ORIGINAL: Erik Rutins
Thanks Alfred, some good ideas. Assuming that, with Germany in a stronger position in Europe after 1905, and realizing this is getting off into wild assed guesses, when and how do you think WWI/WWII would occur, if at all?
I'm not certain that there would be a WWI at all. Instead I think one should be looking much more closely at internal conflict. Continuing on with this wild frontier country, Nostradamus would probably have made the following cryptic comments.
1. The economic union envisaged would probably have created economic tensions. With the Second Reich acting as a giant economic vacuum cleaner, I can see balance of payment difficulties creating domestic social tensions in the weaker economies.
2. The main diplomatic tension would now be between the UK and the Reich. Bethman-Hollweg's later view of shutting out British exports to France would have been extended to the rest of the economic union. This would have looked too much like Napoleon's Continental Blockade. As such it would have created a much deeper running sore than the naval race race between the two countries.
3. With the main tension now being UK-Germany, the more likely trigger for conflict between them probably stems from colonial rivalry. Less likely is from Germany supporting its Allies.
4. With a military and economic emasculated France, Britain could not fully rely upon French assistance in the event of war with Germany. The list of potential British allies is quite limited.
(a) Austria-Hungary was already too much under the sway of the Reich. Whilst Franz Joseph reigned, I don't see any realistic option for detaching Austrai from its German alliance.
(b) Italy is a possibility for changing sides. If Britain is of the view that Austria is too much in the German camp, it might consider Italy a useful counter weight to keep Austria occupied. The combination of good Anglo-Italian relations and bad Austro-Italian relations could see a British-Italian alliance,
(c) Russia is the big prize for Britain. An alliance between the two would make sense but Russia would be domestically weak thereby reducing the value of the alliance.
(d) The Dominions would probably be integrated much closer into Britain's military planning. I can see much greater pressure being brought onto Canada for it to maintain a bigger peacetime military establishment
5. People nowadays tend to overlook that the Second Reich was not really a democracy but an autocratic state built on the base of a military class, superimpossed upon many German principalaties. The Bismark social reforms of the 1880s had bought a certain level of social acceptance but there was always a divide between the rulers and the ruled. In August 1914 it was a surprise that the Social Democratic party, swept up in nationalist euphoria, voted in favour of war and to set aside the class "struggle".
In a scenario where Britain (and a few other countries) have a further 20-30 years of implementing political reforms and Wilhelm II still alive, I can see increased pressure within Germany for political and social reforms to increase. Exacerbated by the various different internal political and economic differences found in the various German lands. At the beginning of the century, it was Germany and not Russia which many thought would be the more likely to experience a Marxist revolution.