From Flanders fields, warnings about Europe’s crisis

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

These closing lines of John McCrae’s poem have haunted many a student of literature. History, too: Voices from the graves in Flanders fields, where “poppies blow/Between the crosses, row by row,” seem to admonish us about the human cost of war McCrae saw 97 years ago, in the tragically misnamed “war to end all wars.”

They are more haunting still for a visitor to the cemeteries in Flanders fields, in the Ardennes, at Normandy. And these are just the American memorials, just a few of them.

“Never again” is the feeling that overcomes a visitor to these gravesites. It is also the mantra that for 55 years has led the peoples of Belgium, France, Germany and beyond to band together and extricate themselves from millennia of war. World War I did not “end all wars” in Western Europe, but economic cooperation, beginning with the free trade of coal and steel in 1957, has. So far.

As another Memorial Day approaches, though, it is with haunting memories that a visitor to those gravesites might look back across the pond, and see creeping reasons for worry.

The first glance is to Greece, whose fiscal profligacy has brought it again to the brink of default and, perhaps, an exit from the euro currency. Bailouts from more sound nations, chiefly Germany, are all that have kept these developments at bay the past 27 months.

Now, there’s anger. The Greeks feel betrayed by their government for agreeing to the bailouts, and resentful of the austerity the Germans demanded in exchange. This month they voted in large numbers against the two centrist parties, and for a collection of radicals, Communists and neo-Nazis who speak with a nationalist tone — anathema to the European Union.

The Germans also feel betrayed: It’s well-documented that Athens lied about its finances when applying to join the euro. And they are resentful of being handed the check after spending a decade getting their own finances in order.

Just as there is the threat of financial contagion spreading from Greece to more consequential economies — Italy, Spain, even France — there is the risk these nations will also point the finger at Berlin. Voters in these countries have already lashed out at their political establishments and are not unfamiliar with nationalism.

History suggests the prospect of an isolated, indignant Germany is not to be relished.

There may also be some inauspicious timing on America’s part. Seventy years of guarding against remilitarization in Europe may wind down as Washington grapples with the realities of its own profligacy and, perhaps, looks to withdraw finally from the theater. A subsequent rearmament in Europe, even if in the name of defense, would seem only natural.

For now, there is reason to believe the worst scenarios can still be avoided. It is a long march from a Greek exit from the euro to a divided, rearmed Europe. And for all the dark clouds on the horizon, many here and there still hear those voices in Flanders fields.

But do not forget that the admonition preceding the warning not to “break faith with us who die” reflects a different sentiment, one that exists yet in human nature:

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you with failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

Even in Flanders fields.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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223 comments Add your comment

JDW

May 25th, 2012
4:41 pm

It would probably do the lot of them a world of good if we took the White House Staff, Congress and Supreme Court to Flanders Field and locked them in with the ghosts for week…maybe then the could find the humanity that seems to escape them.

Michael H. Smith

May 25th, 2012
4:42 pm

I wish you would have stated for the record that the Nazis were FASCIST SOCIALIST, Kyle. Unfortunately the resident Marxist you have on your blog never studied world history beyond the second grade level. As surely as this post was made there will be some dullard leftwinger ignorantly claim or parrot Marxist democrat false propaganda that the Nazis were rightwingers.

Nazi Germany

The Third Reich, also Nazi Germany, is the common name for Germany when it was a totalitarian state ruled by Adolf Hitler and the National “Socialist” German Workers’ Party (NSDAP).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_Germany

Footnote: Never forget Hitler was elected!

Rafe Hollister

May 25th, 2012
4:47 pm

Kyle, you had a column the other day where you pointed out how Greece never embraced Austerity. All the libs/Oblama were apoplectic that yes they did and that was their problem. Too much austerity in Europe according to Oblama and the libs.

Then one morning someone woke Oblamer from his restless sleep and told him some columnist had an printed an article in the Wash Post that proclaimed him to be frugal. He jumps from bed, runs to the nearest microphone and says, “Hey, I’m frugal, very frugal. implying that what we need is austerity. The Carney barker of a Press Officer runs to the mike and criticizes the press for not broadcasting this lie from the rooftops, He is Frugal! You can’t make this stuff up, hilarious!!!!!!

