China Is Not 1914 Germany

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Robert Dujarric via The Diplomat,

Current events are frequently viewed through the prism of analogies. Words become shorthand for a particular type of situation. “Munich” equals the danger of appeasing bloodthirsty dictators, “Vietnam,” and now “Iraq/Afghanistan” means the folly of getting involved in (or, in the case of Iraq, starting) civil wars in countries whose societies the outsiders neither understand nor can effectively influence. In some cases, acting on these parallels turns out to be wise. The fear of repeating “Munich” helps explain the forceful and successful American response to Soviet expansionism at the start of the Cold War (Berlin, Korea, etc.). In other cases, they are misguided, as was the case in the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt, where Nasser was no Hitler and giving up the Suez canal would not have equated to throwing Czechoslovakia to the wolves.

The analogy that is currently in vogue in Asia is “1914.” This is a particularly complex one, as there are two distinct narratives of that fateful year. The one that was prevalent in the U.K. and the U.S. for many decades after the conflict that ensued perceived the war through the “Sarajevo” lens as a giant cataclysm in which all the players bore a share of the blame for the destruction of Western civilization. Another interpretation, which is more dominant today, is best illustrated by the late German historian Fritz Fischer’s Germany’s Aims in the First World War (1961), which assigns most of the responsibility to Berlin.

The “2014 as 1914” discussion covers both theses. Those who dread that a minor maritime collision could escalate into Armageddon subscribe to the “Sarajevo” theory, where an assassin’s bullet set off a chain reaction which even men and women of good intention could not stop. Others think that Beijing is bent on regional, if not world, domination. They see China’s hypertrophied ambitions as an early 21st century of the German Empire’s quest for power described in Fischer’s works. Many officials and analysts who refer to “1914” fall in between. They often know little about European history but see an ominous danger of war that reminds them of what they think “1914” was.

The one common threat in the “1914” warnings is that the People’s Republic is perceived as the Asian counterpart of Wilhelmine Germany. A rising continental autocracy with territorial ambitions on land and dreams of overseas expansion confronting a potential coalition of onshore (India, Vietnam, ROK, maybe even Russia) and offshore (Japan, Taiwan, parts of ASEAN, U.S.) powers. For some, Beijing’s expansionist aims are obvious; others see them as moderate and blame Washington and its allies for not accepting China’s rise, reflecting the same differences of interpretation that existed in Europe before (and after) World War 1 regarding German goals.

The critical error in this comparison is that China today bears little resemblance to Germany a century ago.

First, their domestic situation is vastly different. The Hohenzollern dynasty did face discontent at home, in particular a powerful Social-Democratic movement. But the socio-political fabric of Germany was vastly stronger than that of the People’s Republic. In comparative perspective, Prussia-Germany had enjoyed a stable and productive century prior to 1914, something that does not apply to China in 2014. Prussia-Germany was autocratic but had developed a more effective system to partially include citizens in the political process than China has. Frequent violent protests, and the massive export of capital by rich Communist Party members to overseas accounts, illustrate this point about China’s fragility. It is interesting to note German society, as in existed prior to World War I, was so solidly anchored that much of its establishment survived relatively unscathed four years of total war, defeat and revolution.

Second, we know that Germany in 1914 had an outstanding army. Estimating the worth of the PLA is harder since it has not fought a major campaign since Vietnam defeated China 35 years ago. As a military historian noted “A day’s trial by battle often reveals more of the essential nature of an army than a generation of peace.” (in Russell F. Weigley, Eisenhower’s Lieutenants, 1990) so discussions of the abilities of the PLA are hard to validate. But one thing is clear. In Imperial Germany, especially in its Prussian core, the ruling classes took military service very seriously. Young men of privilege served in the officer corps, one’s rank in the reserves of prestigious units was a source of great pride and social standing. From what we know about the sons (and daughters) of China’s elite, we are more likely to see them studying in Ivy League campuses, eating in Wall Street cafés, and living in Hong Kong flats than leading platoons and companies of soldiers in the frozen hills of Manchuria or the scorching deserts of Xinjiang.

Third, Germany was not the world’s largest economy on the eve of World War I, the United States was. But in many fields, Germany was the most advanced country on the planet. A German doctorate was the gold standard of academia until Adolf Hitler destroyed the universities. Germans led in countless disciplines, be it physics, archeology, or medicine. Germany was ahead in many industrial technologies as well. China has progressed, but its relative position lags well behind that of Germany a century ago.

