USA declare was on Germany 100 years ago!

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There is a German who, through sheer stubborn block-headedness fell into every trap and alienated just about every European nation: enter Wilhelm II

In 1888, Kaiser Wilhelm II became Emperor of Germany, an empire that had been guided by the sure hand of its “Iron Chancellor,” Otto von Bismarck, since 1871. It was clear when Wilhelm took the throne that, although quick witted, he was also emotionally unstable and had a violent temper. Impatient to have his own way in everything no matter how trivial, he chafed at any restrictions. In his eagerness to extend Germany’s power and influence throughout Europe and the rest of the world he embarked on a program of rapid territorial conquest and military expansion that worried his European neighbors. When Bismarck tried to steer him toward a more cautious approach to foreign policy, the young emperor made it clear that he intended doing things his way, and that he was not content to be merely a figurehead for an ambitious chancellor. Wilhelm’s obsession with the armed forces meant that he came under the influence of the Prussian military elite whose advice he sought with alarming regularity. Finally, having been frustrated by his chancellor once too often, Wilhelm asked for, and obtained, Bismarck’s dismissal from office.
With Bismarck’s removal, Wilhelm began to take Germany in a new and dangerous direction. The chancellors he appointed were weak and vacillating, reducing the government’s effectiveness, which meant that Germany was now under his personal rule. Wilhelm’s poor grasp of the political world of the late 19th century lead him to make blunder after blunder. For example, in 1908 seeking to allay British fears about Germany’s naval build-up, Wilhelm had his views published in a popular British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph: “You English are mad, mad, mad as March Hares. What has come over you that you are so completely given over to suspicions quite unworthy of a great nation?” With these words Wilhelm tried to win over the hearts and minds of the British in what has to be the most inept attempt at international diplomacy ever seen. But worse was to come as he implied that France and Russia had tried to persuade Germany to enter the Boer War to fight with the Boers against Britain. He thus alienated both the French and Russians. Then he went on to declare that the German naval build up was aimed more at Japan than at Britain alienating the Japanese as well.
Believing that his personal relationships with fellow monarchs were what counted (he was a grandson of Queen Victoria) he allowed a defense treaty with Russia to lapse in 1890, enabling the Russians to forge a treaty with France instead. He maintained his alliance with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, even though it was on a collision course with Russia, an event which might lead to a war which would drag in France and Britain as well, because of the treaties signed between the three nations.
After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Bosnian Serb on June 28,1914, Wilhelm offered his support to Austro-Hungary if it were to take action against the Serbians. As soon as Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, the Russians began to mobilize troops along both the Austrian and German borders. Seeing this, and recognizing that since France had not declared itself neutral, it would therefore come into the war on the side of Russia. Military officials in Germany persuaded Wilhelm to sign the mobilization order and initiate the Schlieffen Plan, by which Germany would attack France. Although Wilhelm was worried by the approaching conflict, he vacillated between asking for more time for negotiations and fully supporting his military commander’s approach. In the end, he gave the approval for Germany to declare war on Russia on August 1 followed by a declaration of war on Russia’s main ally France on August 3. When Belgium asserted its neutrality, by denying Germany the right to cross its territory, the Germans invaded anyway on August 4. Britain did not have a mutual defense treaty with Belgium. The 1839 Treaty of London guaranteed Belgian independence as a collective agreement among several nations except Germany which did not become a nation until 1871. Legally the treaty called for a collective, not an individual response. Legalities aside Britain had the excuse it needed and had been looking for and the countries leadership took it. Had it not been for the Four Powers Imperial delusions, WWI may never have been fought in the first place. If Britain had not intervened, and Germany had defeated France in a European war, the circumstances that bred Hitler would never have eventuated. A German victory would have refashioned the face of Europe, with the next big war likely to have been a clash between Germany and the rising tide of Communism in the east. World War II would have been avoided. And with nothing to hasten the fall of the old imperial powers, the way would not have been so clear for the United States and the USSR to emerge as the two contending superpowers of the second half of the twentieth century.
A submarine couldn't pick up survivors. And it was always vulnerable to ramming or even the smallest of naval guns. So even on a good day, it's ability to follow the Prize rules was very limited. However from a legal point of view...
That was the basis of my earlier post, if a submarine searches a passenger vessel and finds contraband what does it do with the passengers? The captain of a passenger vessel must have a fanatical belief in his enemy to trust that he follows the rules to the letter in the North Sea.
This is truly bizarre but apt.

Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of a pub when Serbia bumps into Austria and spills Austria's pint. Austria demands Serbia buy it a complete new suit because there are splashes on its trouser leg. Germany expresses its support for Austria's point of view. Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit.

Serbia points out that it can't afford a whole suit, but offers to pay for the cleaning of Austria's trousers. Russia and Serbia look at Austria. Austria asks Serbia who it's looking at. Russia suggests that Austria should leave its little brother alone. Austria inquires as to whose army will assist Russia in compelling it to do so. Germany appeals to Britain that France has been looking at it, and that this is sufficiently out of order that Britain should not intervene. Britain replies that France can look at who it wants to, that Britain is looking at Germany too, and what is Germany going to do about it?

Germany tells Russia to stop looking at Austria, or Germany will render Russia incapable of such action. Britain and France ask Germany whether it's looking at Belgium. Turkey and Germany go off into a corner and whisper.

When they come back, Turkey makes a show of not looking at anyone. Germany rolls up its sleeves, looks at France, and punches Belgium. France and Britain punch Germany. Austria punches Russia. Germany punches Britain and France with one hand and Russia with the other. Russia throws a punch at Germany, but misses and nearly falls over. Japan calls over from the other side of the room that it's on Britain's side, but stays there. Italy surprises everyone by punching Austria.

Austria Australia punches Turkey, and gets punched back. There are no hard feelings because Britain made Austria Australia do it. France gets thrown through a plate glass window, but gets back up and carries on fighting. Russia gets thrown through another one, gets knocked out, suffers brain damage, and wakes up with a complete personality change. Italy throws a punch at Austria and misses, but Austria falls over anyway.

