Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided… but by iron and blood. — Otto von Bismarck
Thanks to TigerHawk I discovered Obamicon.Me, an interactive website that allows the user to create poster images in the famous style utilized on behalf of the Man of Hope and Change during his recent campaign for
Messiah President of the United States.
For my icon I chose a variant on my usual avatar. The image at right was derived from the familiar portrait of Otto von Bismarck in his Prussian uniform and pickelhaube. Obamicon.Me does not allow the user to place text above the image as well as below it, so some additional custom-editing was required to produce the final product. All in all, though, Obamicon.Me performs a valuable public service with their website.
Bismarck was Chancellor first of Prussia, and then of the newly-united German Empire after 1871. He was known as the “Iron Chancellor” in tribute to the “Blood and Iron” speech given before the Prussian Landtag in 1862:
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The position of Prussia in Germany will not be determined by its liberalism but by its power… Prussia must concentrate its strength and hold it for the favorable moment, which has already come and gone several times. Since the treaties of Vienna, our frontiers have been ill-designed for a healthy body politic. Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided — that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849 — but by iron and blood.
“Blood and Iron” is more euphonious than “Iron and Blood”, so the former became the English-language shorthand phrase for the famous speech.
Like many political leaders who are not afraid to use force as a tool of statecraft, Bismarck was prudent in his approach to war, and did not resort to it lightly. His overarching goals were not military, but political: to unify under Prussian leadership the disparate states that later became Germany, and to maintain and strengthen their unity by any means necessary.
Peaceful methods were always preferable, and Bismarck was an unparalleled master at the art of political intrigue, both domestic and international. It is a safe bet that if he had still been at the helm in 1914, the War to End All Wars would never have occurred.