The Rise and Fall of the Crimean System, 1855-71: The Story of a Peace Settlement

The Rise and Fall of the Crimean System, 1855-71: The Story of a Peace Settlement

The Rise and Fall of the Crimean System, 1855-71: The Story of a Peace Settlement

The Rise and Fall of the Crimean System, 1855-71: The Story of a Peace Settlement

Excerpt

The Crimean war and the settlement by which it was concluded formed the climax of Palmerston's later diplomacy. The war, in Palmerston's view, had been fought to stem the tide of Russian aggression. 'The main and real object of the war', he declared, was

to curb the aggressive ambition of Russia. We went to war not so much to keep the Sultan and his Mussulmans in Turkey as to keep the Russians out of Turkey. .

The peace settlement, which followed the war, was intended to serve a similar purpose. Apart from material guarantees like the neutralization of the Black Sea and the removal of Russia from all contact with the navigable portion of the Danube and its tributaries, Palmerston sought to achieve his object above all by a policy of diplomatic 'containment'. It was his purpose to construct 'a long line of circumvallation to confine the future extension of Russia . . . at any rate of her present circumference'. This would prevent conflict at a later date. By endeavouring'to bar her up at all sides as well and as much as we can', he wrote, 'we are taking the best means of avoiding future collision.' .

The peace settlement, in Palmerston's view, had in a large measure achieved the objects of his policy. In the debate on the peace treaty, he dwelt with satisfaction on the emergence of a great defensive alliance directed against Russia. Austria, he declared, was now bound by ties of alliance with England and France. Sweden, 'long balancing between great fear on the one hand and trifling hopes on the other,' had, finally, associated herself with England, France, Austria, Prussia and Sardinia. These alliances were

not the off-spring of a day, or the chance products of accident but the result of full deliberation and the tendency of great material and political interests.

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