1900s >> 1909 >> no-54-february-1909

Steel and Gold

M. Hanotaux, who has been French Minister of Foreign affairs since 1870, has been talking out of school. He has been telling the readers of the “Journal” that the Near East tangle will be set straight peaceably and why there will be no war.

 ‘Protocols [he says] are only so much paper. Behind their fragile tissue lurks the real thing. If an agreement has been arrived at it is because certain interests have received adequate satisfaction, or because some pressure stronger than the will of princes, stronger even than the will of peoples, has been brought to bear upon Governments and reduced them to silence.’

That pressure, we are invited to believe, is the pressure of gold, and the power that is stronger than princes, Cabinets, and peoples is “high finance.” There will be no war in the Near East because Russia alone cares to make war and she dare not. She dare not because she is about to launch a collossal loan. “How can the bondholders be in a happy and generous frame of mind if the ground trembles beneath their feet ? There is but one solution, and that is peace.” And M. Hanotaux sums up the situation in the words—“Europe buys her peace as she did in the days of the Vikings.” It has been said pretty often that the modern arbiters of peace and war are the international financiers, and that, somehow, nations fight so long as it pays the loanmongers, and keep the pace so long as it pays the loanmongers. But hitherto these things have been said by Radicals or Socialists or anti-militarists, and official persons have been faithful to the magniloquent phrases about “the will of the people’’ and “vital national interests.” M. Hanotaux is, we believe, the first man who has sat in a Cabinet, and certainly the first man who has occupied that Holy of Holies a Foreign Office, to say that in the realm of international affairs money and power are identical, and that all the apparatus of the chancelleries is only the mask behind which the financier works.”

Manchester Guardian, 24.12.08.
Visions of an Egyptian Campaign and a South African War, and smaller bickerings in different parts of the globe arise where the influence of financial interests are obvious testimony to the truth of the statement contained in the above.