What Trump Has in Common with the Last German Emperor

President Donald Trump appears sui generis. Other troublesome populists, like Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, hold power. But no other nation of great influence is governed by someone so little rooted in reality and so much dominated by personality.

However, the president has a historical soul mate who ruled a century ago. The similarities are striking, though their lives obviously differed in important ways. One wonders: was the German Empire’s Kaiser Wilhelm II reincarnated as President Trump?

He took power in 1888 after the death of his grandfather and father. Wilhelm rejected the liberal views of his parents (his mother was British and unpopular among German conservative circles) and favored traditional autocracy. Also, he was determined to rule as well as reign. In contrast, his grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm I, had mostly left governing to the famed “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck.

Still, Wilhelm II was no dictator. Germany had a strong constitutional order and an elected Reichstag with a broader franchise than Great Britain. However, the cabinet answered to the kaiser, not the parliament. In that sense, Imperial Germany looked a lot like modern-day America, where the president is both head of state and government, and thereby manages the executive branch, in contrast to Westminster parliamentary rule.

The German Empire was not a superpower, but it was a rising great power. It possessed the world’s second-largest economy, had surpassed Great Britain in industrial strength and enjoyed a substantially larger population than France. The German army was the world’s best army. Kaiser Wilhelm’s attempt to match British naval strength failed, but the potent Kriegsmarine could not be ignored by London. Berlin also acquired a small network of overseas colonies.

The kaiser was particularly interested in international affairs. He dismissed Bismarck in 1890 and embarked upon what he termed the “New Course.” Bismarck was no liberal peacenik, but once he unified Germany and consolidated the empire’s gains, he sought stability. He was uninterested in colonies, opposed a naval race with Great Britain, and sought to keep France and Russia apart. Had his policies remained in place, World War I almost certainly would not have erupted in August 1914. Bismarck famously observed that the Balkans were not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. He was right.

Kaiser Wilhelm was aggressive, thoughtless and extraordinarily maladroit. He earned a lengthy litany of criticisms. The Economist recently observed that he “grew up to be emotionally needy, bombastic, choleric, hyperactive and hypersensitive. His personality combined with the militaristic authoritarian culture of the Prussian court to create a monarch who was extraordinarily ill-suited to lead the most powerful country in Europe.”

Historian Thomas Nipperdey called the kaiser “gifted,” but also “superficial, hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of serious, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of sobriety, for balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and success.”

That sounds an awful lot like the current occupant of the White House.

Kaiser Wilhelm insisted on gaining Germany “a place in the sun” by fair means or foul. Although he was nothing like Adolf Hitler in power or intention, he managed to offend ally and adversary alike. There was no Twitter then, but in 1895 the kaiser dispatched an encouraging telegram to the Boers, who were resisting British troops in the Transvaal. This won neither him nor Germany any friends or plaudits across the English Channel.

In 1900 German soldiers joined an international expedition to suppress the anti-Western “Boxer Rebellion” in China. He told them: “Just as a thousand years ago the Huns under their King Attila made a name for themselves, one that even today makes them seem mighty in history and legend, may the name German be affirmed by you in such a way in China that no Chinese will ever again dare to look cross-eyed at a German.” The term “Hun” was put to propaganda use against Germany during World War I.

Five years later, he inflamed tensions with France by visiting Morocco and backing the kingdom’s independence against Paris. His conduct also offended friendly states and lost Berlin support at the international conference called to defuse the crisis. In 1908, Kaiser Wilhelm gave an indiscreet, boastful, condescending interview in the Daily Telegraph, a leading British paper. During the interview, he called the British “mad” and said the German navy targeted Japan. So hostile was the reaction at home, as well as overseas, that the chastened monarch tempered his future foreign ventures.

During the European crisis after the June 28, 1914, assassination of Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to that empire’s throne, Wilhelm pushed for an aggressive response before unsuccessfully attempting to halt the rush to war with the famous “Willy-Nicky” telegram to his cousin, Russian Tsar Nicholas II. Kaiser Wilhelm was gradually sidelined during the war and forced to abdicate by the Reichswehr after Germany sought an armistice in late 1918. Erich Ludendorff and Paul von Hindenburg ran the show. Kaiser Wilhelm lived out his life in exile in the Netherlands and died under Nazi occupation in 1941.

