Human Memory and the Libyan Decision: Part Two

On March 22, this blog wrote:

“In the three days since the abstention [from the vote in the Security Council establishing a no-fly zone], there has been a full range of reactions. In one paper yesterday, a retired general wrote that the abstention made him deeply ashamed of being a German. Another view expressed was that the government had made the right decision for the wrong reasons…. Since human memory is proverbially short, if the Libyan enterprise becomes more difficult as initially anticipated, many will forget that Germany stayed out not because the government was so prescient, but for reasons that made the retired general so ashamed.”

The retired general had deplored Germany’s abstention on the grounds that it was an unacceptable departure from Germany’s traditional pro-NATO policy.

This blog had noted the abstention with approval. It welcomed the manifestation of German pacifism.

On April 1, the Munich paper Die Süddeutsche Zeitung rated it “one of the best blogs.” It summarized it as follows:

“If the Libyan enterprise becomes more difficult than initially anticipated, a lot of people in Germany won’t have to be ashamed of being German in the future.”

It is by no means certain that if this blog covered the same subject today, after the Libyan enterprise has indeed proven more difficult than initially anticipated, it would take the position it took on March 22. It might say that German participation might well have made all the difference and Gadhafi would be out of power by now.

In short, it might say the retired German general was perfectly right to be ashamed.


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