Wednesday, July 26, 2006

German Soldiers V's Israeli Soldiers?

The BBC has an interesting article on discussions going on in Germany at the moment. With the crisis in the Middle East well into its second week, people are looking for a way of bringing about a ceasefire and at the moment the proposed solution is that NATO should send peace keeping/enforcing troops to Lebanon to separate Israeli and Hezbollah force.

It is only 12 years since Germany changed its constitution to allow its military to get involved in international disputes. World War II prevented them from sending troops abroad prior to that. Since then they have sent troops on peacekeeping missions to the Balkans, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Sudan and DR Congo.

This one is different. The problem here is the idea of having German troops pointing weapons at Israeli soldiers. Jewish soldiers.

The Suddeutsche Zeitung said it was "astonishing" that politicians were discussing the idea, while Austria's Der Standard said it was "unthinkable" that the grandchildren of Holocaust perpetrators might find themselves shooting at the grandchildren of victims.

I can understand their concerns, but perhaps they could look at it another way. Maybe Germany has a responsibility to protect Israel, as much from Israel itself as from outside forces. If German troops prevented Israeli soldiers from committing war crimes would that not be a good thing? If Germany can prevent Israel from making some of the same mistakes that they made (not that I'm comparing the Jewish Holocaust to what is happening at the moment in Lebanon, but there were many other war crimes committed during World War II that may resemble what is going on now) would that not be some how appropriate? If German troops put themselves in harms way between Hezbollah and Israeli civilians would that not also be a good thing? I'm not suggesting that German soldiers should blast away at Israeli soldiers, but what if a convoy of German soldiers stood between Israeli tanks and a village and waited for the Israelis to shoot first while at the same time removing any Hezbollah in the village would that not prevent a possible "over reaction" in the village?

By the way, I like the way they call it the Middle East "Crisis", normally I would call a situation where land, air and sea forces were actively engaging enemy troops with numerous casualties on both sides over an extended period of time a war, but what ever makes the media feel more comfortable.

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