Essay on Weltpolitik: Calculated Policy or Haphazard Folly

Essay on Weltpolitik: Calculated Policy or Haphazard Folly

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Weltpolitik: Calculated Policy or Haphazard Folly?

A paper examining the question, “Was Germany’s Weltpolitik a violation
of the unwritten rules of European Diplomacy?

I. Thesis
Germany’s Weltpolitik was a clear violation of the status quo and thus the unwritten rules of European diplomacy as Kaiser Wilhelm II ruined Anglo-German relations, spent more than the German economy could handle, and aggressively tested international alliances.
II. Bismarck’s Decline
The start of Weltpolitik began when Otto von Bismarck ended his absolutist reign as German Chancellor in 1890 . Bismarck’s break with Kaiser Wilhelm II came after a prosperous and powerful term as Chancellor under Kaiser Wilhelm I. In fact, Kaiser Wilhelm II was only on the throne for two years before Bismarck realized their differences were too great and submitted his resignation .
After establishing a unified Germany after several continental crises, Bismarck retreated to conservatism and preservation of the established order . Bismarck had isolated a revolutionary France, pinned Russian interests against British policy in the deteriorated Ottoman Empire, and propped up the Austro-Hungarian Empire with the refortified Dual Alliance3. All of these measures were calculated and precisely timed thanks to Bismarck’s uncanny political capabilities. Wilhelm II’s forced dismissal of Bismarck signaled the end of rational negotiations with all the great world powers, but also the beginning of the pursuit to win over the British as a lasting ally3.
Bismarck’s successor was a different kind of Chancellor, a man who would share the responsibility of German statesmanship with Kaiser Wilhelm II. A grandson to Queen Victoria of Great Britain, Wilhelm II was not co...

... middle of paper ...


Feuchtwanger, Edgar. Imperial Germany 1850-1918. London: Routledge, 2001.

Menning, Ralph. The Art of the Possible: Documents on Great Power. 1996.

Probert, Paul. Our Natural Ally: Anglo-German Relations and the Contradictory
agendas of Wilhelmine Socialism, 1897-1900. New York: Berghan Books, 2003.

Retallack, James N. Germany in the age of Kaiser Wilhelm II. New York: Macmillan St.
Martin's Press, 1996.

Rohl, John C. Wilhelm II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Strandmann, H, Geoff Eley, and James N Retallack. Wilhelmism and its legacies;
German modernities, Imperialism, and the meanings of reform, 1890-1930.
New York: Berghahn Books, 2003.

Thackeray, Frank W. Events that changed Germany. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Williamson, D.G. Bismarck and Germany 1862-1890. Essex: Longman Group Limited, 1986.

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