I had been thinking the exact same thing about Europe when I was doing some of my online research about Bosnia and the Balkans…And just now I read this post by Ben and he nails it on the freaking head:
…From the traditional “if it wasn’t for us, you’d all be speaking German”, to cries of “Munich! Munich!”, the warbloggers of the American Right have found all sort of new ways of invoking the old cliches. It’s very tiresome.
Tiresome, yes. Because surely it’s time we put WW2 in the past. It’s been sixty years and two generations. I wasn’t born then. My parents weren’t born then. It’s from a time before the transistor, before the Space Race, before common household television, before international jet flight. From a time when America was segregated, when Russia was Soviet, when India was a colony and China was a republic. Japan had an Emperor, Taiwan was a province. Israel, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia didn’t exist. Vietnam was part of France, and Cuba was a playground.
It is a past so utterly foreign, so utterly ago that to keep referring to it, especially using it as a example of reasoning why one should support the bombing, and certain death, of thousands of Iraqi civilians and conscripts, shows not only a total lack of imagination, but a lack of real reasoning. If you can’t show why bombing Iraq right now, say, is a good idea without invoking the values and stereotypes of a war you don’t remember and probably weren’t alive for, then you most likely don’t have a good reason at all.
Remembering past conflicts for their horror, however, is another thing altogether: and this is perhaps why we now have Rumsfeld talking about the “Old Europe” reluctance to fight. Geography, as they say, is Destiny. and here in Europe we have a lot of geography. There isn’t a town that doesn’t show, in some way, the effects of war. From the bomb-cratered walls that every British MP walks past on the way to Westminster, to the vast swathes of Berlin so obviously built post 1945, there isn’t a single day when people living in the European capitals aren’t reminded of war. It’s not the heroics suggested by the Washington monument, but the crushed, burnt bodies and screaming destruction of massive bombing. If you want to know why the French, the Germans, and the Russians don’t want to fight just yet, walk down their streets.</em>