MANIPAL, India, June 23 (UPI) -- After World War I, the consequences of the Versailles "peace" were the rise of the National Socialists and World War II. That conflict was followed by the Marshall Plan, the democratization of Germany, Italy and Japan and their bonding with the United States and Britain into both a security alliance as well as an economic partnership. Both British values and American culture permeated the three former Axis powers, vacuuming away the hostility in the minds of their populations to the victors. Today, some Germans (as indeed many Britons and more than a few French) may be anti-Enduring Freedom. Almost none is anti-American except in a narrow political sense.
Why did the peace imposed after World War II create a benign backlash while that which followed World War I create the Hitler-Tojo-Mussolini monster? The reason was that conquest was achieved in the 1914-1918 conflict only on the ground, over physical territory. In the second, it won over the mind of the "enemy" population pool as well. It can be argued the extremely liberal treatment given to the Germans after they had backed the most loathsome dictatorship in history, a policy of forgiveness that took within its fold more than 95 percent of those who had been active in the NSDAP, helped avoid a second Hitler. It is now clear the formal respect paid to the emperor of Japan and to the non-militaristic aspects of the culture of that civilization, together with ruthless MacArthurite democratization and integration into the modern economy, transformed a power that had been first suspicious of and then hostile to the West (at least for the previous two centuries) into a reliable ally, despite the horror of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Forget that Operation Enduring Freedom ought to have been conducted by giving equal billing to a "Free Iraq" leadership as was given to U.S. participants. A Free Iraqi general conducting news briefings jointly with the non-telegenic Tommy Franks would have had an effect similar to that created by projecting Charles De Gaulle as the heroic leader of a horde of "Free French" when the reality in German-occupied France was that the level of resistance was far lower than that found in the eastern theatres, while active collaboration was high. The "Free French" were, however, wonderful in cinema newsreels and on the British Broadcasting Corp. and Voice of America, which was enough to preserve French pride into the postwar period, avoiding the kind of backlash that made Paris craft the Versailles Treaty.