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To what extent was Splendid Isolation the main feature of British foreign policy from 1878-1914?

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Introduction

To what extent was Splendid Isolation the main feature of British foreign policy from 1878-1914? In 1878 it appeared that Splendid Isolation was the main feature of British foreign policy, with Britain succeeding in forcing the Russians to accept a revision of the Treaty of San Stefano at the congress of Berlin and seeming to solve the ?Eastern Question? virtually single handedly. This position was apparently reinforced by Britain?s refusal to get caught up in the two alliances, the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, which were developing in Europe as France and Germany fought over Alsace-Lorraine and Austria and Russia vied for control of the Balkans. ...read more.

Middle

The European rivalries constituted a threat since whoever won could challenge Britain?s industrial and imperial domination. Yet even this had resulted in agreements with both sides in an attempt to maintain a balance which would prevent aggression: Salisbury supported the Austrians against the Russians in the Mediterranean Agreement and the French against the Germans over Morocco in 1905; Grey mad an alliance with Russia in 1907 but then supported the Austrians against the Russian backed Balkan League in 1912 and 1913. After 1901 even this illusion of isolation began to disappear, though Britain continued to avoid commitment to military alliance and her motive was always to guard her empire and trading interests. ...read more.

Conclusion

This seems to signify that Splendid Isolation is no longer a significant feature of Britain?s foreign policy. Yet even here there is an element of aloofness ? Britain still refused to commit to the Triple Entente. It was only after war had started between the Alliance and the Entente that Britain?s military isolation was ended. So, the image of Splendid Isolation was certainly a dominant feature 1878-1901, even though in reality it was more like limited liability. After 1901 even this image became weaker as both Salisbury and Grey both felt the need to protect trading interests with alliances in an attempt to curb growing aggression in Europe, though it was only in August of 1914 with the Germans entering Belgium that the idea of Splendid Isolation was finally destroyed. ...read more.

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