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Fri., March 22, 2013

Failings are broadly human

Stationed five-and-one-half years in Europe, and with 26 years abroad in 45-plus nations, I’ll confirm much of what another veteran said in his letter. I lived in small villages abroad, too, and learned several foreign languages thereby.

However, I encountered only a minority overseas who considered Americans uniquely arrogant and materialistic barbarians enslaved by our own greed, violence and paranoia. Those such often saw us as descendants of the rejects they’d sent to colonize the New World. Perhaps there is some merit to that judgment since I’d lived in some British crown colonies in which colonizers could be supercilious.

Most I’d met in Europe, though, acknowledged it was Europe that started two world wars we were invited to join, and a more recent war, in the Balkans, with the plea “Save us, before we kill again!” Some were chastened, too, by a recent massacre in Norway, and that the only place I was ever shot was in Europe (accidentally, by a British hunter).

So, I think our failings are more broadly human than uniquely American, and I wish my fellow vet a happy retirement in London. Nice city, and I really enjoyed visiting the Albert and Victoria Museum there.

Philip Mulligan


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