.

Over the course of 1905-07, his work was relentless. The German Ambassador at one point sent a note to Berlin, in which he complained that more would have to be done to show Russia that Germany was cognisant of its concerns, where he said that ‘[Colville] must now have a more intimate knowledge of the Czar’s movements over the last two months than His Imperial Majesty’s Personal Secretary or the Czarina do.’ By the spring of 1907, Sir James’ efforts finally began to bear fruit.

In a meeting with Kaiser Wilhelm II in April 1907, the Czar requested that the Ottomans be thoroughly disabused of any notion that Bulgaria or Romania were up for grabs in a general European war, and suggested that the Russian Black Sea Fleet should be given berths in Istanbul. Wilhelm merely promised that he would think about it. When there was no signal from the Russian Embassy in Constantinople that any such suggestion had been made, much less forcefully enough to have caused the expected stir in the Sultan’s Court, Nicholas decided it was enough. He wrote to Wilhelm on June 22nd, informing him that Russia would be withdrawing from the Pact. He lamented in the letter that the goal of mutually beneficial co-operation had clearly fallen by the wayside, in favour of a hubristic German challenge to British power.

The shock in Berlin was matched by the elation in London. As Chamberlain put it; ‘the fish has flopped right out of their boat, and now we must reel him in before our competition regains his wits.’ While Colville embarked upon the second part of the job, however, the Foreign Secretary began the legwork of avoiding a potential Russian entry into the Entente from destabilising the alliance as it had the Emperors’ Pact (by now already renamed in the eyes of the world as the Kaiser Pact, being so clearly now a German project). He hoped to do this through engendering a cultural unity in the Entente beyond the geopolitical insecurities that had originally brought them together.


scoutente cordiale - Copy.jpg

French and British Scouts at the Entente Jamboree of 1908
The Jamboree, organised at the request of the Foreign Office, brought together scouts from the three Entente signatories in an effort to promote a cultural unity that would strengthen the foundations of the alliance beyond geopolitical convenience

To this end, he made multiple trips to France and the United States, and convinced other members of the government to do so as well. The Foreign Office, through various organisations, including the rapidly expanding Scout Association,* organised various cross-Entente events. Chamberlain’s greatest coup would be the 1909 visit of George V to France.** While old Foreign Office hands wished his father had been alive to make the Royal Visit - Prince Albert Edward’s fondness for the French, and particularly for Parisian hospitality, before his death was well known – the King managed to make an impression on the French. In his speech to the Parisian people, printed widely in the French press, His Majesty seemed to strike the perfect note of praise for democracy and liberty for a monarch visiting a nation only two decades removed from its latest republican revolution.***

Despite this, there were naturally still jitters when Colville succeeded in June 1908 in convincing Nicholas II to write to George V about the possibility of an understanding with the Entente. The exact provisions of the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1909 would stay secret until long after the war, but it was generally, and correctly, speculated that it was based upon contingent events in the Balkans. What little was left of Austria would, de facto, be guaranteed by both Russia and the UK; an attempt on Slovakia, Slovenia, or the resumption of the Austro-Hungarian conflict would almost certainly bring in Serbia, and so have the Kaiser Pact use it as justification to restore the Ottomans and push Italian claims in the Balkans.

Corresponding understandings with Austria, Serbia, and Greece ensured that the tripwire would be consistent between all nations affected by the Convention. The entry of France into the Convention by a sub-protocol in 1910, promising to prepare for combat operations in the event of a Russo-German conflict, ensured that the stronger, defensive provisions of the Entente Cordiale would almost certainly be activated. Germany would not suffer a mobilised France on its border unmolested. This, in turn, would provide President Roosevelt with an automatic obligation to join, and so one which would not require a reliably unreliable US Congress to approve the war.


teddy - Copy.jpg

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, 1907
In the last two years before the war, the question of the consistently pro-Entente Roosevelt’s successor after the election of 1912 was a constant headache for the Foreign Office

Roosevelt had, in fact, become something of a problem for the Foreign Office. Not because of anything he had done or planned to do, but rather because of what he was planning not to do. He was not planning to run for re-election in 1912. Though he consistently assured the Foreign Office that the man he had groomed to be his successor, William Taft, was prepared to meet the United States’ obligations, the British were convinced that Taft was humouring the President. His predecessor, McKinley, and he had been kept in office by the people despite their interventionism, not because of it, as far as the Brits could tell. This was the strategic problem the Foreign Office and military departments were most concerned with before the September Crisis of 1911.

