Dedicated to the Restoration of Progressive Democracy
Saturday, August 09, 2014
If Only the Kaiser Had Won
"Imagine, a hundred years from now they'll be celebrating all this."
Stephen Harper might be in a one-man orgy of triumphalism over the First World War, celebrating Canada's grand victory, but a Canadian who actually knows something about military history, Gwynne Dyer, says the world might have been a better place if only our side had lost.
But suppose Germany had somehow managed to win. What would the peace treaty have been like?
Not nearly as bad as the Treaty of Versailles, the peace we imposed. A “victorious” Germany would not have had the power to strip the losers of their colonies, take away parts of their home territory, impose huge reparations and make the losers “admit” that the war was all their fault, the way we did. It would have been a peace treaty that basically restored the prewar status quo.
In the aftermath, having achieved a no-score draw thinly disguised as a victory, Germany likely would have been more or less democratic: no Hitler.
And the losers, Britain and France (and, at a great distance off, Canada), would not have lost so badly that they were at risk of slipping into some sort of dictatorship. Which probably also means that there would not have been a Second World War just 20 years later.
So a German victory wouldn’t have been all that bad a result, really. Certainly no worse than the Allied victory, which led to a second world war that killed far more people than the first, and was effectively won by the Soviet Union.
That in turn led to a 40-year Cold War (which could easily have turned into a Third World War) – and Canada signed up for that as well.
Now that's not going to be music to the ears of our old gosh shucker of a prime minister but reality almost never is. To Stephen Harper, the First World War, like the War of 1812 and everything else, is so much better as he wishes to believe it was.
Unlike Sideshow Steve, Gwynne Dyer knows a good deal about wars and the people who fight them. Having served in the armed forces of Canada, the United States and Great Britain, he earned a PhD in war studies at the University of London and went on to be a lecturer at the British Military College, Sandhurst, and serves on the Board of Governors of the Royal Military College of Canada.