Democracy Through the Sword
Der Spiegel analyzes GWB's performance through German eyes. It reminds us that there are many views of history, yet one shared truth.
The US is guilty of war crimes in Iraq and Guantanamo. The US also committed war crimes in World War II. But the greater legacy of American involvement in the war against Hitler was democracy in Germany. Could the same thing now be happening in Iraq and the Middle East?
Not a great start, but it gets better.
The Nazi regime was not brought to an end by sit-ins in front of the Adolf Hitler's Chancellery. It was the Russians, Americans and British who - through a high price paid in the currency of both military and civilian casualties -- brought Hitler's massive war machinery to its knees. Bombs and grenades brought democracy to us Germans.
It also destroyed the British economy - it took the UK 55 years after the end of that war to overtake the German economy.
There were of course Allied War crimes, which I've alluded to, including:
When the 7th Army of U.S. General George Patton landed in Sicily in July 1943, his men killed 150 Italian soldiers and 50 Germans -- after they had already surrendered. It was a war crime, even at that time.
Later, in April 1945, Patton's soldiers liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp. What they saw, standing on Ettersberg Mountain near Weimar, left the soldiers breathless and in utter shock: mountains of dead bodies, living skeletons. The dying didn't stop, even weeks after the liberation. Even the birds in the area fled from the Nazis' crimes, and only returned after the crematory stopped pumping out the sickly-smelling clouds of death into the skies.
Patton's 7th Army was later merged into the V Corps, the US Army unit that shouldered the biggest load two years ago during the attack on Baghdad. Among the 42,000 soldiers is the 205th brigade of the military secret service, and some of these men and women are stationed in Abu Ghraib. Other soldiers of the V Corps are currently building schools in central Iraq, or are on patrol there. The 130th pioneer brigade built bridges and reconstructed roads. Without the V Corps' protection, elections could not have taken place in Iraq.
Iraq would be better off if the US Army stayed a little while longer. That would allow the virus of democracy to spread as long as possible and without intervention.
Success has many fathers. Yet if we can all agree on Iraq, we can surely agree on the immorality of supplying weapons to the Chinese tyrants who execute 10,000 people every year.