So, by 1911, the only nations in Europe not party to the Entente, the Kaiser Pact, or the Anglo-Russian Convention and its related treaties, were the Scandinavian nations, the Benelux, and Albania. The last was almost sure to be dragged in by Italy, even if it still naively hoped non-alignment would save it. Britain was actively courting the Danish and Dutch, and Germany was making moves in Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Christiania. Few expected their neutrality to last for long in the event of war. Those few would soon be proven wrong.


* It is often forgotten that The Scouts, today one of the most international organisations in the world, began as part of Chamberlain’s project. Intended to promote both common feeling and military values of teamwork, self-improvement, and camraderie, the organisation was the brain-child of a group of Anglo-American officers who secured the Foreign Secretary’s support as one of the first acts of the campaign to draw the Entente together.

** This in turn ended the centuries-long Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, as Lisbon was forced to accept the cruel reality that Spain would immediately occupy Portugal in the event of the alliance being extant at the outbreak of war. By 1911, Spain had made it clear that even non-alignment would result in invasion, and so Portugal was practically press-ganged into the Kaiser Pact.

*** In mid-1911, Chamberlain was convinced that he was on the verge of securing a Royal Visit to the United States. The danger the war brought to the Transatlantic voyage nixed this idea completely.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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...the panama canal? Are the Canadians and Australians going to start working together to empire build in the pacific and steal America's thunder?

So this council of Canada could be useful in several ways. There are good reasons why you would want at least a degree of unity amongst the Canadian commonwealths in parliament and local government, which this should provide, and would also prove extremely useful as you say in a Great War (and afterwards, liaising with the Australians to contain the Pacific amongst themselves).

The first, and most obvious, was Russia. Since the collapse of Austria-Hungary, Germany’s border with Russia had been its longest. Since the defeat of France in 1887, the Russian Army had been the closest challenger to the German Army. Not only was it the only continental nation with larger reserves of manpower, but it was also engaged in an expensive programme of modernisation, however tortuous and stop-start it was proving.

Now that is a terrifying alliance. Would it last?

Taken at the signing of the Emperors’ Pact, the alliance between the two monarchs pictured would fracture in less than six years

Ah, understandable.

its American counterpart, the Spanish-American War, would kick off the second phase, in which the Entente seemed to lose potential allies left and right.

Hmm...what did they take this time?

Spain however, despite recent successes in the Scramble for Africa, was a declining power. The fall into Military Absolutism after a humiliating, but ultimately minor, reverse was a symptom of that decline. Far more cause for concern was the drift of Italy into the Pact. This was a vibrant, growing power, with an expanding naval force and the industrial strength to back it. For the French, it was also the final piece but two to having an enemy on every inch of its land borders. Once Italy acceded to the Pact in November 1904, only Switzerland and Belgium were not a clear and present danger.

Yeah, a bit worrying that despite the Germans not having any colonial possessions in Africa, Spain and Italy do. Despite my previous assumptions that Spain and Portugal would be no threat, it seems they've been forced into it and now you have to cover a good third of a Continent rather than one colony already surrounded by allies.

With the Boer War seemingly exposing British weakness, the army finally saw proof that it needn’t fear British intervention if they attacked the Parliament outright. Even better, if this was the quality of British soldiery, Egypt was, perhaps, not forever lost.

Eep, that is not good thoughts for the Ottomans to be having. Hopefully they'll try something as foolish as the OTL attempted attack on Egypt.

The chance to complete an encirclement of what remained of Austria, and turn the Mediterranean into a Pact stronghold was so much of a temptation to the German Foreign Ministry that they became blinded to their main ally’s original reasons for joining the Pact. By early 1905, not only did Germany seem by far the more powerful of the two key players of the Anglo-German Rivalry, but she was the new guarantor of the Ottomans. The latter fact alone would have severely lessened the value of the Pact to the Czar, but that he now seemed committed to supporting a German bid for hegemony, rather than mutual defence, was the final straw.

A very powerful alliance for Germany. Too powerful, as it turned out, and Russia probably made the right choice in leaving before losing a lot of everything trying to build a German Europe.

