What if .....

Posted by Tory Historian Thursday, March 27, 2008 ,

Tory Historian is going off the beaten track today to spend the day in preparation for a talk this evening on the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. Properly speaking, it should have been delivered last year, for the anniversary but not nearly enough people were interested.

For some reason, the anniversary of the Entente Cordiale of 1904 seemed of greater import. Yet the two are inextricably linked - both agreements negotiated in secret against popular opinion (especially the Anglo-Russian one) by a Foreign Office that was turning away from traditional ideas of international politics.

Both were supposed to put an end to centuries of rivalry and enmity but together they resulted in Britain becoming involved in the First World War. In fact, one could argue that these agreements made that war all but inevitable. Or did they? Tory Historian is looking forward to some trenchant opinions from readers of this blog.

1 Responses to What if .....

  1. max u Says:
  2. Hello, I have only just come across this excellent blog. I am very sorry to have missed your talk on the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907- where did it take place?

    I agree the Anglo-Russian convention (and the entente cordiale) did make British particpation in general European War more likely. However GB was in a no-win situation at that stage. German-Russian antagonism was bound eventually to result in a war between Russia and France vs. Germany/Austria. This was a war that GB could not afford to see France loose as it would grossly imbalance power in Europe and leave her, and the British Empire, exposed and isolated in the face of future German aggression.

    Once Germany had set on the agressive path (after the resignation of Bismark) then an eventual confrontation with her prinicipal commercial rival, GB, was inevitable. From GB's perspective it was better that she had allies rather than faced Germany alone after her potential allies had already been vanquished.

    Finally, in my view it would have been desirable if bth the entente cordiale and the Anglo-Russian convetion had been more explicit mlitary alliances. This perhaps would have convinced Germany of the folly of further aggression. It is clear from the diaries and statements of the German leadership during the July Crisis of 1914 that they were unclear where GB stood and that, at that point at least, they had no desire for war with her.

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