Friday, April 23, 2004
On Dec. 16, 1944, the Germans began an offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge. The primary goal was to capture the Belgian port city of Antwerp, which would drive a wedge between British and American armies. Bastogne, on the southern shoulder of the Bulge, was a strategic stronghold for U.S. forces. By Dec. 21, the town was surrounded by German forces.
On the morning of Dec. 22, the German commander sent a demand for surrender of U.S. troops to Gen. Tony McAuliffe, who was in command of American forces in Bastogne. McAuliffe first thought the Germans were offering to lay down their arms. When he was told the Germans wanted him to give up, he replied: "Us surrender? Aw, nuts!"
McAuliffe ordered the following reply, now a part of World War II history and legend:
"To the German Commander,
"The American Commander."
The Americans, motivated by McAuliffe's no-nonsense response, rallied in the face of overwhelming odds.
When Osama bin Laden sent his message last week to European nations offering a no-attack promise if the Europeans withdrew their support for U.S. efforts in the Middle East, there were immediate responses to the effect that there would be no negotiations with al-Qaida. Bin Laden's offer was clearly an attempt to drive a wedge between the United States and its European allies.
In effect, the reply to bin Laden's outrageous offer was simple and direct:
What more needs to be said under such circumstances?