Germany’s Failure to Achieve World Empire Does Not Negate the Possibility for the Future

Sri Aurobindo explains the specific reasons why Germany’s failure in its attempt to achieve dominance during the First World War does not imply that such a result remains unattainable.  There were specific conditions and weaknesses in the German approach to the matter that caused its downfall.  Should a future nation with imperial ambitions find a way to solve these or similar concerns, it becomes reasonable to assume that a world-dominion may remain an open possibility.  Even Germany’s second attempt with the rise of the Third Reich was doomed to failure for very similar reasons to the first, although clearly a much greater force of will power was active in the second try.

Speaking of Germany in the First World War, Sri Aurobindo notes:  “It had the strongest military, scientific and national organisation which any people has yet developed, but it lacked the gigantic driving impulse which could alone bring an attempt so colossal to fruition, the impulse which France possessed in a much greater degree in the Napoleonic era. It lacked the successful diplomatic genius which creates the indispensable conditions of success.  It lacked the companion force of sea-power which is even more necessary than military superiority to the endeavor of world-domination, and by its geographical position and the encircling position of its enemies it was especially open to all the disadvantages which must accompany the mastery of the seas by its natural adversary.  The combination of overwhelming ea-power with overwhelming land-power (But now also, in a far greater degree, overwhelming air-power) can alone bring so vast an enterprise into the domain of real possibility;  Rome itself could only hope for something like a world-empire when it had destroyed the superior maritime force of Carthage.  Yet so entirely did German statesmanship miscalculate the problem that it entered into the struggle with the predominant maritime Power of the world already ranked in the coalition of its enemies.  Instead of concentrating its efforts against this one natural adversary, instead of utilising the old hostility of Russia and France against England, its maladroit and brutal diplomacy had already leagued these former enemies against itself; instead of isolating England, it had succeeded only in isolating itself and the manner in which it began and conducted the war still farther separated it morally and gave an added force to the physical isolation effected by the British blockade.”

During the Second World War, Germany attempt to solve at least some of these issues, for a time.  The treaty with Russia, after neutralizing France through the blitzkrieg, had the effect of isolating Britain.  The U-boat fleet helped to neutralize England’s natural maritime advantages and effectuated critical supply shortages on the isolated island nation.  The control of the entire continent of Europe ensured a strong supply line with multiple access points until air power begin to neutralize this logistical strength.  When Germany invaded Russia, it effectively neutralized the diplomatic advantages it had won in making the treaty in the first place and once again joined England and Russia in a combine against the German Empire.

Once again the failure appears to be related to weaknesses inherent in the specific attempt rather than in the potential success of such an imperial ambition through force to achieve what may be seen as a modern-day formation akin to the Roman Empire.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part I, Chapter 9, The Possibility of a World-Empire, pp. 69-70

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