16 MARCH 1878, Page 8

THE POLICY OF AUSTRIA. T HERE are two beliefs current among

the War party in this country which are, if not mutually self-destructive, at least contradictory, but which seem to be immovable. One is, that there exists a secret league of the Three Emperors to exclude this country from her just share in the settlement of the Eastern Question, and for its settlement in accord with their own purposes ; and the other is that Austria is about to fight Russia in order to protect the "permanent and most material interests of the dual Monarchy." It is quite evident that both assumptions cannot be true, and the first has been denied by Lord Derby—who may or may not be taken in by Count Beust ; who, again, may or may not know the private counsels of his Emperor—but that makes little difference. The notion of their exclusion from the business irritates the English people, so they are told that they are excluded ; and the notion of an Austro-Russian war makes them hopeful of an ally, so they are diligently assured in endless telegrams and letters that this is coming also. Just at the present moment, the latter is the more prevalent belief in newspaper-reading circles, where the occurrences of the last few days are recounted in a tone of triumph, as if now, at last, something pleasant were certain to happen. Count Andrassy, who is generally supposed, by the way, to be a Premier after the English model, whereas he is Chan- cellor of the dual Empire, and though he has to con- ciliate two Parliaments, can be dismissed by his Emperor at will, has obtained his six millions. The Austrian army is mobilised. Count Andrassy has made a speech. He has said he would protect the interests of the Empire. He has openly objected to a Russian Bulgaria, and has declared that a Bul- garia extended to the /Egean would be a menace to the Monarchy. There is at last a certainty that Russia will be re- sisted by a great array, and of course Great Britain, having found her ally, will then follow suit. It never seems to occur to these reasoners that if the Emperor of Austria decided on occupying Bosnia and Herzegovina as a measure of precaution, he would prefer a non-Hungarian Chancellor; that no Hapsburg Emperor ever was reluctant *to see his army put in fighting trim ; or that Count Andrassy's policy, like everybody else's policy on the Continent, is to give to all nations an impression that his views may be ultimately supported by war, yet may not be based for all that upon an intention of fighting. There is absolutely nothing in Count Andrassy's speeches which, as the shrewd Viennese say, "destroys his liberty of inaction," and nothing which would prevent the "temporary occupation of Bosnia for military reasons," which he admitted to be possible, and for which as a step towards annexation the leading Bosnians are permitted to petition.

The true way to judge the policy of a composite and rather confused State like Austria, is to consider gravely and coolly where power resides, and then endeavour to discern the object for which the possessor of that power is likely to strive. As we read the situation, power in all foreign affairs and in all military affairs resides in Austria with the Emperor. The initiative is in his hands, and there is no force anywhere which can prevent his doing anything which requires him to put his armies in motion. Constitutional resistance ceases then, for neither of the kingdoms could resist without the other, and no plan could comprise both in a policy of effec- tive opposition. The Germans will not rise to defeat move- ments which the German Emperor approves, the Slays will not rise to prevent their own aggrandisement, and the Magyars cannot rise against the Slays, the Germans, and the army. The Emperor, we may rely on it, can decide most easily on a policy disapproved by the dominant caste in Hungary, and the discussion is narrowed to the policy he is likely to decide on. The current view in England is that he will declare war in order to prevent so very large a Bulgaria from being formed, but that view certainly makes some very large assumptions. It assumes that the Emperor of Austria is afraid of possible attack by Russia through Bulgaria in any future war; but as Russia can attack Austria directly, without exposing her army to a flank attack, that is not an argument which can weigh very seriously, and is not one, moreover, applicable to the present emergency. A little Bulgaria, north of the Balkans only, would be just as good a road, and far more completely in Russian hands. And, moreover, if Bulgaria in Russian hands is so formidable an enemy, then this is not exactly the time for war, for Bulgaria just now is not only in Russian hands, but in the occupation of a formidable Russian army. Or it assumes that the Emperor dreads the power of a strong Bulgaria over the Danube.

Well, that is possible; but then that danger can be perfectly met by occupying Bosnia and the Herzegovina, and so planting Austria on the Bulgarian flank. The House of Hapsburg does not refuse provinces out of fear lest it should itself become too strong. Or it assumes that he fears the attractive force of Bulgaria as a free State upon his own Slav subjects ; but the way to resist that is to gratify his Slav subjects and increase his Slav possessions, until his Empire is as little likely to be endangered by Bulgaria as the Russian Empire is. In any case, to risk a grand war in which defeat would be utter ruin— for his German millions would at once join their own people, who cannot be defeated—in order to prevent a possible and partly theoretical danger, is to attribute to the Emperor an imagination of which his career affords not the smallest trace. Of course, he would like a weak Servia, and a weak North Bulgaria, and a weak South Bulgaria, and a Greece strong enough to be dreaded in Philippopolis, and of course he will try to secure these ends in the Congress ; and his representative will point, as he argues, to the mobi- lised corps d'arme'e ; but to suppose him capable of a gigantic war for them, a war in which, even if he were victorious, Prince Bismarck would dictate the ultimate terms of peace, is to attribute to him the rashest folly. He might prefer, as all Englishmen would prefer, to see Greece at Byzantium and mistress up to the Balkans ; but when has the House of Hapsburg ever gone to war for an idea? He could not hope to get more for himself by war than he could get' without war, unless, indeed, he aspired to the whole European inheritance of Turkey, which is to the last degree improbable. Such a project, often as it has been mooted, would involve that very departure Eastward which Prince Bismarck once recommended, and which the House has always hitherto steadily resisted. The plan, no doubt, would be a magnificent one, and would, if it were possible, entirely suit English ideas. But it would involve,first, an immense compensation to Germany ; secondly, a struggle for existence with Russia ; and thirdly, the occupation by force of all European Turkey. Do Englishmen seriously believe that the Emperor of Austria will stake his Empire on anything so viewy ? Prince Bismarck not only does not, but said so in a speech to all the world. But, it is said,—You rely on the attractions which Bosnia and Herzegovina offer to the Emperor, and Russia is not going to concede them. Already Bosnia is being filled with Turkish troops. Already Russia is holding back from her original offer, and already the Austrian occupation, twice decided on, has been a third time abandoned. Well, if that is the case, the Em- peror of Austria will be very angry, though even than we ques- tion if he will resolve on war ; but what likelihood is there that this is the case ? Of course the Pashas, who have always been at loggerheads with the Bosnians, wish to keep their province if they can; but what probability is there that Russia will aid them? She does not want another wax. She is not devoted to Turkey. She is bound to her own people to liberate all Slav Christians, at any rate, from Ottoman dominion, and she neither has nor can have any direct interest in Bosnia. If Prince Gortschakoff is treachery embodied, he cannot say that the Bosnian refugees now starving in Austria must remain under Turkish dominion. Why should Russia fight a long and dangerous war to prevent an occupation which she has twice within twelve months consented to permit? It seems to us incredible, as incredible as that she intends to risk all she has gained for the sake of Russianizing Bulgaria, which she can only reach by the aid of a non-existent fleet in the Black Sea. It is safer to believe that politicians, and more especially politicians who, like the Emperor Francis Joseph, have been defeated in two great wars, are tolerably sane; and if tolerably sane, the Austrian and Russian statesmen are sure to discover a mocha vivendi without a war in which, whatever the result, the whole advantage must result to a third Power which both of them secretly dread. The only result of relying on Austrian aid would be that England would find herself fighting a great war for Austrian interests without a Con- tinental ally.