Fourth, the geopolitics are different. Germany had two continental associates, the Habsburg and Ottoman empires. It took several years before the United States joined the Allies. Today, China is essentially bereft of allies and is confronting what is a de facto U.S.-Japan-Australia coalition, potentially augmented by several Asian states and under certain circumstances most of NATO Europe and Canada.

Fifth, Germany in 1914 was a demographically dynamic country. China, due to the twin consequences of the one-child policy and economic development, is aging at a rapid rate. This is not unique in Asia, but compared to its major global competitor, the United States, China is in demographic decline.

What are the implications of these facts? For China’s foes, namely the United States, Japan, and others, they mean that the situation is not as dire as it was in 1914 for Germany’s opponents (whom we should remember came close to being dealt a terminal blow in the opening stages of World War I). For the Chinese Communist Party, they imply that it would be even riskier for it to initiate a conflict than it was for the Central Powers in 1914.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
PacOps's picture

It's still all about resources.

kaiserhoff's picture

And a moose is not a snake.  The point of thumb sucking pieces like this is...?

This reminds me of junk in the Atlantic, a once fine magazine, with wonderful water colors on the cover, before New York went to hell.  Anyway, the point of "diplomatic" stuff, is to take up space between the ads.

0z's picture

It is a myth that the Great War was sought. it just happened, and no one could stop it.

Harlequin001's picture

of course China isn't 1914 Germany, Germany didn't have nukes...

and Germany didn't have the entire western world by the financial testicles either...

The Dunce's picture

Good citizens of Metropolis!  Listen carefully.  The Chinese will end up killing us all.  You bitches.

BigJim's picture

Hurrah! Another article from The Diplomat!

</s> <= for the irony-challenged

theliberalliberal's picture

fuck this cunt and his shitty blog

BandGap's picture

China's army blows. Lots of guts, no glory.

The reason their military is so dangerous is that they have almost no combat experience. This is truest for their navy. They are spoling for a fight, like a fat bully who doesn't know how to take a punch. I think Japan could hold them off for quite awhile, probably so with Taiwan, as well.

But that's not to say they don't want to rumble.

matrix2012's picture

Since the USA has been engaging in so many wars since the WW2, there is no doubt that the USA has the most experiences with wars.

Interesting to learn that the democracy and freedom propagandist is so fond of violences and wars...

something really does not make up here


Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business." - the neocon, Michael Ledeen


+ Now the USA already reduced the timespan between wars to just a couple of years... just count from Libya to Syria to Africa... and now Ukraine is in spotlight

kaiserhoff's picture

No shit.  Esquire is one of the worst offenders.  Madison avenue is off the reservation, completely out of touch with the rest of the country, and yet companies still spend millions to look profoundly stupid.  The CVS drug store chain just decided to stop selling tobacco products.  I hate cigarettes, but if you let politics dictate business decisions, the competition will love you, and eat your lunch.

HardAssets's picture

F. William Engdahl has an interesting perspective on this that he's written about in his books. He wrote that the ruling class elites had bled the UK dry and she had fallen far behind the Germans in technology & industry. Germany was the up and coming power on the European continent, so the Brit leadership wanted to eliminate that competition and knew war was the only way to do so. At least it was the only way without letting go of their control & privilege in the British Empire.

Of course, the start of WW1 was always presented in previous 'history' books as the world just blundered into it. Some prince got shot and before you knew it much of the world was at war. 

Interesting how much history is blamed on 'accident' and 'blunder'.

Spitzer's picture

Yeah yeah...


Funny it is....  How so many people want to give the krauts a pass. And anything the US or UK ever does is steeped in conspiracy.

Won't take long for people to warm up the ovens on this thread....

tmosley's picture

Collectivism is POISON.

Those members of German government who commanded horrible things be done are long dead.  Members of western governments are conspiring to steal our freedoms TODAY.

But hey, you invoked the Holocaust, so I guess you automatically win.  Germans are all absolutely evil murderous savages and the American and UK governments are super duper and can totally be trusted so pay your taxes and stop asking questions, civillian.

Jugdish's picture

The blacks saved Pearl Hatbor if you watch the movie with ben afflek.

BandGap's picture

Read the book "To End All Wars". All combatants were virtually the same in WWI, some of the justifications for what they did are just plain stupid in today's terms. But then again, "honor" was still part of the war vernacular.

Johnny Cocknballs's picture

So taking a view about the origins of WW1 that you don't like makes those people Nazis who want to cremate dead Jews?


Are you that dumb, or that much of an ad hitlerum troll?



