George W. Bush welled up with pride as he spoke of America’s contributions to European freedom in connection with D-Day celebrations in France this year. Unfortunately, American journalist Paul Harvey was not present to tell "the other side of the story". In fact, there are several sides of the story that deserved to be mentioned that President Bush forgot to speak about.
For instance, President Bush forgot to mention that America stayed out of the war long enough for Germany to overrun France and Europe, while American businesses and banks continued doing business with Nazi Germany. For example, IBM (International Business Machines) is now documented as having developed punch card technology specifically for managing the large numbers of victims of Nazi concentration camps. IBM workers visited the camps and serviced the machines on site, and had to be aware of the atrocities, but were not willing to let a great business opportunity go to waste.
At the beginning of the war, U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Joseph Kennedy favored staying out of the war so that business could prosper. Like many American businessmen, Kennedy did not want to let a little bickering over inconsequential morals interfere with profit-making, and Kennedy felt very strongly that America could work with and do business with Nazis. Even American icon Charles Lindberg felt similarly and urged Americans to avoid going to war, even as the Nazis were depriving countless Europeans of their freedom.
Even the Bush family was involved in this macabre scenario. Prescott Bush, the father of George Herbert Walker Bush and grandfather of current President George W. Bush, headed a New York bank that handled financing and banking needs of a significant part of the German steel industry under the Nazis. Prescott Bush as actually convicted during the war under the "Trading With the Enemy Act", and fined. However, the fine did not prevent Bush from building the fortune that later put George H.W. Bush into the oil business in Texas and later putting George W. Bush into the same oil business farther down the freedom-fighting road traveled by Prescott Bush himself, who hushed the news of his wartime conviction and managed to get himself elected as U.S. Senator.
And more was left unsaid by President Bush this week. The freedom-granting Americans, who invaded Europe from the Atlantic after the Soviet Russians had long been fighting on the Eastern Front with enormous losses, later collaborated with ex-Nazi oficials and scientists in the Cold War against their former allies in the Soviet Republics. The same Nazis who were demonized for their atrocities against Western Europe, were soon comrades in arms, and often protected from prosecution by U.S. intelligence agencies who quickly forgot the evil deeds of the Nazi regime that American soldiers died to suppress.
America’s role as liberator of Europe was far more complex than portayed in the history books and story telling by politicians. America may very well have prevented the onslaught of Nazi hordes against Europe by taking a principled stand at the beginning, but profit trumps principle then and now.
"America stands for business" is the slogan that was popular then and is equally true today. Unfortunately the biggest business of all is war, and peace-building is not a source of corporate profit. America continues setting the stage for and fighting wars around the world, and then rebuilding and seeking credit for its "contributions" to mankind.
When one gets past the flag-waving and the glorification of war, a reasonable question should be asked, but only gets asked by the minority — can’t we find a better way of resolving conflicts than by fighting wars? Can’t we build peace and prosperity for its own sake?