I really love chain e-mails from jingoist war mongers.
It’s always exciting to hear what latest arguments for squandering our awesome and virtuous military might are floating around out there. It allows me to keep a finger on the fear pulse of the body politic, too, and see if there’s something to be genuinely concerned about – from either side; foreign or domestic.
And foremost, it allows me to flex the old research guns and fire off a few better-informed salvos at guys with more letters behind their name than me.
In this case, a friend of mine asked some people on his chain e-mail list whether the historical assertions of one Mr. Kraft were true. I replied, since many were not.
I tried to stay away from voicing opinion. At least I held out to the end.
See for yourself:
SOME OF YOU ARE NOT OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER THAT NEARLY EVERY FAMILY IN AMERICA WAS GROSSLY AFFECTED BY WW II .. MOST OF YOU DON’T REMEMBER THE RATIONING OF MEAT, SHOES, GASOLINE, AND SUGAR. NO TIRES FOR OUR AUTOMOBILES,AND A SPEED LIMIT OF 35 MILES AN HOUR ON THE ROAD, NOT TO MENTION, NO NEW AUTOMOBILES. READ THIS AND THINK ABOUT HOW WE WOULD REACT TO BEING TAKEN OVER BY FOREIGNERS IN 2008.
This is largely true. Gas rationing went into effect for seven months, nationwide, in 1942. This article covers the History of Gas Rationing Laws in Ohio, and discusses that occurence.
This is an EXCELLENT essay. Well thought out and presented. Please read it all and think seriously about our future here on earth. It is critical.
Sixty-three years ago, Nazi Germany had overrun almost all of Europe and hammered England to the verge of bankruptcy and defeat. The Nazis had sunk more than 400 British ships in their convoys between England and America taking food and war materials.
Pretty true. Around 3,500 Allied merchant ships were lost during the course of the entire war with Germany. Also, bear in mind that this essay was likely written back in late 2004, which was 63 years after the entry of the United States in WW2.
At that time the US was in an isolationist, pacifist mood, and most Americans wanted nothing to do with the European or the Asian war.
Not exactly true. Though US opinion had been isolationist for awhile, things had shifted dramatically by the beginning of 1941 – nearly a full year before Pearl Harbor. To quote:
“…in January 1941, after the Fall of France, and also the founding of the Tripartite Pact, which was clearly aimed against the United States, the question “Should we keep out of war, or aid Britain, even at the risk of war?”, AID BRITAIN got 68%”
This is proven by polls cited in Frank Capra’s “Why We Fight Series”.
Then along came Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and in outrage Congress unanimously declared war on Japan, and the following day on Germany, who had not yet attacked us. It was a dicey thing. We had few allies.
Not true. Republican legislators largely maintained opposition to going to war with Germany. Even the Democrats were hard pressed to advocate such an expansion of the war. Hitler forced the issue by declaring war on us – not the other way around – on December 11th. It was, indeed, a dicey thing for the Reich, considering they were busy losing a war on three fronts.
Again, we had war declared on us by Germany.
France was not an ally, as the Vichy government of France quickly aligned itself with its German occupiers. Germany was certainly not an ally, as Hitler was intent on setting up a Thousand Year Reich in Europe. Japan was not an ally, as it was well on its way to owning and controlling all of Asia. Together, Japan and Germany! had long-range plans of invading Canada and Mexico, as launching pads to get into the United States over our northern and southern borders, after they finished gaining control of Asia and Europe.
No real evidence exists to support the notion that Germany had serious plans to invade the United States – or North America. They were pretty bad at even scrambling together invasion plans to attack Britain’s shores, “Operation Sealion,” because Germany always expected the UK would sue for peace, or at least talk about a negotiated armistice. No dice. Japan did, in fact, invade Alaska – attacking the Aleutian islands and holding them with mixed success.
America’s only allies then were England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and Russia. That was about it. All of Europe, from Norway to Italy (except Russia in the East) was already under the Nazi heel.
China was also a large and significant ally. They were the main focus of Japan’s Army effort, and a major drain on Japanese forces. Around 3,200,000
Japanese were in China at any one time, and the Japanese recorded up to 1.9 million casualties (of all kinds).
Let’s not forget their contribution, nor that the Japanese were also actively fighting the UK in Burma at the time.
The US was certainly not prepared for war. The US had drastically downgraded most of its military forces after WW I because of the depression, so that at the outbreak of WW II, Army units were training with broomsticks, because they didn’t have guns, and cars with “tank” painted on the doors, because they didn’t have real tanks. A huge chunk of our Navy had just been sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor.
The broomstick and “tank” cars were during the 30s – Great Depression, isolationism, populism – but things had turned around by the beginning of WW2.
Remember, we started the draft up in a big way in 1940, expecting that we’d need a massive army. The production we began, with Roosevelt and Marshall’s foresight, was just beginning to bear fruit in 1942.
We might not have been primed for a fight, but we had plenty of means to engage in one.
Britain had already gone bankrupt, saved only by the donation of $600 million in gold bullion in the Bank of England (that was actually the property of Belgium ) given by Belgium to England to carry on the war, when Belgium was overrun by Hitler (a little known fact).
Actually, Belgium surrendered after one day, because it was unable to oppose the German invasion, and the Germans bombed Brussels into rubble the next day just to prove they could .
Not true, again.
The Germans did bomb Brussels, it’s true, but I think the author refers to the truly tragic and unnecessary bombing of Rotterdam. Brussels was hit, but not carpet bombed like Rotterdam.
That horrible event took place on the day of the surrender of Belgium, and was regarded, even then, even by the Germans, as a mistake. Confusion of command, Dutch stalling tactics and the fog of war led to this atrocity.