MM

May 25th, 2012
4:48 pm

More than a bit melodramatic but there’s definitely a problem in Europe.

Unfortunately you want to demonize the Greeks because they are a cultural “other” that Americans like to look down there noses on. Too bad we can’t blame the French for the mess. Yes, the Greek government lied but all governments, and the big banks, lie including ours. The Bush years was so dense on “big lies” that we’ll be at least another decade in paying the cost. Lets blame Obama; he’s an “other” too.

The root of the European problem is the financial exploitation of Southern Europe by the North, led by Germany, which occurred when the Southern countries were admitted into the European Union. Northern greed and Southern vanity drove that decision. The Northern banks had a field day in speculation in the South that eventually went bust. Mostly a housing bubble just as the US had/has. Instead of laying the blame on a private sector gone wild where it belongs the media instructs us to blame the South only and demand that the middle and working classes pay for the excess of the 1 percent.

Now where have we heard that before?

JDW

May 25th, 2012
4:51 pm

@Michael H. Smith…I think some time in Flanders Field would do you a world of good as well.

BTW, with logic like that, maybe we should not let you negotiate with the The Democratic Peoples Republic in Korea. I guessing you think they are our friends.

JDW

May 25th, 2012
4:52 pm

@Michael K Smith…BTW Flanders Field is from WW 1…that was a bit before any of that other German unpleasantness.

md

May 25th, 2012
4:59 pm

Rearmament? With what?

They are already talking about boasting tax rates to 75% just to fund their entitlements……50 years of sucking off the US defense teet has left them ill prepared to fend for themselves……and now we can no longer afford it either.

md

May 25th, 2012
5:00 pm

Boosting tax rates would make more sense md…..

Dusty

May 25th, 2012
5:01 pm

Ohh Memorial Day!!! How good it is to be all patriotic and honor our troops and all those fine things. We can drop the Poltical Correctness Manual and actually be proud of our country and all the people who died fighting for it.

When I was young enough to be a Girl Scout, we passed out little red paper poppies to everyone who passed at this holiday.. We were proud. Little patriots!!

I hope we can get that spirit to last all year as we honor those who lie in Flanders Fields and around the world, they who fought for the country they believed in.

Now, going to be some good parades around Atlanta. Let’s see. Which one???? Gotta be one with a big band..(Can’t worry about Europe right this minute, Kyle.)

DAVETV

May 25th, 2012
5:03 pm

John McCrae is my great, great uncle on my mothers side. No big deal, just sayin’ it’s pretty to cool for me.

Hillbilly D

May 25th, 2012
5:24 pm

I never thought the idea of a European Union would last and I still don’t. It goes a lot deeper than economics.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

May 25th, 2012
5:26 pm

The only war Europe has in it’s near future is with it’s own muslim population.

And right now, my monies on the terrorists.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

May 25th, 2012
5:33 pm

This will be Obozo’s fourth Memorial Day since infesting Our White House. Think his handlers have been able to teach him what it is that Americans celebrate on that day?

Obozo, 2008: “On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes — and I see many of them in the audience here today — our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.”

Idiot.

Thomas Heyward Jr.

May 25th, 2012
5:35 pm

Happy Memorial Day.
.
You Flander Field guys………………fertilyzing the poppies…………………………………..you lost the fight of freedom.

Thanks for trying.
.
Now everyone else………….buckle your dang seat-belts, pay your taxes, buy WHAT the government tells you to..and WHEN it tells you to. ..And report every aspect of your life every April 15. Also….do not so much as LOOK at a TSA Agent or any other State-Costumed Employee when they order you to do something…Keep your eyes downcast…Do want your’re TOLD to.
.
You may remember SuperBowls or World Series from 100 years ago.
Just DON’T remember anything pre-September. 2001.
.
Carry on.
.

Thomas Heyward Jr.

