Pacifist Witte

“The Emperor’s conviction that the Japanese would not dare to attack us even better illustrated by what I learned from Count Bülow, the German chancellor, appears that the German foreign office had received foreboding news that Japan considered war inevitable and was preparing for it because, Witte chief force for restrain, had been removed from office, and because the conduct of negotiations between Russia and Japan had been taken out of the hands of Count Lamsdorff. On receiving this information, Emperor William wrote to our Emperor, then in Darmstadt, of what he have learned, declaring that he considered it his duty to inform him. His Majesty’s reply was that there would be no war, because he did not want war.” (Memoirs p. 366 Professor Sidney Harcave 1990)

“However, we continued to stay in Manchuria after order had been restored and the Chinese government had been reinstalled in Peking, this despite repeated pleas from the Chinese that we leave. It is easy to see why China began to lose faith in us and then began to become friendly toward Japan, England, and America, which seemed to be protecting her interests by supporting her demand that we withdraw.

Also, Japan, pushed out of the Liaotung Peninsula by us, after seeing us establish ourselves on part of the peninsula, the Kwantung territory, and after seeing us violate our agreement to cede predominant influence in Korea to her, became hostile toward us, as did England and America, because our action in Manchuria. Thus a coalition of China, Japan, England, and America was formed against us as a result of the policies we had been following since our seizure of Port Arthur. All four stopped believing our promises; all vigorously demanded that we leave Manchuria.” (Memoirs, p. 282, Professor Sidney Harcave 1990).

War-avoidance

Witte was dismissed because of his objection to the Russian occupation of Manchuria. Witte wrote: “...during the period, 1902-1903, (...) there were several conferences dealing with our Far Eastern policy, at which I was an implacable critic, constantly expressing sharp and decisive objections to the course we were following, a course that I said would lead Russia and the Emperor to misfortune.”

In the letter to the general commander of Manchurian unit Kuropatkin Witte wrote, that in the nearest 20-25 years Russia has to refrain from active foreign policy and engage itself only in interior affairs. “We are not going to play a main role in the world, but we have to accept it. Crucial is the situation within our country, if we don't stop the uprising (smuta) we can lose most of what we have achieved during the XIX century.”