Studies in Secret Diplomacy during the First World War

Studies in Secret Diplomacy during the First World War

Studies in Secret Diplomacy during the First World War

Studies in Secret Diplomacy during the First World War

Excerpt

The First World War has been described in very similar terms by statesmen as different as Churchill and Lenin. For the one it was 'The World Crisis', for the other 'the greatest historical crisis, the beginning of a new epoch'. The explosion of 1914 certainly was a --probably the--decisive turning point in Modern History. In the ensuing four years, processes were at work to bring about the overthrow of the Tsarist, German, Austro-Hungarian and Turkish Empires. They gave rise to the emergence of national States in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the expansion of Italy and Japan, the birthpangs of new China, the shape of things to come in the Levant. They led to the relative weakening--despite enlargement--of Britain and France, the accession of the U.S.A. to predominance, and the establishment of the Soviet Socialist Republic. The unprecedented scale of military and naval operations was matched by popular movements of unparalleled sweep and by secret Diplomacy of uncommon intensity and scope.

A time so big with events and consequences warrants the closest examination. But whereas much has been written on its political and social aspects, there are few diplomatic histories of the War. Although literature on the Diplomacy of the pre-1914 and post- 1918 periods is plentiful, there is too little on the tormented years between. I have, therefore, tried to contribute towards filling the gap.

The two Studies which make up this book deal with the complex problems associated with the intervention of Turkey and Italy. They show that the international frictions which engendered the War were exacerbated by it. That this is so is seen in the efforts of the belligerent Governments to enlist allies or--if the paradox may be allowed--to make enemies, to safeguard their internal régimes, to defend and enhance their external status in the face of friend and foe, and to worry out the Secret Treaties, which bedevilled (and go far to explain) the peace settlements and the era they ushered in. The Studies are focused upon Turkey and Italy because those Powers were the first to enter the European War and the involvement of the former went far to determine that of the latter. A volume on the Balkans and the Near East, on which I am now engaged, will carry the story further. The present work, however, is complete in itself, and the reader will find, I think, that the pattern of international relations which emerges is one which has a more general application.

The material I have used confirms that diplomatic activity is not a professional exercise per se. It is not, despite the unquestionable influence of the personal element, the product of either the goodwill . . .

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