To what extent did Disraeli achieve his aims in foreign and imperial policy?

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Beth Walters

To what extent did Disraeli achieve his aims in foreign and imperial policy?

Disraeli had specific aims in mind when he was dealing with foreign and imperial policy. One of the aims of Disraelian Conservatism was to preserve the British Empire and its status abroad. This came with an innate suspicion of all that could threaten the Empire, which at the time included Russias designs on the Ottoman Empire and the Dreikaiserbund; he saw the Dreikaiserbunds alliance of three prominent emperors as seeking to undermine British influence.

The aim to improve the status of Britain through foreign policy was successful in some elements of his Eastern Policy - especially the quick response to Russian forces advancing on Constantinople in 1877. The assertion of British power in the area the Russians were intending on invading helped to diffuse the crisis, and ultimately helped to dismantle the treaty of San Stefano in 1878. A conference in Berlin helped to ensure the treaty of San Stefano, that involved terms that would directly result in Russias rise to power, was overturned and replaced with terms that ensure Russia had no administrative powers over Bulgaria, gave Britain a naval base in Cyprus and served to split the Dreikaiserbund among other things. The split of the Dreikaiserbund helped to restore the balance of power in Europe, which Disraeli felt was crucial to the opera of Europe; no one power should be too powerful. These quick decisions on foreign policy helped to improve the status of Britain, checked Russia and the potential problems that could arise with Russias acquisition of a warm water port, and allowed territorial gains to be made.

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However, despite the eventual success of Disraelis measures involving foreign policy regarding the Ottoman empire, errors of judgement are visible and led to bad feeling and unrest in Britain. Disraelis rejection of the Berlin Memorandum as he felt the Dreikaiserbund had ulterior motives to split the Ottoman empire and saw it as an insult to British power, served to encourage Turkish violence towards Christians and ultimately led to the exacerbation of the Bulgarian Horrors and the advance on Constantinople. This gave Gladstone the incentive to come out of retirement to openly attack Disraelis policies in his pamphlet, criticising Disraelis foreign ...

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