Tuesday, April 08, 2003

"We Germans often are asked if we are proud of our country. To answer this question has always been a burden. There were reasons for our doubts. But now I can say that the rejection of this preemptive war on the part of a majority in my country has made me proud of Germany. After having been largely responsible for two world wars and their criminal consequences, we seem to have made a difficult step. We seem to have learned from history.” – These are the solemn words of Gunter Grass, the 1999 Nobel Prize winner in literature from Germany. His article is attached at the end of this message.


Indeed Germany knows how much sheer pain and devastations that war brings to millions of people around the world. Germany knows it well the “criminal consequences” of war arising from the mangled bodies of victims, the skeletal fractures, the mashed and severed limbs of women, children and men in the middle of ruinous huts and urban serenity. Hitler was remembered and castigated as the villainous man that the last century produced and displayed the ferocity of inhumane wars.


America is not the nation that Bush administration and his pinging neo-conservatives hustling to give the shape to. America is not the nation that Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and people like him with ulterior motives dearly wishes to use to destabilize our world achieving their long coveted dreams amid the deaths of innocent civilians. An orphan child’s shriek seeing her incinerated parents are the simple fact of collateral damage that these heartless hawks are well endowed to embrace with smirking delight.


America is that glorious nation of superbly intelligent sixth American President John Quincy Adams who had bravely saved those besieged Africans, Cinque and many others. With the tragic events of slavery, the dying yearning for freedom and dignity, the longing to go back to one's native land from where Cinque and other Siera Leon's captives were forcefully emigrated in a Portuguese ship in the decade of 1830s, would wrench any tender heart. And it was John Quincy Adams who came to rescue to these desperate men in the end, with his clear sense of right and wrong and unyielding position against slavery, with his firm belief in the equality of men and adherence to humanity.


America is the nation of valiant fighter George Washington who raised his arms and leaded the nation against the British colonial rules and injustice. America is that nation of Thomas Jefferson who promoted the glory of civil liberty.


The neo-conservatives want to strip away that beloved America. The neo-conservatives want to shred the dignified America with their vicious plan of imperialism and dominance, arrogance to subjugate the weak with might and horror.


“The words of the current American president -- "Those not with us are against us" -- weighs on current events with the resonance of barbaric times. It is hardly surprising that the rhetoric of the aggressor increasingly resembles that of his enemy. Religious fundamentalism leads both sides to abuse what belongs to all religions, taking the notion of "God" hostage in accordance with their own fanatical understanding.” - said Gunter Grass with eloquence. Indeed it is surprising in finding the stark similarities of those hooligans and terrorists and the rhetoric fumigating from American high places now. Bush administration’s hawkish bonanza of “Those not with us are against us” are the other side of coin with glowing inscription of terrorists that label the opposing group as infidels. Fanatical zeal is the arsenal of both the terrorists and hawkish brutes alike.


The neo-conservative hawks are in full force, denouncing any dissent on their brutal hawkish policy, they are using all the mainstream media labeling dissenting voices as “Anti-Americanism”, this is the similar barbaric techniques employed by previous countless dictators and autocrats. Gunter Grass responds with clarity: “No, it is not anti-Americanism that is damaging the image of the United States; nor do the dictator Saddam Hussein and his extensively disarmed country endanger the most powerful country in the world. It is President Bush and his government that are diminishing democratic values, bringing sure disaster to their own country, ignoring the United Nations, and that are now terrifying the world with a war in violation of international law.”


Perhaps American overwhelmingly peaceful people will eventually see who are the real criminals, who are the ones that are leading their beloved nation into countless quagmire, into labyrinth of cyclic violence and vengeance. Perhaps these hawks will be summoned and stamped out as accountable for conjuring fictitious wars while shedding crocodile tears for loss of precious soldiers’ life and pelting blatant indifference for the blown up bits of thousands of civilians from the rampaging war.


Regards,

Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)

April 8, 2003

Courtesy: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MuktoChinta/

The U.S. Betrays Its Core Values

Having learned from its past, Germany rightly rejects Bush's war and his disdain of the U.N.

By Gunter Grass

April 7, 2003


BEHLENDORF, Germany -- A war long sought and planned for is now underway. All deliberations and warnings of the United Nations notwithstanding, an overpowering military apparatus has attacked preemptively in violation of international law. No objections were heeded. The Security Council was disdained and scorned as irrelevant. As the bombs fall and the battle for Baghdad continues, the law of might prevails.


And based on this injustice, the mighty have the power to buy and reward those who might be willing and to disdain and even punish the unwilling. The words of the current American president -- "Those not with us are against us" -- weighs on current events with the resonance of barbaric times. It is hardly surprising that the rhetoric of the aggressor increasingly resembles that of his enemy. Religious fundamentalism leads both sides to abuse what belongs to all religions, taking the notion of "God" hostage in accordance with their own fanatical understanding. Even the passionate warnings of the pope, who knows from experience how lasting and devastating the disasters wrought by the mentality and actions of Christian crusaders have been, were unsuccessful.


Disturbed and powerless, but also filled with anger, we are witnessing the moral decline of the world's only superpower, burdened by the knowledge that only one consequence of this organized madness is certain: Motivation for more terrorism is being provided, for more violence and counter-violence. Is this really the United States of America, the country we fondly remember for any number of reasons? The generous benefactor of the Marshall Plan? The forbearing instructor in the lessons of democracy? The candid self-critic? The country that once made use of the teachings of the European Enlightenment to throw off its colonial masters and to provide itself with an exemplary constitution? Is this the country that made freedom of speech an incontrovertible human right?


It is not just foreigners who cringe as this ideal pales to the point where it is now a caricature of itself. There are many Americans who love their country too, people who are horrified by the betrayal of their founding values and by the hubris of those holding the reins of power. I stand with them. By their side, I declare myself pro-American. I protest with them against the brutalities brought about by the injustice of the mighty, against all restrictions of the freedom of expression, against information control reminiscent of the practices of totalitarian states and against the cynical equations that make the death of thousands of women and children acceptable so long as economic and political interests are protected.


No, it is not anti-Americanism that is damaging the image of the United States; nor do the dictator Saddam Hussein and his extensively disarmed country endanger the most powerful country in the world. It is President Bush and his government that are diminishing democratic values, bringing sure disaster to their own country, ignoring the United Nations, and that are now terrifying the world with a war in violation of international law.


We Germans often are asked if we are proud of our country. To answer this question has always been a burden. There were reasons for our doubts. But now I can say that the rejection of this preemptive war on the part of a majority in my country has made me proud of Germany. After having been largely responsible for two world wars and their criminal consequences, we seem to have made a difficult step. We seem to have learned from history.


The Federal Republic of Germany has been a sovereign country since 1990. Our government made use of this sovereignty by having the courage to object to those allied in this cause, the courage to protect Germany from a step back to a kind of adolescent behavior. I thank Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, for their fortitude in spite of all the attacks and accusations, from abroad and from within.


Many people find themselves in a state of despair these days, and with good reason. Yet we must not let our voices, our no to war and yes to peace, be silenced. What has happened? The stone that we pushed to the peak is once again at the foot of the mountain. But we must push it back up, even with the knowledge that we can expect it to roll back down again.


_ _ _



Gunter Grass won the 1999 Nobel Prize in literature. His most recent novel, "Crabwalk," will be published this month by Harcourt. This piece was translated from German by Daniel Slager.


Published in LA Times, April 7, 2003


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