« AnteriorContinuar »
either in favor of the Western Policy that he advocated, or in favor of the Eastern Policy, we should have prevented the development of a situation in the politics of the world which ultimately led to our own undoing. If, during the war, however, we had completely abandoned the U-boat campaign, and had made every possible effort to come to an understanding with America, we should, in my opinion, have been able to extricate ourselves from it satisfactorily. Be this as it may, it is also possible that if the U-boat campaign had been prosecuted resolutely, and without any shilly-shallying-a thing I never wished—we should not have suffered so complete a collapse from the military, economic, political and moral point of view, as we must otherwise have done. According to my view it is the hesitating zigzag course that we pursued which is chiefly to blame for the fact that of all possible results of the epoch of German world-politics, the unhappiest for ourselves has come to pass. The Wilhelminian Age perished owing to the fact that no definite objects were either selected or pursued in good time, and, above all, because both before and during the war, two systems in the Government of the country were constantly at variance with each other and mutually corroding.
GERMANY AND THE UNITED STATES BEFORE
ANYONE who has lived some time in the United States will feel with Goethe that “America is better off than our own Continent.” Owing to the almost perfect autarchy existing there, grave economic problems never really arise. Nowhere else, during the whole course of my various diplomatic wanderings, have I ever seen a happier people, who looked more cheerfully into the future. In view of the comparatively sparse population of the country, intensive agricultural production has only become necessary in a few isolated districts; there are always purchasers in plenty for the rich surplus of raw materials available, and industry has not yet been directed solely towards export. As a result of these happy
a conditions, the American citizen feels but little interest for what goes on in other countries. In the period preceding the Five-Years War, if the political interests of the United States ever happened to cross those of Europe, it was almost exclusively in regard to American questions. As a proof of this we have only to think of the Spanish-American War, and of the various incidents relating to Venezuela; whereas it was only with difficulty that the German Government succeeded in inducing President Roosevelt's Administration to take part in the Algeciras Conference, at which the presence of the United States representative in no way alleviated our task,
Up to the time of the Five-Years War, the Foreign Policy conducted from Washington was almost entirely Pan-American, and the Monroe Doctrine was the beginning and end of it; for even if that versatile man, President Roosevelt, was fond of extending his activities to other spheres, as, for instance, when he brought the Russo-Japanese War to an end by the Peace of Portsmouth, the Panama Canal scheme remained his favorite child. But in the case of the Russo-Japanese War, it was home politics, which in America are chiefly responsible for turning the scales in regard to Foreign Policy, that again played the principal part. Mr. Roosevelt wished to win over to his side the very strong pacifist element in America; whereas the Imperialists—particularly later on-deprecated these successful attempts at mediation, because they prevented a further weakening of both of the belligerent parties. Even Roosevelt's Secretary of State, John Hay, concerned himself actively with the Far East, and was known in America as the spiritual founder of the policy of the “Open Door." In this particular matter, the German Government frequently acted hand in hand with the American, and it was owing to this circumstance that the Foreign Office, at Berlin very much wished to have the United States represented at the Algeciras Conference. The German Government believed that the Americans would also declare themselves in favor of the “Open Door” even in Morocco. This assumption, however, turned out to be a false one, owing to the fact that the political and economic interest shown by the United States for countries on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean was not sufficiently keen. The Algeciras Conference was a fairly trustworthy forecast of all that subsequently happened at the Peace Conference at Versailles. Equally lacking in foundation was also the assumption, so prevalent in Germany, that, as the result of their energetic Far-Eastern policy, the Americans would plunge themselves into a serious conflict with Japan.
The question of the Philippines, which arose out of the Spanish-American War and the Cuban affair, constitutes a certain contrast to the customary Pan-American Foreign Policy of the United States. A large number of Americans-possibly the majority-would like to relinquish the Philippines as soon as the inhabitants of these islands are in a position to rule themselves. At its inception, the question of the Philippines brought us into a conflict with the United States, which was remembered by Americans for years. Heinrich Friedjung, referring to this incident, says:
“Quite superfluously it occurred to the German Government to make our East-Asiatic Squadron, under Admiral Diederichs, appear before Manila precisely at the moment when, in 1898, the decision was made regarding the Philippines. This was done simply out of a pointless consciousness of power, without any intention to cause offence."
This criticism is partly justified. And yet the affair was somewhat different from the version of it which the American Ambassador, Andrew White, allowed to filter through; for, seeing that, as the United States did not intend to retain the Philippines, they could raise no objection to Germany's wishing to acquire them. Thanks to his friendly attitude towards Germany, Andrew White had, on his own initiative, exceeded his instructions and was duly censured by his Government for his zeal. Nevertheless, a misunderstanding had occurred, as the result of which the Berlin Foreign Office had acted in perfect good faith. In the public mind in the United States, how
ever, the feeling still rankled that Germany had wished to make a demonstration against their Government; and the English Press, which at that time was hostile to us, applied the bellows enthusiastically to the glowing embers of American ill-humor.
The Venezuela affair, in the year 1902, which was a matter of lodging certain complaints against the Venezuelan Government, ended in a similar manner. Germany and England together sent their ultimatum to Venezuela, and when no heed was paid to it, they instituted a blockade of a number of Venezuelan ports. It was at this time that I was appointed Secretary to the Embassy in London, where I had to conduct a good deal of the negotiations regarding the Venezuela question, with the Foreign Office. The whole affair, as initiated by ourselves, was, in proportion to the German claims, much too elaborate. The first suggestion which led to the common action on the part of the British and ourselves, came from the English side; but we should have been wiser, from the point of view of our own advantage, if we had not listened to the suggestion. It was absolutely clear from the start that the American Government would raise objections to this sort of procedure, on the part of European powers, in South America, and that England, true to her usual custom, would climb down before the United States the moment she recognized plainly the latter's displeasure. And when public opinion in America raised a violent protest, and, incidentally, resolutely assumed that Germany wished to obtain a footing in Venezuela, the English Press attacked us in the rear by asserting that the whole affair had been engineered by Germany, in order to embroil England with the United States. At President Roosevelt's wish the matter was finally settled with America's help; but in the United States it left behind the widely