How do you get foreign governments to do whatever you want?
Glad you asked.
Step one: always remember to mention how cool and strong your military is. This will ease negotiations on your end. Step two: Bring up old grudges between neighbors. This will make them mad at each other, not at you. Step Three: Conduct all persuasion tactics in absolute secrecy. If anyone finds out what you're doing, it will likely backfire and have the opposite affect that you intended.
These tips have been brought to you courtesy of the Zimmermann Telegram, a seven-sentence guide for manipulation in foreign relations.
The Zimmermann Telegram is an excellent example of German diplomacy at its finest. Had it not been discovered, it might have manipulated the U.S. in a similar manner to how Germany had tricked many other unsuspecting nations.
The fact that the Zimmermann Telegram was intercepted is beside the point, because even if it had remained a secret, pigs would fly before Mexico would have acted on it and actually attempted an invasion into the U.S.
When the Zimmermann Telegram was sent, Germany had been at war for a couple of years and things had been going okay. Not great, just so-so. They didn't have a lock on this thing yet, and actually it was a bit of a stalemate. Turns out they were pretty evenly matched with their opponents. Do they let you have a tie in wars like they do in soccer? No? Anyway, Germany was getting scared that if they didn't do something big, they might actually lose. And if America joined in, well that would be truly terrifying.
All you have to do is squint, and you can practically see their fear in this telegram.
The Zimmermann Telegram was a desperate Hail Mary by a nation paralyzed with the fear of losing a war they falsely assumed would be a cakewalk.
Germany may have feared the U.S. entry into World War I, but not nearly as much as the U.S. public feared the same thing.
In the decades leading up to the First World War, Germany had given birth to an ugly baby that they named realpolitik. It basically meant that the answer to everything in politics was "just do it." Germany, and anyone who adopted this baby philosophy, would stop talking about grand ideals or flowery sentiments, and just set a goal to be accomplished through whatever means necessary. Governments would do what was most practical, rather than what was morally right. So yeah, some people might get hurt along the way, but success wouldn't be measured in the emotions of weak humans, it would be shown in the triumphs of the nation.
The Zimmermann Telegram is a dangerous example of realpolitik usurping the role of diplomacy in international affairs and risking the lives of innocent people.
The Zimmermann Telegram was a practical solution to a wartime issue and should not be taken personally by the people or countries involved.