History is always written by the victors, or more accurately by those who control what a population will learn; its relationship to true truth is coincidental. Accordingly it is always necessary to revise it, even while the controllers sneer at revisionism. Recently I encountered on a forum of supposedly intelligent people, for example, the view that the last three big European wars had been caused by German militarism; presented as if everyone knew it, and that only ignorant kooks would disagree.
All wars are begun by governments, and German ones are to blame like the rest, but not generally more than the rest; and "militarism" is rather a flexible term. Does it mean that war-lovers run a government? - that weapon-makers control a government? What? In slinging around such a term, American historians ought to notice their house is glass; ever since 1945, there has here been a very unhealthy interaction between manufacturers of weaponry and executors of foreign policy. The former prosper only when their products are used up, so are selectively generous to the campaign funds of the latter. Regarding Europe, blaming Krupps and the Kaiser is still in fashion in government schools, so let's examine that particular archist myth, and revise a little history.
On the basis of that falsehood the US military has stayed in Germany for seven decades after the last war ended, while the German army has been kept on a very short leash; at great cost to all of us. Here's how it really all began.
In the decade surrounding 1800, after the 1789 French Revolution devastated the already unsound economy of France and hyperinflation had taken hold, the fix chosen was to plunder the country's neighbors. Napoleon Bonaparte's skills as a general were put to use; his army ravaged Europe to the West and especially to the East, he became in effect dictator of the continent and in 1805 had himself crowned as Emperor. French hegenomy was at its peak, starvation was averted and the then-separate principalities in Germany were at his feet, as was even the powerful Austrian Empire. His later foray into Russia was less triumphant.
The Prussian government (H.M. Frederick William III) was horrified that Boney had so easily defeated its army, and acted decisively to recover and prevent a repeat; his three actions affect us to this day. One was to institute universal, tax-funded schools, to train every future generation to be obedient subjects of the State. This was the "Prussian Model" admired and copied by Horace Mann and implemented in America forty years later. The second was to take a selection of their graduates to mold into a well-disciplined fighting force. And the third was to begin the process of unifying Germany into a single nation. That took half a century, but the result of it all was, by 1870, an amalgam with a strong national pride and a powerful army. This was the origin of the "German militarism" myth.
Fast-forward to 1870, when the French government objected to an apparent German intention to accept a Spanish invitation for Prince Leopold, Kaiser Wilhelm I's nephew, to become King of Spain. When the Kaiser brushed off the French objection as being none of their business, the French government declared war. Thus: the 1870 war was begun by France, not "German militarism."
The outcome was a disaster; in seven weeks the Germans had surrounded Paris, and waited for its people to starve and surrender; which they did the following winter. Then the Germans went home. The French were deeply humiliated, but it was a war they'd begun.
In 1914, "German militarism" was not the cause of WW-1. That cause was the network of alliances among Russia, France, Austria, Germany and Italy, the kind of arrangement later called "MAD".
Plenty of blame to allocate, but not much of it goes to the Germans. After Serbian nationalists (not "anarchists"!) had assassinated the visiting Austrian Archduke in July, the Austrian government invaded Serbia, which the Russian one regarded as its ally. The Russian Czar then declared war on Austria. Since Serbia was not a member of the treaty ring, the action calling those treaties into play was therefore committed by Czar Nicholas. Not by "German militarists" - nor even Austrian ones.
By treaty, the Germans then had to come to Austria's aid and France to Russia's; the war had begun. As of early August, the one, big unknown factor was Britain - which had not joined the treaty ring but which had struck vague and deniable "ententes" with Russia and France.
Fatally, and under intense pressure from Winston Churchill, the British government elected to join the fray. Had they not, I have no doubt that the greater military skill of the Germans would have prevailed; the French would have been swiftly vanquished as in 1870, then the Russians would have withdrawn rather than face the undistracted might of Austria and Germany. The war would have been over within a year, and most of its 16 million victims would have survived. We would probably never heard of Bolshevism, and the Russian autocracy would have morphed into a democracy. The UK would have had a powerful rival on the Continent, but would not have been bankrupt.
In 1939, once again "German militarism" was not the cause of WW-2. That cause, as now very widely acknowledged, was the vicious imposition of blame on to Germany by the "Treaty" of Versailles in 1919. It rankled deeply and the prime appeal of Nazism to the German voter was its promise to reverse it. Hitler's whole strategy in the 1930s was to do so without starting a general war; he did rebuild an efficient military but boasted of more strength than he actually had. Prior to September 1939, he was brilliantly successful.
Then, after he invaded Poland so as to secure a "corridor" to the German enclave in Danzig, the British government declared war and the French one followed quickly. Note please: WW-2 began when it was declared by Britain; not by Germany. Chamberlain declared it because he had been tricked (by FDR, in Hoover's opinion and mine) into issuing a guarantee to Poland the previous March. Arguably therefore, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the ultimate author of that War, and the cause of its 60- to 80 million deaths; but not "German militarism."
I hope these remarks will help give pause to someone known to the reader who is still immersed in statist mythology, but in any case they may serve to illustrate how massive is the job of decontaminating the minds of our neighbors if the task is undertaken one issue at a time. A much better way is to cut through the confusion and draw their attention to the principles at work; that is, the real nature of government, the meaning of freedom, and the way to end the former and realize the latter. Such is the purpose of the Freedom Academy.