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Question – Explain the characteristics of Bismarck’s foreign policy after the unification of Germany. – 7 June 2021
Bismarck was not only a great politician, but he was also a great diplomat. Using his diplomatic skills, Bismarck maintained German dominance in Europe until he remained German Chancellor. In fact, an important feature of Bismarck’s foreign policy was the attempt to separate France from European politics.
Bismarck’s foreign policy after the Unification of Germany:
- After the Unification of Germany, Bismarck wanted peace in the European continent. Therefore, he declared that ‘Germany was a contented nation’, rejected the policy of border expansion.
- Bismarck was a proponent of the continental approach. He wanted to keep Germany away from imperialist policy. He wanted to establish an alliance with major states like England, Austria, Russia and Italy to establish peace in Europe.
- The biggest threat to Bismarck was from France. His foreign policy was based around the principles of keeping France isolated and Russia and Austria on good terms. In order to keep France internally weak as well, supported the republican system in France, so that France remains a victim of its differences under its system.
- Russia was of paramount importance to Bismarck. He said, “Russia is the pivot of my foreign policy.”
- At that time England was following a policy of isolation. Bismarck thought it appropriate to follow a foreign policy that did not have any adverse effect on the foreign policy of England. Therefore, he gave up the idea of expanding the German Navy and expanded the army. He said, “Germany is a land rat, while England is a water rat. There cannot be a conflict between a land rat and a water rat.”
- Bismarck had no interest in the Eastern crisis. He considered it a stressful problem. He believed that Germany was a United Nations, so it did not need to expand into any new territory, but the sole effort of German government should be to protect the unity and integrity of Germany.
- Similarly, the third feature of his foreign policy was to maintain the balance of power in Europe. He believed that as long as there was a state of balance of power in Europe, the war situation in Europe would be averted. With this objective in mind, he introduced the Treaty system and played an important role in the European Congress held in 1878 on the issue of Balkan region and in 1884 on the issue of Africa.
Thus, we see that after the Unification of Germany, the core of Bismarck’s foreign policy was, using practical opportunistic diplomacy to isolate the anti-German powers and make France isolated and oppose liberalism.