I think it’s time for a celebration. Today officially marks the end of the war, the end of the longest war in American history. Don’t you think that’s a cause to hit the streets? Don’t you think we should be painting our banners and hoisting our flags and getting drunk and dancing wildly in Times Square and on the Washington Mall and wherever your community gathers to celebrate long-awaited events?
You probably are thinking about the War in Afghanistan, and also thinking, “What, is he nuts?” No, the Afghan War became America’s third-longest war on June 7, 2010, surpassing the Vietnam War (though how they determined the start and finish of that undeclared war is a bit of a mystery to me). And the last I heard, the Afghan War is still going on, and will reach the 9-year mark on October 7 of this year, in just five days.
No, I’m speaking of World War One. The War to End Wars. (And look how well it worked!) Today, October 3rd, Germany will make a final payment of £59,000.000, the last of the reparations demanded by the Allies in the Treaty of Versailles as a means to rebuild the devastation in France and Belgium. The payment schedule was interrupted a little by something called World War Two. Remember that one? I don’t, either, but my parent’s generation does, those of them who are still alive. (I read that they are dying at the rate of about 1000 per day now.)
Most historians agree that the crippling debt incurred by Germany was a leading cause of the rise of the Nazi Party in the ‘30s.
Was it a mistake? The scale of it probably was, but I applaud the sentiment. If politicians had to pay reparations out of their own pockets instead of imposing the burden on taxpayers I’d like the concept even more.
But I have to admit I’m amazed. The bastards paid it off! Think of that. Let’s all drink a beer (a good German beer) to the re-united Germany of today, and say goodbye to a war which, at 92-years, almost surpassed the Hundred Years War (which was actually several wars, and lasted 116 years, but let’s not quibble). Let’s hope that one day soon America’s second-longest war can be ended. Stumped again? I’m referring, of course, to the Korean War, 60 years old now, for which no peace treaty was ever signed. And we’re still there, just as we’re likely to be in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2050.
October 3, 2010