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An Open Letter to Gunter Grass

All this is well known. I should like you to think about something that is less well known, Herr Grass, and that is the fact that the First and Second World Wars were entirely unnecessary. That's right: the fact that they were fought in the first place is entirely the fault of people like you, and specifically of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who could have pre-empted them in 1905. Kaiser Wilhelm II and Günter Grass: a couple of soul-mates.

In March of that year, Germany demanded an open door for trade with the French colony of Morocco and called for Moroccan independence. Morocco was a pretext, of course; Britain and France had just signed the Entente Cordiale, and Germany wanted to force a crisis to preempt its eventual encirclement. Russia, you will recall, was in the midst of the 1905 Revolution following its humiliation by Japan, and Britain was in no position to defend France.

If Kaiser Wilhelm II had had the nerve to declare war on France during the 1905 Morocco Crisis, Count Alfred von Schlieffen's invasion plan would have crushed the French within weeks. Russia's Romanov dynasty, humiliated by its defeat in the Russo-Japanese War and beset by popular revolt, likely would have fallen under more benign circumstances than prevailed in 1917. England had not decided upon an alliance with the Franco-Russian coalition in 1905. The naval arms race between Germany and England, a major source of tension, was yet to emerge. War in 1905 would have left Wilhelmine Germany the sole hegemon in Europe, with no prospective challenger for some time to come. Germany's indecision left the initiative in the hands of Russia, elements of whose secret service backed the Serbian terrorists who murdered the Austrian crown prince in 1914, forcing Germany into war under far less favorable circumstances. Hohenzollern Germany, to be sure, was in many ways a disgusting place, but hardly to be compared to the Third Reich.

Think of it, Günter Grass: all that misery and bloodshed and recriminations, not to mention all your dreadful fiction — it all was unnecessary, because Kaiser Wilhelm II was a bully and a braggart rather than a man of action. If only Benyamin Netanyahu had been Kaiser in 1905, none of these terrible things would have happened!

It's too late for Germany to reverse the mistakes of 1905, to be sure, but that's no excuse for America or Israel to repeat them.

By the way, how did you like Inglorious Basterds?