Sunday, February 04, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Four [1]

CHAPTER FOUR: THE MAKING OF EMPIRES


1. GERMANY IS BORN AGAIN

Part 1 of Chapter Four, "Germany is Born Again," is a long section in which Johnstone--who never ceases to bemoan imprecise Holocaust parallels in discussions about Srebrenica--makes the extended argument that reunified Germany after 1990 embarked on a continuation of Nazi foreign policy. Having alluded to this previously in the book, she proceeds to devote 29 pages to this curious thesis.

After pointing out that the Yugoslav crisis allowed newly reunified Germany to flex its diplomatic muscle within Europe for the first time, and noting also Germany's push for recognition of Slovenia and Croatia (admittedly hasty acts which Balkan revisionists generally point to as somehow demonstrating German guilt for the outbreak of war), she poses some very odd questions:

"Which Germany was this? Was it the old Germany of Kaiser Wilhelm and the Third Reich pursuing its centuries-old Drang nach Osten? Or was this a new Germany, purified by penitence for the Holocaust, henceforth devoted solely to the universal promotion of democracy, civil society, and human rights" Or was it, in some very odd way, a combination of both?"

Johnstone never runs out of strawmen to joust with--the second option is, of course, impossibly idealistic and laughable. This is a frequent strategy of hers--to create an impossibly idealistic caractiture of her opponents so their views appear easy to refute.

But you see where she's going here--Germany is either the rebirth of Nazism, or the world's first purely altruistic nation. Or, she suggsts, a combination of both.

Can't wait to see what that would look like? Well, this chapter is just for you! Because Johnstone goes on to claim that German foreign policy in the Balkans was a blend of "ideals and interests", which wouldn't be notable except that she honestly believes this is somehow unique. At any rate, don't think for a second Johnstone has taken her eye off the ball:

"For Germans, assertion of humanitarian ideals as justification for foreign intervention was widely understood as a form of compensation for their Nazi past. And yet, ironically, this intervention can be shown to have marked a return (consciously or, more often, unconsciously) to precisely the forms of foreign intervention characteristic of traditional German power politics, notably as pursued by the Nazis."

Let that soak in for a day or two. We'll pick up from there in the next post.

2 comments:

Owen said...

She seems to feel a compulsion to wrap everything up in a single paradoxical package when it would make more sense to acknowledge that you can have two separate strands that run in different directions within the same structure / country.

Alan Kocevic said...

Kirk, your's website and Daniel's Srebrenica genocide are irrefutably the best sources of information about the war in Bosnia. Keep up the excellent work! Alan