Journal Article

The Return of the Primacy of Foreign Policy

Brendan Simms

in German History

Published on behalf of German History Society

Volume 21, issue 3, pages 275-291
Published in print July 2003 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online July 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI:
The Return of the Primacy of Foreign Policy

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The debate on the ‘primacy of foreign policy’, which raged throughout the 1960s and 1970s, has long since petered out. The introductory chapter to this collection of new studies in the primacy of foreign policy in German history begins by summarizing its main tenets, and tries to sketch the historiographical background in broad outline. It notes that the primacy of foreign policy was neither completely unchallenged before about 1960, nor totally eclipsed by 1980. More importantly, this chapter draws attention to the remarkable renaissance which the primacy of foreign policy has enjoyed, objectively if not always subjectively, over the past decade. The result has been to put the state, and especially the struggle between states, back at the centre of historical attention. Finally, the chapter stresses the thematic, geographical, methodological and chronological diversity of the four path breaking case studies which make up this special issue. These range from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, and they illuminate the primacy of foreign policy from the perspective of Vienna as well as Berlin, from the civil-military as well as the individual state perspective. The result, it is hoped, is an enhanced sense of the importance of the primacy of foreign policy in German history based on original research.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: European History

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