Saturday, May 19, 2012

Germany and a danger of liberalism

In the May 19, 2012 edition of Inland Southern California’s The Press-Enterprise is the editorial by the historian Victor Davis Hanson, “Europe would be wise not to provoke, isolate Germany.” In it he writes, “All over Europe, the gospel is that tight-fisted Germans are at the root of the European Union meltdown: They worked too hard, saved too much, brought too little and borrowed not at all. All that may be true, in theory. But, in fact, faulting thrift and industry is a prescription for incurring anger and guaranteeing backlash – especially in the case of the Germans, who are now asked to provide even more capital to help other European economies to recover.”

Hanson alludes to the various attempts to contain Germany since the Franco-Prussian War and while no one has quite said that they are today thoroughly “contained” or at least thoroughly different than they were in World Wars One and Two, they are being treated as though they were. Hanson writes, “the very thought of an armed, powerful – and increasingly exasperated – Germany, furious at its neighbors for a fourth time seems silly.”

Perhaps no one in Europe is talking about war at the present time, but no one in America was talking about war when South Carolina seceded from the Union in December of 1860. Who would go to war over such issues as “States’ Rights” and “Federal Union” most Americans might have asked earlier in 1860? The assertion in the middle of 2012 that another European war between Germany and the rest of Europe is impossible involves a considerable amount of unsupported faith. War may not be likely but it isn’t impossible and a recollection of our various histories will keep us mindful of this interesting human characteristic, the willingness to go to war for all sorts of reasons.

Hanson concludes by saying “History is quietly whispering to us in our age of amnesia: ‘I would not keep poking the Germans unless you are able to deal with them when they wake up.’” Surely, the liberals of the world will be quick to assert “Germany would not start a war since Russia and the U.S. are in possession of weapons more powerful than any they possess.” But will Russia in the midst of internal turmoil choose to go to war with Germany to protect other Europeans? And will the U.S. war-weary after years in the Middle-East want to fight Germany over the right of Italy, Greece, etc. to be improvident? I think not.

Perhaps someone living in Germany would scoff at these suggestions, and yet . . . there were great numbers of Americans who didn’t want to be independent of Britain prior to and even during the American Revolutionary War. And the choosing up sides to fight during the American Civil War was a complicated business. Generals who were once classmates met each other again on the field of battle, and brother in actual fact often fought against brother. So even if in Germany most would rule war out. Others have drawn a mental line. They are saying to themselves, “we worked hard for what we have. Others did not. Despite our warnings they have bankrupted themselves and now they have the temerity to demand that we give them our money? This is not to be borne. This cannot be permitted to happen. Let them try to take it if they have the strength.”

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