Ye Olde Snippets: Bismarck’s Secret to Good Diplomacy

“The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia.”

For almost 30 years in the 19th century, Otto von Bismarck was one of the most powerful men in the world, a master tactician who unified Germany in under a decade and then proceeded to turn it into a superpower. As the newest country on the block, Germany could easily have been swept up in war, but Bismarck used every diplomatic trick available to maintain a general peace in Europe. Althougn not particularly friendly to the Russians, he knew how important it was not to treat them like fools, a seemingly obvious idea that many before and after ignored to their peril. When some in his military began pushing for a preemptive war with Russia, Bismarck quickly shot them down, stating that: “Preemptive war is like committing suicide for fear of death.”


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