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Americans Are Losing The Peace In Europe
Life Magazine ^ | January 7, 1946 | John Dos Passos

Posted on 10/17/2003 9:44:42 AM PDT by Weimdog

We are in a cabin deep down below decks on a Navy ship jam-packed with troops that’s pitching and creaking its way across the Atlantic in a winter gale. There is a man in every bunk. There’s a man wedged into every corner. There’s a man in every chair. The air is dense with cigarette smoke and with the staleness of packed troops and sour wool.

“Don’t think I’m sticking up for the Germans,” puts in the lanky young captain in the upper berth, “but…”

“To hell with the Germans,” says the broad-shouldered dark lieutenant. “It’s what our boys have been doing that worries me.”

The lieutenant has been talking about the traffic in Army property, the leaking of gasoline into the black market in France and Belgium even while the fighting was going on, the way the Army kicks the civilians around, the looting.

“Lust, liquor and loot are the soldier’s pay,” interrupts a red-faced major.

The lieutenant comes out with his conclusion: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” You hear these two phrases again and again in about every bull session on the shop. “Two wrongs don’t make a right” and “Don’t think I’m sticking up for the Germans, but….”

The troops returning home are worried. “We’ve lost the peace,” men tell you. “We can’t make it stick.”

A tour of the beaten-up cities of Europe six months after victory is a mighty sobering experience for anyone. Europeans. Friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American. They cite the evolution of the word “liberation.” Before the Normandy landings it meant to be freed from the tyranny of the Nazis. Now it stands in the minds of the civilians for one thing, looting.

You try to explain to these Europeans that they expected too much. They answer that they had a right to, that after the last was America was the hope of the world. They talk about the Hoover relief, the work of the Quakers, the speeches of Woodrow Wilson. They don’t blame us for the fading of that hope. But they blame us now.

Never has American prestige in Europe been lower. People never tire of telling you of the ignorance and rowdy-ism of American troops, of out misunderstanding of European conditions. They say that the theft and sale of Army supplies by our troops is the basis of their black market. They blame us for the corruption and disorganization of UNRRA. They blame us for the fumbling timidity of our negotiations with the Soviet Union. They tell us that our mechanical de-nazification policy in Germany is producing results opposite to those we planned. “Have you no statesmen in America?” they ask.

The skeptical French press

Yet whenever we show a trace of positive leadership I found Europeans quite willing to follow our lead. The evening before Robert Jackson’s opening of the case for the prosecution in the Nurnberg trial, I talked to some correspondents from the French newspapers. They were polite but skeptical. They were willing enough to take part in a highly publicized act of vengeance against the enemy, but when you talked about the usefulness of writing a prohibition of aggressive war into the law of nations they laughed in your face. The night after Jackson’s nobly delivered and nobly worded speech I saw then all again. They were very much impressed. Their manner had even changed toward me personally as an American. Their sudden enthusiasm seemed to me typical of the almost neurotic craving for leadership of the European people struggling wearily for existence in the wintry ruins of their world.

The ruin this war has left in Europe can hardly be exaggerated. I can remember the years after the last war. Then, as soon as you got away from the military, all the little strands and pulleys that form the fabric of a society were still knitted together. Farmers took their crops to market. Money was a valid medium of exchange. Now the entire fabric of a million little routines has broken down. No on can think beyond food for today. Money is worthless. Cigarettes are used as a kind of lunatic travesty on a currency. If a man goes out to work he shops around to find the business that serves the best hot meal. The final pay-off is the situation reported from the Ruhr where the miners are fed at the pits so that they will not be able to take the food home to their families.

“Well, the Germans are to blame. Let them pay for it. It’s their fault,” you say. The trouble is that starving the Germans and throwing them out of their homes is only producing more areas of famine and collapse.

One section of the population of Europe looked to us for salvation and another looked to the Soviet Union. Wherever the people have endured either the American armies or the Russian armies both hopes have been bitterly disappointed. The British have won a slightly better reputation. The state of mind in Vienna is interesting because there the part of the population that was not actively Nazi was about equally divided. The wealthier classes looked to America, the workers to the Soviet Union.

The Russians came first. The Viennese tell you of the savagery of the Russian armies. They came like the ancient Mongol hordes out of the steppes, with the flimsiest supply. The people in the working-class districts had felt that when the Russians came that they at least would be spared. But not at all. In the working-class districts the tropes were allowed to rape and murder and loot at will. When victims complained, the Russians answered, “You are too well off to be workers. You are bourgeoisie.”