May 25th, 2012
5:37 pm

And maybe lose some weight too.
.
Obesity is NOT good for the collective.
.
Just remember……………Obama/Romney will save us all.
.
Carry on.

xdog

May 25th, 2012
5:43 pm

Greece citizens don’t believe in paying their taxes and they don’t want to change that longstanding habit.

German bankers feel paying one’s taxes is a duty and they want Greeks to change their culture to embrace that view.

My belief is that Greeks won’t change and Germans are foolish for expecting them to change. German bankers should find a way to gently and gradually toss them from Euroland.

xdog

May 25th, 2012
5:45 pm

“John McCrae is my great, great uncle on my mothers side. No big deal, just sayin’ it’s pretty to cool for me.”

DAVETV, I agree, very cool.

MarkV

May 25th, 2012
5:49 pm

“History suggests the prospect of an isolated, indignant Germany is not to be relished.”

Sounds unduly alarmist. The lessons of history give no indication that the problems of Europe might lead to any general armed conflict. While there is a fair amount of enmity in places like Greece towards Germany based on history, how and why would that lead to an effort of a military solution? Surely Greece would not want to attack Germany and what would Germany want to do with Greece?

The current problems of EU are economic/political, and the danger to us is economic. It is almost inevitable that the very complex problems will be trivialized in the posts here. The economic crisis in Europe has not happened because of “socialist” policies, except in a few individual cases, such as Greece.

Rafe Hollister

May 25th, 2012
5:49 pm

Thomas Heyward

Those guys died giving us freedom, they can’t help that we are trying to vote it away. Happy Memorial Day, and as Benjamin Franklin once said, “We gave you a Republic, if you can keep it”.

md

May 25th, 2012
5:57 pm

“The economic crisis in Europe has not happened because of “socialist” policies, except in a few individual cases, such as Greece.”

Must explain why france is talking about 75% tax rates………..the 50+ isn’t quite covering their entitlements…..and just think, they have no defense spending for the most part……none of them.

Rafe Hollister

May 25th, 2012
6:01 pm

MarkV
The economic crisis in Europe has not happened because of “socialist” policies, except in a few individual cases, such as Greece.

Well unfettered capitalism and individual responsibility have not been practiced in Europe in generations, so the problem was caused by….?

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

May 25th, 2012
6:16 pm

It’s Bush’s fault. Again.

MarkV

May 25th, 2012
6:17 pm

Rafe Hollister @6:01 pm: “Well unfettered capitalism and individual responsibility have not been practiced in Europe in generations, so the problem was caused by….?”

As I predicted, you want to trivialize the issue, as if the complexity of it could be reduced to a few sentences. In addition, you have started with a ridiculous assertion that “individual responsibility have not been practiced in Europe in generations.” That may be your opinion, but is has no relation any rational thought. True, unfettered capitalism has been rejected in Europe (just as in the USA), and many countries have been doing quite well before the financial crisis, which hit Europe as much as the US.

ragnar danneskjold

May 25th, 2012
6:21 pm

Nice reminder that, as screwed up as we are in ObAmerica, Europe, as always, is worse.

Dusty

May 25th, 2012
6:23 pm

MarkV

It seems that your heart does lie somewhere in Europe as your homesickness is hard to miss. But to not understand the thought that “an unhappy indignant Germany is not to be relished” is not….well…understandable.

The history of WWI & WW2 almost always starts with Germany, the Kaiser, Hitler. Those two both used the unhappiness of Germans in their reach for sovereignty. Therefore it is not unusual to be somewhat leary when Germans are unhappy.

That does not mean that Germany or Greece are planning any kind of war. It just means, don’t ever forget. It seem you have already forgotten past history..

grated

May 25th, 2012
6:31 pm

This is why war should always be a last resort. And proof that W and the Republicans nearly ruined not just this country, but the entire world with their Iraq War.

We weren’t supposed to intervene in Iraq. Big Mistake. No remedy. The Mayan Prophecy begins in five minutes.

“….I see a flash in the sky, a bright light…..EEEEEEEEEEEIEIEIEIEIIEEIEIEIGGHHHHTTT!!!!!”

