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    CHAPTER III. - WHY DOES RUSSIA WANT CONSTANTINOPLE?

    Let any person look at a map of the Russian possessions in Europe and Asia, and note where lie all her ports. It will be readily seen that with the exception of the ports in the Black Sea, they all lie in the very coldest regions; and these with the exception of St. Petersburg, Riga, and Vladivostok lie even in the arctic regions. And even St. Petersburg, Riga and the Baltic Sea itself, are ice-bound for nearly half the year. It is so also with Vladivostok.WGI 41.1

    At a glance, therefore, it is seen that for nearly or quite half the year, Russia’s navies are ice-bound and absolutely shut away from the world’s waters. And plainly this prohibits Russia from having any effective power on the sea; and excludes all prospect of her making successful war. And so long as this condition shall continue,—it matters not how strong she may be in herself, in navies and materiél,—as for real effect- iveness she will rate only as a second-class power or less.WGI 41.2

    The Black Sea is the only water that Russia has that is open the year round. There she can build and float her navies always in free, warm water. But lo! the only door from the Black Sea to the world’s waters—the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles—is in the power of the Turk, and in addition by terms of specific treaties of the concerted powers is absolutely closed to war-vessels. Thus in effect the Black Sea, though warm water the year round, is rendered as valueless as though it were ice-bound the year round.WGI 42.1

    Is it, then, any wonder that Russia should have so long “regarded the destruction of the Ottoman Empire” and the possession of Constantinople, and thus the control of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, “as the great object of her existence?” It was to make the conquest of Turkey, that Peter the Great spent time in Holland and England to learn ship-building. He wrote: “We labor in order to learn ship-building. He wrote: “We labor in order thoroughly to master the art of the Sea; so that, having once learned it, we may return to Russia and conquer the enemies of Christ, and free by His grace the Christians who are oppressed. This is what is hall long for, to my latest breath.”—“Rambaud’s History of Russia, Vol. 1, Chapter XXII, Sec. 2.WGI 42.2

    But in spite of all, there still hangs tenaciously the hated Turk, in full possession of the key to Russia’s only door. More aggravating still, the European “concert” persists in maintaining the Turk in that aggravating position. And yet aggravating above all, Russia herself is obliged to play a part in this harassing “concert.”WGI 43.1

    From the tantalizing tedium of this situation Russia sought relief in the Far East, on the coast and waters of China. Little by little she pushed herself into Manchuria, and through Manchuria to the possession of the Laio-tung peninsula with its splendid harbors of Port Arthur and Dalny. There, all the year round she had open ports to the world’s waters. Now she would come into her own. Now she would be a world power indeed: on the sea as on land. There, accordingly, she proceeded immediately to establish docks, arsenals, and one of the mightiest strongholds in the world.WGI 43.2

    But in the Far East there were watchful eyes, as well as in Europe. And even these eyes Russia herself had opened. In 1895 there was a war between Japan and China. When peace was made the Laio-tung peninsula, with other territory was ceded to Japan. But Russia, France, and Germany united in protest against the cession of the Laio-tung peninsula. And the threat- ening protest of those three powers was supported by Britain to the extent of “advising” Japan to yield to the protest. To avoid a new war Japan yielded: and the territory in question fell immediately under Russia’s “influence;” and this “influence” very shortly became established possession under cover of a twenty-five year lease.WGI 43.3

    This opened wide the eyes of Japan to the fact that Russian power in the Far East meant only mischief to Japan. And when Russia not only spread her power over all Manchuria and built her mighty fortress and naval bases at Port Arthur and Dalny, but began openly to encroach upon Korea, and actually, though “by secret diplomacy,” sought “to obtain the important port of Masampo in southern Korea” at the very doors of Japan itself, then Japan plainly saw that soon she must fight for her very existence. The only question was whether she should wait longer and fight at home, at every disadvantage and with prospect of only defeat; or take the initiative at once and fight in foreign territory with prospect of success.WGI 44.1