Abi Normal's picture

Yeah, Adolf never existed according to the troglodites here!  Germany was the victim ROFLMAO!!!  Many of the posters here were born in the 80's and have no idea what the real history is...too bad for them.

This is NOT to say the UK-US are angels mind you!

earleflorida's picture

wwi was just a stage managers dream come true on a global scale. it was part 1/act1 of 3part acts,  beginning with the jekyll and (hyde?) island manifesto in or around late 1910... held exclusively amongst the world's elitist by and for the nwo project hope? remember from the curtain's opening act that this was only brought about by the 1913 FRBs & Income Tax. wilson, the nobel prize peace recipient for heroics in getting the usa into wwi and shortly soon after... approx. eighteen months ending-- in which btw, he promised never to bring america's youth into war, to begin with!

setting up the stage for #1act ii. the 'league of nations' (similiar to NATO & the United Nations in its courtier flaccidity) but was an aggregate peace ingredient negligently mis'`maligned by US Pres. Wilson and his point man Sen. Reed refusing to endorse and sign the peace treaty of versailles! scuttle me britches for a new wife (as #1 ellen passes in 1914?)... and wifey edith takes the bedroom by storm, so woody says? the guy is now braindead and wife #2 edith literally and figuritively runs the show having met her just nine months prior! nice! she runs the wh from the parlor (raising her sheeple on the front lawn (kinda like michell's how's your garden growing?), period!!!

part 2 act i.... germany got fucked royally by the french and were held hostage financially while the british were having their own financial difficulties. it seemed they were all in debt to uncle sam? well, with no post war agreement in the stage manager scrip things were moving along just hunky-dory! next mother russia has a battle  (exiting wwi ?) royale of a revolution coincidentally starting in 1917-23, with bolsheviks' lenin, trotsky, marx, and late comer stalin the terrible(!!!)... coming oh so quietly upon the scene as the curtain descends with a full compliment of leading character actors with all their flaws, warts and grotesqueness leeching from the balcony below?  growing exponentially as a cancerous tumor, swallowing goodness and kindness as a trogan riding a dildo into battle?

 #2act ii .... Hitler arrives just as planned in 1933, after the untimely death of the german chancellor... the timing could not have been better-- weimar (1918-33) republic be damned!!! actii:  adolf finds his mojo.

in the meantime the nwo stage manager is setting up the stage for wwii highlight previews to be auditioned by a leading cast of obediant servants from the east, west north, and south global galleries. all inclusive. we'll even invite the orientals of the future (ie. part #3 act i? coming). actiii   the wwii ends and mother america is now hegemony king moneymaster of world. we are the champions! bush #41 declares publicly for the first time the 'nwo' plans for part3 acti

to be cont.  

0z's picture

British rulers were playing golf when the War started...

And besides, why 1914? It seems to me you could argue it had been going on for decades already...

mumbo_jumbo's picture

wasn't there also that pesky Berlin to Baghdad pipeline thing?

Lost My Shorts's picture

Good point; you are getting at the reason why the main article above is brain-dead blather.

The "Great War" happened because ruling elites of both Germany and England had the same two goals:

1) Enrich themselves further and/or preserve their privileged position; and

2) Divert the attention of the proles to external enemies to reduce internal social tensions that would later upend both societies.

The German elites also wanted more access to natural resources to grow their economy so they could satisfy the demands of the masses for a better living standard without any of the dreaded redistribution.  (The UK elites already had good resource access from their empire.)

In that way, China is exactly exactly exactly like the empires of 1914, and likely to behave in the same way.  Someone should revoke the author's PhD.

drendebe10's picture

Ur points sounding like Amerika now run by an arrogant narcissistic pathologic lying illegal alien muslim sociopath and all its corrupt overprivileged pals and minions. .338 lapua needed.

HardAssets's picture

- delete double post -


ISP connection acting strange this morning

HardAssets's picture

Lost My Shorts - you make the most important point of all. The 'elites' use war as a tool to control their citizens (and to meet other objectives of theirs).

Around Christmas of 1914 soldiers from both sides decided they didnt want to follow orders and kill each other. They found that they had more in common with the other guy on the other side of the line than those giving them orders 'from above'. :



mess nonster's picture

If I remember my history (which this article does not even begin to delve into), after the Archduke was shot, Austria saw an opportunity to expand into the Balkans. The Austrians sent the Serbs an ultimatum precisely written so that the Serbs could do nothing but reject it. When the Serbs did reject it, Vienna declared war.

