Club meeting

Dave Killion — October 20, 2011

The Club is getting together tonight for our final discussion of “They Thought They Were Free“, and here is an excerpt that I found striking not only for its insight, but for its relevance to current US circumstances –

“If any occupation ever had a chance of succeeding, it should have been the American (sometimes called the Allied) Occupation of western Germany. As occupations went, it was probably the most benign in history, in part because the fortunes of their history have nourished benignity in the American people, in part because the Occupied turned out to have the same kinds of tastes and talents, and even cousins, as the Occupiers. That the Occupation did fail (if its object was to do any better than Versailles) is now clear, I think, to anyone who does not define peace as order or democracy as balloting. It failed because it was an occupation, and no occupation has a chance of succeeding. (Emphasis mine)

The day the American troops came to Kronenberg, a sergeant rode through the town in a jeep and designated homes which were strategically located for occu[ancy by the troops responsible for maintaining security. One of the homes belonghed to a woman with two babies; within a few hours her furniture was out on the street, along with her and her children. She addressed the Corporal in charge of the eviction, explaining to him, in English, that she was not a Nazi but an anti-Nazi. His reply was not unfriendly. He said, “Too bad, lady.”

It was too bad, lady, but that’s the way it was. It was an occupation; worse yet, it was a civilized occupation, which, as such, violated Machiavelli’s inviolable injunction either to liberate or exterminate a conquered people but under no circumstances to irritate them by halfway measures. The halfway measures of the American Occupation were halfway just, but they were halfway unjust, too. How could they, being civilized, have been otherwise.”

This last bit of the book has been interesting, but a great deal of what Mayer writes comes in the form of declarations, rather than arguments, and so I haven’t taken them to heart to the degree I did his earlier chapters. That may be all I have to say about this great book, but I haven’t quite finished, so if I find something else I’d like to share I’ll put it up tomorrow.

Comments

David says

Dave: Thanks for these small snippets and commentary from the book They Thought They We’re Free. They have been insightful. I especially like this quote: “It was an occupation; worse yet, it was a civilized occupation, which, as such, violated Machiavelli‚Äôs inviolable injunction either to liberate or exterminate a conquered people but under no circumstances to irritate them by halfway measures.”

Makes me think about Iraq & Afghanistan.

— October 20, 2011

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