    Japan did the wise and timely thing and grandly won. She took Port Arthur, Dalny, and the whole peninsula; destroyed Russia’s power in Manchuria; made sure of Korea; and by an offensive and defensive alliance with Britain, shut away Russia forever from any warm water port, and from all hope of any effective power, in the Eastern seas; and threw her back to the former conditions in which the taking of Constantinople is her only hope.WGI 44.2

    Russia instantly realized this. Indeed it was impossible for her not to realize it. And with her the whole world realizes it: and to the degree that no other calculation is now made; and to the certainty that admissions, and even preparations, are being made accordingly.WGI 45.1

    And the conditions for it are practically ready. At every step that Russia has taken in this course from the time of Catherine II she has in some way met Britain. In every attempt that she has made on Constantinople she has found herself checked in such a way that she could plainly see the hand of Britain as predominant in it. So repeatedly and so long has this been evident, that now the world recognizes that the issues of the Eastern Question lie preeminently between Russia and Britain; and that the Eastern Question itself is now more than anything else a diplomatic and strategic contest between Britain and Russia.WGI 45.2

    Russia has felt this all along. And one of the leading Russian papers, the Novoye Vremya of St. Petersburg, has lately uttered the following complaint that quite forcibly tells the whole story:—WGI 46.1

    “Her endeavors to safeguard that empire have created friction with us in the Caucasus, in Turkey, in Persia, in Turkestan, in Afghanistan, in China, and even in later days in Thibet and Japan. Jealously following Russia, she has not permitted us to move a yard even in the distant steppes of Central Asia, while for the consolidation of her own position she has quietly seized whole continents. In sixteen years alone, from 1884 to 1900, she has acquired in new possessions 3,712,000 square versts, 1A verst is 3,500 feet, about two-thirds of an English mile. with 57½ million inhabitants—i.e., has grown by a whole third. And yet there are even now men like Lord Kitchener who assert that England is too weak in Asia, and that she is not strong enough to oppose a Russian invasion of India!” ...WGI 46.2

    “The Conquest of India has never been a part of Russia’s plans. A campaign in that direction has only been talked of, as a threat against England in case she should run counter to us in the Near or Far East. At present it of course follows that there can be no talk of Indian or other adventures.WGI 46.3

    “On the contrary, we can avail ourselves of a rapprochement to settle many important points, and, above, all that question, which is of pri- mary importance on economic grounds for both countries, of joining up the Russian and Indian railway systems throughout Afghanistan and Persia. In Persia we can define our ‘spheres of influence’ in the same manner as we have more or less successfully defined them with Austria-Hungary in European Turkey. Since England’s occupation of Egypt, Constantinople and the Bosphorus have lost their importance to the former country. In Asia Minor we shall encounter the Germans before the English. In any case an agreement with England is inevitable for the future settlement of the unavoidable difficulties which will accompany the break-up of the Ottoman Empire.”—“The Literary Digest,” Vol. XXXII, pp. 766, 767.WGI 46.4

    In this contest it must be confessed that though Russia has sometimes made what seemed to be a master stroke, yet in the long run the permanent advantage has been with Britain. Of this the map of Europe and Asia as it stands to-day, politically, is a most remarkable and eloquent witness. In the preceding chapter it was told how that, beginning at Constantinople, the “spheres of influence” of the powers has been extended clear across Asia to the Pacific Ocean. Britain and Russia have been the chief ones in this. And it is their mutual rivalry and jealousy that has been the cause of it.WGI 47.1

    It was there shown that Russia’s possessions and spheres of influence comprehend the northern and north-eastern parts of Asia Minor; Persia; northern Afghanistan; Siberia and North China, except Manchuria, to the Pacific; while Britain’s spheres of influence comprehend Cyprus and the southern coast of Asia Minor, Egypt, Arabia, India, Thibet, the heart of China, and, through her alliance with Japan, all from China to the point of Kamchatka. It will be seen by this that in no place does Russia reach any available water, while Britain does so everywhere.WGI 47.2

