Europe's Nationalism And Trump's Trade Policies Look Like WWI Prelude

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,

In conversations with friends, one thought the current political scene was like the prelude to WWII. Another said WWI.

Tuesday evening I struck up a conversation with "Max", a friend that I frequently see at a Tuesday karaoke bar.

Max is not a reader of my website, so it stuck me when he stated events today remind him of the prelude to WWII. Max is aware of Trump's trade policies and disputes with Canada and Mexico, but he was not aware of immigration problems in Italy.

Wednesday afternoon, I mentioned that conversation in a podcast with Peak Prosperity's Chris Martenson. Chris said Max's comment was quite appropriate but the setup was more like WWI.

Chris is correct. The parallels to WWI are quite amazing.

Seven Causes for WWI

After the podcast with Chris, a bit of digging led me to 7 Causes of the First World War.

It was point number 7 that caught my attention.

7. People Being People

Canadian historian Margaret Macmillan has published a major book, The War That Ended Peace (2013), which presents a synthesis of many different factors: alliances and power politicsreckless diplomacy; ethnic nationalism; and, most of all, the personal character and relationships of the almost uncountable number of historical figures who had a hand in the coming of war.

War That Ended Peace

The above snip led me to the PDF synopsis on The War That Ended Peace.

So you would have thought that increased trade between Britain and Germany would have fostered that sense of having something in common. In fact, it didn’t. What common trade did sometimes was to create fears in both countries that the other was jealous, or that the other was cutting into natural markets.

Nationalism increasingly became a way in which people identified themselves. It was helped by the spread of communications – it was much easier to feel you were part of something called the British nation or the French nation if in your morning newspaper you could read news from all over that nation.

The growth of public opinion was of course fuelled by the spread of communications and literacy, and by the growth of the mass media that made available cheap books and newspapers.

When Italy invaded Libya in 1911, Italians socialists rejected criticism of their government’s “civilising mission”.

We should be warned that with all the best will in the world, clever people, people in positions of power, can make really stupid mistakes. We shouldn’t think we are cleverer than people then, and we shouldn’t think that we can avoid catastrophes. One hundred years later, we should be reminded that people in 1914 thought they’d have a nice short war and could settle things – and didn’t.

​Ethnic Nationalism


  1. Pack Your Bags: Italy Threatens to Deport 500,000 Immigrants

  2. ​Germany Points Finger at "Moochers of Rome"

Power Politics

  1. Constitutional Crisis in Italy as President Rejects Eurosceptic Minister

  2. Spain's Corrupt Government Falls in Vote of No Confidence

  3. Trump Considers 25% Tariffs on All Auto Imports as Matter of "National Security"

  4. NAFTA is Dead: Trump Seeks Separate Agreements With Mexico and Canada

  5. ​National Security or Insecurity? Trump Tariffs Will Cost 195K to 624K Jobs

Feuds with Allies

Trump Started a Global Trade War Today: Canada, Mexico Responded, So Will Europe

Germany Accuses Italy of "Debt Blackmail": Hello EU, Time for Reform Expired

History Lesson

Please consider Trump invokes War of 1812 in testy call with Trudeau over tariffs

​President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a testy phone call on May 25 over new tariffs imposed by the Trump administration targeting steel and aluminum imports coming from Canada, including one moment during the conversation in which Trump made an erroneous historical reference, sources familiar with the discussion told CNN.

According to the sources, Trudeau pressed Trump on how he could justify the tariffs as a "national security" issue. In response, Trump quipped to Trudeau, "Didn't you guys burn down the White House?" referring to the War of 1812.

The problem with Trump's comments to Trudeau is that British troops burned down the White House during the War of 1812. Historians note the British attack on Washington was in retaliation for the American attack on York, Ontario, in territory that eventually became Canada, which was then a British colony.

War Preparations

In the prelude to WWI every European nation thought war could be prevented if every nation was prepared for it. They were all prepared.

On March 8, in a direct reference to Germany, US President Donald Trump says NATO members that do not meet defense-spending targets will be "dealt with."

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his desire for a European Army in a State of the Union address.

Conflicting Allies

I have watched with dismay the circular nature of Mideast allies.

The US has friendly relations with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the Iraqi Kurds, most of which are fighting with each other or are in tense relationships at best.

To top it off, Russia has a friendly relationship with Turkey but the EU relationship with Turkey is fading fast.

Note that Turkey is a NATO ally and US missiles are based in Turkey. Meanwhile the EU and Turkey are in a huge feud over immigration and judicial rights.

How is this supposed to work?


It's ironic that Margaret Macmillan noted the role of increased communication as a factor in WWI.

Look at all the allegations regarding Russia, Facebook, False News, Google, CNN etc., currently circulating.

