One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In foreign policy (originally and chiefly that of Otto von Bismarck (1815-98)): the use of military force rather than diplomacy; the advocacy of such an approach.
man of blood and iron
: (originally) a nickname for Otto von Bismarck (with reference to his advocacy of military force as a tool of foreign policy); (later also more generally) any advocate of force rather than diplomacy.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Bradford Observer. From blood + and + iron, after German Blut und Eisen.
blood and iron/ˌblʌd (ə)n(d) ˈ ʌɪən/
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