THE DUAL ALLIANCE
The success of Bismarck's diplomacy after 1871, which isolated France and led to German primacy on the Continent through the creation of the Triple Alliance, forms, perhaps, his chief title to greatness. It is at any rate a manifestation of diplomatic skill hardly less to be admired than his earlier policy which resulted in the unification of Germany. Disappointed in his plan of an alliance of the three Empires, he had nevertheless succeeded in building up a solid coalition of the chief states of central Europe, preserved friendship with Russia, maintained cordial relations with Great Britain, and, by encouraging the colonial aspirations of France, fostered quarrels which incapacitated her for action on the Continent. The peace of Europe was secured, Germany's political supremacy was recognized, and Bismarck could proceed with his plans of internal consolidation and industrial development.
But the maintenance of Germany's position was a task of extreme difficulty. Bismarckian diplomacy had succeeded, but it had sown seeds of future developments that were likely to disturb the conditions upon which German primacy rested. One of the most important of these conditions was the separation of France and Russia; and the process of creating the international greatness of Germany had brought factors into play which made a diplomatic union