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von Bernhardi's views are unbelievably, fascinatingly politically incorrect today. He basically argues that war is good and peace is unhealthy, because war is a "biological necessity" - the law of struggle for existence applies to humans as much as other organisms, and to countries as well as individuals. Like a lot of people in this period, he had overdosed on Darwin. He further argues that it is Germany's right, nay, duty, to wage war to further her interests, and that since Germany is trapped in these "unnatural" borders, it must get colonies to have somewhere to put her excess population. What is not willingly given, must be taken by force. He also believes that Germany's is the highest civilization on earth.
While I completely disagree with 99 pc of what he writes, it is quite refreshing to read something so nakedly, shamelessly cynical and, I suppose, honest. It was published in 1912, and what followed - the First World War and the rise of Nazism - makes total sense when you have read it. If this was a widespread attitude in his day, the theory that the Germans somehow wanted the first world war to happen and were bent on world conquest even then, actually seems plausible.
On the other hand, there was something about this timeperiod, too. It had much more enthusiasm for war than anyone since 1914. It was, after all, a world which hadn't witnessed the horrors of WWI and WWII (and various later conflicts), but associated war thing the quick, limited campaigns of Bismarck's Germany or the Crimean war, or, at worst, the US Civil War.
Oh, and the book is free! I love my kindle!
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