Germans are debating whether they should allows troops to drop humanitarian supplies in war-torn Bosnia. Those opposed to the plan argue that such a move goes beyond the bounds set by the country's post-war constitution. German troops can only be deployed in NATO territory, they say.
However, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government is pursuing an appropriate course by moving in the direction by joining the United States in providing aid drops.Americans have long complained that other developed Western nations do not equally share in such international obligations.
Given the set of new world circumstances it is proper for the former enemies of World War II to participate in joint peacekeeping operations and humanitarian efforts.
The Japanese and now the Germans have anguished over increasing their participation in such causes.
Rightfully, many sense an obligation to participate more fully with the family of nations in these efforts while still haunted by a militaristic past.
In Japan, a healthy debate has been raging about whether the country's post-war constitution allows its military to participate in peacekeeping operations.
Last June, the Japanese Diet approved sending up to 2,000 soldiers in noncombat duties in Cambodia. It is Japan's first overseas military mission since World War II.
Under U.N. aegis, Japanese military engineers and soldiers are repairing Cambodia's roads, acting as policemen and observing cease-fire violations. This Japanese military presence in Asia is completely different than one of four decades ago.
The Germans should feel comfortable with providing humanitarian aid to Bosnia and should not view it as a sign of a reawakening German imperialism.
Americans should expect more international cooperation and encourage the United Nations to create more noncombat roles for German and Japanese forces when appropriate.