Potential conflicts and problems

"By the turn of the century, however, many British statesman were becoming convinced that Britain's resources were over stretched and that she needed allies if she were to maintain her role as a world power." (John Lowe) This view far from the notions of Salisbury's pursuit of 'splendid isolation'; led Britain to initiate a series of alliances, the first was the Anglo- Japanese alliance as Mike Byrne concludes in his book 'British History, 1815- 1914' "the Japanese were still determined to keep Korea under their control, while the British were concerned to find a way to counter the growing Russian influence in the Far East. Thus the seeds of the Anglo- Japanese alliance were sown." In October 1900 Salisbury gave up the Foreign Office and Lord Lansdowne took his place.

As Norman Lowe suggests in 'Modern British History' "Lansdowne, like Chamberlain [Colonial Secretary], had long been in favour of a more positive approach to finding Britain an ally…" The eventual alliance which was formed was a tentative alliance; they would agree, "to assist if the other went to war with two or more powers" (Michael Lynch) as Derrick Murphy states in 'Britain 1783- 1918' "In one sense its focus was defensive… in the unlikely event of the French and Russian fleets co-ordinating strategy." The imperial concerns that Russia was becoming too dominant in the Far- East and the fact "Britain realised that a Far Eastern ally would strengthen British naval power which was spread far too thinly." would allow Britain to maintain the 'two power' superiority, as Japan could support the British presence in the Far East. 

In 1904 the entente cordiale, a 'friendly agreement' with France was established. The attitude from Britain was as Bertie, the assistant under-secretary stated, "If we are certain of France, no one can have designs upon us." As the threat of a Russo- Japanese war grew, pressure for an understanding were cultivated "It was no coincidence that the Anglo- French agreement was concluded in April 1904." The main provisions within this 'friendly understanding' were: Egypt and Morocco were "recognised as British and French spheres of influence respectively"- Michael Byrne. In the event of an internal collapse of Morocco then France would establish a protectorate there; and various disputes over Newfoundland, Madagascar and Siam were settled. The concerns that a Russo- Japanese war would lead to a conflict involving both France and Britain, lead to this entente; also solving colonial disputes in Africa.

"Russia was coming to recognise the desirability of an understanding with Britain" and they were "turning away from the Far East after the disasters at the hands of the Japanese in 1905."- Derrick Murphy. The main causes of this entente were war and domestic tensions leaving Russia very venerable. The main provisions of this entente were: Persia was to be divided into three zones, a Russian zone adjacent to her frontier, a buffer zone and a British zone in the south- east covering the Indian Border. Russia and Britain both agreed to refrain from influence in both Afghanistan and Tibet; also agreeing to respect each other's spheres of influence. The British were willing to agree to the entente, which neutralised Russian ambitions in India- 'the Jewel of Britain's Imperial Crown'

Conclusively British imperial concerns did affect their foreign policy between 1890- 1907. Firstly, in 1890 the 'African agreements' illustrated this fact greatly, not wanting to become involved in colonial disputes Britain initiated these agreements. Trade relations with Germany also spurned imperial concerns to affect foreign policy with the formation of Joseph Chamberlains Tariff Reform League. Colonial disputes and agreements with Germany also outwardly displayed how imperial concerns affected British foreign policies, with agreements such as the Portuguese Colonies agreement of 1898, concerns that the British empire would create economic and military problems for Britain, any potential conflicts and problems were solved fast.

The series of agreements and ententes came in 1902- 1907 with a change in Foreign Secretary who was keen to initiate, and 'de-isolate' Britain from other countries, The benefits from these series of these ententes were great with the Anglo- Japanese alliance leading to an entente with both France and Russia, creating tight relations, which would become stronger during the first world war. These imperial concerns which affected foreign policy within Britain can be regarded as "preclusive imperialism- annexing territory, not because it was valuable economically, but merely to forestall a rival." (John Lowe) Britain realising that other countries were employing 'preclusive' imperialism, understood that rivalry could escalate into Europe, employing a defensive foreign policy, to preserve their empire and protect their interests.