    And details only make this the more emphatic. Beginning at the point of Kamchatka, Britain’s offensive and defensive alliance with Japan gives to her against Russia all the waters of the far East. By definite understanding with Russia, the whole valley of the Yang-tse-kiang, which in every sense is the heart of China, is Britain’s sphere of influence. By Colonel Younghusband’s expedition into Thibet and the treaty made at the capital there, British influence msut ever be predominant there. All India is British possession. Islands inside the Persian Gulf, by which she can control the Straits of Ormuz, are British possessions. Aden on the north, and Somaliland on the south, of the mouth of the Straits of Bab-el-mandeb are both British. All Egypt with the Suez Canal and the mouths of the Nile, is British. Cyprus at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, is British. Gibraltar at the entrance of the Mediterranean if British.WGI 48.1

    Nor does the story stop at Gibraltar: the English Channel is British. And yet more, and, if anything, more remarkable still as against Russia, the Skager Rack, if not also the Cattegat, is safely British. For in the winter and spring of 1906 Norway became independent. The great question then was whether she should be a republic or a kingdom. It was finally decided that the form of government should be a kingdom. And the man who was chosen as king, is the nephew and son-in-law of the king and queen of England. Under all the circumstances of that affair of Norway, can anybody doubt that this selection of the nephew and son-in-law of Britain’s sovereigns was brought about by British diplomacy?WGI 49.1

    To any who might be inclined to doubt it, it might be well to say that Sweden was on the brink of war with Norway to bring her under. Norway was thoroughly prepared and ready to resist. The night of the last day for the Swedish decision, Norwegian troops were all waiting, with horses harnessed and saddled, ready to spring to action on the instant of telegraphic notice. But that night, in the last minutes as it were, the British minister to Sweden went to King Oscar and made such representations as secured the recognition of Norwegian independence, and therefore peace. this and kindred facts put it fairly past all question that British diplomacy put Britain’s nephew and son-in-law on the throne of Norway.WGI 49.2

    And it is easy to see that this may well be only a part of Britain’s long contest with Russia. For the king of Norway, who is nephew and son-in-law of the sovereigns of Britain, is the son of the king of Denmark. And the king of Denmark is brother to Britain’s queen. Now with this strong British connection in both Denmark and Norway, it might very easily come about that in a general war in which Britain and Russia were the chief antagonists, Norway and Denmark would stand with Britain. And by this Britain could absolutely close the Cattegat against Russia.WGI 50.1

    And Europe knows it. Not only does Europe know it but she feels it. And especially does France feel it: many of whose people hoped that Norway would decide in favor of being a republic, and would then be more in sympathy with France than she could be with the monarchies of Europe. Many leading Frenchmen were greatly disappointed when the decision was in favor of monarchy. The Temps exclaimed, “France was certainly astonished at the preference of Norway for a monarchy.” The Figaro gives facts as follows:—WGI 50.2

    “Baron Wedel-Jarlsberg, ex-Minister of Sweden and Norway at Madrid, went at once to King Edward, at London, and proposed as future king of Denmark his son-in-law, Prince Carl of Denmark, husband of Princess Maud of England.WGI 51.1

    “His Britannic Majesty was pleased with the project, as was Queen Alexandra, and Baron Wedel-Jarlsberg quitted London perfectly satisfied with the results of his embassy. He at once repaired to Copenhagen in order to gain the assent of Christian IX. paternal grandfather of the Prince.”—Quoted inThe Literary Digest,” Vol. XXX, No. 20, p. 708, November 11, 1905.WGI 51.2

    A French publicist wrote a pamphlet under the title “The Republic Question Gerrymandered in Norway” in which he openly charged to the “intrigues” of England and the “cowardice” of France, the responsibility for a monarchy, instead of a republic, in Norway. He says:—WGI 51.3

