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History 1 - Essay Example

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Name of University The Foreign Policy of Otto von Bismarck By 1. In his Reflections and Reminiscences, Chapter XIV, “The Berlin Congress”, and Chapter XV, “The Triple Alliance”, Otto von Bismarck clearly laid out what he thought had to be the essential guiding principles of German foreign policy in the late 19th century…
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Download file to see previous pages He understood the weaknesses of Germany and came to the realization that conflicts within the European region were not possible anymore because all the superpowers would be engaged in a more large-scale conflict. Based on this assumption, Bismarck laid out the essential guiding principles of German policy. First, Bismarck argued that Germany should refrain from continuing its territorial expansion; rather, all the powerful nations excluding France should compete with one another for Germany’s alliance. Moreover, the conflict among these powerful nations would be massive enough to prevent them from collaborating against Germany. Second, Bismarck had a rational understanding of international relations and the importance of the balance of power. Third, he regarded it crucial to prevent the Russians from building an alliance with France which would consequently pressure and endanger the Reich on both sides. Initially, Bismarck focused on Germany’s alliance with Russia and Austria. This alliance facilitated the realization of Bismarck’s foreign policy objectives: it effectively secluded France and gained the friendship of two European superpowers. He took advantage of alliances to control his allies. Bismarck believed that it was crucial for Germany to cut off a resentful France from European relations. Hence, he built an alliance with Austria-Hungary. Afterward, the Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy was formed. He also strived to sustain a diplomatic agreement with Russia so as to prevent an alliance between Russia and France that would pressure Germany to wage war against these two superpowers. Basically, the Triple Alliance was meant to keep France at bay. It declared that if France attacked Italy without any reasonable purpose, Austria-Hungary and Germany would help Italy. Accordingly, if France attacked Germany, Italy would help the latter. In summary, Bismarck’s major foreign policy goal was to strengthen and build up the Second Reich, and his foreign policy was therefore aimed against France. 2) However, in these chapters, as well as Chapter XVI, “Emperor William II”, he also revealed the difficulties he actually experienced in carrying out his policies, both within Germany at the highest levels, as well as in his diplomatic dealings with Russia. Which of the two did he imply posed the greater danger to the stability, safety, and survival of the Second Reich? The economic gains of subsequent years were able to conceal the major problems of the Second Reich, particularly after the rise of Wilhelm II to power. In his letters, Bismarck clearly revealed what he perceived are the real threats to the Second Reich: his diplomatic relations with Russia and his relationship with Germany’s monarchy. But he named the latter as a greater threat to the survival of the Second Reich. Wilhelm II did not have sufficient strategic and political skills. In foreign policy, Bismarck struggled to help the young Reich develop in terms of diplomacy. Yet, his plan for the future of Germany was grander than sheer peace. His alliances with Russia and Austria not merely strengthened the Reich’s international influence, but also protected monarchies against the pressure of radical socialism. However, paradoxically, it was the growing influence of Germany’s social democracy that created the problems for the Second Reich. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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