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(from 1946) Americans Are Losing the Victory in Europe
kultursmog dot com ^ | 1946 | John dos Passos

Posted on 06/01/2004 5:27:52 PM PDT by doug from upland

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: News/Current Events
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1 posted on 06/01/2004 5:27:53 PM PDT by doug from upland
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To: doug from upland; FreedomPoster
Awesome read.

Very, very telling.

2 posted on 06/01/2004 5:35:19 PM PDT by Vigilantcitizen
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To: doug from upland

It's a quagmire!®


3 posted on 06/01/2004 5:35:31 PM PDT by Salamander
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To: doug from upland

Thanks!


4 posted on 06/01/2004 5:35:44 PM PDT by sionnsar (http://trad-anglican.faithweb.com/ ||| sionnsar: the part of the bagpipe where the melody comes out)
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To: doug from upland

Great read....this must be sent to every news outlet, radio talk show, and government agency.

Keep up the good work.


5 posted on 06/01/2004 5:36:11 PM PDT by JediForce (A JEDI MUST HAVE THE DEEPEST COMMITMENT, THE MOST SERIOUS MIND (YODA))
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To: doug from upland
I demand an apology from the President over this pathetic handling of the post-war situation.

/sarc

6 posted on 06/01/2004 5:36:45 PM PDT by nwrep
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To: Howlin; Miss Marple; PhiKapMom

media history repeats itself ping


7 posted on 06/01/2004 5:37:18 PM PDT by Diddle E. Squat ("Are you paying tribute to all the people you spat on, Senator Kerry?")
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To: Trinity_Tx

FYI


8 posted on 06/01/2004 5:38:12 PM PDT by Diddle E. Squat ("Are you paying tribute to all the people you spat on, Senator Kerry?")
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To: doug from upland


History repeating itself...or is it naysayers blabbering on as they always do?


9 posted on 06/01/2004 5:39:17 PM PDT by Malsua
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To: doug from upland

Sounds like atrocious planning and inadequate force structure! Due, no doubt, to the intellectual shortcomings of the then-sitting President.


10 posted on 06/01/2004 5:39:55 PM PDT by sailor4321
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To: doug from upland
January 7, 1946

June 1, 2004

The more things change, the more they stay the same. (ehhh?)

11 posted on 06/01/2004 5:42:16 PM PDT by Principled
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To: Diddle E. Squat

Yes, including the fact that Dos Passos was a communist.


12 posted on 06/01/2004 5:42:25 PM PDT by Timocrat (I Emanate on your Auras and Penumbras Mr Blackmun)
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To: doug from upland

The more things change, the more they stay the same(i.e. a defeatist press)


13 posted on 06/01/2004 5:42:40 PM PDT by Dane
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To: doug from upland
John dos Passos was a sticking Commie and a fifth columnist.His books and plays are rife with propaganda.

Thanks for finding and posting this.It just shows that there have always been defeatists and naysayers.

14 posted on 06/01/2004 5:42:48 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: Malsua
The more things change,the more they remain the same.
15 posted on 06/01/2004 5:43:44 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: nwrep

Agreed! This is all Bush's FAULT!


16 posted on 06/01/2004 5:45:57 PM PDT by xrp
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To: doug from upland
We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease.

It is weird to read that, knowing that this is precisely what the Iraqis are saying now, according to the liberal media. There is some flaw in the American character which seems to require that we feel the people we defeat must just LOVE us regardless of the fact that we had to kill boatloads of their countrymen and end their previous way of life. It's a sort of intellectual sophistry that says that any country that we wind up fighting is just chock full of nothing but good, honest people who will appreciate us to death once we take over from the few bad men that led them against us. I don't know if I would call it naive, or simply decadent, but anyone who thinks that the people of countries we bombed to smithereens are going to immediately love us and say favorable things to pollsters no matter what we do after the war is one or the other, and perhaps both.

17 posted on 06/01/2004 5:49:19 PM PDT by KellyAdmirer
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To: xrp
An AMAZING read ! *Applause* to the poster !

Every Freeper must read this !

18 posted on 06/01/2004 5:50:09 PM PDT by ChadGore (Vote Bush. He's Earned It.)
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To: doug from upland

I told you diplomacy
was the way to go.

19 posted on 06/01/2004 5:52:54 PM PDT by Petronski (They could choose between shame and war. Some chose shame, but got war anyway.)
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To: nopardons

I think Dos Passos had ceased to be a communist at this point. He was one of those disillusioned by the Spanish Civil War who then became a "premature anti-Stalinist" and was denounced by his former comrades for breaking with the Party line.


20 posted on 06/01/2004 5:56:51 PM PDT by Argus
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To: Argus

Whatever he believed in the '30s, Dos Passos was a clear-eyed enemy of communism post WWII.


21 posted on 06/01/2004 6:00:07 PM PDT by headsonpikes (Spirit of '76 bttt!)
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To: doug from upland

I was in Austria and John dos Passos is full of it.