Meanwhile, while the Russians complained about aggression upon their slavic "brothers", but did nothing, Germany, bound by a mututal assistance treaty to Austria-Hungary, also dithered. Germany did not want to get caught in a two-front war. German diplomats worked overtime to secure a non-aggression pact with Russia that protected east-Prussia, the preferred route of attack for the Russian armies into Germany.

Germany hoped for a quick war in which a lightning attack into France through Belgium, particularly through Liege, would bring about the fall of the French Republic. The whole adventure from a German perspective was to be a redux of 1870, when France lost Sedan, (more than the Germans won it), and then Paris, in a month's time.

The Germans were keenly aware of their strategic vulnerability. They knew they had to gain a decisive victory in the first month of the war, or lose entirely. All the belligerents were plagued by incompetence at the highest levels of command, but Germany was plagued thus the worst. The Crown Prince Willhelm, with his idiotic death's head fur hat is the poster child for dilletante command of armies with unheard-of destructive power. German military leadership existed only from the captain level downwards.

The French had the best (considering) leadership and the French poilus was perhaps the best fighter of the war. World War 1 bogged down because of French resistance, and for no other reason. The French wanted to avoid a repeat of 1870 more than the Germans wanted to recreate it. Really, the whole military aspect of the war boils down to this. Once the trenches were dug, the war became something else entirely.

The British wanted no part of the war, but were bound by mutual defence treaties to take part. During the first big battle, the Battle of the Marne, the BEF dithered and did all it could, under General French (that was his real name) to stay as far away from actual fighting as possible. England was only with the greatest reluctance drawn into the war.

Germany played a gamble to break out of her geographic trap in the center of Europe, and lost. Otherwise, the entire war was a giant clusterfuck nobody wanted, and escalated, especially the bloodbaths of Verdun and Ypres, etc, by the incompetence of the various high commands.

Machinations originating in a shadowy group of diplomatic, revolutionary, and fiancial interests, all with one hidden common purpose, was really to blame for this horrible war. This loose group played upon the pride and incompetence of the nobility in the various nations, (the most in Austria, Russia, and Germany and the least in France) so that once in, no-one could do the sensible thing and pull out.

FMR Bankster's picture

That's about right. Germany was also concerned that Russia would over time develop and they would be boxed in by multiple strong opponents. Once the German/Russia treaty was not renewed around 1890 Germany planned for a two front war and needed to strike hard in the West to have any chance to survive a war.

Abi Normal's picture

A prince eh?  Arch Duke Ferdinand was his name...funny you're such an expert but you miss the key fact...oh well.  You people who have no idea of the history, and think you know so much, are doomed to repeat it.

Good luck m8y!

HardAssets's picture

Abi - its was suppsed to be irony, but looks like I left out the quote marks in that sentence.

So here ya go   "   "  You can insert them where appropriate.

And actually its "Archduke" not "Arch Duke"  - - - -  I've never seen it written in such a creative manner anywhere else.

BTW - yes Hitler existed, of course.  The question is how did conditions from out of WW1 help place him in power.

Abi Normal's picture

In one word, reparations, and yes I accidentallyinserted a space, sorry!  If ironic, then no worries.  Wasn't necessarily saying you didnt think Hitler existed, or was a moron.

matrix2012's picture

@ HardAssets


+100 for bring on F. WILLIAM ENGDAHL here :)

More at here:


I bought a couple of book by him, gonna add my collection by few more!


Along with PROF. MICHEL CHOSSUDOVSKY of; PEPE ESCOBAR (look at; DEAN HENDERSON, see Left Hook at, begin with this one (chapter) "The Federal Reserve Cartel: The Eight Families"; WEBSTER G. TARPLEY at and so forth...

ThroxxOfVron's picture

"It's still all about resources."

Da fuck it is.

It's ALL about THE BOMB.  China needs no army, no navy; -IF iit has just 5 or 6 deliverable nuclear weapons.

Germany didn't have that and China DOES.

Even the punk in NK doesn't get messed with and it's no fucking wonder why.

China would love to lay that white-hot hurtin' on the Japanese -and then force them to buy their debt and ship them shiney electronics gadgets for the next 75 years...

Abi Normal's picture

Problem with the Chinese BOMB, when they actually fire it off, will it hit the intended target?  People of Fiji, DUCK NOW!!!!

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Yup, the last man left with most of the key resources: Wins.  But to get there...

The side that (a) defines terms & Words, and (b) frames & drives the Argument, wins the 'Debate'.  You win the hearts and minds, and their bodies will usually follow.  Thus the Pen is mightier than the Sword.