In a meeting with Kaiser Wilhelm II in April 1907, the Czar requested that the Ottomans be thoroughly disabused of any notion that Bulgaria or Romania were up for grabs in a general European war, and suggested that the Russian Black Sea Fleet should be given berths in Istanbul. Wilhelm merely promised that he would think about it. When there was no signal from the Russian Embassy in Constantinople that any such suggestion had been made, much less forcefully enough to have caused the expected stir in the Sultan’s Court, Nicholas decided it was enough. He wrote to Wilhelm on June 22nd, informing him that Russia would be withdrawing from the Pact. He lamented in the letter that the goal of mutually beneficial co-operation had clearly fallen by the wayside, in favour of a hubristic German challenge to British power.
What little was left of Austria would, de facto, be guaranteed by both Russia and the UK; an attempt on Slovakia, Slovenia, or the resumption of the Austro-Hungarian conflict would almost certainly bring in Serbia, and so have the Kaiser Pact use it as justification to restore the Ottomans and push Italian claims in the Balkans.

So what exactly are the British going to promise Russia in the Balkans, caucuses etc if they want them in? OTL they had to grant huge concessions like Istanbul to get them to attack the ottomans.

He was not planning to run for re-election in 1912.

Why? He would win, surely?

** This in turn ended the centuries-long Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, as Lisbon was forced to accept the cruel reality that Spain would immediately occupy Portugal in the event of the alliance being extant at the outbreak of war. By 1911, Spain had made it clear that even non-alignment would result in invasion, and so Portugal was practically press-ganged into the Kaiser Pact.

That is a shame, and as said above, makes the African situation much worse. Is there/was there nothing the British could do for them?
 
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stnylan

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Some truly fascinating diplomatic shenanigans.

Eerie in a sense how this echoes real-life in part - in terms of Germany letting Russia slip away.
 

Specialist290

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One thing I'm curious about amidst all these diplomatic maneuvers is where the rising Asia-Pacific powers of Japan and China may lie. Historically Japan was a rising power in its own right at this time, and a committed member of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. China spent most of this time imploding in on itself rather spectacularly IOTL, but in more capable hands (say, an actually competent Qing regent or a more stable Republic) I could see them becoming a force to be reckoned with in the region a few decades ahead of schedule.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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One thing I'm curious about amidst all these diplomatic maneuvers is where the rising Asia-Pacific powers of Japan and China may lie. Historically Japan was a rising power in its own right at this time, and a committed member of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. China spent most of this time imploding in on itself rather spectacularly IOTL, but in more capable hands (say, an actually competent Qing regent or a more stable Republic) I could see them becoming a force to be reckoned with in the region a few decades ahead of schedule.

Hmm...well the british are allied to amercia now, and just affirmed their ties forevermore to australia and the other pacific bordering dominions so Japan is now more of a threat to be put down and controlled rather than an ally in an area of little interest.
 

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I do love a good diplomatic merry go round, and the great powers have certainly obliged. Colville seems like a useful chap to have playing 4D mind chess with the Tsar’s ministers. Good on him getting the better of Russian policy.

Very ominous how little of Europe seems poised to remain neutral, mind. This war is going to be catastrophic. (Understatement of the century, I know.) Fascinated to see what finally sparks the fuse.

While old Foreign Office hands wished his father had been alive to make the Royal Visit- Prince Albert Edward’s fondness for the French, and particularly for Parisian hospitality, before his death was well known

Smirk.
 

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Oh man, I was hoping for a stable Russo-German alliance.
PS. I can never believe how similar George V and Nicholas II are. The picture threw me off when I started reading about the Anglo-German rivalry.
Wait, Victor Emmanuel II is still alive, or did one I fall off? This would be a good chance to get back Corsica from the French together with all the other tasty colonies.
This is all shaping up to be a very interesting conflict with a very large body count.
 

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Wait, Victor Emmanuel II is still alive, or did one I fall off?

An I did indeed fall off, and this is not a sudden and unheralded shift into a horror AAR as the great powers realise Italy is headed by a vampire. Thanks for the spot. Now fixed.

I'll reply to all else in the usual way on Friday, but will note you all narrowly escaped the death of this AAR as a result of total documents loss. I spilled some beer on the keyboard of a 4-year and 11-month old laptop very, very late on Saturday night (this is what I get for angering the God of Electronics by officially making the decision to replace it at the 5-year mark). Thankfully, that which I did not manage to wipe up immediately only corroded the keyboard, not the truly important stuff - namely the saves, images, and combined 26,000 words as yet unposted of 1901 and its Great War sequel, For All We Have and Are. The happy upshot is that a memory stick and external keyboard have allowed all but my dignity to make it to the new laptop.
 
