In Comparing Trump to Hitler, We Are Comparing Him to the Wrong German

I just finished re-reading Barbara Tuchman's the Guns of August at almost the same moment I was also reading from Trump's UN speech.  I was struck how much Trump's nationalism flavored with a sense that his country is somehow not getting its due in world affairs seems so similar to Kaiser Wilhelm II, leader of Germany from the late 19th century through the First World War.  And I think the fear many of us have is that Trump's seemingly ham-handed, blustering, confrontational style will mirror Wilhelm's mis-steps that played a large role in the advent of WWI.

It wasn't necessarily that Wilhelm wanted war and conspired to get it -- in fact, his panicky foot-dragging in the crucial late days of late July and early August of 1914 were an interesting part of the story.  He seemed to me like a blowhard in a bar that always talked about throwing down with everyone around him but was surprised on the day he actually found himself being taken out to the parking lot for a real fight (and he was not the only driver of German actions -- the army for one had a beautiful plan and almost couldn't bear not to try it).  But Wilhelm by his bluster and unpredictability and untrustworthiness and at times outright nuttiness spent years making all the options that were not-war less feasible.


  1. me:

    Wow. Kudos for knowing your actual German history, most of the folks from my former history course (Germans) wouldn't.

    I'll add that we're not only comparing Trump to the wrong German, but by comparing to the likes of Hitler we're definitely setting the wrong standard.

    Trump is a terribly incompetent president comparing to the last six American presidents, and that's a failure of both parties - how on earth don't you field a better alternative?

    The disgruntlement in both halves of the actual voting population has long been plain, how on earth are the parties the function of which is to present eligible candidates end up with the likes of Hillary and Trump?

  2. August Hurtel:

    Well, we will be circling around the same drain until somebody figures out how to undo what Bismarck did.

  3. The_Big_W:

    Maybe we should give North Korea more money in exchange for a promise to not build nuclear weapons. That worked so well the first time....

    BTW, Trumps callout of the abject failure of Communism and Socialism was epic and dare I say, Reaganesqe.

  4. The_Big_W:

    Better Trump struggle at the role of President against a hostile press than have Hillary as an totally incompetent president where the press would constantly tell us how great a ruler she was....

  5. Mercury:

    The worst part of Trump's UN speech was: "Last month, I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan."....especially if you've been watching the PBS Vietnam documentary.

    t's hard to determine just exactly how big a threat NOK actually posses to the continental US but many Americans voted for Trump because they wanted to cut the crap with these endless, pointless wars, not start more.

    The "evil" Steve Bannon is exactly right. There is no military solution here (short of maybe "decapitation" by special forces) since the NOKs can flatten Seoul and kill millions in 20 minutes with conventional cannon fire if they want to.

    The Korean War was officially a UN project that technically never ended and 60+ years later we have this mess plus an entire nation full of zombies instead of what S. Korea has become. Thanks International Community! Hard to believe MacArthur would have done worse if we had let him off the leash instead of firing him....or if we just stayed out of the whole thing completely.

    If the UN and Europe have so many great ideas about how to handle the world's military threats they should do some of the heavy lifting themselves instead of expecting the US to do so at their direction. Trump can by as blustery and confrontational as he wants in that regard as far as I'm concerned.

  6. August Hurtel:

    Sanctions on Cuba, which the Castros have benefitted immensely from.
    Trying to screw with Iran again, when we ought not to.

    There was a lot of bad stuff in there.

  7. mlhouse:

    Terribly incompetent he say without any supporting evidence. Same goes to the claims he is a "racist" and anti-semite. The incompetence, racist, anti-semite attacks are just political attacks without evidence that people like "me" parrot everyday.

    Donald Trump has done a great job where he has had the opportunities. I get it if you are opposed to what he has done, but that is clearly not incompetence. For example, he immediately and correctly shifted U.S. Middle East policy away from the Obama's support of creating Iran as Middle Eastern regional power even if that power conflicted with U.S. national interests. I can't see a good argument for supporting retaining Obama's Middle East policy, and I will not claim that there are not weaknesses to any policy, but the steps are significant even if you are ignorant of them or ignore them.