MarkV

May 25th, 2012
6:34 pm

Dusty @6:23 pm

“It seems that your heart does lie somewhere in Europe as your homesickness is hard to miss.”

Are you accusing everybody who knows more of the world than you do to have his/her heart elsewhere?

“But to not understand the thought that “an unhappy indignant Germany is not to be relished” is not….well…understandable.”

With all due respect, I know much more about “unhappy indignant Germany” more than you do. Please do not try to give me history lessons.

“That does not mean that Germany or Greece are planning any kind of war.”

If they are not, what is the point of the article? That they might plan in the future? The point I was making was – what for?

Rafe Hollister

May 25th, 2012
6:37 pm

MarkV

You are the one who made the simplistic statement attributed to you in my post. To say, well its complicated, but it wasn’t socialistic policies that caused it, implies that you know something that the rest of us (rubes-to you I’m sure) don’t know. All I was asking was, for you to share you knowledge with the rest of us. There are no facts just your opinion, is what you throw out frequently on these pages.. Well, where are the facts and the rest of your story?

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

May 25th, 2012
6:39 pm

Without the Iraq war, Egypt would not have been conducting free, fair elections for new leadership today.

Our President Bush knew exactly what he was doing and the world is more free and democratic as a result.

Thank you, President George Walker Bush.

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

May 25th, 2012
6:50 pm

Dusty

We need to get those Braves turned around tonight!

MarkV

May 25th, 2012
6:51 pm

Rafe Hollister @6:37 pm: “To say, well its complicated, but it wasn’t socialistic policies that caused it, implies that you know something that the rest of us (rubes-to you I’m sure) don’t know.”

These kinds of stupid comments do not help anything. I did not claim that only I knew something more than simplistic assertions that socialist policies were to blame. There are plenty of thoughtful analyses, if you want to read them. My point is that this is not a place for going into those details, because if would get bogged down by people with simplistic opinions like yours. There are obvious problems in EU of a common currency without the underlying financial structure, the effect of financial deregulation affecting both US and Europe, yes, some irresponsible financial policies in places like Greece, and the foolish and failed austerity attempts..

Just saying..

May 25th, 2012
6:57 pm

JDW
May 25th, 2012
4:51 pm

Amen.

Shaniqua

May 25th, 2012
7:17 pm

The average German worker/taxpayer must be wondering ‘what have we gotten ourselves into’ right about now. The spendthrift Greeks will never change their ways, and they’ll ride the handout gravy train long as they can get away with it. I am surprised that Frau Merkel etal have let it run this far.

Michael H. Smith

May 25th, 2012
7:18 pm

JDW,

Yeah brucie you worthless windbag, tell me all about how much good your grandiose socialism… oops… social democracy has done for humanity. Especially that part of it labeled Democrat, okay? You know, Democrat, as in that political party that has took this country to war every time but once during the last century, which includes and begins your beloved progressive-marxistWoodrow Wilson? Oh does he fit in your Flanders field slobbering? Seems history fails you on that point doesn’t it now?

Oh and BTW, brucie wilcox , if you read, or if you can comprehend what you try to read, you dummy, Kyle brought up the Nazis in his article, which led to my statement that you and your stupidity tried to spin into something other than what I pointed out that had nothing to do with your WWI misleading crap meant to deflect attention away from my comment about you and your leftwing ignorant ilk always claiming the NAZSI were rightwingers.

PS. Double down on all the above to your amen, just saying…

Dusty

May 25th, 2012
7:19 pm

Rafe,

I’m counting on Hudson to pull “us” through tonight. I hope everybody is in good shape but I haven’t heard. The Braves have such a good team. Go BRAVES!! I’ll be keeping an eye on them,

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

May 25th, 2012
7:26 pm

Chipper’s out, McCann is out.

Toast.

david green

May 25th, 2012
7:32 pm

WW1 started when France and England declared war on Germany after sending in its army into Serbia after a terrorist who murdered a member of the Austrian royal family. Sound familiar after the bombing of the world trade center the US sent its might against Afghanistan in order to get Osama; an action which failed in its mission and has needlessly cost thousands of American lives as well as wasted tax payer dollars. All so that Bush and Chenny could funnel money to corporations like Haliburton in return for campaign contributions.

