THE TRIPLE ENTENTE
THE ten years from 1904 to 1914 form one of the most stormy periods in the history of European diplomacy. Four times did the spectre of war stalk across the horizon-- in the summer of 1905, in the winter of 1908-9, again in the summer of 1911, and lastly in the winter of 1912-13. In not all of these crises were the interests of Great Britain directly affected; yet because indirectly her position in the world and her honor as a Great Power were called in question, she was an active participant on each occasion, and the experience and knowledge she thereby gained of German policy was the secondary cause of her ultimatum to Germany in August, 1914. Three of the four disputes found England and Germany in opposite camps, and as crisis followed crisis, it became increasingly clear that the real issue was a test of strength between the two Powers, however much disguised by the circumstances of the moment.
Anglo-German relations became strained in the early years of the twentieth century, or in the last years of the nineteenth if the first symptoms of hostility be considered, because two great questions hitherto distinct were fused into a single issue. Those questions were the balance of power in Europe and the division of certain non-European lands which had thus far escaped effective penetration or absorption by white men. From 1870 Germany dominated the Continent of Europe, whereas she took but a limited interest in the problem of expansion; France and Russia, on the other hand, pursued an active colonial policy, which involved many disputes with Great Brit