Thursday, November 02, 2006

The New German Army: Is it really ready?

Recent scandals have called into question the ability of the modern German Army to be a useful asset to the United Nations in bringing peace to war-torn regions of the world. Germans serving in Afghanistan have been caught taking photos with human remains, which is a no-no. And now, they have been caught displaying the palm tree and iron cross on their military vehicles, a symbol which was apparently originally used by the Nazi's Desert Fox (a German commander, General Erwin Rommel) in North Africa during World War II.

This raises grave questions about the ability of the German Army to operate in a non-offensive manner, and just generally be helpful, while in foreign countries trying ostensibly to keep the peace. There is apparently a national debate currently raging in Germany over what exactly the role of the modern German military should be, in light of these allegations.

We in the United States should know about the potential pitfalls of sending young men full of testosterone off to foreign lands in the name of... whatever crusade happens to be in vogue at the moment. Certainly, displaying a symbol on an off-road military vehicle that may be somewhat hazily linked to a symbol, not the swastika, once used by the Nazi army... is not the same as raping and murdering young Iraqi girls while serving in the U.S. army, torturing victims being held in custody, or any of the other innumerable offenses that our own armed forces have committed in recent years while in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Cuba (at Guantanamo Bay).

Indeed, it's hard to uncouple this particular news item with reports coming from Japan that it is again building up its military, this time in response to the report of a nuclear test by North Korea. The fact of Japan's current military buildup is reportedly making the leadership of South Korea a little bit worried, and it's definitely a bit worrying to me as well.

All in all, the first six years of the 21st century have had a little bit too much war and terror for my tastes, and I don't really see any sign of abatement right now. I'm hoping that the Democrats will be able to perform miracles in the 2006 mid-term elections, and somehow be able to right the United States and perform a course correction that will, in turn, begin to lead the rest of the world back to a more peaceful path. But, I'm aware that this is a pretty far-fetched dream, and don't really know what you and I can do to turn it into reality, aside from campaign like hell for the Dems between now and next Tuesday!!


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