Fortunately, Victor Davis Hanson does not teach modern European history:
There is one general rule about the history of the modern state of Germany since its inception in 1871: Anytime Germany has been both unified and isolated, armed conflict has followed.
We often scoff at such quaint historical laws — forgetting that World War I followed from the inability of the French to harness German nationalism after the Franco-Prussian War [bold mine-DL].
The causes of WWI were many and complicated, but I think I am on safe ground in saying that WWI did not follow “from the inability of the French to harness German nationalism after the Franco-Prussian War” (whatever that might mean). Germany wasn’t “isolated” in 1914, and that was part of the problem. It was lending its support to its Austro-Hungarian ally, which had been pursuing a policy in the Balkans that the Russians found increasingly difficult to tolerate, and it was forging closer ties with the Ottomans during the two decades before the war. Germany committed itself to backing the folly of its Austrian ally, which soon turned into a continental war once Russia began mobilizing against Austria and Germany responded by activating its own military plans against Russia and France. The Germans did feel threatened by the Franco-Russian alliance, which had come about partly because of the blundering of German foreign policy after Bismarck. That alliance did not lead to the start of the war by itself, but it guaranteed its escalation. Hanson seems to be reviving the most simplistic description of Germany’s WWI “war guilt” and using it as a starting point for his analysis of contemporary European politics.
Hanson’s poor explanation of the origins of WWI seems to be tied to his latest preoccupation, which is the idea that the eurozone crisis will somehow lead to German “rearmament” and new armed conflict in Europe. As Hanson admits, “The very thought of an armed, powerful — and increasingly exasperated — Germany, furious at its neighbors for a fourth time, seems silly, given the country’s success and security.” Yes, it does. So why has he written an entire column about it?