If Germany was wrong then so was the US of A. That’s what I’ll be thinking about Kyle while you and your fellow republicans wave the flag in the pretense of being patriotic on Memorial Day and on election day in November.

Hillbilly D

May 25th, 2012
7:32 pm

The beautiful thing about baseball is every game starts out 0-0 and every day is a new day.

@@

May 25th, 2012
7:33 pm

It’s been interesting to watch this unfold at STRATFOR.

The Europe that is taking shape is one with Germany in the lead and Russia hovering — ever more influential — to its immediate east.–STRATFOR

md

May 25th, 2012
7:34 pm

“and the foolish and failed austerity attempts..”

Out of curiosity, what option is left when the money has all dried up?

Who exactly would they be borrowing from in order to spend their way out of their problem? Which by the way was created from doing the exact same thing…….

md

May 25th, 2012
7:36 pm

“The beautiful thing about baseball is every game starts out 0-0 and every day is a new day.”

Which is why #8 seed GT is the only 2-0 team in the 8 team ACC tourney right now…..it’s why they play the games.

@@

May 25th, 2012
7:37 pm

Europe is short of funds and short on time. They’re caught in a “perfect” storm.

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

May 25th, 2012
7:37 pm

Mark

So, you make a simplistic statement with nothing whatsoever to back it up, and when challenged you accuse me of having simplistic opinions.

Gotta go watch those Braves, doesn’t look good for the home nine.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

May 25th, 2012
7:38 pm

If there is any real austerity in Europe, it’s caused by governments taking too much of a country’s production for itself, rather than leaving it with the people who earned it–their taxpayers.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

May 25th, 2012
7:40 pm

“All so that Bush and Chenny could funnel money to corporations like Haliburton in return for campaign contributions.”
——————————

Hello, zero credibility.

Michael H. Smith

May 25th, 2012
7:41 pm

Shaniqua

Perhaps it is a surprise to some in Germany. To those who know what the eventual outcome of what a complete national financial collapse could mean, will go a long way before conceding to that type of failure. Personally I’ll be amazed if they can pull this thing off but for the good of all, including the U.S., I hope they can perform capitalist magic, because European Socialism has been the proverbial rabbit in the hat promised utopia .

Dusty

May 25th, 2012
7:48 pm

MarkV

So it’s Germany you are missing. And no, you are the only one I know at the moment who is homesick for Europe. And I am sure you know more history of Germany than I do. I reminded you of the most simple historical facts of WWII & WWII. You can write a book about it if you like. But bragging about your great knowledge is not a sure way of convincing people that is true.

As usual, you have drawn the wrong inference from what is posted. Kyle simply said that “inhappy Germans are not to be relished”. That is simply a reminder of history and nothing else. Most of us are quite pleased that there is one financially stable country in Europe and that seems to be Germany.

You miss a lot. This is Memorial Day on Monday and Kyle had that in mind. He included parts of a fine poem related to those we remember, some of them buried in Flanders field.

Now that is in Europe and is part of a past war. Therefore Kyle was considering the status of Europe at this time. It was as simple as that. Nothing undercover. He has lived there you know.

Now you know that no one was downgrading your beloved Germany. But you downgrade yourself with your rude and unnecessary accusations.

Don’t forget to celebrate Memorial Day. It is an American custom (in case you did not know.)

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

May 25th, 2012
7:49 pm

Huddy…come on man.

MarkV

May 25th, 2012
7:50 pm

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang @7:37 pm: “So, you make a simplistic statement with nothing whatsoever to back it up, and when challenged you accuse me of having simplistic opinions.”

Apparently you do not even understand what a simplistic statement means. I have rejected a simplistic idea that “socialist” policies are the cause of the problems in Europe, and suggested an outline of some of the causes. You have not offered anything.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

May 25th, 2012
7:51 pm

There are several European countries that are doing well, but they’re mostly not members of the EU.