22 posted on 06/01/2004 6:03:00 PM PDT by ex-snook (Islam's WMD is our war against the birth of children.)
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To: Argus
I thought he was still a Trotskyite,at this time;circa WW II.

No matter,he was still a damned lefty fifth columnist and a terrible play-write/author.

23 posted on 06/01/2004 6:04:30 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: headsonpikes
Was he?

I had his works crammed down my throat,long ago and did some research on him back them and never saw anything about him doing such a turnaround.But it's been many decades and maybe I just never found that part out.

24 posted on 06/01/2004 6:07:25 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: headsonpikes
Whatever he believed in the '30s, Dos Passos was a clear-eyed enemy of communism post WWII.

I hadn't heard that, but I would suspect that he was an enemy of Stalinism, but still thought communism would be a worker's paradise (much the same distinction Orwell liked to draw: socialism fails because of those who run it, not some inherent flaw).

If you know otherwise, I'd love a chance to read that Dos Passos genuinely rejected communism.

25 posted on 06/01/2004 6:07:39 PM PDT by Petronski (They could choose between shame and war. Some chose shame, but got war anyway.)
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To: Argus

Isn't it just amazing that so few Americans have any comprehension of history? It's not just that they can't name who was President during the Civil War, or in what decade of what century the Spanish-American war was fought ... no, they don't have any memory or understanding of the history of the 20th century and the Second World War. Even many of the people who SHOULD know better because they lived through those years are utterly clueless.

God deliver us from the historical amnesia of the American population! Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.


26 posted on 06/01/2004 6:07:50 PM PDT by TexasGreg
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To: NormsRevenge; Euro-American Scum; Pete-R-Bilt; Mo1; Brad's Gramma; Fawnn; Conspiracy Guy; Eaker; ...

ping


27 posted on 06/01/2004 6:13:49 PM PDT by glock rocks (why is it kids can't read the bible in school, but can read the bible all they want once in prison?)
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To: doug from upland
Thanks Doug...great read.
I spent a few days in Cape May, New Jersey last week and had lunch at a small restaurant. At the counter sat a young man who looked like he was in the service. The owner of the restaurant announced that this young man was his brother and that he had just returned from a year of duty in Iraq. I shook his hand and thanked him for his service. He mentioned that the stories on the nightly news are not portraying the true situation in Iraq at all.

Later that evening, I visited with friends and ate dinner on the back patio with them. An older friend of mine mentioned that he was in WW2 in the Navy with my father, and that his brothers served in WW2 in both the Air Force and the Army. I told him about my encounter with the young soldier earlier in the day. My friends' statement was that "if we wouldn't go around sticking our noses where they don't belong, this young guy and all the other service people wouldn't have to be over there." I was stunned. After hearing about how his brothers all volunteered to fight Hitler, I looked at him and said, "You know Les, I don't remember Hitler attacking us, yet you were smart enough back then to understand right from wrong and to see the danger that was looming. This is just a different enemy with the same goal." He grudgingly agreed.

The constant drumbeat of the hate America crowd is getting to some of the good guys here.
28 posted on 06/01/2004 6:14:30 PM PDT by Post5203
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To: Vigilantcitizen

It's a repost, but a worthwhile one, to be sure.


29 posted on 06/01/2004 6:14:38 PM PDT by FreedomPoster (hoplophobia is a mental aberration rather than a mere attitude)
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To: Timocrat
You got it partially right, at the time he wrote this John Dos Passos was a communist, however he changed and became a more conservative figure later in his life, that is also when he became unpopular.
30 posted on 06/01/2004 6:14:41 PM PDT by WritableSpace
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To: xrp

This article is so AMAZING. It's like going into a time warp and reading the same pessimism in the MSM all over again.

"Agreed! This is all Bush's FAULT!"

Maybe they would blame Poppy (GHW) or his Dad, Senator Bush, since GW was just a toddler at the time.


31 posted on 06/01/2004 6:18:44 PM PDT by plushaye
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To: plushaye

No, Bush and Dick Cheney used Halliburton's TOP SECRET time machine and went back in time and created this mess.


32 posted on 06/01/2004 6:24:29 PM PDT by xrp
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To: Admin Moderator

Thanks for moving this to news. Doh. I thought that is where I had put it.


33 posted on 06/01/2004 6:26:59 PM PDT by doug from upland (Don't wait until it is too late to stop Hillary -- do something today!)
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To: WritableSpace
Authors: John Dos Passos (1896-1970)

John Dos Passos is one of the most overtly political authors in this unit. Involved in many radical political movements, Dos Passos saw the expansion of consumer capitalism in the first decades of the twentieth century as a dangerous threat to the health of the nation. The son of unmarried Portuguese American parents, Dos Passos grew up in Chicago. He attended prestigious East Coast schools, first the Choate School and then Harvard University. He graduated from Harvard in 1916 and joined the war effort before the United States entered World War I, becoming a member of a volunteer ambulance corps and later serving in the American medical corps.

