A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 26


THE WORLD DRIFT TO WAR


United States. She was hardly conscious of a challenge to her commercial and manufacturing supremacy, which she had learned to regard as a matter of course. So long as she kept her navy up to standard she had nothing to fear from Powers whose resources were under the perpetual strain of maintaining huge armies; while she could content herself with one comparatively insignificant in size.

She could see no cause of quarrel with any of her neighbours save Russia, except what she felt to be their rather unreasonable jealousy; she had no sense of hostility to any of them — with the same exception, Russia. Consequently she had no desire for alliances which might prove embarrassing, but if she should incline to one scale or other in the European balances it would fairly certainly not be the Russian scale. Though French and English had fought each other often enough in the past, they had also occasionally fought side by side, and towards France Great Britain had no sort of ill will; France might persist in her annoyance about Egypt, but common sense would forbid her to manufacture a casus belli; while, if at times the British relations with Austria and Prussia had not been over cordial, they had not fought each other for more than a century, nor was there any apparent reason why they should wish to fight each other now.

Britain was hardly alive, however, to the fact that jealousy was growing in Germany, who had embarked on an active career of trade expansion, was pushing her way into markets which the British had hitherto monopolised, and was ill satisfied with the bargains struck over the partition of Africa — though the British expansionists were no less displeased by the "graceful concessions" of Lord Salisbury's diplomacy. The German commercial community felt more and more that British rivalry and British intrigues were barricading her out of her rightful "place in the sun." On the other hand, the kaiser had realized the fundamental fact that "peaceful penetration" was the only useful weapon that could be employed until there was a German navy which could hold its own against the British navy.

No one then was disposed to interfere in the troubles of minor states or nationalities. No one was concerned if Norway wanted the separation from Sweden which she achieved, by strictly constitutional methods, at the opening of the 20th century. The oppression of the Poles by Russia might demand

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