  8. me:

    Not my point - giving us a choice between Hillary and Trump is the thing I take umbrage at. Can you truly think of no better candidates for this job? Heck, if I throw a tennis ball into a crowd of locals, I am more likely to hit an acceptable human being.

  9. me:

    Seriously, just google "trump" and "incompetence" for handy made lists of examples. Never mind his positions or lack thereof (clearly, there's a side to the perpetrators of hate crimes and they are just as much right as peaceful protesters and the rule of law is only important if it applies to our enemies), if you so wish you can count the walls and health care repeals and jobs created. Also, great job on cutting FEMAs budget right ahead of those hurricanes.

  10. The_Big_W:

    Oh there were lots of better candidates. But the party machines and the media conspired to give us shit candidates.

    But again I'll take the candidate the media set up to take the fall over the anointed candidate every time...

  11. mlhouse:

    Your rants are just silly BS. I agree Congress demonstrated their incompetence on ObamaCare Repeal. You can't back it up. You just make crap up. But that is standard operating procedure of the Hate Trump crowd.

  12. me:

    Gave you a few examples above, none of which you apparently read. I'll turn this around on you - just ignoring all the failures and demonstrating unreasonable loyalty is just like the Love Trump crowd... if you really want the short list excluding failures we would ideologically disagree about: no ACA repeal, no wall, no NAFTA renegotiation, no currency war against China, no muslim ban. Still can't believe the republicans are the folks who sold out to Russia.

  13. STW:

    You'll gain some additional insights by reading Tuchmann's "The Proud Tower." It examines the world for the 24 years leading up to that August.

  14. kidmugsy:

    Kaiser Bill was indeed a dangerous chump. His two biggest follies were perhaps (i) Deciding to build a large, new, well advertised force aimed at a future conflict with a future potential enemy that was therefore likelier to actually become a future enemy even though it had originally had no inclination in that direction. Then Britain, now China? (ii) Abandoning Bismarck's secret "re-insurance treaty" that was intended to stop a war between two third parties leading to a war between the two parties to the treaty. Then Russia, now Russia?

  15. Orion Henderson:

    Dan Carlin (Hardcore History) does a remarkable podcast on WW I called Blueprint for Armageddon which goes over this and the rest. It is really awesome-and will kill many many hours.

  16. Peabody:

    Can you please provide any actual evidence of how Republicans "sold out to Russia"? Telling people to "Google it" or lists of weak circumstantial evidence or relationships with Russia business people are not evidence.

    Trump has been ineffective in accomplishing his agenda. However, the whole Russia thing has made some of Glenn Becks theories circa 2010 seem to be on downright solid footing.

  17. TruthisaPeskyThing:

    Note to me: I was a strong holdout against Trump and was aghast as I saw him rolling toward the nomination. Yet, as I see unfair attacks against anyone, I tend to be more sympathetic toward that individual. And I have become much more sympathetic toward Trump. I think it is a stretch to blame lack of ACA repeal on Trump; the problem there is multi-faceted from hard-core libertarians who want blanket repeal to those with shallow understanding of the harm being done via Obamacare to Democrats who have decided not to cooperate period. Regarding the wall, I have no overwhelming desire to see a solid wall built over the entire border so there is nothing to get excited about there. NAFTA renegotiation is such a low priority. A currency war would not be presidential. And expectation of a Muslim ban would be a low-intelligent interpretation of campaign rhetoric; moreover, the modest moves made in the area protecting our borders have been met with judicial activism and opposition.
    In the meantime, Trump has made some moves that have been helpful -- what he could do and has done via executive order on ACA has indeed been helpful. His Supreme Court nomination shows competence. The FEMA response to disasters appears to be appropriate and helpful. His rules on lobbying have been a big attack on "the swamp." And I could go on.
    If you see Trump as incompetent, what would you say about Obama? He had 60 Democrat Senators and got a disastrous Health Care bill passed and an awkward Frank-Dodd bill passed . . . and not much else. And on those two bills, there is widespread agreement that they are not working well. In contrast, Trump has 52 Senators of whom at least 3 hate him.