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DensleyBlair

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An I did indeed fall off, and this is not a sudden and unheralded shift into a horror AAR as the great powers realise Italy is headed by a vampire. Thanks for the spot. Now fixed.

No no, of course not. We go to @stnylan that sort of thing. :p

Thankfully, that which I did not manage to wipe up immediately only corroded the keyboard, not the truly important stuff - namely the saves, images, and combined 26,000 words as yet unposted of 1901 and its Great War sequel, For All We Have and Are. The happy upshot is that a memory stick and external keyboard have allowed all but my dignity to make it to the new laptop.

Very glad to hear you escaped lightly. Making me mildly nervous that the last N thousand words of Echoes aren’t backed up…
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Indeed, it is a terrible thing to lose one's work. It has killed all my projects dead bar one.
 
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Glad the AAR survived your laptop’s boozy shower!

Enjoyed seeing all the diplomatic camps lining up against one another - although without Russia and with the Americans even more pro-Entente than OTL, this alliance system seems even even more tilted against Berlin than OTL. It will take some doing for them to come out of this was with victory, unless they can convince Russia to at the very least stay neutral or delay entry into the war.

Glad also to see Canada joining the Imperial Federation. It would have been a huge omission if the then most developed society in the British world outside the UK-proper hadn’t made it in.
 

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...the panama canal? Are the Canadians and Australians going to start working together to empire build in the pacific and steal America's thunder?

So this council of Canada could be useful in several ways. There are good reasons why you would want at least a degree of unity amongst the Canadian commonwealths in parliament and local government, which this should provide, and would also prove extremely useful as you say in a Great War (and afterwards, liaising with the Australians to contain the Pacific amongst themselves).

Two more weeks to the Anglo-America update, where all will be revealed (well, a lot. You guys tend to be very good at gaming out implications I hadn't seen, which is one of the best things about AARland; the collective knowledge of people here acts as a mini-challenge session, answering the questions of which often enlightens you as much as the person who asked) [For those coming to 1901 late, I'll be honest, I haven't a clue what I was trying to say with what was originally here. Don't drink, kids.]

Post-war will indeed be much more interesting with the Commonwealths having a say on strategy.

Now that is a terrifying alliance. Would it last?

Ah, understandable.

Power abhors a vacuum, but it also dislikes excessive concentration.

Hmm...what did they take this time?

Roughly the same as IOTL; liberated Cuba, and occupied the Philippines and a couple Pacific islands.

Yeah, a bit worrying that despite the Germans not having any colonial possessions in Africa, Spain and Italy do. Despite my previous assumptions that Spain and Portugal would be no threat, it seems they've been forced into it and now you have to cover a good third of a Continent rather than one colony already surrounded by allies.

Couldn't have it too easy, after all.

Eep, that is not good thoughts for the Ottomans to be having. Hopefully they'll try something as foolish as the OTL attempted attack on Egypt.

A lot of lesser powers really jumped on the bandwagon in 1902-06, when the Russo-German alliance seemed to make the end of British power inevitable.

A very powerful alliance for Germany. Too powerful, as it turned out, and Russia probably made the right choice in leaving before losing a lot of everything trying to build a German Europe.

So what exactly are the British going to promise Russia in the Balkans, caucuses etc if they want them in? OTL they had to grant huge concessions like Istanbul to get them to attack the ottomans.

Serbia is a little stronger ITTL, but the Russian satellite of Bulgaria is still missing some land, and Istanbul is likely included in the deal ITTL as well.

Why? He would win, surely?

Teddy is observing Washington's two-term precedent. That is, unless something major were to happen that would convince him that his leadership was too necessary for tradition to override it, like, say, a global war?

He is also genuinely over-confident about the extent to which he's converted Taft to internationalism. So the Foreign Office were correct there.

That is a shame, and as said above, makes the African situation much worse. Is there/was there nothing the British could do for them?

Sadly, short of British troops posted in Portugal, probably not. The potential occupation of African colonies by Britain is far outweighed by the potential terror of the metropolitan centre being occupied by Spain.

Of course, with its allegiance to the Pact forced by fear of Spain, any reversal in Spanish fortunes is likely to affect that allegiance.

Some truly fascinating diplomatic shenanigans.

Eerie in a sense how this echoes real-life in part - in terms of Germany letting Russia slip away.

Some things are just meant to be.

