07 December 2005

The Passing Of Time

As this 64th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor comes to a close, I reflect on the passing of time. As the soldiers from one War in a bygone era die off, those of a new era, and a new War, come of age. Such, unfortunately, is the state of the World. And as we face enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan today, I am compelled to examine the similarities and differences between this War and the War that embroiled the globe just over 60 years ago.

Both Wars began in the same way, with devastating, unexpected attacks on our own soil. In both cases the enemy who directly attacked us, in a way, played 'second fiddle' to another enemy. In World War II, Roosevelt felt it equally as important to pursue the Nazi's, who had never actually attacked us, in the same way Bush has become equally as focused on Iraq as he has on Afgahnistan. Both leaders had good, justifiable reasons to include these other nations into the scope of their respective War.

In both cases the non-attacker who was pursued was a mass-murdering dictator. Both were fascists. Hitler, however, did his murder on a much grander scale and in a much more methodical way than Saddam, although both used religion as a means of determining their victims.

Then, as now, and perhaps always, Americans found an ally 'across the pond' in England. Of course, she no longer controls a quarter of the world's territory, yet, England still answers the call by sending Her Majesty's Soldiers. Unfortunately, no matter how highly you regard Tony Blair, he is no Churchill; and in the same way, Bush has not the leadership talents of Roosevelt.

In modern times, liberals decry the Bush relationship with Saudi Arabia, yet in World War II we allied ourselves with the most ruthless man of all time: Joseph Stalin. In the same way the alliance with the USSR was neccesary to defeat Hitler, the help of the Saudi's will be required for success in the Middle East. Once again, both are justifiable actions. On a differenet note, let us hope that the way we ignored the Soviet threat in the aftermath World War II will not resemble our future policy towards Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Iran.

Both FDR and Bush racked up massive wartime debts and, as a result of the Military spending, both had amazing Economic production and results. As awful as it may seem, War is good for the economy, and that's the bottom line. In fact, the lowest unemployment rate in our Nation's history was in 1942-3: a staggering less-than 1%.

In the aftermath of 9/11 the hatred of Muslims much resembled the distrust of Japanes-Americans in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. Of course, the Muslims of today had it far easier, as all they have to endure are scowls and a few extra minutes in the airport security line. This, in stark contrast to the Japanese internment camps of the early 1940's.

Nonetheless, we find the media, and its role, has changed much since the Second World War. The cries to be accepting of Muslim's are a far cry from the cartoon-like ridicules of Hirohito and Tojo that were seen in World War II era newspapers. The footage of the War presented to Americans in World War II consisted mainly of the newsreels shown in movie theaters, nowadays CNN is live in Baghdad before our own troops even get there.

After Pearl Harbor Americans were united as never before. However, within weeks of Bush declaring War on Afghanistan, the protesters had hit the streets demanding that action against the Taliban be halted. And then came Iraq, and the children of the protest-happy Vietnam era reared their collective, ugly head.

President Bush could not ever dream of using propganda for the War today, but "I Want You" is one of the most enduring images from World War II. The debacle of the United Nations, was, thankfully, not present to hinder and disturb FDR, yet it has manifestied itself in all kinds of ways in the War on Terror.

Prior to Pearl Harbor our reason for remaing peaceful was isolationism; pre-9/11, a combination of our collective ignorance and the look-the-other-way strategy of the Clinton Administration caused us to ignore that which we now fight.

Perhaps, the most obvious difference lies with the fighting styles. The Greatest Generation combated the Armies of Nation's; the soldiers of today are fighting guerillas who appear in a variety of outfits.

The passing of time changes many things, yet one thing remains constant, the evil we see in the World. Yes, evil, that's the right word. Conservatives usually catch a lot of crap for saying that word, but that's okay. The other thing that seems to remain constant is that American Soldiers are the ones fighting that evil. Whether you agree or disagree with the War in Iraq, one thing must be admitted: the spirit of the American G.I remains unchanged by time. He still selflessly fights for good and truth, with courage and strength, just as he did in World War II.

December 7th, 2005 has now faded to December 8th and my reflection has come to an end. However, in honor of those who perished on that Date of Infamy, I leave with this quote from Ronald Reagan: "We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free."

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