For those on whom words don't work so well, you simply hold them by the "short & curlies" (pressure points), and they will respond -- only faster.

The Elite and Old Guard in the West/US are grand-masters at the soft skills of Deception and PR/Propaganda, but the Asians/Chinese are wise to them.  In that sense, the "1914" Propaganda is more aimed at the domestic than the global market.

Zeilschip's picture

First of all Vietnam didn't defeat China and secondly no one is claiming China is 1914 Germany. Get your facts straight you midget.

vyeung's picture

Nice comment!!!

If you go around china you will understand why conflict is not something they like. The chinese in general have a much bigger tolerance level in general. They have been fighting wars centuries before and adversion to conflict is something entrenched within the Chinese psych. That is not to say the Chinese will not bomb any nation back to the stone age if attacked.

China is nothing like the US or even Europe, people their just want to do more business. Conflict only benefits the military industrial complex, it does more harm than good for all the profit its suppose to produce.

Only the shadow bankers enjoy this type of world as they enjoy the profits risk free.

The US is also populated with very nice and great people, but the powers that be with their foreign policy vehicles are manipulating the populace with such success that the blame is subordinated to the citizens. America needs to get back to its roots and remove these evil forces is killing the nation.

lakecity55's picture

I still cannot see why Bath House was not kicked out over Libya. Not Benghazi (reason enough), but the attack against Moamar. The US citizenisms are quite asleep.

"R2P" as a policy is BS. One, we had no right to interfere in Libya. Two, Libya was not attacking US. Three, it proves the US is a captured operation controlled by Banksters and a certain tribe. America needs to secede from Washington, DC. Throw in NY.

Carpenter1's picture

So many advantages China has were left out.

Manufacturing. China could manufacture military hardware at a rate no country could come remotely close to, and has stockpiled enough resources to do so.

Allies. EVer heard of Russia, Iran, North Korea??

Cash. China's excess cash is unmatched. You can buy a crapload of explody stuff for 2 trillion. 

Technology.  Who knows what their capabilities are? Last I checked, Chinese consistently score high on technology based arenas.


Thought these were worth mentioning,  you'd think China was some beat down 3rd world country in Africa the way this article portrays it.

LMAOLORI's picture



China has a lot more debt than people realize several recent ZH articles have pointed that out. Those shadow banks spoken of they are majority owned by China's Ministry of Finance. The leaders and the other elites who are off shoring their wealth you can bet it's not being held in the Yuan. Many of the rich  are moving to other countries if they can get out. The peasants in the meantime are taxed and not treated well.


?China growth fuelled by debt and government subsidies


Chinese bad loan manager Cinda sits on its own debt mountain 


The $15 trillion shadow over Chinese banks


Wealthy Chinese are voting with their feet to move wealth abroad. That ought to send a message to investors.
deflator's picture

this debt bomb is set to detonate in 30 .....

LMAOLORI's picture



Those detonations have already begun and China has already started the bailing out.


China Folds On Reforms - Bails Out 2nd Shadow-Banking Default After "Last Drop Of Blood" Threats

MollyHacker's picture

China has a lot (huge) financial room to backstop the "shadow banking" and "trusts". Bad-talking China trusts doesn't effectively mean that all are destined for defaulting and what China doesn't have, and is a greater relevancy, is a 170 trillion, or more, of unfunded financial obligations within its own economy.

kaiserhoff's picture

China has no air force, no blue water navy, and zero innovation.  The Pacific Fleet could wipe them out as a training exercise.

They are, however, great at enslaving Tibet.

LMAOLORI's picture



We are kind of enslaved ourselves if you think about all the money we pay in taxes but at least they aren't excavating us to death - YET.

Uber Vandal's picture

Re: "The Pacific Fleet could wipe them out as a training exercise."

Please refer to this:

While the US has a strong military, it is never a good idea to underestimate your opponent, for this possible opponent did write the Art of War, and some of the basic teachings include:

All warfare is based on deception

Pretend to be weak, that your opponent may grow arrogant.

jcaz's picture

"you'd think China was some beat down 3rd world country in Africa the way this article portrays it."

Well... Yeah, actually- ever see them build a boat?

Abi Normal's picture

Good grief, Chinese weaponry is made of cheap CRAP!  Just the same as all the other cheap CRAP they sell to US!!!

NoDebt's picture

Who is claiming that China is analogous to 1914 German?  I mean other than the author.