  18. mlhouse:

    LOL....sold out to Russia. And you base this claim on what evidence? The Russian "Reset"? The denial of missile defense systems to Eastern Europe? The restrictions on U.S. oil production and energy infrastructure? The erasable "Red Line" and cowardly actions in Syria? The appeasement of Iran? The "1980's is calling and they want their foreign policy back" or "in my 2nd term I will have more flexibility"? Or does it just come down to straight out payouts to Bill and HIlliary Clinton, John Podesta and other cronies via Uranium One?

    AS far as "failures", I think you must not understand the U.S. system of government. Much of what Trump has tried to do to fulfill his campaign promises has been achieved. Other pieces have been blocked by the incompetent Congress and or whacko liberal judicial activism.

    And, some of the pieces are still on the agenda. Canada and Mexico have indicated they will be open to NAFTA renoegotiation and that is obviously going to be in their best interest. The currency war against China, which was more of a threat than a policy, has take a back seat to the North Korean issues but at the same time Trump has been the first president of the United States to tie Chinese cooperation against NoKorea to economic issues which is such an obvious policy position it is amazing the apparent "competent" presidents never thought of it.2

  19. mlhouse:

    And it is amazing what level these Russian stories are pushed by the Left.

    Obviously, Mueller is going to get a couple of easy picking victories from his "investigation". Mike Flynn will probably be convicted of improper financial and lobbying filings (doing the same thing John Podesta did). Manafort might be convicted of some minor financial misdeeds, maybe even of some consequence (trivial compared to what the Clintons have done).

    But Russian collusion always was a fiction.

  20. mesaeconoguy:


    That's where the real social welfare state catastrophe started.

  21. Just Thinking:

    mlhouse: Good point on Chinese cooperation against North Korea. Actually, it was thought of before. Bush emphasized the approach of securing Chinese (and Russian) joint efforts on North Korea. But that approach was lambasted by Clinton and Obama who preferred unilateral surrender for the purpose of appearances.

  22. marque2:

    Trump is the second best president in the last 50 years. Is doing incredible on foreign policy has done incredibly with deregulation and court appointments. He is about to get two wins one on Obama care and on on tax reform hopefully he will get the Wall as well. His handling of two.disasters has been exemplary. And while doing this he has expertly pointed out to the population just how corrupt establishment media are.

    You never.trumpets are nuts. Now we have to figure which mediocre or evil German leader he represents because you all are blind and jealous.

  23. marque2:

    Yeah I am sure Media matters thinks Trump is incompetent - just as right wing blogs said the same of Obama.

  24. marque2:

    He is looking unpaid parking tickets at this point.

  25. marque2:

    Yes the whole China thing was misunderstood. Standard libertarian and establishment thinking was that you just shouldn't irritate China - they might stop selling to us and we have sold our country to them - what would we do. And then they tell lies about all the money coming back anyway so it doesn't matter that the Chinese become our overlords.

    What Trump did was come up with issues that he could use as negotiating chips because he wisely knows that China needs us as well and he could use that to open up their markets - two way real trade - rather than the phoney pump up US corporate elites while selling out the country trade the libertarian and conservative economists seem to favor.

  26. mlhouse:

    The difference in the Bush and Trump approach was that Trump has absolutely linked trade and economic issues with Chinese cooperation on North Korea.

    What was hilarious about the Democratic opposition to Bush's North Korean policy is that they were simultaneously arguing that a multilateral approach to North Korea was bad policy, it should be unilateral and that the false claims of unilateral policy towards Iraq was likewise bad policy. Strong, bipartisan support for the multilateral policy of George W. Bush might have made a difference 15 years ago but the Democrats just wanted to oppose (inconsistently as it was) anything Bush (and Trump) attempted even if it sabotoged American security.