One thing I'm curious about amidst all these diplomatic maneuvers is where the rising Asia-Pacific powers of Japan and China may lie. Historically Japan was a rising power in its own right at this time, and a committed member of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. China spent most of this time imploding in on itself rather spectacularly IOTL, but in more capable hands (say, an actually competent Qing regent or a more stable Republic) I could see them becoming a force to be reckoned with in the region a few decades ahead of schedule.
Hmm...well the british are allied to amercia now, and just affirmed their ties forevermore to australia and the other pacific bordering dominions so Japan is now more of a threat to be put down and controlled rather than an ally in an area of little interest.

ITTL, Japan hasn't humiliated a Western Power yet, but it has compensated for that by really beating up on China. It has colonial possessions in northern Vietnam, Guangxi, and western Guangdong. Essentially, there was no Boxer Rebellion, but there was a more humiliating Sino-Japanese War. Japan has held back on delivering the final blow to the ailing Qing because it suspects Britain would intervene if it looked like they were attempting to create a Chinese equivalent of the Raj to challenge British power in Asia. On the other hand, if Britain were to become too distracted or overstretched to do much about it...

I do love a good diplomatic merry go round, and the great powers have certainly obliged. Colville seems like a useful chap to have playing 4D mind chess with the Tsar’s ministers. Good on him getting the better of Russian policy.

Very ominous how little of Europe seems poised to remain neutral, mind. This war is going to be catastrophic. (Understatement of the century, I know.) Fascinated to see what finally sparks the fuse.

Smirk.

And round and round it goes...

Probably some damned fool thing in... oh, well, with the number of places involved, it could be literally anywhere.

Oh man, I was hoping for a stable Russo-German alliance.
PS. I can never believe how similar George V and Nicholas II are. The picture threw me off when I started reading about the Anglo-German rivalry.
Wait, Victor Emmanuel II is still alive, or did one I fall off? This would be a good chance to get back Corsica from the French together with all the other tasty colonies.
This is all shaping up to be a very interesting conflict with a very large body count.

The eyes are the way I can tell the difference. George V just always looks a bit shocked, while Nicholas II looks bored.

No no, of course not. We go to @stnylan that sort of thing. :p

Very glad to hear you escaped lightly. Making me mildly nervous that the last N thousand words of Echoes aren’t backed up…

Heed my tale of (almost) woe! Back up, back up, back uuuuppp...

Yikes! Glad to hear that crisis was averted.

Thanks.

Indeed, it is a terrible thing to lose one's work. It has killed all my projects dead bar one.

It's hard to put in words how demoralising it is to lose words.

Glad the AAR survived your laptop’s boozy shower!

Enjoyed seeing all the diplomatic camps lining up against one another - although without Russia and with the Americans even more pro-Entente than OTL, this alliance system seems even even more tilted against Berlin than OTL. It will take some doing for them to come out of this was with victory, unless they can convince Russia to at the very least stay neutral or delay entry into the war.

Glad also to see Canada joining the Imperial Federation. It would have been a huge omission if the then most developed society in the British world outside the UK-proper hadn’t made it in.

The problem with the Americans is that they're an even more extreme version of the British; they think they can get away with just providing money and naval cover, and even if they realise that's not viable, it will take them time to build land armies and cross the waters. This (and being over-confident about their own military superiority) is what makes the Germans think they can quickly establish a continental hegemony that will force the powers across said waters to the negotiating table.
 
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BigBadBob

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PASSING THE BLAME
Anglo-Africans, The Boer Mentality, and the Pre-War Colour Bar
Alice Bengu

The ‘Boer Mentality’ has often been blamed for the system of discrimination that developed in South Africa in the years just before and after the accession to Commonwealth Status. This interpretation, essentially, places the blame on the Boer population that did not move to the Republics pre-Boer War, or were reintegrated along with those Republics in 1902. Nowhere is this reflected more than in the tendency to replace the English ‘Colour Bar’ with the Afrikaans Kleurversperring. However, the more one digs into the origins of the Colour Bar, and the battle to end it, the clearer it becomes that the Boers alone cannot be assigned responsibility.

To be sure, the first pass laws – requiring slaves to have passes to travel away from their masters - were created by the Dutch Cape Colony, and extended beyond slaves to require all indigenous peoples to have passes to leave their respective territories in 1797 by the Dutch. It was also in the terms of the Cape Articles of Capitulation that required the new system to respect the existing laws of the colony. However, the abolition of slavery proved that respect only extended so far, and the pass laws were maintained even as slavery was not.

