Monday, January 07, 2008

We are all Prussians now

This excellent article was recently published at A very informative read. -- Jim

We are All Prussians Now
by Charles Featherstone

On September 12, 2001, while the site of the once-upon-a-World Trade Center was still smoldering, French journalist Jean-Marie Columbani wrote the famous words "we are all Americans now." The attacks on the United States of the previous day had prompted one of "the gravest moments of our own history," and would completely changed the world:

[H]ow can we not feel profound solidarity with those people, [Columbani wrote] that country, the United States, to whom we are so close and to whom we owe our freedom, and therefore our solidarity? How can we not be struck at the same time by this observation: The new century has come a long way.

And it has come quite a bit farther since Columbani’s column was published that Wednesday morning in September. He predicted the marshaling of U.S. anger and military power, but failed to see how poorly that power would be guided and utilized. He predicted that Russia would become Washington’s greatest ally in this war, and that certainly has not happened. In focusing on the madness he believed present in the Arab and Islamic worlds, he was blind to the madness present among all "us" Americans.

It was a nice sentiment, I suppose, this "we are all Americans now." But it wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now.

An even greater gulf separates the United States of 2008 with the Prussia of the early 1860s – one that makes comparison difficult – but in reading historian Koppel Pinson’s Modern Germany: It’s History and Civilization, I think there is an intriguing parallel between Prussia and the rise to power of Otto von Bismarck and the United States of not just today, but the last few decades. One that is worth paying attention to.

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