Magazine article Foreign Affairs

The Grand Strategy of the Habsburg Empire

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

The Grand Strategy of the Habsburg Empire

Article excerpt

The Grand Strategy of the Habsburg Empire BY A. WESS MITCHELL. Princeton University Press, 2018, 416 pp.

In 1914, the Habsburg empire's fatal combination of belligerence and weakness triggered World War I and, four years later, the empire's own dissolution. This graceful account of Habsburg diplomacy from 1700 to that fateful moment explains how the empire survived so long: its diplomats dampened threats through minor acts of appeasement, always playing for time. The most celebrated case of this strategy came after the Napoleonic Wars, when Prince Metternich, the empire's chancellor, constructed the Concert of Europe, a system for preserving the balance of power and deflecting the hostility of the Habsburgs' stronger neighbors: the Russian, German, and Ottoman empires. …

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