Conservative foreign policy dominated by Disraeli was seen as forward looking and active with strong emphasis placed on maintaining Britain's Naval and Trading Power.
Disraeli also had a huge heart to see Britain remain as a dominant power to be reckoned with in Europe and Asia. He longed to adopt a more imperialistic approach in his foreign policy. He focussed on fortifying his empire but also on expanding where possible. Disraeli found however that time and other circumstances affected these objectives.
Disraeli was willing to take risks to enhance British prestige. In 1875, to protect the "lifeline" of the empire, he took personal responsibility for borrowing 4 million pounds to purchase for the government the shares in the Suez Canal that were owned by the khedive of Egypt. Disraeli further emphasized his imperial policy by creating the title of Empress of India for Queen Victoria in 1876. In that year Queen Victoria created him earl of Beaconsfield in recognition of his services. All of these foreign policies showed that he had abandoned the view, popular during the middle years of the century, that colonies were a hindrance to Britain.
Interestingly these foreign moves did not involve him in any European affairs but merely in affairs that concerned his colonies.The purchase of the Suez Canal was seen as a major triumph for Disraeli's foreign policy. He opened up a pathway to the 'jewel of the empire' to improve trade and to keep the British colonies in touching distance. It was also opening Britain up to the uncertain dangers of the east.
This dangerous move which secured a trade route; was similar to the move which previous governments took to securing South Africa in order to keep the trade route to India secure. Now a shortcut was created, Disraeli was continuing this objective and maintaining the trade power Britain vitally needed with India.It was the Middle Eastern crisis of 1875-78 that caused the most controversial 19th-century foreign policy. Russian expansion was a major worry to Disraeli which Britain felt obliged to keep in check.
To the imperialist British, Russia's expanding borders became a threat to their rule in India and their hold in the Eastern Mediterranean. In May 1876 Disraeli halted calls made by Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Germany to deal jointly with Turkey, which was faced with revolts and mass uprisings. The public back home, were strongly against the atrocities occurring in Turkey, and supported Gladstone's ideas that Britain should step in and side with the other European powers. However, Disraeli was wary of the Russian forces influence in the east and was non committal. He believed a weakened Turkey would allow Russia to walk straight into Constantinople and further their expansion. Disraeli wanted to maintain the traditional support of Turkey for trade and other issues.
He was also suspicious of the Russians greedy and sly ambitions. In halting Russia's advances, he helped maintain his objective of maintaining solid trade with the Turks, along with keeping Britain's honour as a force in imperialistic matters.Disraeli's view that imperialistic matters were more important than the mere 'coffee house babble' of mass massacres in Turkey were justified when the Russians attacked Turkey in April 1877. Opinion swung back to his side, and in 1878 Disraeli sent a British fleet to the east. A peace treaty was signed at San Stefano whereby Turkey accepted maximum Russian demands. The immediate crisis passed, and, at an international conference held in Berlin in June and July 1878, which Disraeli attended, the inroads into Turkish territory were reduced, Russia was kept well away from Constantinople, and Britain acquired Cyprus.
Disraeli brought back "peace with honour."Disraeli had successfully commanded a respect in Europe as a dominant power, whilst maintaining trade with Turkey. He also halted a major fear of Russian expansion that was of threat to his imperial acclamation of Russia. In the Long term he managed to put a stopper on Russian expansion, whilst holding the support of the other Europeans.Although the Eastern Question was settled, Britain still had other factors to deal with in its foreign policy.
The discovery of valuable minerals in South Africa interested the British. The British committed to Africa just after the purchase of the Suez Canal and thus making it a strategically redundant place. To add to this, many of the leaders in the countries within the Empire began to take matters into their own hands. The Viceroy of India marched into Afghanistan at short notice due to his fear over Russian influence, as well as the commander in South Africa waging war on the uncivilised Zulus.
Crushing defeat in South Africa and unnecessary slaughter in Afghanistan tinged what seemed to be a hugely successful campaign.In conclusion, we can see that Disraeli had many issues to contend with which made his foreign policy rather difficult to stick to. He wanted to hold to his policy of staying a dominant power in the east, whilst keeping Britain safe with trading partners. Disraeli managed to halt the charge of "The Russian Bear" into his territory and thus fortify Britain's Empire. In addition to this we can see that through the treaty of Berlin, Britain gained the island of Cyprus; although small, still an expansion. This was one of Disraeli's objectives which we can clearly see he succeeded in.
Disraeli managed to keep all his objectives throughout a torrid time of change in the east. The only downside to his policy was the happenings with the Zulus and the Afghans. These are only minor upsets in the short term in comparison to the major successes of the Eastern Question and Suez Canal that achieved Disraeli's objectives for the long term.