A report from the Australian has highlighted the historical importance of Germany's offer to send troops to Lebanon where they could come into direct conflict with Israelis.
Reporter Roger Boyes and Richard Beeston noted that Germany's late decision to participate ranked as its most delicate foreign policy move since it was held to account for the Holocaust in 1945. Since then, they add, it has been unthinkable that Germans would put themselves in a combat situation that could have their soldiers shooting at Jews.
The decision to send troops was made by Chancellor Angela Merkel and three cabinet ministers, who were encouraged to do so by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "We have to do this, not in spite of the Holocaust, but because of it," Werner Sonne, a leading commentator, said on German state television. "If German troops guard Israel's borders, they are there to protect Jewish lives. Frankly, there has never been a better reason to bring in soldiers in German uniform."
That, contends the reporters, set the tone of what promises to be a huge national debate, not only about Middle East policy but about how the Nazi past should inhibit Germany's expanding role in world politics.