Germany unites

October 03, 1990

The great questions of the time are not decided by speeches and majority decision . . . but by iron and blood.

--Otto Von Bismarck

Today, after 45 years of Allied occupation, the distinctions "East" and "West" disappeared from Germany, from datelines in news reports, from maps and place names. The peaceful reunification of Germany, scarcely imaginable a year ago, indicates that Bismarck's observation about the forces of history VTC is a less-than-reliable predictor of world affairs. War does indeed change things, but one lesson of the past year's events in Eastern Europe is that the changes wrought by war are not necessarily answers. Certainly they are not final answers to the questions that give rise to war in the first place. The "answers" imposed after World War II are giving way to a new order, and the changes have been largely peaceful.

The new Germany faces many challenges. With good reason, it eastern citizens worry about the changes they face -- a more prosperous life with greater civil liberty, but also one more hurried and harried, less anchored in family, friends and the assurance of a measure of economic security. Citizens who have grown up under communism are facing a daunting new world in which they are equally free to prosper or to fail. That is also true in other countries now emerging from communist domination.

Meanwhile, the world watches with some unease to see how th German future unfolds. Despite the vast challenge of getting the east on its feet, no one seriously doubts that a reunited Germany will be a dominant player in the world economy. But what role will the country play diplomatically or militarily? Currently, Germany is being asked to help bankroll the Persian Gulf deployment. Will there come a time when it will be asked to shoulder -- or even actively seek -- broader involvement in resolving world crises? In earlier times, the process of sorting out such questions has often led to war. But lasting answers -- for Germany and for all nations -- will only come through the hard work of building and preserving a peaceful world.

Today, after 45 years of Allied occupation, the distinctions "East" and "West" disappeared from Germany, from datelines in news reports, from maps and place names. The peaceful reunification of Germany, scarcely imaginable a year ago, indicates that Bismarck's observation about the forces of history is a less-than-reliable predictor of world affairs. War does indeed change things, but one lesson of the past year's events in Eastern Europe is that the changes wrought by war are not necessarily answers. Certainly they are not final answers to the questions that give rise to war in the first place. The "answers" imposed after World War II are giving way to a new order, and the changes have been largely peaceful.

The new Germany faces many challenges. With good reason, it eastern citizens worry about the changes they face -- a more prosperous life with greater civil liberty, but also one more hurried and harried, less anchored in family, friends and the assurance of a measure of economic security. Citizens who have grown up under communism are facing a daunting new world in which they are equally free to prosper or to fail. That is also true in other countries now emerging from communist domination.

Meanwhile, the world watches with some unease to see how th German future unfolds. Despite the vast challenge of getting the east on its feet, no one seriously doubts that a reunited Germany will be a dominant player in the world economy. But what role will the country play diplomatically or militarily? Currently, Germany is being asked to help bankroll the Persian Gulf deployment. Will there come a time when it will be asked to shoulder -- or even actively seek -- broader involvement in resolving world crises? In earlier times, the process of sorting out such questions has often led to war. But lasting answers -- for Germany and for all nations -- will only come through the hard work of building and preserving a peaceful world.

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