  27. Ann_In_Illinois:

    I went through the same process regarding Trump! I didn't even consider taking him seriously until it was down to a choice between him and Hillary. I figured that Trump was risky but at least there was an upside, whereas Hillary was guaranteed to be unrelentingly corrupt and dishonest.

    Trump as a President has been surprisingly good, if you look at what he's actually done and ignore the tweets and media misquotes. He's dramatically cut the excessive regulation that Obama piled on - his executive orders have helped in a number of areas, not just the ACA. His speech on infrastructure rightly identified the primary way the President can help our infrastructure be built - by cutting back on needless regulation (he vowed to bring the time it takes to get all Federal approvals of a project from 10 years down to "only" 2). He has appointed good people such as Betsy DeVoss who are doing great things in their agencies (granted, liberals may not like many of the changes - I'm speaking from my own perspective). He has reached out to both sides and is willing to work with people. He's still pushing on tax reform, which will help our economy grow again.

    On "the wall", I always interpreted that to mean enforcing our laws, and illegal immigration has fallen because he's already doing that. On the "muslim ban", as you said, there was never any reason to expect that, but I trust his approach to fighting muslim extremists. I do not believe that Trump is racist or Islamophobic or misogynistic.

    And I strongly supported what he said about Charlottesville - he immediately condemned the white supremacists in the strongest possible terms, and it was right for our President to also condemn the violence and intimidation from Antifa and Black Bloc and By Any Means Necessary. Peaceful protesters don't bring home-made flamethrowers, or even throw urine-balloons. The use of fascist tactics should be condemned even when the group using them pretends it is doing so to fight fascism.

  28. Ann_In_Illinois:

    Exactly! I loved what he said about Venezuela. The country has been destroyed by "21st century socialism", and we all just look the other way....

  29. John Smith:

    Funny how the incompetent newbie was able to defeat so many experienced politicians.

  30. jameske3001 .:

    I have been in tears for about 10 minutes laughing at this. Trump is not Hitler he is Kaiser Wilhelm. Brilliant. Inspired comedy.

  31. stan:

    Who are the silly people comparing Trump to Hitler? No one of any moral or intellectual substance. Moral masturbation doesn't interest me. Trump is the Kaiser?! That's not even close enough to call a stretch. Just a swing and a miss.

  32. stan:

    Reagan was the best president of the 20th century by a wide margin. Beat stagflation and won the cold war. And did both while being feverishly opposed by a House controlled by the other party, by the bureaucracy, by the news media, by the academy, by Hollywood and the culture and by most of Europe. Unbelievable when you stop to think about it. What would he have done if faced with a crazed communist shooting off missiles and threatening nukes? He'd have told him in no uncertain terms, "Go ahead punk, make my day."

  33. Ron Bruno:

    You act as if Medicare and SS are unsustainable. Can't the US keep raising the debt limit and borrow indefinitely? A few trillion here, a few trillion there... Who can keep track anymore?

  34. stan:

    Peter Robinson:

    "Congress may have thwarted the administration’s effort to replace Obamacare, but wherever the administration has been able to take action on its own it has done just that, demonstrating not incompetence but considerable effectiveness."
    "Still only eight months old, the Trump administration has demonstrated the ability to absorb new information and adjust to circumstances—that is, to learn in real time. It has displayed seriousness. It has gotten things done."

  35. seraphim:

    Seriously? Multiple members of Trumps team meet with Russian representatives prior to the election, lie about it under oath, get caught doing so, Russia hacks the US elections and spends campaign $ ... and you guys all think nothing happened?

  36. Nehemiah:

    just google trump and incompetence? Wow, you totally discredit yourself. Google the arbiter of what is truthful versus false news. Google who has no dog in the fight. And if you do google it who shows up? Why its the elite media who made up their mind before President Trump was sworn in.