In one of the economics books, I've come across this passage describing Otto von Bismarck's role in the second German Empire:
Control of the Executive allowed Bismarck to orchestrate these complex tradeoffs. Each of the coalition partners had to be persuaded to pay the price, especially that of high tariffs on the goods of the other sector. Control of foreign policy offered instruments for maintaining the bargain once it had been struck.... The Chancellor used imperialism, nationalism, and overseas crises to obscure internal divisions, and particularly, to blunt middle-class criticism. Nationalism and the vision of Germany surrounded by enemies, or at least harsh competitors, reinforced arguments on behalf of the need for self-sufficiency in food and industrial production and for a powerful military machine.
For the record, Bismarck generally receives a big chunk of the blame for creating and nourishing the militaristic, racially superior social & political atmosphere that would later allow the Nazis to come to power in the Third German Reich, which I'm sure you've heard about.
Somehow, it mostly sounds rather familiar....
On the other hand, at least he was willing to indulge the workers with a bit of nationalized health care... 120 years ago! And we still haven't caught up.
Postscript: While we're at it, let's compare the Reichstag Fire Decree to the "PATRIOT" Act, shall we?