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By John F. V. Keiger (auth.)

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Extra info for France and the Origins of the First World War

Sample text

Indeed, the characteristic incoherence of French foreign policy in this period mirrored the contradictions of its organisation. THE 1907 REORGANISATION OF THE QUAI D'ORSAY The French Parliament had few means of scrutinising foreign policy commissions for foreign affairs existed merely on an ad hoc basis. Only the budget commissions of the Chamber of Deputies, wielding the power of the purse, exercised some influence before the First World War. Thus it was Paul Deschanel's 1906 budget commission report which brought to light anomalies anp abuses prevalent in the Foreign Ministry.

He is therefore a better judge than anyone of the benefit of having one's hands free with one's friends, with one's rivals, and even more so with one's enemies. This led him to what was the crux of his policy: the necessity to encourage German colonial and economic interests in areas likely to divert her gaze from the European continent and from the French Empire. 45 On 9 February 1909 an agreement was signed between Germany and France over Morocco. Germany acknowledged France's special political interests in the Sherifian Empire on the condition that both countries shared in the economic exploitation of the country.

Jules claimed his brother had misinterpreted German policy over the affair, seeing in her actions towards France in Morocco and elsewhere mere perfidy, when the true motive as he would so often explain lay elsewhere. ' Only by coming to terms with Germany's economic interests could a settlement of the Moroccan question be reached. With characteristic adroitness he was able to reverse the conclusions of his brother's despatch and point them in favour of an entente with Germany, citing Paul's diplomacy during the formation of the Entente Cordiale as a lesson in how enemies could be transformed into allies: Our Ambassador in London indeed had the honour of playing a considerable role in the bargaining which put an end to the general state of tension generated by local difficulties experienced in many parts of the world with England.

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