In both personality and lack of discretion, the Kaiser and the Donald seem to have a lot in common. Thankfully, history never fully repeats itself, but the two remind us of the truth of abolitionist Wendell Phillips’ observation that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

America has a more powerful legislature, an active opposition and a better developed civil society than imperial Germany — all of which should help hold President Trump in check if his more dubious personality traits lead to trouble. Nevertheless, the presidency has amassed extraordinary authority. Congressional Republicans so far have been largely pusillanimous and understandable popular anger against institutions, such as the media, undercut their influence.

One need not look to history to recognize that the next four years are likely to prove challenging. But President Trump’s closest historical model suggests the urgency of preparing an effective, nonpartisan opposition. Surely, this is a time to be vigilant in the defense of freedom.


Originally published on 2017-01-31

Author: Doug Bandow

Source: The National Interest

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

READ MORE!
Making Israel Greater Again
"You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women. I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything." – Donald Trump Donald Trump is an American capitalist. He is a real estate mogul who owns buildings, casinos and golf courses. He has bought a football team, founded a modeling agency and established a university. Trump’s precise net worth is unknown, yet is estimated in the billions. Donald Trump is a celebrity. He appeared in ...
READ MORE
My Lai Massacre (Vietnam): 49 Years Later
March 16, 2017, was the 49th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre, located in Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam. It was Saturday morning, March 16, 1968, when approximately 115 U.S. Army soldiers of the Americal Division’s Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, landed in helicopters just outside the village of My Lai 4. Over the course of the next four hours, these American soldiers, and their Military High Command, who were flying overhead in helicopters observing the massacre, took part in a horror show far beyond the human imagination. They took the term, “War Crimes,” and added a butcher shop to ...
READ MORE
U.S. Geopolitical Games in Montenegro and Proven Winning Approach by Đukanović
In December last year [2015], NATO officially invited Montenegro to become the 29th member state of the most powerful military organisation of our times, if not, in fact, of all time. The country’s Prime Minister, Milo Đukanović, assured the NATO secretary-general that “you can count on us at any time.” It is always nice to hear that someone has your back. But in Montenegro’s case, it means that they have our back with an entire active-duty military force of only two thousand personnel. It is not quite clear how the tiny nation of less than 700,000 people enhances U.S. security ...
READ MORE
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
This April 4th will be 100 years since the U.S. Senate voted to declare war on Germany and 50 since Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against the war on Vietnam (49 since he was killed on that speech’s first anniversary). Events are being planned to help us try to finally learn some lessons, to move beyond, not just Vietnam, but war. That declaration of war on Germany was not for the war that makes up the single most common theme of U.S. entertainment and history. It was for the war that came before that one. This was the Great War, ...
READ MORE
Paul Craig Roberts’ Address to the International Conference on the European/Russian Crisis Created by Washington
Paul Craig Roberts’ address to the Conference on the European/Russian Crisis, Delphi, Greece, June 20-21, 2015 
Paul Craig Roberts, formerly Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy, Associate Editor, Wall Street Journal, Senior Research Fellow, Stanford University, William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. The United States has pursued empire since early in its history, but it was the Soviet collapse in 1991 that enabled Washington to see the entire world as its oyster The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the rise of the neoconservatives to power and influence ...
READ MORE
British Imperial Project in Ukraine: Violent Coup, Fascist Axioms, Neo-Nazis (2014)
Uncovering the Western mainstream mass-media lies on Ukraine. Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
READ MORE
Why the US Supports Kosovo Independence?
BELGRADE – Amnesty of crimes during NATO aggression, bilateral legalization of Camp Bondsteel in a friendly milieu, settling the Islamic world with support to their communities in the Balkans and forcing Russia out of that same Balkans, are four reasons the US supports the independence of Kosovo, writes “Sputnik”.On Christmas (according to Gregorian calendar) Michael Kirby shows up. Outgoing US Ambassador congratulates Serbia upcoming New Year. “The normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina implies Kosovo’s membership in the UN,” was the content of the “greeting card”.Apart from some kind of formalization, Kirby’s statement is not new for the local public ...
