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Intentions in Great Power PoliticsUncertainty and the Roots of Conflict$
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Sebastian Rosato

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780300253023

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300253023.001.0001

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The Bismarck Era

The Bismarck Era

(p.73) 3 The Bismarck Era
Intentions in Great Power Politics

Sebastian Rosato

Yale University Press

This chapter examines German-Russian relations during the Bismarck era (1871-90). The bulk of the chapter draws on the primary and secondary historical record to evaluate how key German and Russian decision makers thought about each other’s intentions in the periods before and after the formation of the First Dreikaiserbund, the Congress of Berlin, the creation of the Second Dreikaiserbund, and the making of the Reinsurance Treaty. Were they confident that their counterparts had benign intentions—that is, did they trust each other—as asserted by intentions optimists? Or were they uncertain about each other’s intentions, which is to say that they mistrusted each other, as suggested by intentions pessimism? Having shown that Berlin and St. Petersburg were far from confident that the other side had benign intentions throughout the Bismarck era, the chapter concludes by describing the shape of the resulting German-Russian security competition.

Keywords:   Bismarck era, Russo-German relations, Intentions, Uncertainty, Trust, Security competition, Great power politics

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