Wednesday, 9 September 2015

All or nothing at all

When the allies conquered Nazi Germany in 1945 and confirmed that Hitler was dead, they did not immediately retreat to leave the remains of the nation to be scrapped over by communist militias, the remnants of the Wehrmacht and whatever liberals had the capability to fight. By delineating and occupying four zones, the US, USSR, Britain and France practically set up a protectorate under which German industry could be reconstructed and new democratic structures could be formed. (It is a matter of regret that the Soviets went their own way, forming a puppet régime in the DDR. Stalin was clearly partly motivated by fear of a once-more united Germany, a fear which was revealed later to be shared by Margaret Thatcher.) The system of proportional representation which served West Germany and eventually a reunited Federal Republic well was devised by the occupiers. The Basic Law had the effect initially of ensuring that the only viable government was a conservative coalition of Christian Democrats and the Christian Social Union - coincidentally, I feel, though conspiracy theorists on the radical side of politics like my father felt that it was a deliberate ploy to keep socialists out of power. On the industrial side, the UK's Royal Engineers rescued and restored the Volkswagen works. (Short-sightedly, British motor magnates refused the operation which was offered to them on a plate.) Marshall Aid money contributed to the rise from the ashes. The Cold War ensured that even after the zones of occupation were dissolved in 1955, there was a continued US and UK military presence in Germany for some time, which must also have helped the domestic economy. The total result is the stable, democratic and humane state which we see today.

In our own time, Afghanistan is another example where a continued presence by the West has established some stability. The watching brief of the US Army has allowed the Afghan forces to mature and establish an esprit de corps. The EU maintains an interest in civil society. While there are still bomb outrages, these have become less frequent and are less destructive than those in Iraq.

Iraq (twice) and Libya are object lessons in making conditions worse by only half-doing a job.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...


West Germany also witnessed the destruction of an evil belief system based on a hatred of the "other", homophobia, a strict delineation of the role of women, and compulsory adherence to its tenets. Would it be too much to suggest that progress in the states you mention similarly relies upon the removal of a cult whose tenets bear a strong resemblance to those of Nazism?

Frank H Little said...

Seems I wrote too soon about Afghanistan: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/14/us-afghanistan-taliban-jailbreak-idUSKCN0RE08920150914