Sunday, February 17, 2008


The last two centuries of German history is a subject that I have taken a particular interest in. Given that two enormously influential Germans emerged during that time (Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler) who brought great woe on the world, I think it behooves us all to seek what understanding we can find of how all that happened

A small reflection on Prussia, the home of German militarism

Prussia was originally the most Eastern tentacle of the German states, although it no longer exists as a legal entity. It is best known for its militarism and a certain Asian influence. I was once married to a fine woman of Prussian descent and she had the distinctly Asian high cheekbones and the faint impression of Asian eyes that one associates with the old East Prussia, in particular. A legacy of the Mongol hordes, one imagines.

Military strategists worldwide to this day study von Clausewitz -- the best-known Prussian military strategist and theorist. And it was, after all, the Prussian Gneisenau's insight that won the battle of Waterloo (OK. Nobody else has ever told you that but look it up). And we won't talk about Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein and the many other brilliant Prussian generals. And, largely because of its military prowess, Prussia did eventually take over most of Germany. And the part that Prussia did not take over -- Austria -- was essentially ALLOWED to remain independent by Prussia.

And the dominant figure in Prusssia was the nobleman -- the Junker (pronounced "yoonker", where "oo" is as in "book"). The Junker was a landowner with a pedigree stretching back into the mists of time. And a Junker was usually a military man in some capacity -- even if only as a reservist. And the iconic image of the Prussian Junker was a man in military uniform wearing the Prussian Pickelhaube (spiked helment).

So why in heaven's name was the above Prussian Junker in spiked helmet depicted prominently on a U.S. government site until recently? (You can still find a small version of the picture about halfway down here). It is because the man depicted there is one of the most famous Prussians of all time -- Prussian Kanzler (Prime Minister) Prince Otto von Bismarck -- the man principally responsible for uniting Germany under the Prussian crown and the man principally responsible for the great Prussian military victory over the French at Sedan in 1870.

OK! What's the joke? you are saying. That is NO reason for putting the guy on a U.S. government website! You are right. Everything I have said about Bismarck is correct but what I have left out is that he is also the man who was principally responsible for inventing social security! Yes: The modern welfare State was invented in Prussia for Prussians by a Prussian militarist! Those dastardly Prussians were also welfarists! Enough to blow the simple mind of any Leftist! Reality is far more complex than any of the guff that you learnt off Leftists during your education.

Hitler was also a socialist (welfarist) and a militarist. He was not a Prussian himself but Germany's Prussian traditions helped make what he did respectable (and indeed honorable) in the Germany of his time. No Leftist would tell you that welfarism often goes with militarism but it does in the real world -- as distinct from the Leftist dreamworld.

Hitler was in fact appointed as Reichskanzler (Prime Minister of Germany) by a Prussian Junker -- Marshall Paul von Hindenburg -- and Hitler made the most of that in his propaganda. See the 1930s Nazi election poster above. In translation, it reads: "The marshall and the corporal fight alongside us for peace and equal rights". Peace and equal rights! Where have I heard that before? It wouldn't be from modern-day American welfarists, would it? What surprising company welfarists keep! Not only Adolf Hitler but even Prince Otto von Bismarck!

The "mercenary" option for America

The very extensive deployment of reserve and National Guard troops to Iraq is a stark confession that the regular U.S. army troops and Marines are not remotely up to the tasks that have recently been demanded of them. And even the creation of more vacancies for regular troops in the armed services seems highly likely to run up against recruitmnent difficulties.

In the circumstances, various people (See e.g. here and here) have drawn attention to the fact that the US armed forces are already not wholly comprised of U.S. citizens. There are, in particular, large numbers of Hispanics serving and not all of them are "documented". And there are already provisions for "undocumented" troops who have served their time to be given accelerated access to full U.S. citizenship. So the suggestion is that more should be done along those lines -- that foreign troops be actively recruited -- with U.S. citizenship being offered as one of the rewards for service.

I am sure my thoughts on the matter are as politically incorrect as they are realistic so I have hesitated to enter that fray but I can resist no longer: The proposal goes close to hiring mercenaries and the track record of mercenaries is not good overall. So should it be done? I am inclined to think that it might be OK if strict selection criteria are applied and numbers are kept to (say) no more than a third of all U.S. troops.

One reason why I see merit in the idea is that it might draw into U.S. service a significant number of Germans and other Northern Europeans from countries with a distinguished history of military competence. Historically, Germans are probably second only to the Japanese when it comes to warrior virtues (lots of people TALK about fighting to the death but only the Japanese have ever done it) and it would seem that many Germans are natural-born warriors.

Germany today is both very anti-military and very anti-American but that is only a broad generalization. There are sure to be a significant minority of Germans who are both pro-American and genetically the same fierce warriors that the Teutons have been for over 2,000 years. And I am sure that any Germans with the old genes in them would just LOVE to get their hands on America's cutting-edge military hardware! That alone would be a big reward. As a former army psychologist, I have some idea of how the military mind works.

America might even get some capable military commanders out of it all. Germans seem to just sprout able generals (Rommel and the incredible von Manstein being the best known recent examples) while Anglo-American forces are notoriously short of them. Just look at the appalling record of American military command in Iraq. It almost makes the British look competent! And when America did at last find someone who knew what he was doing there, he was Dutch by immediate ancestry -- General Petraeus.

And Germans and other Teutons tend to fit into Anglospheric civilization so seamlessly that their origin soon ceases to be noticed by all but the acutest observers. And high educational requirements for recruits would of course let Germans in as easily as it would keep the less-compatible third-worlders out.

No comments: