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Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury - Foreign Affairs and "Splendid Isolation"

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Introduction

Salisbury 1886 - 1902 Salisbury was much more interested in foreign than in domestic affairs. The phrase "splendid isolation" has sometimes been used to describe his policy. However, on closer examination of his policy one can see that this term does not show that he followed a path of isolationism, of cutting him and Britain off from the affairs of the world outside. He was Prime Minister, as well as Foreign Secretary. Mediterranean Agreement 1887 within a year of taking office Salisbury had negotiated this agreement with Italy, pledging British support in a war with France, and supporting Italy and Austria in the event of a conflict with Russia in the Balkans. The Balkans Salisbury played a major role in berlin in 1878. ...read more.

Middle

In order that the Euro powers should not engage in a series of wars as they tried to aquire areas of influence in China, Salisbury arranged with Germany, Russia, and France that each should have certain areas as spheres of influence. Burma Continued the expansion, when in 1886 the British conquered the remainder of Burma and in 1896 forced the ruler of Siam to grant to British spheres of influence in both North and South Siam. The USA 1892 Salisbury agreed to submit to arbitration the dispute which existed between the USA and Britain over the sea fishing rights in the Bering Straits. Tribunal rejected the USA's claims and agreed that British seal fishers were entitled to fish in the Straits. In 1880 - USA and Britain jointly build a canal across the isthmus of Panama. ...read more.

Conclusion

He had no desire to enter into any foreign alliances with any power which is probably why many have described his policy as "splendid isolation". However, the events of the Boer war showed that britain could not afford to stand aloof from the system of alliances that was dividing europe. If Britain had struggled to beat a small number of dutch farmers, what would have happened if Germany had sent a whole army. Chamberlain was eager to make a formal alliance with Germany and the USA which would have created an Anglo-Saxon alliance, but these overtures were rejected. Britain therefore signed an alliance with Japan in 1902 which gave Japan a free hand to expand into the far east which gave britain an anti russian ally in case of a war between the two. ...read more.

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