WASHINGTON – After decades of rapacious wars prompted by Germany, the North American Treaty Organization backed by the U.S. has brought 70 years of peace, freedom and prosperity to Europe. Those decades of stability are too much to bear to President Donald Trump.
As World War II ended, much of Germany was seen as a deeply sick society, bred on envy, hero worship and muscularity. Proof for a teenager in Buffalo was on the screen of Shea's Elmwood Theater (since demolished). There, we watched victorious American generals march German citizens who pretended there was no Holocaust through the death factories in their countryside and in Poland.
It took years of American goodwill, American money and American power to bring about a new Germany.
In 1948, when Russian dictator Joseph Stalin closed all land traffic to Berlin, which was deeply inside the Russian zone, our president, Harry S. Truman, declared "We shall stay. Period." And Truman ordered a yearlong airlift to supply its citizens with bulk cargo like coal and potatoes.
The Russians perpetuated Berlin's isolation by building their infamous wall in 1961, killing those who tried crossing it to freedom.
All the while our presidents and Congresses of both parties invested billions to rebuild free Germany's economy. But the wall remained as a symbol of Russia's desire to dominate Europe.
There can be no doubt that President Trump is working to destabilize NATO, perhaps even German society itself. The beneficiary of this would be Russia, and its president, Vladimir Putin, who publicly hungers for a restoration of the Russian empire under Stalin.
Ever since the surrender of Nazism in 1945, democratic Germany has struggled to smother its revival. German law forbids the display of the swastika, and other symbols of the Adolf Hitler era.
But hard-right organizations still pollute German society, just below the radar, sometimes right on the line.
Now set aside, for the moment, the many things Trump has said to destabilize Great Britain and Germany. Consider Trump's new ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, a protege of Trump's incendiary national security boss, John Bolton.
Shortly after being installed as ambassador, Grenell gave an interview to the ultra-right Breibart.com blog. Here is what Grenell said in part:
"I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe ...
"I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left ... We are awakening the silent majority who reject the elites and their bubble
– led by Trump."
Grenell has absolutely no right, no business whatever to say these things as a diplomat from any country to any country. Democrats in this country should have jumped all over this talk, but they mysteriously said nothing. Grenell should have been rebuked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, even recalled to Washington; but he wasn't. Instead, Grenell was strongly supported by our State Department. German politicians were not as frightened. They labelled Grenell's militant comments as gross interference with Germany's internal politics.
There is though, a precedent for this. Hitler's diplomats to Austria routinely undermined that nation's democratic politicians until Hitler's invasion of that nation.
Incidentally, the magazine Der Spiegel reported that Grenell invited Austria's right-wing Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to lunch. There was already an American ambassador to Austria, Trevor Traina.
Hate radio and even some Fox commentators say this is the result of Trump's inexperience in foreign affairs, his life as a businessman.
Not so. This is not innocence. This conduct must stop, or be stopped by constitutional means.
Another warning sign, if one is necessary, is that the president's invitation to Putin to visit here was proffered through Bolton, and not Pompeo, and his State Department. Did Pompeo object?