03 June 2015

This probably explains a lot of why neoconservatives sound like they don't know what they're talking about

The fact that almost none of this is right probably explains a lot of why neoconservatives today sound so unintelligible.

1) The German regime wasn't that dissimilar to the British in its general organisation: both were constitutional monarchies at the time. There wasn't some rigid ideological conflict at stake between the two sides as a result. Frum pretends there was one. There are particulars that differ certainly and the war created more of them. But however awful the Kaiser was, this wasn't a Nazi or a Stalinist regime against which we were being pitted. The ideological gap was distinct but not unbreachable. More importantly the triumph in war or even the ability of the Germans to fight to a position of favorable armistice probably reduces the problem of the rise of the Nazis as a dangerous European political agent in the first place (but not necessarily Stalin, and may have caused issues in the UK and France politically if they were defeated or failed to win favorable terms).

Political upheaval within Germany is still a likely factor. The war was won and lost primary on the exhaustion of both sides of their ability to make either guns or butter. But a more stable German elite/military would put it in a position to suppress too much radicalism. It would still be jingoistic, but would already control or have substantial influence over most of the territory it sought with portions of Africa and most of Eastern Europe. Further expansion and expansionist desires might be possible but consolidating and governing these territories would take time and treasure.

2) "The British and French would have looked to the US for protection" The British wouldn't have needed it (they still had a large navy and colonies) and there's no particular reason to believe we would have offered it. The US nearly went to war with the UK twice in the 20th century and a third time late in the 19th century, I would argue we weren't that close of allies, other than WW2, until about the 1980s. And as it turned out, the British and French needed our protection anyway.

Had they lost, the British and French might have issues with Soviet internal rebellions or political movements, but these seem unlikely to have gone anywhere without extremely punitive fiscal considerations as part of the peace accord. Even in a defeated and humbled Germany the communists never really got a foothold (in part because other ultra-nationalist political movements superseded them and blamed communists for the defeat and subsequent misery). More liberal pro-market France and UK of the time seem especially unlikely to be overturned by Communist sentiments.

There's also little reason to assume the Germans would have automatically interpreted an American neutrality stance as hostile and started some sort of cold war with us. They definitely would have been a substantial world power. But this still would have been a multipolar world in which the US would have substantial advantages in strategic distance and industry and technology even with a rival power in Germany existing and could use other powers like the UK to help check this if it was seen as problematic for us. This is basically what we did with the Soviet Union is offshored our strategic duties to the Europeans and protected them with strategic power (nuclear weapons and naval and air superiority).

3) The Austrian and Ottoman regimes were teetering on unstable even before the war. Both were unlikely to survive even if the Central Powers had won unless the Germans were willing to expend a lot of treasury and effort to sustain them. Effectively most of Eastern Europe would be a colony for Germany. The colonies of France and England were (eventually) to expensive to maintain. Ditto Russia in the same locations during the USSR era. It is doubtful they'd be any better off in this respect.

4) Several of the independent nations listed were carved out of Russia (Finland, Poland, and the Baltic states). That could have happened anyway. Indeed, I'd suspect the Germans wouldn't want the Soviets getting that powerful, or even care if the Soviets stayed in charge after the war and would have created territorial concessions with more friendly governments as a buffer against Russia, if not actively sought to suppress the Bolsheviks as the US and UK did.

I'd state that Hungary would have split off for sure, and very likely the Czechs, Poles, Ukrainians, and some variety of the Balkans would have emerged in the post war era with national sovereignty anyway regardless of the victor. All we'd be arguing about who they were friendlier toward. Since Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and even Finland all ended up fighting on the German side in WW2, the declaration that these could or would be peaceful and nominally democratic regimes with an allied victory seems already flawed.

5) The victorious Allied powers weren't any more charitable toward the defeated foes than Frum paints the Germans as being likely to be. There's not much evidence to suggest German demands would be unreasonably strange.

6) Iran is nowhere near as powerful or influential as Germany of the early 20th century. Germany already was a world power at the time and effectively one of 3 or 4 superpowers (the 4th being the US) capable of influencing events continents away through trade and war and diplomacy, as well as science and culture. Iran is regional power. They can only influence events elsewhere, outside that region, the extent that we allow them to. Which is to say not at all (unless we over-react to their abilities and do silly things). That they keep getting trotted out as a comparison to the perils of Germany on the world stage at the height of its power gets hilarious at first but tedious after a short while.
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