War: The road to empire
"If there is no war, my son will never be emperor." -- I can certainly imagine Barbara Bush saying that, but the quote is attributed to Empress Eugenie, wife of French Emperor Napoleon III. The background for that quote is frighteningly similar to what is happening today. From Wikipedia:
France's position in Europe was now in danger of being overshadowed by the emergence of a powerful Prussia, and France looked increasingly flat-footed following Bismarck's successes. In addition, France's ruler Napoleon III was on increasingly shaky ground in domestic politics. Having successfully overthrown the Second Republic and established the Bonapartist Second Empire, Napoleon III was confronted with increasingly virulent demands for democratic reform from leading republicans such as Jules Favre along with constant rumours of impending revolution. In addition, French aspirations in Mexico had suffered a final defeat with the execution of the Austrian born French puppet Emperor of Mexico Maximilian in 1867.
The French imperial government now looked to a diplomatic success to stifle demands for a return to either a republic or a Bourbon monarchy - the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, was quoted as saying, "If there is no war, my son will never be emperor." A war with Prussia and resulting territorial gains in the Rhineland and later Luxembourg and Belgium seemed the best hope to unite the French nation behind the Bonapartist dynasty. With the resulting prestige from a successful war, Napoleon III could then safely suppress any lingering republican or revolutionary sentiment behind reactionary nationalism and return France to the center of European politics.