Leadership and Transformative Ambition in International Relations

Leadership and Transformative Ambition in International Relations

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Mark A. Menaldo

This enriching book explores a theoretical gap in international relations and the role of leader ambition. It presents the idea that some leaders transcend political constraints and as a result, they fundamentally reshape their domestic polity while introducing change to the international system.

Chapter 1: Realism and ambition: Otto von Bismarck reconsidered

Mark A. Menaldo

Subjects: politics and public policy, international relations, leadership


Otto von Bismarck is trotted out by realists as the quintessential realist statesman and as an artful practitioner of realpolitik, “the notion that relations among states are determined by raw power and the mighty will prevail” (Kissinger, 1994, p. 104). Realists concentrate on his diplomatic and wartime accomplishments. He opposed the Vienna settlement because in designating Austria as the central state in the newly formed German Confederation, it “locked Prussia into being Austria’s junior partner” (1994, p. 104). Bismarck lived unhappily with this arrangement and strove to advance Prussian interests. In doing so, he bypassed domestic political forces that sought to unify Germany through parliamentary institutions and forged unification on the basis of the preeminence of Prussian power.

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