    “The monarchy could not be maintained without gerrymandering, and the discussion was gerrymandered. The referendum ought to have been formulated: ‘Republic or Monarchy?’ The provisional government and the majority of the Storthing simply asked of the citizens of Nor- way, ‘Do you wish Prince Charles of Norway to be King?’WGI 51.4

    “England had done it all.WGI 52.1

    “In placing Prince Charles and the daughter of Edward VII on the throne of Norway, England reduces Norway to a dependency of her empire, a sort of vassal state, such as Portugal at the other end of Europe, has been, since the Treaty of Methuen. England already has a hold on Denmark, and now that she has taken Norway, she becomes mistress and arbiter of the opening or closing of the Baltic. It was necessary that the Norwegian referendum should be strangled, that the Provisional Government should obey all the instructions transmitted from the Court of St. James, and that Prince Charles should be crowned in so many weeks. Baron Wedel-Jarlsberg, formerly minister for Sweden and Norway in Spain, was dispatched from Copenhagen to London, and installed with Lord Landsdown in the Foreign Office, in order to direct the operation.WGI 52.2

    “The English press carried through the campaign to the end designed, with that mingled address and effrontery which they always show in such emergencies. The English victory was complete.”WGI 52.3

    “The question of a republic for Norway was gerrymandered.WGI 52.4

    “It was gerrymandered because the republicans of Norway did not meet with the moral support abroad which the monarchists found in England. The Norwegian monarchists had the moral, diplomatic, and financial support of England because Edward VII is King, and because they propose accepting his daughter as Queen.”—Quoted inThe Literary Digest,” Vol. XXXII, No. 3, p. 89, January 20, 1906.WGI 52.5

    He further says that the newspaper press of Paris was influenced by England, and that the Matin was even “edited as the mouthpiece of the London Times, by a former editor of the latter paper.” The London Daily News admits that Princess Maud “at first shrank from the responsibility of sharing a throne, but was over-persuaded by King Edward.” Id.WGI 53.1

    By this final stroke, Britain now holds the key to every door of Europe and Asia, and in a crisis can shut every one tight against Russia. And if Britain can make sure of the friendship of France, for which she is working hard and which she has been fast gaining, then she can shut tight, and hold, all these doors against all the rest of the world.WGI 53.2

    Let any one take a map of Europe and Asia, and, beginning with Norway and Denmark, draw a chain along Britain’s points of vantage—the English Channel, Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, the Mouths of the Nile, the Suez Canal, the Straits of Bab-el-mandeb, within the Straits of Ormux, all India, Thibet, the heart of China to Shang- hai, Wei-hai-wei on the point opposite Port Arthur, Hong-kong, then, by her alliance with Japan, Formosa and the isles of Japan to the point of kamchatka, then along the fiftieth parallel through Sagalien, then down and across the Sea of Japan to the northern line of Korea, then down the Yalu and over the peninsula to Port Arthur. Let anybody do this and then say, if he can, that British diplomacy and statesmanship have not magnificently triumphed over Russia in the contest of the Eastern Question. In all the history of the world there has never been a longer-headed problem, nor one more wisely worked out, than this one so splendidly perfected by the statesmen of Britain.WGI 53.3

    And now the bearing of this on Russia’s getting Constantinople: Russia is now pleading that since Britain has gained so much as she has, and is so secure in it all, she can well afford to let Russia have Constantinople—without any further disputing.WGI 54.1

    More than this, a leading British journal has openly advocated Britain’s doing this very thing; of saying to Russia, Take Constantinople whenever you get ready; we shall not object. It is not worth our contending for now.WGI 54.2

    In addition to this, the latest history on this subject gives the following two ominous and expressive sentences:—WGI 54.3

    “Never has the outlook in Turkey been so gloomy and deplorable as to-day.” “Danger looms large from all quarters; everywhere the sword of Damocles hangs over Ottoman rule.”—Historians’ History of the World, Vol. XXIV, pp. 433, 434-5.WGI 55.1

    And such is the prospect, yea, such is the bright prospect, of Russia’s very soon possessing Constantinople. And when she takes it, then what?WGI 55.2

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