An African saying states that when elephants fight, the grass gets trampled. This holds true when looking at conflict situations around the world and in assessing civilian damage. More than combatants, it is civic life and civilian lives that bear the brunt of devastation. The Kashmiris, Chechens, Gazans, Darfurians, and the stranded Biharis in Bangladesh can all testify to that, along with the victims of drone attacks in the frontier. Then, too, there are individual tragedies. Moustapha Akkad - the man who did so much to rectify disinformation about Muslim heritage in the cinematic world through the making of The Message and Lion of the Desert - was killed, along with his daughter, Rima, in a terror blast in 2005 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, in Amman, Jordan. Because of lazy tribalism, the sufferings of others don't count. The loss, therefore, of human beings not connected with one's own, is dismissed as a mere statistic and labelled as collateral damage. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, for example, had few qualms telling a CBS-News reporter on the 60 Minutes programme on May 11, 1996 that the death of 500,000 Iraqi children as a consequence of US-enforced UN sanctions in the aftermath of the first Gulf War of 1990-1991, was "worth it." The greatest conflict of the past 100 years was World War II. Yet, 65 years after its end in 1945, it is difficult to find US chroniclers who show balance and empathy for the humanitarian sufferings of millions of ordinary Germans of that generation who bore no connection to Nazi excesses. There is no market to depict that in the US book industry. A useful corrective, in this connection, is a brand-new book, The Third Reich at War by Richard J Evans, a noted British historian at Cambridge University. This book, drawing upon original sources and contemporaneous diaries, extensively surveys the plight of the average German - sandwiched between Nazi tyranny and the sustained terror bombardment by Western Allies - which destroyed the fabric of German cities and community life. The city of Dresden alone - which had no military value whatsoever - was pulverised by the firestorm unleashed by the Anglo-American carpet-bombing of February 13-15, 1945, which killed 35,000 German civilians, including women, children, and the elderly. Those who collectively condemn the entire German citizenry for Nazi policies may not adequately realise that a Westminster-style democracy was not operating there. The Gestapo kept an eagle eye, and even flickers of dissent and deviation from the Party line were ruthlessly quashed leaving, in effect, the average citizen in that war-torn era no choice but to comply, upon pain of death or imprisonment. How many today in the United States - where free speech is constitutionally protected - have the guts to openly question US policies in the Mideast which have caused so much misery and mayhem in much of the world? Those who blindly use the term "Judeo-Christian civilisation", as if it is a joint venture pitted against the common threat of a "Muslim menace", would be re-educated through this book as to how the Church kept quiet (and in some instances, cheered) when the Nazis were perpetrating atrocities against European Jewry. Through the prism of the Church, Hitler was viewed as a useful counterweight to Soviet Bolshevism. The overwhelming weight of Anglo-American military resources and manpower proved insurmountable against an outgunned and out-numbered nation. With the Red Army marching toward Berlin, the odds become impossible. It was a blowback effect of the Nazi dogma that "Might is Right." Germany was consumed by the fire and fury which it had unleashed on other nations. God-fearing Germans believed that it was a Divine punishment for the misery the Nazis had inflicted on other people. A creed of violence, hate, and superiority can prove self-destructive. The destruction achieved in Germany after 6 years of war was the very opposite of the 1000-year glory promised by its leadership to the German people. An entire generation of able-bodied men was decimated. Millions of German women were raped by rampaging Russian troops. A vast number of the top leadership elite committed suicide in the aftermath of Germany's defeat and Hitler's suicide. Grand dreams can become nightmares.Those with memories of the year 1971 can recall how a steady diet of seductive slogans, denial, and romantic illusions of warfare, among other factors, cost Pakistan half its nation. The lessons of a literate nation like Germany show that formal education -minus self-scrutiny - may not be enough to overcome the barriers of ignorance and arrogance. Germany recovered, in part, because of its culture of discipline and its capacity to self-correct. Pakistan, too, shall flourish and bond as a nation provided that there is realisation that the wealth of the nation is not the wealth of one man and one family. The writer is a barrister at law and senior political analyst