Italy raises both fists in the air and runs round the room chanting. America waits till Germany is about to fall over from sustained punching from Britain and France, then walks over and smashes it with a barstool, then pretends it won the fight all by itself. By now all the chairs are broken and the big mirror over the bar is shattered. Britain, France and America agree that Germany threw the first punch, so the whole thing is Germany's fault. While Germany is still unconscious, they go through its pockets, steal its wallet, and buy drinks for all their friends.
The late nineteenth century was the last major era of imperialist expansion. All the great European powers were involved. Africa was rapidly carved up between the main European powers and harsh conditions were imposed on independent states that could not be conquered outright, such as China. Eventually every available territory was claimed as a colony by one or other of the major European powers.
By the turn of the twentieth century Germany was a rising force in the world eager to acquire an empire comparable to Britain. In 1871 the Germans achieved their dream of unification which had been strongly resisted by France who preferred a weak and divided Germany. By 1884 Germany had put together an overseas empire, but a small one compared to those administered by Britain and France. The scramble for African colonies had been driven by the idea that a nations economic survival depended upon it being able to offload surplus products into overseas possessions. Thus German imperialists argued that Britain’s dominant position in the world gave it an unfair advantage in international markets, thus limiting Germany’s economic growth and threatening its security. Britain meanwhile was determined to continue its expansionist plans because it foresaw a possible decline in its share of the world’s export trade with the rise of competition from Germany, America, and France.
During the Bismarck period, the Iron Chancellor managed to gain what he wanted by subtle means, without overt confrontation. However when the young, inexperienced, and impatient Wilhelm II was made Kaiser the situation started to spiral out of control. Britain put pressure on Germany to limit the size of its naval fleet in the North Sea and hemmed in the Germans on land by their treaties with France and Russia. France was also trying to oust the Germans from their territory, Alsace-Lorraine, acquired by the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. All these pressures fed German resentment until the moment it exploded.
In 1902 Britain signed a new alliance with Japan to prevent German expansion in that area. The British assured Germany that their alliance with France and Russia were only about ending old disputes and had nothing to do with joining those nations in the event of war. Assurances aside, the fact remained that Britain had allied itself with two nations convinced that Germany was their enemy. The Germans were worried.
In the first Moroccan Crisis of 1905, Wilhelm II supported Moroccan independence, thus removing them as a French protectorate. Britain had to choose between supporting French ambitions or the German move toward an independent Moroccan state. In response Britain entered into military consultations with the French and delivered a blunt “Hands off” message to Germany.
Meanwhile in South Africa, the British (unsanctioned but a good example of the British left hand not knowing what the right was doing) Jameson raid into the Transvaal was repulsed. Ever the diplomat, Wilhelm II sends a telegram to the President of the Transvaal, the infamous Kruger telegram:
"I express to you my sincere congratulations that, without appealing to the help of friendly Powers, you and your people have succeeded in repelling with your own forces the armed bands which had broken into your country, and in maintaining the independence of your country against foreign aggression."
Sent from British telegrapher to telegrapher along British telegraph wires through British relay stations, the telegram soon became public and was printed in British newspapers. British public opinion turned quickly against the Germans in what was seen as an attempt to interfere in a British sphere of influence.
By the time of the second Moroccan crises Britain was firmly on the French side and Germany was encircled by hostile forces. In 1912 Britain added fuel to the smoldering fire by signing a naval agreement with France pledging to defend the French coast along the channel and the Atlantic. More fuel was poured on in 1913 with the formation of the British Expeditionary Force, which comprised six divisions created to fight on the continent.
British imperial ambitions simply could not afford for France to be defeated in another war with Germany. For that would make Germany the strongest nation in continental Europe, at a time when that country, was attempting to gain control of the oceans and expand its sphere of influence into the Balkans and Turkey. Britain’s leaders clearly felt that they had to join France in standing against Germany sooner or later; they simply awaited the right pretext.
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I like the last bit where they steal Germany's wallet. Very apt.
No one imperialed better than the British and our control of the seas did that for us.
If only the Kaiser didn't build a navy.
No one imperialed better than the British and our control of the seas did that for us.
If only the Kaiser didn't build a navy.
And it's now the 21st century, and post-USSR the same could be said for USA, just substitute China for Kaiser. Our sun is setting, theirs is rising. Another sleeping giant awakes.
just substitute China for Kaiser. Our sun is setting, theirs is rising. Another sleeping giant awakes.
People have been predicting China’s emergence as a superpower since the days of Napoleon, who purportedly appreciated China’s potential as a world power and cautioned against waking the sleeping dragon. China’s subordination into the Western international system in the 1839-1842 Opium War and its decline as the “sick man” of East Asia for the rest of the nineteenth and for the first half of the twentieth centuries dulled, but never extinguished, the expectation that, sooner or later, China would again dominate the world.
Several recent events have provoked the latest announcements of China’s looming ascent to superpower stature and have suggested that these long-held expectations are, at long last, coming true. In October 2003, China launched its first human into space, joining the United States and the former Soviet Union as the only countries to have done so. American media have recently taken notice of China’s efforts to expand and diversify its access to sources of oil in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and unsettlingly close to home Canada. The world’s industrial economies, including the United States, have inferred from the giant sucking sound created by lost manufacturing jobs and from the flood of Chinese exports into their markets that China is becoming the world’s manufacturing hub. Meanwhile, analysts ponder the implications for global security of China’s military modernization effort, now two decades long, and its promise to develop a “revolution in military affairs with Chinese characteristics.”
As portentous as the events may seem, there are good reasons to be skeptical that China will achieve superpower stature anytime soon. By all measures of international power, China has a long way to go to rival the power in international affairs of the United States in the manner that the Soviet Union did.