As the British settler presence in Cape Colony and elsewhere in the future territory of South Africa grew, the pass laws remained. They were even extended to the new Responsible Governments, which tended to adopt the Cape Colony system almost wholesale, with the caveat that being based on English Common Law slowly led to divergence even if legislation remained the same. The South African colonies also maintained property requirements, even as the Mother Country introduced Universal Male Suffrage and stamped out the holes in that universality with the measures to end the Green Bar. Though there were many disenfranchised settlers, the ultimate goal of keeping the black population disenfranchised overrode this. As they were integrated into the joint, semi-confederal South African Responsible Government, the SARG also introduced the requirements and laws.*

By the 1890s, with the Boer population having moved heavily to the Republics, it was the British settlers keeping the pass laws and property requirements in place. Even with their smaller likelihood of meeting the property requirements than the well-established Boers, sheer numbers ensured that they outnumbered enfranchised Boers. But then, the pass laws were not the Colour Bar, merely a part of it. The system in full was not instituted until it became clear that there was a good chance the Imperial Federation would become reality.


christiaan de wet - Copy.jpg

Christiaan de Wet, 1909
The last President of Transvaal, and only Prime Minister of the Transvaal Responsible Government, de Wet’s government passed the first outright race restriction on voting

The Liberal governments of the 1890s had already placed pressure on the Responsible Governments to end property requirements. Distracted by domestic concerns and the diplomatic efforts of the late decade, however, these efforts tended to come with new Colonial Secretaries, and be quick to fizzle out. The debate over Imperial Federation, however, placed renewed scrutiny on them. By the time of the UK General Election of 1905, Australia and New Zealand had abolished their property requirements, and would extend suffrage to women soon after gaining Commonwealth Status.

Unlike there, however, where a smaller initial indigenous population – and a brutal, informal campaign of dehumanisation and murder that can only be described as genocide – had resulted in a clear settler majority, in South Africa, the end of property requirements would mean the certain electoral outnumbering of the settlers. Even with the integration of the Boer Republics, where whites had become a majority, the black population would have the electoral heft to work against the measures imposed upon them. This was the scenario that brought about the legal Colour Bar.

The men who are usually credited with the creation of the Colour Bar are former Boer leaders such as Martinus Steyn and Christiaan de Wet. It was they who, having been elected as Prime Ministers of the Responsible Governments almost immediately after their integration into South Africa, first explicitly disenfranchised the black populations in their jurisdiction with the pass laws as the basis for identification. However, under the Imperial Federation League’s proposal, the individual Responsible Governments would merge, their powers assumed by the SARG as it became the Imperial Commonwealth of South Africa. The new Commonwealth would also have the Representation of the People Act 1892 transposed as its electoral law if the Responsible Governments would not abolish property requirements.


cecil rhodes - Copy.jpg

Cecil Rhodes, Prime Minister of Cape Colony, 1903
As the last Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, and the inaugural First Minister of South Africa, Rhodes was instrumental in the Colour Bar becoming the law of the land throughout the new Imperial Commonwealth

This meant that Cape Colony and the other majority-British (as far as the settler population was concerned) Responsible Governments would have to join the Boers, and hope London did not object, or accept a majority-black electorate. In a meeting of the SARG in mid-1905, the Prime Ministers of the Responsible Governments jointly agreed to abolish property requirements and adopt the Transvaal and Orange Free State’s law. Out of six Prime Ministers, four were British; only de Wet and Steyn led majority-Boer Responsible Governments.

How then, did the perception appear that this was a Boer imposition? Because the Anglo-African population, as the British settlers had begun to call themselves, with family still in the Mother Country, had to justify themselves over the following years to those relatives. They may have held four out of six premierships and the majority of the vote, but the Boers had only recently proven themselves willing to fight wars. The only way for South Africa to function was to join them in a practice that the Anglo-Africans did not agree with, but found a lesser evil. After all, even as they disenfranchised the indigenous population, they could help them develop into productive members of society. This insidious logic would allow all manner of crime.

Cecil Rhodes, Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, surely knew that he could force any decision on the SARG Council and Parliament. He also knew that the UK would be willing to support a continuation of the Boer counterinsurgency. H. L. Sykes-Emory, the former Colonial Secretary and new Minister for the Federation had told Rhodes as much in a letter pre-dating the meeting. Even if the Boer threat and their own benevolence making up for disenfranchisement was a lie Anglo-Africans told themselves as much as their relatives, it was still a lie.

