Wednesday, May 27, 2009
THE BIGGEST FAIL IN EUROPEAN HISTORY: Dropping the Pilot
Let's take a step back for just a second, and consider the phenomenon of nicknames. Throughout European history, we as a race have had a tendency to don monkiers of all kinds on important figures. Nearly every single one has been a slap in the face. Catherine the Great of Russia, who actually instituted some pretty sweet Enlightened reforms, received the lovely nickname "Madame Snake." Catherine de Medici, who impressively managed to have an important say in the politics of France from 1559 all the way to her death in 1589, was called "the Monstrous Regiment of Women." If you play an important role in European affairs and you escape without being given a sucky nickname, you have achieved a great feat.
Otto von Bismarck was nicknamed "The Pilot." Before you explode in reaction to how awesome that is, take a deep breath and try to finish reading this blog first. Imagine how many cool things someone nicknamed The Pilot can do! Maybe he flew hang-gliders around all day. Maybe he drove awesome pirate ships. Maybe he had a little Captain in him. Maybe he even sat behind the steering wheel of one of these bad boys.
Does it even matter why it was bad that Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany decided to dispose of Otto von Bismarck's services of "piloting" his country's foreign policy in 1890? It's pretty obvious that if you get rid of The Pilot, you're dumb. If you can understand that Bismarck was freakin awesome and had an incredible nickname, then you can understand that Wilhelm really screwed up. Seriously, he's The Pilot. Sweet mother of god.
This unfortunate tale goes all the way back to Napoleon, my friends. After his complete domination over nearly all of Europe ended, the balance of power on the Continent was severely disrupted. Enter Prince Metternich of Austria. To maintain peace, he and the Concert of Europe established a strict conservative dominance over all the land that previously belonged to Napoleon, and then some. With nationalism bubbling in every country and revolutions sproutin up like they were going out of style, Europe started to become a very unstable place. And then The Pilot flew down and made it all better. This guy rocks. I'm pumped up just writing about him.
An angry France wants to try to win back its losses from the Franco-Prussian War, Serbia's Pan-Slavism movement is about ready to set Europe on fire, Russia is humiliated and pretty pissed off by its terrible defeat in Crimean War, and Austria-Hungary is becoming desperate to remain a key player in European affairs, but none of this phases Otto. His Congress of Berlin in 1878 shut down Russia's attempts at expansion that would have set off nearly every European country into a hissy fit. Austria-Hungary is pleased, and agrees to the Dual Alliance (Austria-Hungary, check). Italy joins in, making it the Triple Alliance, and things were lookin pretty swell (Italy, check). And before Russia can cause trouble, Bismarck slaps down a fat Reinsurance Treaty with them in 1887 (Russia, check). Without Russia's support, Serbia becomes far less serious of a military threat, and Otto has yet again shown em who's boss (Serbia, check). The only other major powers left are The United States (just chillin a whole Atlantic Ocean away, not causing any trouble), Great Britain (splendid isolation and the guarantee of naval dominance, yo), and France (still really pissed). France is all alone diplomatically, however, and thanks to Bismarck's brilliant statesmanship and use of the Realpolitik, the French threat disintegrated as they lacked the allies to achieve anything that could have been detrimental to the balance of power.
Oh, Wilhelm. You piece of crap. Ya just needed that "place in the sun," didn't you? I'm gonna cast aside my usual tone of completely unbiased, unadulterated historical fact, and say something that could be considered more of an opinion. I hate Wilhelm II. He sucks.
In THE BIGGEST FAIL IN EUROPEAN HISTORY, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany dropped the freakin Pilot. Dropped him like it's hot. Dropped him straight on his German behind. Without his superb diplomatic abilities, it all began to fall apart. Wilhelm began by simply getting rid of the Reinsurance Treaty. With Russia now angry again, they jumped back to supporting Serbia's crazed Pan-Slavism. France was hankerin for an ally, and went straight for Russia. And just so he could be that much more of a stupid head, Wilhelm began an incredibly costly naval arms race with Great Britain, which brought them into this now world-wide conflict. The Triple Entente allied Great Britain, France, and Russia together in 1907 and Europe had officially split into two camps. World War I was a comin'. It was the end of an era, and this is the end of this ridiculously large post.
Man, what a mustache on Bismarck.