Personal Character Hardball

On May 17 2018, I reported Trump Hardball: Europe Pressured to Cancel Russia Pipeline to Avoid Trade War

Flashback July 23, 1914: Austria-Hungary Issues Ultimatum to Serbia.

At six o’clock in the evening on July 23, 1914, nearly one month after the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a young Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Baron Giesl von Gieslingen, ambassador of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Serbia, delivers an ultimatum to the Serbian foreign ministry.

According to the terms of the ultimatum delivered on July 23, the Serbian government would have to accept an Austro-Hungarian inquiry into the assassination, notwithstanding its claim that it was already conducting its own internal investigation. Serbia was also to suppress all anti-Austrian propaganda and to take steps to root out and eliminate terrorist organizations within its borders—one such organization, the Black Hand, was believed to have aided and abetted the archduke’s killer, Gavrilo Princip, and his cohorts, providing weapons and safe passage from Belgrade to Sarajevo.

Three days later, on July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, beginning the First World War.

The allies were set. Russia intervened on behalf of Serbia, Germany on behalf of Austria-Hungary, France was an ally of Russia, etc.

You get the picture.

The US, which had no business in the fight at all, actually prolonged the war by entering it. It is unclear if the US and UK even entered on the right side.

Actually, there was no right side, it was none of our business. By medling, we created the ideal backdrop for WWII.

IF Only

David Stockman laments If only the U.S. had stayed out of WWI.

Had President Woodrow Wilson not misled the U.S. on a messianic crusade, Europe’s Great War would have ended in mutual exhaustion in 1917.

Both sides would have gone home battered and bankrupt — but would not have presented any danger to the rest of mankind.

Indeed, absent Wilson’s crusade, there would have been no allied victory, no punitive peace — and no war reparations. Nor would there have been a Leninist coup in Petrograd — or later on, the emergence of Stalin’s barbaric regime.

Likewise, there would have been no Hitler, no Nazi dystopia, no Munich, no Sudetenland and Danzig corridor crises, no need for a British war to save Poland, no final solution and Holocaust, no global war against Germany and Japan — and, finally, no incineration of 200,000 civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Nothing Good Comes From War

We do not know what would have happened. But nothing good ever happens from ridiculous wars.

How many times do we have to prove this?

One might have thought that WWI, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Syria would be proof enough.

But no!

Trump is itching for a war with Iran and a trade war with the whole world.

Déjà Vu

Trade wars and nationalism are a prelude to real wars. Historically speaking, this is 1913 déjà vu.

That is only an observation, not a prediction. But as with 1914, we better take a different path than the one we are on.


Gaius Frakkin'… Leakanthrophy Fri, 06/08/2018 - 06:12 Permalink

How about replacing your entire population with niggers? Is there any precedent for that? Cuz that's what's happening. There's a birthing imbalance Mish and it's unsustainable.

War is a part of human nature. You either have real war or pointless war to satisfy the drive. Pick one.

In reply to by Leakanthrophy

ravolla Arnold Fri, 06/08/2018 - 10:33 Permalink

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In reply to by Arnold

Baron Samedi Handful of Dust Fri, 06/08/2018 - 09:24 Permalink

Yes - was trying to explain to some people about Yurp's (NATO-issued) kneepads - and actually found one or more ZH articles about stealth Fed aid to Yurpeen banks:  bingo!

Best thing Italy can do is to renounce the debt and resume the Lire - and teach this lesson to Greece (dumping Tsipras and his Syriza con artists along the way).

Any sign of G-S (or IMF/WB) involvement in a "restructuring" will mean Italy has failed and will stagger along hemorrhaging like Greece.

(We note Argentina has just drunk a bottle of Chateau Jonestown from the IMF)


In reply to by Handful of Dust

RedBaron616 1 Alabama Fri, 06/08/2018 - 15:46 Permalink

Silliest article yet. Everyone tries to make everything fit a past model. Same thing with a financial disaster. Everyone thinks it will happen exactly like the last one or the one before it. First of all, when something happens, be it war or financial chaos, it will catch most everyone by surprise because it won't follow their nice, neat scenarios, so they will be wandering around trying to figure out what to do.

In reply to by 1 Alabama

RudeDog2 Gaius Frakkin'… Fri, 06/08/2018 - 10:19 Permalink

Gaius - Exactly!  Mish ignores this huge "migrant" elephant in the room.  Research the Holodomor Mish, how the dual citizen Bolsheviks starved ethnic Ukrainians, then brought in a replacement people. This is defined as genocide in UN website 

Much more relevant and urgent war already being waged on europeans / americans

In reply to by Gaius Frakkin'…

earleflorida Leakanthrophy Fri, 06/08/2018 - 07:30 Permalink

Vol. I [and] Vol. II of a 'Thirty Year' modern day 'World War[s]' ?!?