Following the war he became a freelance journalist, while also working on fiction, poetry, essays, and plays. He wrote a novel drawing on his war experiences, Three Soldiers (1921), but his 1925 novel Manhattan Transfer established him as a serious fiction writer and displayed many techniques that writers who followed him would emulate. Political reform underwrote much of his fiction, and in 1926 he joined the board of The New Masses, a Communist magazine. Though not a party member, Dos Passos participated in Communist activities until 1934, when the Communists' disruption of a Socialist rally convinced him that the Communists were more concerned with achieving power than with the social reform about which he cared passionately.

From 1930 to 1936, Dos Passos published three bitingly satirical novels about contemporary American life, The 42nd Parallel; 1919; and The Big Money, an excerpt of which is discussed in this unit. Together the novels form a trilogy called U.S.A., and they attack all levels of American society, from the wealthiest businessman to the leaders of the labor movement. Dos Passos believed that American society had been thoroughly corrupted by the greed its thriving capitalist system promoted, and he saw little hope for real reform of such an entrenched system. His novels experimented with new techniques, especially drawing on those of the cinema, a relatively new cultural form (see the Context "Mass Culture Invasion: The Rise of Motion Pictures," Unit 13). His "Newsreel" sections mimic the weekly newsreels shown before films at local cinemas, blending together a patchwork of clips from newspapers, popular music, and speeches.

Dos Passos's politics shifted radically following World War II, as he saw the political left, with which he had identified himself, becoming more restrictive of individual liberty than the political right. His trilogy District of Columbia (1952) reexamined American society from this new perspective, attacking political fanaticism and bureaucracy.

34 posted on 06/01/2004 6:30:29 PM PDT by doug from upland (Don't wait until it is too late to stop Hillary -- do something today!)
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To: doug from upland
Can anyone tell me what ever happen to John Passos...just wondered how history treated him!
35 posted on 06/01/2004 6:30:39 PM PDT by Hotdog
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To: doug from upland

OK...thanks for the info...


36 posted on 06/01/2004 6:31:38 PM PDT by Hotdog
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To: Hotdog

Died in 1970. The above post discusses how he changed after WWII and recognized that the left was the real threat.


37 posted on 06/01/2004 6:32:11 PM PDT by doug from upland (Don't wait until it is too late to stop Hillary -- do something today!)
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To: doug from upland

What was Roosevelt's exit strategy in 1942? Hell, its 62 years later and we are still in Germany and Japan.


38 posted on 06/01/2004 6:36:36 PM PDT by Lawgvr1955 (How did Ted Kennedy, who enlisted in the Army, achieve the rank of Admiral of the SS Oldsmobile???)
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To: doug from upland
Sounds like a Kerry story in the making....just hope he's not President while he tries to figure things out...we need to keep the current President...after all he knows where our goal post is!
39 posted on 06/01/2004 6:37:23 PM PDT by Hotdog
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To: doug from upland

Bump for later read.


40 posted on 06/01/2004 6:38:11 PM PDT by Right_in_Virginia
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bump for later


41 posted on 06/01/2004 6:38:18 PM PDT by Lyford
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To: KellyAdmirer
I have a Father-in-Law and Mother-in-Law who both were living in Post War Italy. All I have ever heard from both of them is that when the Americans came, things started getting better. It was Hell under the Fascist's, German's, British and the likes, but the American Troops were helpful and rebuilt their society. I'm sure there were bad apples back then as now, but look at the big picture and the reality is we saved that hellhole of a continent from it self, picked it up and put it back on its feet.
42 posted on 06/01/2004 6:54:27 PM PDT by Woodman ("One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives." PW)
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To: Woodman
The original posting on this Life Magazine article came from a blog called Jessica's Well.

The link to the original post is http://www.jessicaswell.com/MT/archives/000872.html

Check it out. There are tons and tons of comments there.

43 posted on 06/01/2004 7:20:25 PM PDT by Natalie in Midland
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To: doug from upland

BTTT


44 posted on 06/01/2004 7:27:55 PM PDT by Sam's Army (Hang up and drive, dammit!)
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To: doug from upland
This is for real????

I presumed this was a parody.
45 posted on 06/01/2004 7:27:55 PM PDT by Incorrigible (immanentizing the eschaton)
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To: doug from upland

Truman should have planned for the peace before starting the war. [/sarcasm]


46 posted on 06/01/2004 7:38:29 PM PDT by Mike Darancette (NEOCON NOW)
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To: KellyAdmirer
We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease.

I imagine that is exactly how they felt in Poland, E. Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, .....

47 posted on 06/01/2004 7:42:35 PM PDT by Mike Darancette (NEOCON NOW)
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To: doug from upland
Here is an article from the New York Times dated Dec.7 1945.

Kind of reminds me of the no WMD rant we hear today!

48 posted on 06/01/2004 7:51:47 PM PDT by tapatio
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To: Incorrigible

This is indeed for real.


49 posted on 06/01/2004 7:52:12 PM PDT by doug from upland (Don't wait until it is too late to stop Hillary -- do something today!)
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To: tapatio
Or Dec.3 1945 New York Times
50 posted on 06/01/2004 7:56:01 PM PDT by tapatio
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