When Americans looted they took cameras and valuables but when the Russians looted they took everything. And they raped and killed. From the eastern frontiers a tide of refugees is seeping across Europe bringing a nightmare tale of helpless populations trampled underfoot. When the British and American came the Viennese felt that at last they were in the hands of civilized people. But instead of coming in with a bold plan of relief and reconstruction we came in full of evasions and apologies.

U.S. administration a poor third

We know now the tragic results of the ineptitudes of the Peace of Versailles. The European system it set up was Utopia compared to the present tangle of snarling misery. The Russians at least are carrying out a logical plan for extending their system of control at whatever cost. The British show signs of recovering their good sense and their innate human decency. All we have brought to Europe so far is confusion backed up by a drumhead regime of military courts. We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease. [Emphasis mine]

The taste of victory had gone sour in the mouth of every thoughtful American I met. Thoughtful men can’t help remembering that this is a period in history when every political crime and every frivolous mistake in statesmanship has been paid for by the death of innocent people. The Germans built the Stalags; the Nazis are behind barbed wire now, but who will be next? Whenever you sit eating a good meal in the midst of a starving city in a handsome house requisitioned from some German, you find yourself wondering how it would feel to have a conqueror drinking out of your glasses. When you hear the tales of the brutalizing of women from the eastern frontier you think with a shudder of of those you love and cherish at home.

That we are one world is unfortunately a brutal truth. Punishing the German people indiscriminately for the sins of their leader may be justice, but it is not helping to restore the rule of civilization. The terrible lesson of the events of this year of victory is that what is happening to the bulk of Europe today can happen to American tomorrow.

In America we are still rich, we are still free to move from place to place and to talk to our friends without fear of the secret police. The time has come, for our own future security, to give the best we have to the world instead of the worst. So far as Europe is concerned, American leadership up to now has been obsessed with a fear of our own virtues. Winston Churchill expressed this state of mind brilliantly in a speech to his own people which applies even more accurately to the people of the U.S. “You must be prepared,” he warned them, “for further efforts of mind and body and further sacrifices to great causes, if you are not to fall back into the rut if inertia, the confusion of aim and the craven fear of being great.”


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Germany; Russia; United Kingdom; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 1946; bushdoctrineunfold; denazification; dospassos; europelist; historylist; historyrepeatsitself; hughhewitt; nazi; patriotlist; warlist; wwii
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Found this interesting piece of History at Instapundit.com -

Money quote:

"We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease."

1 posted on 10/17/2003 9:44:42 AM PDT by Weimdog
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To: Weimdog
Wonderful find...
2 posted on 10/17/2003 9:45:35 AM PDT by eureka! (Rats and Presstitutes lie--they have to in order to survive.....)
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To: Weimdog
Great article
3 posted on 10/17/2003 9:46:26 AM PDT by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno World!")
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To: Weimdog; aculeus; general_re; BlueLancer; Poohbah; hchutch; hellinahandcart; Catspaw; ...
Bump for an outstanding find.
4 posted on 10/17/2003 9:50:21 AM PDT by dighton (Nasty little clique™)
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To: Weimdog; hellinahandcart; SLB; countrydummy; Carry_Okie; farmfriend; Black Agnes; AAABEST
Good find.
5 posted on 10/17/2003 9:51:49 AM PDT by sauropod (Fry Mumia!)
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To: tiamat; All
And from the Lefty Dos Passos, too! Double plus good!
6 posted on 10/17/2003 9:53:36 AM PDT by CatoRenasci (Ceterum Censeo [Gallia][Germania][Arabia] Esse Delendam --- Select One or More as needed)
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To: Weimdog
You should mail this to all the radio talk show hosts.
7 posted on 10/17/2003 9:56:30 AM PDT by xzins (Proud to be Army!)
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To: Weimdog
It’s interesting to note that the mainstream media has been bashing the US for quite some time. This article contains most of the tricks used today such as trying to make a comparison between out troops and those of the USSR. Then there is the notion that because the Europeans don’t like us it must be our fault. It ends basically espousing a euro centric ideal the British are doing it right and us gringos are all screwed up.

Funny how their BS never changes.

8 posted on 10/17/2003 10:04:29 AM PDT by usurper
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To: dighton
Bump for an outstanding find.

One more time!