Trump's "Art of the Deal" aka., "Mein Kampf"

as Trump's (my) struggles with the New World Order 'Roman Empire'...  

Ps. regarding said history as your backdrop[?]--- sad

war of 1812 pathetic analysis on all sides--- it was the Indian war backed by the British (GB and France armed the Indians and were allies) in a French dominated Canada!

Britain started the war funding France and (this deliberate incident to ignite the conflagration) Serbia via Russia (Ottoman Prize of Dardanelles Strait and Bosphorus)…--- lastly they all wanted the war and it was in America's interest to get involved knowing quite well if they hadn't the German's would have won the war!!!

This was all a planned power grab by America and GB,.. but it was to be as mentioned above designed to fail with the Versailles Treaty!!! GB was deeply wounded and bankrupted in 1943!  

In reply to by Leakanthrophy

earleflorida Arnold Fri, 06/08/2018 - 12:40 Permalink

Seriously Arnold;  In all due respect I'm on your side in all those/[these] matters ---

here's a very short pamphlet series: 'America Looks Ahead' :: ***No.11; May,1945***  author[s]:: 'Rogers, James Grafton'

Title::   "World Policing and the Constitution: An Inquiring into the Powers of the President and Congress, Nine Wars and a Hundred Military Operations, 1789-1945"  {(World Peace Foundation / Boston, Mass.)}

Fact: George (1789-1797) Washington trusted a lot of misfits/scoundrels in his cabinet that could have destroyed the Republic during his first and *second term. The KEY word [?] CABINET & FOREIGN POLICY!!!

Soooo... what we have here from 1946 to present is how [many] military operations and wars[?]…????? has a country without a definitive/ defined standing army constitution mandate[d] protocol exist[doa] !!!

In reply to by Arnold

Quantify cookies anyone Fri, 06/08/2018 - 07:58 Permalink

I have to agree it looks planned to me. A teenager could figure out the result of mixing Islam with the West. Its a hand grenade with the pin pulled. Add overpopulation and race tensions that have been stirred up by Obama and his cronies, a financial crisis that makes 1929 look pale in comparison  and you have the makings of a serious world wide conflict. Hopefully the nukes stay in their silos.

In reply to by cookies anyone

earleflorida Quantify Fri, 06/08/2018 - 08:30 Permalink

Ponder this:   [F]rom the beginning of the Christian Crusades (satanic [?] Papacy) ~ 1095AD (let's just say the 12th Century) down to the [end?] of the persecution of Protestants by Catholics ,.. and ending with the 'Dragonades' of King Louis XIV (France/ Bourbon [Spain] Dynasty) near the close of the 17th Century (half a millennium) nearly two-hundred MILLION (200 mln.!) protestants perished in Europe! 

This doesn't include the Catholic's ---...,[nor] various [other religious sects!]. The Jesuits and the Reformation **{(Reformation Tyme`Line 1491-1688)}  played a great part in the 16th Century.

Lastly, a funny history fact regarding the 'Seven Year War' and 'Frederick (II) the Great' (1740-1786) of Prussia v. France, Austria, Russia, and Sweden which prevented the entire Protestant religion of Western and Southern Europe from being erased as a religion in modern history books!

Note2: The Seven (1756-1763) Year War was two simultaneous world conflicts --- GB v. Bourbon Dynasty [and] the French and Spanish conflicts!!!  

In reply to by Quantify

Quantify ohaitieaqui Fri, 06/08/2018 - 08:08 Permalink

The article is incorrect about missiles although it doesn't state what kind of missiles. But there are no offensive missiles in Turkey. The U.S. has pulled out a lot of equipment and personnel and all dependents. This has been coming for some time and they knew it. I see the U.S. possibly pulling out of turkey altogether in a year or 3.

In reply to by ohaitieaqui

DPLETTENBERG ohaitieaqui Fri, 06/08/2018 - 09:08 Permalink

I'm not sure if it can be said that WWI created the US involvement in WWII. If anything WWI created a desire for the US to avoid getting involved with european problems. It was the attack on Pearl Harbor which changed American sentiment about war overnight.

It is an interesting thought that the US prolonged WWI by being in it. I never heard that idea before but it makes sense. 

In reply to by ohaitieaqui

Posa ohaitieaqui Fri, 06/08/2018 - 09:32 Permalink

Yeah. That's why the US/ NATO has Russia surrounded on all sides in the West, by land and sea, moving in heavy weaponry to Ukraine and the Baltic States, installed a first strike ABM system in Poland and Romania... 18,000 troops on maneuvers within spitting distance of the Russian borders... all-out economic warfare ... no doubt, all just a sign of peaceful intentions in the EU.

In reply to by ohaitieaqui

BritBob Fri, 06/08/2018 - 05:12 Permalink

Indoctrination causes war.