But London, aware that trying to force the enfranchisement of a large black population against the apparent wishes of the Anglo-African population could jeopardise the Imperial Federation Bill as a whole, silently acquiesced. The hopes of black South Africans that the Colour Bar would go with the arrival of the Commonwealth were thus dashed. On the 30th anniversary of the Green Bar finally being abolished, the UK had allowed another population to be dominated by a powerful minority in the name of cohesion.


john l dube - Copy.jpg

John L. Dube, 1906
One of the early anti-Colour Bar figures, Dube’s 1907 tour of the UK is credited with bringing the issue into the national consciousness in the British Isles themselves

With the Imperial Federation Act giving significant leeway to the Imperial Commonwealths on their electoral laws, having failed to define the crossing point between the constitutional law of the United Kingdom and the Federation, the opponents of the Colour Bar had two choices; they could attempt to create change within the Commonwealth, or convince London it needed to use its power to legislate. Aware that they were highly unlikely to convince the white population to give them the vote, the latter option seemed the only way to go. To this end, the founders of the new African National Party pooled money together, and sent their best and brightest to London.

The most successful of those who arrived in the capital in 1906-07 was John L. Dube. Born in Natal at an American Mission Station, he had been educated in the US, from where he had managed to secure a year at Oxford. Having the most experience of the British Establishment, he was best able to make the case to the Liberal Party politicians already wrestling with the Irish Question again, and to the INP, who were naturally receptive to another population’s demands for Representation.

Dube was unsuccessful in his bid to get the Act of Union to explicitly transpose the Representation of the People Act 1892 to every Commonwealth. However, with the help of another ANP ‘London Missionary,’ the law graduate Pixley ka Isaka Seme, he was able to find a time bomb in the letter of the law. The position of the Law Lords as the highest court of the United Kingdom was explicitly extended to the Commonwealths. Combined with existing wording further joining the United Kingdom and the Commonwealths under the Crown,** the line between the constitutional foundations of the UK and the Commonwealths was becoming sufficiently blurred.


pixley - Copy.jpg

Pixley ka Isaka Seme, 1906
One of the first black law graduates at Oxford, ka Isaka Seme’s understanding of law allowed the ANP to make the Act of Union a possible avenue for ending the Colour Bar via the courts

The passage of the Act of Union 1910 thus meant that the ANP had a potential legal avenue to strike the Colour Bar down. If they could successfully argue to the law lords that the Representation of the People Act 1892 – incorporating as it did the totality of the previous Reform Acts and Representation of the People (Ireland) Act – was as fundamental a part of the British Constitution as the Acts of Union and the Magna Carta, then they could argue that it, by default, formed part of the ‘shared legal foundations,’ and the suffrage denied them by South Africa was one of the ‘ancient rights’ of the UK and the Commonwealths. What they needed now was a case with which to challenge the Colour Bar, and a legal team that could fight said case all the way to the House of Lords.

They intended first to go through the South African courts by themselves. They were not yet barred from the law profession, after all. The certain to be egregious nature of the defeats there would be their argument in London to the top lawyers in the whole of the British Empire. Despite having the arguments, they knew that at least one of these men would be required to see the holes the opposition – who would certainly have the money to hire one of them – would try to poke in them. Perhaps more importantly, while they knew their hearing would be more sympathetic in London than in South Africa, they knew it would not be so sympathetic as to obviate the need for a white barrister.

As with so many things in the world, however, war intervened. The suspension of all but the most minor elections meant it would be hard to find a case. The lessened sittings of the Courts would make it even harder to get the case there. The lessened sittings of the Law Lords would make it practically impossible to get it to the level required to make the end of the Colour Bar a reality. Worst of all, the length of the war allowed the still-sitting, Colour Bar-supporting Parliament of South Africa and its supporters to figure out the ANP’s play, and start to work against it.


* The SARG was formed first as an informal council of the Prime Ministers of the various South African Responsible Governments. It gained a parliament with practically zero powers with the South Africa Act 1898. In practice, the SARG was the Cape Colony in all but name. The latter’s institutions and Prime Minister dominated the institutions and parliament of the former. There can be no better symbolism for this than the Parliament Building of the SARG being directly opposite, and smaller than, the Government House of Cape Colony.

** The specific wording - ‘the Imperial Commonwealths shall be considered to share the legal foundations and ancient rights, determined by the Common Law and Relevant Acts, that constitute those of the United Kingdom’ - was part of the various clauses in Part 2 intended mostly to regulate the specific relationship between Ireland and the rest of the UK, and keep the former as legally a part of the other, rather than joining fully the Federal side of the UK-Federation divide.
 