In terms of its economy the size of China’s GDP makes it a member of the world’s industrialized economies but it is still a long way from economic superpower stature. China’s economy expanded 6.8% in the fourth quarter of 2016, the latest official data available. For the full year, China’s GDP grew 6.7%, the slowest in 26 years.
In each of the first three quarters of 2016, China posted a consistent 6.7% increase in GDP, raising doubts about the veracity of the figures. Earlier this week, local authorities in China’s northeastern Liaoning province admitted to inflating its GDP figures from 2011 to 2014, as officials sought to advance their careers. Chinese banks extended a record $1.8 trillion of loans in the past year, as the government used more credit-fueled stimulus to meet its growth target, exacerbating debt levels in the economy.
The International Monetary Fund earlier lifted its forecast for China’s GDP growth in 2017 to 6.5%, citing continued policy stimulus. But capital outflows, debt, and geopolitical uncertainties will be the major risks for China’s growth this year, the IMF noted.
The national statistics agency also released a slew of other economic data on the same day. Among them, China’s fixed-asset investment, a key gauge of construction activity, went up 8.1% in 2016 from the year before, the slowest full-year expansion since 1999.
China lacks a genuine central bank and national banking system, and the accelerating growth of its energy demand places uncertainties on long-term economic growth. Meanwhile, China’s population is graying, and as the bulge of people born during Mao’s heyday ages, they place heavy burdens on the smaller subsequent generations of Chinese born in the 1980s and after. In some measure, China’s current wave of industrialization replicates the industrial cycle pioneered by the United States, then followed by Japan, and then by South Korea and Taiwan as they shifted away from heavy industry toward lighter, more efficient and environmentally less intrusive industries and services in earlier decades. And China faces competition from other rising centers, including India.

Since 1989, defense allocations in China’s public state budget have risen at double-digit rates. China is developing a new generation of strategic and tactical missiles, some of which are deployed on the Chinese coast facing Taiwan. China is building a much more capable navy and has bought advanced aircraft from Russia.
But these military modernization efforts are targeted at the needs of specific conflict scenarios. They do not appear to reflect an effort to acquire the strategic and power projection capacities of a superpower.
For China to change the balance of military power in Asia decisively, a number of things must happen. First, China’s dramatic economic growth must continue indefinitely, a prospect about which there are grounds for skepticism. Second, China’s neighbors must stand still in their own defense modernization efforts, which so far has not been true. Third, Russia must continue to be willing to sell advanced weapons systems and military technology to China; sooner or later, however, one might expect Moscow to reconsider how much farther it can aid the advance of China’s military capacities without jeopardizing Russia’s own security interests. Finally, the United States would need to draw down from its security commitments in the region, a development that also does not appear likely.
By all of these measures, China is not now a superpower, nor is it likely to emerge as one soon. It is establishing itself as a great power, on par with Great Britain, Russia, Japan, and, perhaps, India. China is today a serious player in the regional politics of Asia, but also is just one of several. At a broader level, in global affairs, its stature and power are growing, but in most respects it remains a regional power, under the dominance, however momentary, of the United States.

China’s rise over the past two decades has been spectacular from any perspective and deserves attention and respect, especially in view of the difficult course of China’s attempt to adapt to the modern world since the nineteenth century. So Napoleon, in that regard, may be right, but not yet and not soon.
In each of the first three quarters of 2016, China posted a consistent 6.7% increase in GDP, raising doubts about the veracity of the figures. Earlier this week, local authorities in China’s northeastern Liaoning province admitted to inflating its GDP figures from 2011 to 2014, as officials sought to advance their careers. .

Great post mike. When I was in China 9 years ago the received wisdom was that China had to grow at 7-8% P.A. just to avoid social meltdown. The disparity between rich and poor there is truly scary and the "leverage" in the economy to me seemed wild. My driver to work (a private taxi) had two apartments and a new car all on loans, howver in China you may own the bricks and mortar you do not own the land.
At the Bastille Day celebrations
American forces marched in honour of thier ancestors who marched in France 100 years ago.
Funny how times change.

In 1966, after France (or should that be De Gaulle?) withdrew from NATO, the General demanded of US Secretary of State Dean Rusk that all US troops be removed from French soil. Rusk's reply is the stuff of legends.

"Does that include those who are buried here?"

A point very well made.

This is reminiscent of a reply given by Colin Powell to the then Archbishop of Canterbury when asked whether Allied policy in Iraq was not simply "Empire building" on behalf of Bush.

"Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return."

People, not just Europeans, have remarkably short memories, when it suits them


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