I arrived in Rome in November 1945 as an 18-year-old draftee and part of the U.S. occupation army. My very pleasant assignment was to arrange trips to Rome for GI veterans, who, after several years of duty in war-torn Europe, were returning to the States. With plenty of free time in the months of late 1945 and two GI friends in Rome, I made contact with some U.S. Catholic clergy associated with the Vatican -- and I also made contact with a German priest.
One of my American priest friends was an elderly monsignor of German-American background. He facilitated my conversations with the German priest. After a few glasses of Italian victory wine one evening, the conversations became heated, especially when the German priest said something I found shocking at the time.
“The good German leadership,” he said flatly, “facilitated the peaceful liberation of Rome.”
I wondered then, as an inquisitive 18-year-old private first class, if this implied that even Hitler knew about it. As Hitler was the top commander of the German state in June, 1944, I felt then at a minimum he did not prevent the peaceful U.S. liberation of Rome.
The strategy for ending the U.S. war in Afghanistan is unfolding.
An intense military campaign to force the Taliban to negotiate is taking place. Operations to control the situation in the nearby mountains of Pakistan have started. President Obama wants to end the war by the end of his first term.
The popular opposition and lack of enthusiasm for the U. S. engagement in Afghanistan is similar to three other major post-World War II military involvements: Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.
The United States no longer wins wars; that ended with World War II. Settlements are now negotiated with the goal of protecting U.S. interests. These were to a degree, accomplished in Korea and Vietnam. In the case of Iraq, it is still debatable.
Afghanistan might imitate the geo-political factors that terminated the fighting in Korea. In the election year of 1952 there was a highly attractive candidate, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who sensed the opportune time for ending the struggle. Will similar factors come in to play in the election year of 2012?
The factors that constitute the current geopolitical situation in Sudan have all the potential for repeating the immediate past -- which was a bloodbath. Or since the world is aware of these factors, can the elements be brought together so that Sudan can become an example of reconciliation?
Forty-eight years ago my wife Margaret and I were in Port-Au-Prince on our honeymoon. It was the first week of our marriage and we visited the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption for God's blessings on our marriage. Almost five decades later, we are grateful for God's blessings.
Today, the cathedral is in ruins. The archbishop of Port-Au-Prince is dead. As many as 20 priests and seminarians are known to be dead as well. An estimated 200,000 people have died as a result of the Jan. 12 earthquake.