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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 4, 2011 / 28 Adar I, 5771

The last doughboy and the emergence of a great nation

By Michael Gerson



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Over the past few decades, the obituaries of World War I veterans have come, according to historian Martin Gilbert, "like a muffled drum." With the recent passing of Frank Buckles - the last doughboy - Pershing's army has finally retired from the field. The drum is stilled and put away.

What was once called the Great War is largely forgotten, obscured by the vivid moral clarities of the greater war that followed. Confused schoolchildren are left to ponder the question posed by Andrew Roberts: "Why should a Maori New Zealander have died in Turkey and been buried in Greece because an Austrian had been shot by a Serb in Bosnia?"

Actually, the first war was a preview of what would follow. Machine guns. Civilian bombing. Unrestricted submarine warfare. Poison gas. All were technologies that allowed killing without aiming, applying the tools of mass production to the business of slaughter. Death became impersonal, mechanical and vast.

Some of history's most malignant ideas got planted in the churned earth of that struggle. "Jews and mosquitoes," wrote Kaiser Wilhelm II, "are a nuisance that humanity must get rid of in some way or another. I believe the best would be gas." The German government put Vladimir Lenin on a sealed train from Zurich toward Russia, hoping to destabilize an enemy. Adolf Hitler, a soldier in the trenches, vowed vengeance.

From laughably trivial beginnings, World War I shaped history on a massive scale. A whole continent suffered nervous collapse; another rose to unprecedented prominence.

Europe's failure of nerve was understandable. A million Britons died. Among French men who were 19 to 22 at the outbreak of the war, more than 35 percent were buried by its end. France was left with 630,000 widows.

The trauma was deep. Constitutionalism and liberalism appeared weak and discredited - a contrast to totalitarian confidence and purpose. The very idea of human progress was overturned. In France and England, ideals of glory and courage seemed obscene beside the images of bodies on barbed wire. It was a time of fatalism, cynicism and dark humor. Said Philip Larkin: "Never such innocence again."

But the United States, in contrast, was at the beginning of innocence. The European tragedy was the American arrival. At the start of 1917, the American Army had a little more than 100,000 men, lightly armed and with no large-scale combat experience since Appomattox. By August 1918, America had deployed more than a million soldiers to Europe. It was the energy of a rising nation.

Frank Buckles remembered himself, in those days, as "a snappy soldier . . . all gung-ho." The Army he joined established durable impressions of Americans - fresh off farms, gawky, wide-eyed, singing, violent. The Germans, wrote John Keegan, "were now confronted with an army whose soldiers sprang, in uncountable numbers, as if from soil sown with dragons' teeth."

British and French officers saw the arriving Americans as enthusiastic but inefficient. Americans saw themselves as cleaning up the messes of a tired civilization. Europeans thought the United States claimed too much credit for minimal sacrifices - about 50,000 battle deaths in total, compared with Britain's loss of 20,000 men on the first day of the Somme offensive alone. A pattern of awe and resentment was established. John Maynard Keynes called President Woodrow Wilson a "blind and deaf Don Quixote." Wilson argued, "If America goes back upon mankind, mankind has no other place to turn." Perhaps both were right.

In the following decades, America lost the innocence of the Fourteen Points and the League of Nations but not the sense of national purpose that brought Americans to the Argonne Forest. It was the same spirit found on D-Day and in the long defense of Europe from Soviet aggression.

That enthusiasm, in some quarters, has waned. Economic self-doubt turns a nation inward. Global engagement is often difficult, expensive and thankless. Some long for America to be, once again, merely a nation among nations.

But the forces that led the United States into World War I were not random or unique. America moved beyond its shores on the momentum of its founding principles - a belief that freedom is worth a fight - along with a growing recognition that our nation is not immune from the disorders of the world.

Times change. Old battles, once fresh in their horror, are forgotten. But America still produces men and women like Frank Buckles. And sometimes mankind has no other place to turn.


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Previously:



03/01/11 Conservatives shouldn't be so surprised by freedom
02/22/11 The progression of pain
02/18/11 The seriousness primary
02/11/11 Do Egypt's protests mean American decline?
01/27/11 No-bend Obama
01/21/11 Two good arguments for civility -- and passion -- in politics
01/11/11 Obama's staff changes give him a second chance
01/11/11 Is Arizona shooting an empty search for meaning?
01/07/11 WikiLeaks gives dangerous ammunition to a tyrant
01/04/11 Michael Vick: Symbol of the second chance
12/28/10 Social Security reform is the answer to Obama's problems --- and the nation's
12/21/10 When foreign policy realism isn't realistic
12/17/10 When it comes to politics, Obama's ego keeps getting in the way
11/26/10 Libs resort to conspiracy theories to explain Obama's problems
11/19/10 With Holder at the helm, detainee policy is a disaster
11/12/10 Blue-state budget crises spell even more trouble for Dems
10/19/10 Obama the snob
10/12/10 Seeds of victory in Afghanistan
10/05/10 Believers' remorse
10/04/10 Pound-foolish on national security
09/28/10 Babylon on the Potomac
09/27/10 Our reluctant commander in chief
09/21/10 Blue strongholds are becoming Democratic graveyards
09/17/10 For the GOP, a bittersweet brew from the Tea Party
09/15/10: Insanity's great enablers
09/13/10: The lost communicator
09/08/10: Will 2010 midterms be 1994 all over again?
09/01/10: Obama's economic wandering
08/27/10: Miracles from abroad
08/25/10: Address these issues in order to strengthen the Tea Party
08/20/10: The lost promise of Barack Obama
07/23/10: Obama's greatest nightmare
02/04/09: The Reality of Innocence
01/07/09: The Risks in Obama's Ambitions
12/31/08: Support Obama Will Need
06/13/08: Prince Charles, Organic Conservatism Icon
06/11/08: No longer a bankrupt political joke but still overshadowed
04/23/08: McCain's anger management
04/10/08: A Country for Old Men
03/06/08: Does the America Need a Hug?
03/06/08: Obama's First 100 Days
02/29/08: Words Aren't Cheap
02/22/08: He Said, They Said
02/20/08: Dying silently in Zimbabwe
02/15/08: Hillary's Unappealing Path
02/13/08: NATO's Afghan Stumbles
02/08/08: Why McCain Endures
02/06/08: One surge that led to another
02/01/08: In North Korea, Process Over Progress
01/30/08: Compassionate to the end


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