9 posted on 10/17/2003 10:05:52 AM PDT by aculeus
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To: Weimdog
and the beat goes on doesn't it?
10 posted on 10/17/2003 10:09:26 AM PDT by holdmuhbeer
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To: Revelation 911; The Grammarian; SpookBrat; Dust in the Wind; JesseShurun; maestro; patent; ...
Ping to a January 1946 Article.

Awesome Find!!

11 posted on 10/17/2003 10:09:26 AM PDT by xzins (Proud to be Army!)
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To: Weimdog
Just curious. Where's Eurpoe (title)? Is that anywhere near Europe?
12 posted on 10/17/2003 10:11:27 AM PDT by Cacique
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To: Weimdog
Great find!
13 posted on 10/17/2003 10:12:11 AM PDT by wimpycat (Down with Kooks and Kookery!)
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To: CatoRenasci
Lefty?? I thought he wrote for National Review for a long time.
14 posted on 10/17/2003 10:13:41 AM PDT by FreedomSurge
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To: CatoRenasci
And from the Lefty Dos Passos, too! Double plus good!

This must be from his early years.

"Originally an advocate of radical left, Dos Passos' politics shifted to the conservative right in the latter half of his career."

Link: http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0760856.html

15 posted on 10/17/2003 10:15:47 AM PDT by aculeus
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To: Cacique
"Where's Eurpoe (title)? Is that anywhere near Europe?

I think it can be found orbiting Jupiter.

16 posted on 10/17/2003 10:17:14 AM PDT by Mad Dawgg (French: old Europe word meaning surrender)
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To: FreedomSurge
Lefty?? I thought he wrote for National Review for a long time.

I think he started out as a leftist but turned right. I believe he was one of those "The God that Failed" types.

17 posted on 10/17/2003 10:17:37 AM PDT by jalisco555 (Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.)
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To: Weimdog
Is that New Europe or Old Europe?
18 posted on 10/17/2003 10:18:48 AM PDT by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: Weimdog
What? No quagmire???

Didn't Dos Passos know about quagmire???

The word's been around since 1580, according to Webster. And Dos Passos couldn't find a way to work it in to a general description of how Its-All-Americas-Fault!

Another big failing: How could he fail to blame the war on the Republicans???

I know, it was a Demo administration. But nevertheless, he could have at least blamed the capitalists. Joe Stalin did. When asked to participate in the Marshall Plan, he said he would not to contribute to such an obvious exercise of "capitalist domination of Europe". (Maybe Dos Passos picked up on that thought after Uncle Joe spoke.)

20 posted on 10/17/2003 10:21:01 AM PDT by samtheman
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: Ragtime Cowgirl; usurper
You need to see this, Rags! It's deja vu all over again!!

It's a 1946 news report telling the world how US is losing the peace in Europe after WWII. Take a peek at post 8 by usurper.
22 posted on 10/17/2003 10:23:29 AM PDT by TEXOKIE (Hold fast what thou hast received!)
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To: Weimdog
We very nearly DID lose the peace in Europe in the reconstruction period after WW II. Eastern Europe was firmly under the iron control of the Red Army, and everywhere there was a call for retreat to our own shores to regroup after a long and exhausting war. The Germans at that time (1946) were not that happy for the Russians to be there, and the only reason we stayed was a bulwark against further expansion of Soviet occupation. Literally, millions of homeless and stateless persons were pouring into the zones occupied by US, France and Great Britain, fleeing the Soviet zone. And what did we do? Sent them back, some to almost certain fates as "enemies of the state". But some of the "refugees" were in fact ringers sent in to infiltrate and sabotage reconstruction efforts. Remember, this was BEFORE the Marshall Plan was instituted, and it took several years for that plan to finally yield positive results.

Like Iraq today, western Europe was a very dangerous place.
23 posted on 10/17/2003 10:25:38 AM PDT by alloysteel
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Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

To: Weimdog
“You must be prepared,” he warned them, “for further efforts of mind and body and further sacrifices to great causes, if you are not to fall back into the rut if inertia, the confusion of aim and the craven fear of being great.”

Winston Churchill. Yeah.

25 posted on 10/17/2003 10:29:48 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Weimdog
I just sent this to Fox News.
26 posted on 10/17/2003 10:38:08 AM PDT by samtheman
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To: TEXOKIE; Weimdog; MJY1288; Calpernia; Grampa Dave; anniegetyourgun; Ernest_at_the_Beach; ...
Thanks, Weimdog. Rare and refreshing PERSPECTIVE.

TEX, bless you!

The troops returning home are worried. “We’ve lost the peace,” men tell you. “We can’t make it stick.”