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Sadly, short of British troops posted in Portugal, probably not. The potential occupation of African colonies by Britain is far outweighed by the potential terror of the metropolitan centre being occupied by Spain.

Of course, with its allegiance to the Pact forced by fear of Spain, any reversal in Spanish fortunes is likely to affect that allegiance.

The iberian nations must have been gutted when it happened. They had finally restored their empires with huge and wealthy African colonies, only to be almost immediately press ganged into an alliance against the two major colonial empires and the US. Whatever ended up happening in the war to come, they must have known that the UK wasn't going to ve defeated or invaded, and thus would probably keep everything they managed to seize during the war, which very likely would include most if not all of Africa.

The new world order after that great war will be an interesting one indeed, especially if the British do gain even more of Africa (probably not everything, to get the iberians or at least the Portuguese back on side) and thus have to figure out even more legislation and voting rights for new, pretty much wholly black and African colonies. This could well make the SA situation, far from a duel of wits between the ANP and the white gov, the big issue of the post war federation, since it would inevitably stretch to include all 'native' rights and voting causes across the map.

It would be a mess, yet would also lead to a swifter and possibly juster solution that could well end up saving the federation from eventually seccession.
 

stnylan

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I am reminded of Tolkien's comment to his son about the situation in South Africa in one of his letters:

"As for what you say or hint of ‘local’ conditions: I knew of them. I don't think they have much changed (even for the worse). I used to hear them discussed by my mother; and have ever since taken a special interest in that part of the world. The treatment of colour nearly always horrifies anyone going out from Britain, & not only in South Africa. Unfort[unately], not many retain that generous sentiment for long."

The last sentence being particularly pertinent.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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It is a very 'convenient' system for whites, and those who pass as such. Intoxicating for sure. I recall when my grandfather and father had south Africans as classmates, the bullying was intense. However, whilst the british were a weird symbol of hope for some non-whites in SA, and the british had no end of disdain for SA's policies, they did bugger all to stop it and quietly accepted it (and in cases of commonwealth immigration, Windrush generation etc, aspired to copy the practice themselves).

Probably a good example of majoring in Western hypocrisy.
 

J_Master

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I'm just kind of wondering about the demographics at this point. IRL, at the turn of the 20th century, for every white man there was in the Transvaal, there was somewhere between 1 or 2 blacks in the republic. Considering that both republics were mentioned as majority white, and I'm assuming that the Cape is now majority British, I'm just left wondering where that majority black population is? The Cape is still filled to the brim with Coloureds (and if you consider them "black" it's just rather cheap, they too joined in on the Great Trek), so it has to be the Xhosa and Zulu making up most of it, with the Swasi and Sotho backing up another large part. Can't imagine the Cape being split at this point, so the other commonwealths must be Bechunaland and Rhodesia (and whatever Namibia might be called as I recall the Brits taking it), which would be the only way for it to work.

But going on quotes, I can recall one from Verwoerd, and I can very well understand the sentiment, that in the multiracial South Africa, not only would the Afrikaners be disenfranchised, but also the British, Coloureds and Indians. Together, they only make up 20% of the population, and since the end of Apartheid, the ANC has ruled without any threat.
 

Tommy4ever

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I wonder if the South Africans will
Live to regret agreeing to federation with Britain, if the ANPers succeed in bringing their challenge through the High Court - even if they will have to wait for some time yet.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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I wonder if the South Africans will
Live to regret agreeing to federation with Britain, if the ANPers succeed in bringing their challenge through the High Court - even if they will have to wait for some time yet.

Well...i suppose the inevitable with a federation is uniformity of law and suffrage, at least in the commonwealth realms. 'Colonies', crown dependencies and basically the Raj might get away with some discrepancy or stonewalling, but commonwealths won't. Remember they all meet up in the same parliment now and your peers will censure you if you're obviously flaunting the spirit of the law/suffrage order.

South Africa is basically looking at OTL levels of international and federation condemnation, pretty much as soon as the war is over. I don't know how long they'll mange to keep it going, but I would estimate a decade or so rather than nearly a century. Especially if the Great Depression hits and the federation suddenly has SA over a barrel. But I think apartheid isn't going to work in a federal system for long (indeed, I don't expect the Raj system to last for much longer without some adjustment/partitioning).