70 Years Ago

70-years-ago

Seventy years ago, World War II ended in Europe.

Germany surrendered unconditionally to Allied forces on May 7, 1945 after more than 200,000 Americans lost their lives in the European theater. 7 to 8 million Germans died as well.

And it all began out of the ashes of World War 1, the Great Depression that followed and a bitter German corporal named Adolf Hitler who promised Germany greatness and led it into war – a shooting war that began with the invasion of Poland in September of 1939.

Over the next six years, the war would take more lives and destroy more land and property around the globe than any previous war in history including 45-60 million people dead through battle, deprivation, disease and 6 million Jews who systematically met their end at the hands of a Nazi regime that authored the Holocaust.

It was a war of choice invited by weakness and fed by delusion that a piece of paper held up by English Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who hailed the non-aggression pact he had signed with Hitler would guarantee peace in our time.

70 years later, a Pew Research Center survey revealed that three-quarters of Americans now regard former enemy Germany as a reliable ally with just more than half who think the European country’s military should play a greater role in global peacekeeping.

The affection is mutual. 62 percent of Germans polled trust the United States and a majority of Germans, 57 percent, described strong ties with the United States as more important than with Russia despite disagreements over wars in the Middle East and the desire by the U.S. government to extend the “surveillance society” to Europe as a whole.

With respect to projecting power around the globe, most Germans are reluctant to increase the size of its military or become directly involved in conflicts overseas with just 25 percent who say Germany should play a more active military role in maintaining peace and stability in the world.

For their part, the poll reveals that most Americans would welcome a stronger Germany with just over half saying Germany should consider “boots on the ground” to fight by America’s side as allies in the cause of peace and liberty.

The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Still, the greatest threat to peace is to develop and pursue policies with other nations through rose-colored glasses, pieces of paper and a failure to act when your bluff is called. These failures in leadership will encourage our nation’s adversaries, frighten our allies and spark adventurism by powers who do not remember war or who glorify in it.