A tour of the beaten-up cities of Europe six months after victory is a mighty sobering experience for anyone. Europeans. Friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American.   ~ Life Magazine, January 7, 1946

* A good mega-media e-mail link site

 Thanks, Tonkin!

If you want on or off my Pro-Coalition ping list, please Freepmail me. Warning: it is a high volume ping list on good days. (Most days are good days).

27 posted on 10/17/2003 10:54:28 AM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl ("criticizing somebody from a pinnacle of near-perfect ignorance is not good form." ~ Rummy, 10/16)
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To: Weimdog
I love a little perspective when discussing current events. It's also important to see how the seeds for WWII were laid from the discontent coming out of WWI and the Treaty Of Versailles. We can either follow the path of punitive abadonment as we did to Germany after WWI, or build a better and more secure future as we did for Europe with the Marshall Plan after WWII. It would've been very easy for these devestated Western European nations to turn to the Soviets and communism following this war if not for our support. Let's hope we see this lesson when dealing with Iraq.
28 posted on 10/17/2003 10:54:41 AM PDT by cwb
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To: xzins
Thanks for the heads up!
29 posted on 10/17/2003 10:56:00 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
ditto for later read ...rto
30 posted on 10/17/2003 11:16:16 AM PDT by visitor (dems make it difficult to speak the TRUTH )
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To: usurper; xzins
Same as it ever was....
31 posted on 10/17/2003 11:30:35 AM PDT by nobdysfool (Arminianism is pre-school for Calvinists, but only the Elect graduate....)
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To: Weimdog
bump for later read.
32 posted on 10/17/2003 11:41:14 AM PDT by The Iguana
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To: nobdysfool
It's fascinatingly familiar.

And can you believe that the French.....a mere half year after being PUT back into power are already complaining?

Fortunately, the French aren't reproducing.....
33 posted on 10/17/2003 11:50:51 AM PDT by xzins (Proud to be Army!)
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To: samtheman
It was another Viet Nam
34 posted on 10/17/2003 12:26:34 PM PDT by laotzu
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To: Weimdog
John Dos Passos' observations were 100% correct! If you believe otherwise you should work on brushing up your history.
Articles like this one and the impressions a General Marshall had in Europe were the reasons America finally had to come up with a "Marshall Plan".
Europe WAS almost lost after WWII! Up until 1947 the victorious allies were only busy looting, or blowing up what was left of German factories. Until 1948/49 Germans were at the point of starvation.
35 posted on 10/17/2003 12:35:37 PM PDT by stck
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
How soon they forget! *sigh*
36 posted on 10/17/2003 1:22:31 PM PDT by blackie
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To: JohnHuang2
ping.
37 posted on 10/17/2003 1:57:50 PM PDT by ambrose (Free Tommy Chong!)
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To: Weimdog
That's a great read.
38 posted on 10/17/2003 1:58:51 PM PDT by Prodigal Son
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To: dighton
Deja Vu > 1944 Paris into 2003 Baghdad.

The French were whores then - the French are whores now.

39 posted on 10/17/2003 1:59:51 PM PDT by Happy2BMe (Nurture terrorism in a neighborhood near you - donate to your local community mosque.)
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To: xzins
And can you believe that the French.....a mere half year after being PUT back into power are already complaining?

DUH! Hell, the French were complaining before they were put back in power. De Gaulle kept up a constant whine while exhiled under the protection of the Brits, only occassionaly drowned out by the air raid sirens. It's a wonder Churchill didn't have him taken out and shot.

40 posted on 10/17/2003 2:00:56 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Yehuda; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; ...
If you'd like to be on or off this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.
41 posted on 10/17/2003 2:06:14 PM PDT by SJackson
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To: samtheman
The author John Dos Passos was a screaming left wing Stalin fan for many years. Read some of his works from the 1930's when he was actually a communist party member. Will send shivers down your spine.

Read some excerpts from his book, U.S.A.

It is a trilogy of commie/socialist pap!

If I had the time right now, I would post some of it. Artfully written, I will give him that... but then, isn't most of that commie pap written that way? The Devil hiss-self always did have a way with words. Just ask Eve.

; ^ )

42 posted on 10/17/2003 2:25:04 PM PDT by Lion in Winter
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Howdy ! ...


43 posted on 10/17/2003 2:32:43 PM PDT by MeekOneGOP (Check out the Texas Chicken D 'RATS!: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/keyword/Redistricting)
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To: Stultis
It's a wonder Churchill didn't have him [De Gaulle] taken out and shot.

