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.

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