READ MORE
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Unification of Europe has brought about radical new divisions within Europe. The most significant split is between the people and their political leaders. The June 23 British majority vote to leave the European Union has made strikingly evident the division between the new ruling class that flourishes in the globalized world without borders and all the others who are on the receiving end of policies that destroy jobs, cut social benefits, lower wages and reject as obsolete national customs, not least the custom of democratic choice, all to make the world safe for international investment  capital. Actually, the lines are not quite ...
READ MORE
“Russiagate” is Actually “Israelgate”: Trump as “Agent of Israel”, not of Russia?
The Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s main evidence thus far in his “Russiagate” probe is not actually about possible Russian collusion with Trump to win the Presidency, but instead about definite Israeli collusion with Trump after Trump had already won the Presidency but before he became inaugurated. As a lawyer explained on the day when Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was indicted in a plea-deal: “Mr. Flynn has just become the prosecution’s star witness.” What Flynn had pled to was his trying to obtain Russia’s support for Israel’s Government, against the Palestinians. Russia said no; Putin said no to Flynn’s request, ...
READ MORE
US Meddling in Foreign Elections: A CIA Tradition since 1948
In a shocking display of relative independence from the post-Operation Mockingbird control of the media by the Central Intelligence Agency, a recent article in The New York Times broke with current conventional pack journalism and covered the long history of CIA meddling in foreign elections. A February 17, 2018, article, titled, "Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too," authored by Scott Shane – who covered the perestroika and glasnost for The Baltimore Sun in Moscow from 1988 to 1991 during the final few years of the Soviet Union – reported the US has interfered in foreign elections for decades. However, ...
READ MORE
Will Washington Kill Us All?
Did you know that Washington keeps 450 nuclear ICBMs on “hair-trigger alert”? Washington thinks that this makes us “safe.” The reasoning, if it can be called reason, is that by being able to launch in a few minutes, no one will try to attack the US with nuclear weapons. US missiles are able to get on their way before the enemy’s missiles can reach the US to destroy ours. If this makes you feel safe, you need to read Eric Schlosser’s book, Command and Control. The trouble with hair-triggers is that they make mistaken, accidental, and unauthorized launch more likely. Schlosser provides ...
READ MORE
Kiev Junta War Crimes
A new Foundation for the Study of Democracy (FSD) report is titled “War crimes of the armed forces and security forces of Ukraine: torture of the Donbass region residents.” It provides graphic evidence of horrendous Kiev war crimes Western media ignore. Earlier articles discussed Kiev’s dirty war. It deliberately targeted civilian neighborhoods, schools, hospitals and infrastructure. It used of cluster munitions, white phosphorous and other chemical weapons, as well as cold-blooded murder of hundreds of captives. Most were abducted civilians. They were brutally tortured, murdered and secretly buried. Eyewitnesses exposed the crimes. FSD’s report provides more damning evidence of junta torture, inhumane and degrading treatment. Over 100 former ...
READ MORE
Why would US Transform Afghanistan into a Drug Empire?
For a total of sixteen years the US has been occupying Afghanistan after invading immediately after the 9/11 attacks. This act of aggression has already become the longest war in American history, overtaking the “record” that was held by the Vietnam War that lasted from 1964 to 1975. During this period, Washington would spend over 800 billion dollars on the so-called reconstruction of the Afghan nation. As a result of this “reconstruction”, the Taliban has been regaining control over the country, which has resulted in this group controlling over 40% of Afghan territory. Additionally, opium production rates have overtaken the ...
READ MORE
False Flag Terror: A Historical Overview
Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Generals, Soldiers and Police ADMIT to False Flag Terror In the following instances, officials in the government which carried out the attack (or seriously proposed an attack) admit to it, either orally, in writing, or through photographs or videos: (1) Japanese troops set off a small explosion on a train track in 1931, and falsely blamed it on China in order to justify an invasion of Manchuria. This is known as the “Mukden Incident” or the “Manchurian Incident”. The Tokyo International Military Tribunal found: “Several of the participators in the plan, including Hashimoto [a high-ranking Japanese army officer], have on various occasionsadmitted their part in the ...