Hmmmm... Having rethought that rather extreme statement about our WWII ally, please permit me to modify it:

It's a wonder, and a damn shame, Churchill didn't have him taken out and shot.

44 posted on 10/17/2003 2:39:06 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: Weimdog

More from the Mag:

"The first winter of peace holds Europe in a deathly grip of cold, hunger and hopelessness. In the words of the London Sunday Observer: “Europe is threatened by a catastrophe this winter which has no precedent since the Black Death of 1348.”

"These are still more than 25,000,000 homeless people milling about Europe. In Warsaw nearly 1,000,000 live in holes in the ground. Six million building were destroyed in Russia. Rumania has her worst drought of 50 years, and in Greece fuel supplies are terribly low because the Nazis, during their occupation, decimated the forests. In Italy the wheat harvest, which was a meager 3,450,000 tons in 1944, fell to an unendurable 1,304,000 tons in 1945. In France, food consumption per day averages 1,800 calories as compared with 3,000 calories in the U.S.

Germany is sinking even below the level of the countries she victimized. The German people are still better clothed than most of Europe because during the war they took the best of Europe’s clothing. But their food supply is below subsistence level. In the American zone they beg for the privilege of scraping U.S. army garbage cans. Infant mortality is already so high that a Berlin Quaker, quoted in the British press, predicted. “No child born in Germany in 1945 will survive. Only half the children aged less than 3 years will survive.”

"On Germany, which plunged the Continent into its misery, falls the blame for its own plight and the plight of all Europe. But if this winter proves worse even than the war years, blame will fall on the victor nations. Some Europeans blame Russia for callousness to misery in eastern Europe. But some also blame America because they expected so much more from her. On the following pages the distinguished novelist John Dos Passos, who has been abroad as LIFE correspondent, reports on Europe’s suffering and what it means for America.

45 posted on 10/17/2003 3:15:33 PM PDT by Kay Soze (Post 9-11 We can’t allow ourselves to be endangered by doubters (Dems) of our right to be safe.)
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To: RonDog; *Hugh Hewitt
Faboulous Find! Great Catch!

Please pass this to HH!

46 posted on 10/17/2003 5:07:25 PM PDT by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
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To: Weimdog
I think this is - to put it bluntly - Communist garbage. I worked in Germany in the 80's. A fair number of the people I worked with grew up in Germany after WWII. The ones who had lived in the American sectors had nothing but good words to say about the American GIs.
They talked about getting chocolates, learning English and baseball, and having peaceful lives.

The ones who grew up in the Russian sectors talked about being frightened and terrorized.

I really don't understand the Americans who want America to look like the villain in any international dispute. There are, of course, some foreigners who would agree, but not all.
We could always argue about which viewpoint makes life better for the many, but the anti-Americans seem to think purity of intention matters more than quality of life for the masses.

47 posted on 10/17/2003 5:33:03 PM PDT by speekinout
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To: Travis McGee
Thanks for the ping!
I have forwarded this EXCELLENT thread to Hugh at:
hhewitt@hughhewitt.com

48 posted on 10/17/2003 5:33:06 PM PDT by RonDog
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To: RonDog
Thanks! He'll appreciate it.
49 posted on 10/17/2003 5:35:41 PM PDT by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
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To: seamole; doug from upland; ALOHA RONNIE; DLfromthedesert; PatiPie; flamefront; onyx; ...
BTW, you attribute InstaPundit.com, but the site which originally posted the article is Jessica's Well, "The Community Web Log on Media, Government, and Politics in Midland, Texas Home of George & Laura Bush, General Tommy Franks....AND Wahoo McDaniel."
From http://www.jessicaswell.com/MT/archives/000872.html:

I really don't know what to make of this. I guess things never change and that there is nothing new in the world. Below are two links to two articles from the January 7, 1946 issue of Life magazine.

Link to Article One ::::: Link to Article Two

Maybe the author of the main article, John Dos Passos, was the Robert Fisk of his day. Maybe Henry Luce had it in for Harry Truman. This is a discussion for more knowledgeable people than me. But what I really wasn't ready for in an article in Life Magazine six months after the end of World War II was a line such as this:

"We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease."
There are more like it. And it is all so eerily familiar. As Dr. Reynolds says, "Read the whole thing."



Posted by Site Admin at October 16, 2003 07:35 PM | TrackBack


50 posted on 10/17/2003 5:52:17 PM PDT by RonDog
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