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So?” the Kaiser repeated.

“Your Majesty, this Serbian act of war against Austria-Hungary presents us the once-in-a-century opportunity to come to the aid of Emperor Franz Joseph and precipitate a war that is in Germany’s greater strategic interest. Of even more crucial importance, our actions likely will be perceived internationally as protective of an ally. Further, Germany would be seen by Austria-Hungary as falling in step behind Emperor Franz Joseph, rather than vice-versa.”

“Sir,” said the Kaiser in a low voice smacking of sarcasm, “I can see why you are a master diplomat. It is a profession which has been described to me often as refined politeness, where lies and a whiff of cologne are used to cover treachery, ruthless barbarism and the stench of rotting wounds as noble ideals are subjugated to selfish interests.”