READ MORE
The Monster: The US Network of Military Bases
In 2007, the late Prof. Jules Dufour raised concerns about US global deployment of military personnel and its network of military bases. The US views the world, he said, “as a vast territory to conquer, occupy and exploit.” “Humanity is being controlled and enslaved” he argued by this network. The US is dividing the world into geographic command units, like US Northcom or US Southcom, proved the US focus on global control. Dufour mentions the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases (No Bases Network) as essential in achieving a cohesive, coordinated front against US global control. The No ...
READ MORE
Heusinger, Adolf,  Generalinspekteur der BW 1.4.1957 - 31.3.1961
General Adolf Heusinger (August 4, 1897 – November 30, 1982) was a German general officer who briefly served as Adolf Hitler’s Chief of the General Staff of the Army during World War II and served as the first Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, the West German armed forces, from 1957 to 1961. Heusinger served as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 1961 to 1964. Heusinger was born in Holzminden, in the Duchy of Brunswick, German Empire. He entered the Imperial German Army on June 17, 1915, and was assigned to 7. Thüringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 96, an infantry regiment raised in ...
READ MORE
USA: False Flags and Fake Reality
Years ago, the terms “false flag” and “conspiracy theory” went hand in hand. Suggesting that a government would stage an attack on its own people or attack an ally and blame it on a “third party” was unthinkable. This is despite the glaring fact that “false flags” have been going on since before biblical times and have been a part of every nation’s policy. Intelligence agencies exist to do little else, they plan and execute false flag attacks to influence policy and set the course of events, based on analysis. This is, in fact, their greatest single tool, and one used ...
READ MORE
Here’s your ‘Putin Did It!’ Survival Guide…
As the Duran reported, it was only a matter of time before the ‘Putin Did It’ (see The Duran Lexicon for more) line crept back into the news in light of a re-opened FBI investigation, following the discovery more incriminating Hillary Clinton emails. Sure enough, Howard Dean, the man who ended his own presidential campaign by acting like a crazed hooligan on stage, has said that now the FBI and Putin are on the same side. This comes days after Putin reassured the world that he really doesn’t want, need or care to meddle in the US election. Of course the usual suspects in the western ...
READ MORE
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Big Brother in the Aisles of HyVee Repeat a lie often enough, the conventional Nazi propaganda wisdom ran, and it will become an accepted truth. This last Veterans Day weekend, I couldn’t watch a sporting event, listen to a car radio, or even go shopping at the local grocery store without hearing a Great American Lie repeated over and over. Sports announcers, radio talk-show hosts, commercials, and even a recorded voice blasted into the aisles of the HyVeee supermarket told me again and again that I owed my great American “freedom” to veterans and current enlistees of the U.S. military – in other ...
READ MORE
Native American Genocide
The term Genocide derives from the Latin (genos=race, tribe; cide=killing) and means literally the killing or murder of an entire tribe or people. The Oxford English Dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group” and cites the first usage of the term as R. Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, (1944) p.79. “By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of a nation or an ethnic group.” The U.N. General Assembly adopted this term and defended it in 1946 as “….a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups.” Most people tend to associate ...
READ MORE
Making Israel Greater Again
My Lai Massacre (Vietnam): 49 Years Later
U.S. Geopolitical Games in Montenegro and Proven Winning Approach by Đukanović
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Paul Craig Roberts’ Address to the International Conference on the European/Russian Crisis Created by Washington
British Imperial Project in Ukraine: Violent Coup, Fascist Axioms, Neo-Nazis (2014)
Why the US Supports Kosovo Independence?
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
“Russiagate” is Actually “Israelgate”: Trump as “Agent of Israel”, not of Russia?
US Meddling in Foreign Elections: A CIA Tradition since 1948
Will Washington Kill Us All?
Kiev Junta War Crimes
Why would US Transform Afghanistan into a Drug Empire?
False Flag Terror: A Historical Overview
The Monster: The US Network of Military Bases
Adolf Heusinger: Hitler’s Army Chief and NATO’s Chairman
USA: False Flags and Fake Reality
Here’s your ‘Putin Did It!’ Survival Guide…
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Native American Genocide
Policraticus

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu