Right now, in February 2002, the United States of America seem poised to attack their old enemies, using the "War against Terrorism" as an excuse. George W. Bush's speech about the "Axis of Evil" has irritated many, particularly the Europeans, allies of the US.

Since World War II, the US have used war as a tool of exterior politics, to a frightening extent. The US government seems to care little for the suffering this causes. Why?

Recently, a possible answer to this question popped into my head: It is because the US have never lost a war. 1 Because they have never been bombed, invaded, occupied. They have never experienced being on the losing side, so they do not know the horror of war in one's own country. And that is why they attack other nations with little remorse: they simply do not know what they are causing.

In contrast, all European nations have had such experiences in their past. Take Germany, for example, which has been defeated, bombed, invaded and occupied twice in the last century. And the memory of that does live on, because of literature.

There is a period of post-World War II literature in Germany, called "Trümmerliteratur" (approximate translation: Rubble Literature). Authors like Heinrich Böll and Wolfgang Borchert detail the horror and insanity of the war in these books. There are also such books about World War I, for example "Im Westen nichts Neues", by Erich Maria Remarque.

It can be expected that in Germany, at least one such book is read in by everybody in high school, dispelling any illusions about war being something glorious or justified.

I do not think that there is anything comparable happening in the United States, which is why the US has a different, and in my opinion, wrong, stance on warfare.

1Excepting Vietnam, where the United States can be said to have lost. But the US was never attacked on its own territory, which is the point I am trying to make here.
The fairly obvious exception to this are the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, where the US indeed was attacked on its own territory. I think that the extreme (but understandable) reaction of the American people was precisely because it was taken for granted that the US would not be attacked.

A few comments:
  • I am serious here. This is not trolling.
  • This is not meant as an attack on the American people. Nor do I seek to justify the terrorist attacks on the US.
  • This is a theory of mine, not a conviction. I am willing and eager to discuss it on a
rational basis.
  • I am not a simplistic pacifist, but I think that the United States is going too far.

  • About the softlinking comments to the War of 1812: Granted, but that was a long while ago and a different magnitude of devastation compared to the World Wars.

    I will eventually change this writeup to re- and deflect the points made in the two new writeups.