Argentina's territorial indoctrination:- Escude´explained that the intensification of ''territorial indoctrination'' had a snowball effect. It began in 1947 and by 1979 Argentinians were already mentally conditioned to go to war, if necessary to protect a particular image of the national territory. The image taught to two generations of Argentinians was that the national territory was composed of two parts: ''the continental territory'' and the ''imaginary territory'' and the imaginary territory made up of the ''Antarctic region'' and the ''ocean islands'' (Parodi, C.A. quoting Escude´ C. 1988).

Territorial indoctrination by Argentina almost led to war with Chile in 1978, and the Falklands War in 1982.

Falklands - Argentina's Imaginary Territory (1 pg):-

Mustahattu Fri, 06/08/2018 - 05:13 Permalink

“nothing good ever happens from ridiculous wars” tell that to those that benefit from wars. They always cash in and the worse the crisis the better. However they don’t want nuclear war because they want to live in relative safety in New York.

gespiri Fri, 06/08/2018 - 05:28 Permalink

What a bullshit article.  WWi was triggered by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.  Some even say that both world wars were started by the Germans. 

Arnold fishwharf Fri, 06/08/2018 - 07:37 Permalink

Many intertwined Royal family relationships, trading and military alliances, and a good opportunity to expand borders against declining Empires.

The Archduke was just the match.
The powder keg had been around for a hundred years, with small skirmishes as a prelude to the grand finale.

In reply to by fishwharf

Joe A Fri, 06/08/2018 - 05:28 Permalink

The tragedy with Europe is that at a certain point one country wants to dominate the others and impose its system on to them. In the run up to WWI you had a recently emerging power called Germany that challenged the others in Europe: Britain, France and Russia. The outcome would be who would be boss in Europe and their colonies. The outcome of course was that Europe laid in ruins and the US would be the new emerging power. Their position was consolidated after WWII. Now in Europe you have a new emerging power called the EU battling it out with the European countries. The EU can't do it alone and relied on Germany that then went ahead to get on top again.

Throughout history, wars are caused by elites and aspiring elites whether they'd be political, royal, industrial or religious or a combination of these. If you would get soldiers of opposing sides in the pub then they would see they are not that different and would have nothing to gain in slaughtering each other. They would pack up and shoot anybody in their way trying to stop them from going home. But elites know very well how to play people against each other.

yvhmer Joe A Fri, 06/08/2018 - 06:00 Permalink

The German Unification of 1871, left a bitter taste in France as they had to part with Elsas -Lotharingen and the King in Prussia was made Kaiser in Germany in Paris.... 

Bismarck always had maintained Germany to remain a continental power. 

The Unification and subsequent economical development caused Germany to eclipse Brittain as the industrial powerhouse.

With some smart moving, Germany by 1914, has acquired colonies in Africa and Oceania, China, invested heavily in the Ottoman Empire ( railroads ) Egypt and Morrocco, etc. 

France was not ready for peace, they wanted war. ( entente cordial) UK was not ready for peace, but waiting for the chance to utterly destroy that runt of Hohenzollern. 

In essence, I fully agree with the notion espoused in the article that personal sensibilities drive the road to war. But these sensibilities were supported by mass information, or rather propaganda. All of a sudden, anything German was considered evil, while before it was a positive driver for civilization. 

The rest is a mere waiting for a chance and maneuvering . 

The current situation in Nato is, that Nato has it's nickers in a twist. ...

Happy G7 summit. 

In reply to by Joe A

B-Bond yvhmer Fri, 06/08/2018 - 08:47 Permalink

Moneypenny, France WWl culpability dossier.

• German speaking E-L was part of German Holy Roman Empire since 900's.
• 1648 France helped themselves to E-L from a 30 Years' War ravaged Germany.
• 9 Years' War ravaged SW Germany, further French attempt to conquer all lands up to Rhine river west bank.
• Napoleonic Wars further French attempt to conquer all Continental Europe.

In reply to by yvhmer

otschelnik Fri, 06/08/2018 - 05:30 Permalink

This is terrible article. 

1) Growth of mass media enabled European powers to manipulate public opinion like never before.  Today - we have the exact opposite; where the internet makes content all but impossible for governments to control.

2) Nobody, I mean NOBODY in Europe is prepared for war, even members of NATO reneg on their obligatory defense contributions.  Russia isn't a threat nobody seriously believes that, US troop strength in Europe is 15% of what it was before collapse of the USSR.

3) There are no conflicting allies, there are factions that know the current system is unsustainable.   The majority of British want to leave the EU, the Catalanans are tired of subsidizing the rest of backward Spain, the PIGS central bankers know that the Euro is immiserizing their countries and ECB QE a la Draghi is just putting off the day of reckoning.