Short Essay on the Foreign Policy of Bismarck

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Thus Bismarck wove a great net of alliances to keep France isolated in Europe. The countries, with which he could not make treaties, were also his allies.

His foreign policy not only weakened France but also made the territories of Germany unsurpassed by his enemies. Ketelbey has remarked about his alliances:

“Bismarck had secured Russian neutrality in case of an Austrian attack upon Germany; Austrian neutrality in case of Russian attack; Italian support in the event of a French attack; Austrian and Italian assistance against a combined Russian and French attack. It was a complicated system of juggling that needed Bismarck to work.”

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The most brilliant aspect of Bismarckian treaties was that he could successfully unite the countries totally different and opposed to one another, such as, Austria and Russia, Italy and Austria, and Russia and England on different issues.

Sometimes he was involved in very critical position. In 1886-87 on Bulgarian issue, he faced confrontation but be declared very wisely, “In Bulgaria I am Russian”, and did not allow Russia to join another camp. But there were several shortcomings in the foreign policy of Bismarck:

1. He kept Russia in his camp but his friendship was not faithful. Russia could not trust him after the treaty of Berlin.

2. The relations between Russia and Austria were under strain on the issue of Eastern Question and it was difficult to keep them in one fold.

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3. Italy and Austria were deadliest enemies of each other on the issue of unredeemed Italy. Thus, all of their alliances were hollow.

4. Though Bismarck regarded England to be his ally, yet he failed to conclude any treaty with her.

5. The secret treaties and secret diplomacy made the political atmosphere venomous and feelings of doubt and fear spread everywhere in Europe.

6. Bismarck’s treatment towards France was not proper. Had he treated France like Austria after the battle of Sadowa, France would not have prepared for war of revenge against Germany?

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7. Bismarck used to say that he had defensive treaties but under the explosive circumstances of Europe, these defensive treaties were turned into aggressive ones and they ultimately affected the entire Europe.

Thus we see that Bismarck successfully handled the principles of his foreign policy and did not give any chance to France to break out of her isolation; but after his downfall William II could not control the situation due to his excessive policies and led the world to a big war.

In fact, William II was responsible for clumsy handling of German diplomacy and putting Germany in a difficult situation.

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