Britain had already been holding out for two years in the face of staggering losses and the near decimation of! its Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain, and was saved from being overrun by Germany, only because Hitler made the mistake of thinking the Brit’s were a relatively minor threat that could be dealt with later. Hitler, first turned his attention to Russia, in the late summer of 1940, at a time when England was on the verge of collapse.
Kind of. Hitler didn’t go to war with the USSR until mid-summer, 1941. His war with Britain in the meantime was largely one of air and sea – and in the colonies like North Africa – because, as Operation Sealion above notes, he was unprepared for the UK sticking out the war.
Ironically, Russia saved America’s butt by putting up a desperate fight for two years, until the US got geared up to begin hammering away at Germany .
Pretty true. Our politicians were eager to get into the fight, but cooler heads – and British urging – prevailed, and we didn’t deploy Army troops against Germany until nearly a year after Pearl Harbor.
Russia lost something like 24,000,000 people in the sieges of Stalingrad and Moscow alone . .. 90% of them from cold and starvation, mostly civilians, but also more than a 1,000,000 soldiers.
No. Sorry. I do love touting the sacrifice of the USSR – as many as 37 million, likely around 27 million, dead over the course of the war, if one counts the effects of the Holocaust and the counter-insurgency programs of Germany – but 24 million didn’t perish in the sieges of Stalingrad and Moscow.
Those numbers above are just made up.
Here are the real ones.
Had Russia surrendered, Hitler would have been able to focus his entire war effort against the Brit’s, then America. If that had happened, the Nazis could possibly have won the war.
All of this has been brought out to illustrate that turning points in history are often dicey things. Now, we find ourselves at another! one of those key moments in history.
There is a very dangerous minority in Islam that either has, or wants, and may soon have, the ability to deliver small nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, almost anywhere in the world .
The Jihadist, the militant Muslims, are basically Nazis in Kaffiyahs — they believe that Islam, a radically conservative form of Wahhabi Islam, should own and control the Middle East first, then Europe, then the world. To them, all who do not bow to their will of thinking should be killed, enslaved, or subjugated . They want to finish the Holocaust, destroy Israel, and purge the world of Jews . This is their mantra. (goal)
This statement applies to some of the core of al-Qaeda, but not to most militant Islamists. Bin Ladin is a Wahabbist with a stated goal of world domination. Then again, he has no real plan for this goal.
Other forms of violent militants include:
* Nationalist Shia Muslims (like Hezbollah, the Iraqi ruling Dawah Party, and Iran) who have regional dominance as their goal.
* Extra-nationalist Sunni Muslims (like the Saudi operatives fighting the Shia in Lebanon and those fighting the Russians in Chechnya) who have “defense of the faith” as their goal.
* Opportunist Sunni Muslims (like the Taliban) who use the faith to take control of otherwise factious lands.
There is also a civil war raging in the Middle East — for the most part not a hot war, but a war of ideas. Islam is having its Inquisition and its Reformation, but it is not yet known which side will win — the Inquisitors, or the Reformationists.
If the Inquisition wins, then the Wahhabis, the Jihadist, will control the Middle East, the OPEC oil, and the US, European, and Asian economies.
The Wahabbists already do control the largest share of oil currently running in the Middle East – the Saudis are Wahabbists, and their state is administered by Islamic law.
The USA counts them chief among their allies, though of course, al-Qaeda’s money and banking is all handled by Saudi Arabia, and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi.
This is not to incriminate all Saudis, but to note that there is a difference between even the puritanical Wahabbis and jihadists.
The techno-industrial economies will be at the mercy of OPEC — not an OPEC dominated by the educated, rational Saudis of today, but an OPEC dominated by the Jihadist. Do you want gas in your car? Do you want heating oil next winter? Do you want the dollar to be worth anything? You had better hope the Jihad, the Muslim Inquisition, loses, and the Islamic Reformation wins.
If the Reformation movement wins, that is, the moderate Muslims, who believe that Islam can respect and tolerate other religions, live in peace with the rest of the world, and move out of the 10th century into the 21st, then the troubles in the Middle East will eventually fade away. A moderate and prosperous Middle East will emerge.
We have to help the Reformation win, and to do that we have to fight the Inquisition, i.e., the Wahhabi movement, the Jihad, Al Qaeda and the Islamic terrorist movements. We have to do it somewhere. We can’t do it everywhere at once. We have created a focal point for the battle at a time and place of our choosing . . in Iraq. Not in New York, not in London, or Paris or Berlin, but in Iraq, where we are doing two important things.
(1) We deposed Saddam Hussein. Whether Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the 9/11 terrorist attack or not, it is undisputed that Saddam has been actively supporting the terrorist movement for decades. Saddam was a terrorist! Saddam was a weapon of mass destruction, responsible for the deaths of probably more than a 1,000,000 Iraqis and 2,000,000 Iranians.
Try around 213,255 Iranians. Not 2,000,000. And slightly more – around 350,000 – Iraqis. That’s in the Iran-Iraq War.
Bear in mind that the US deliberately supported both sides in that war, in the hopes of extending it so that both Iran and Iraq would be weakened. We weren’t so fond of either of them. That’s why we gave Saddam advanced weaponry, didn’t object to his WMD programs at the time, and at the same time, traded arms to Iran (Iran-Contra).
The sanctions levelled against Saddam to discourage his recuperation of WMD programs after the Gulf War may have led to the deaths of around a million Iraqis, but those are projections. Also, Saddam’s ties with terrorism were largely limited to paying money to the families of Sunni suicide bombers in Palestine – something Saudi Arabian nobles do too.
(2) We created a battle, a confrontation, a flash point, with Islamic terrorism in Iraq. We have focused the battle. We are killing bad people, and the ones we get there, we won’t have to get here. We also have a good shot at creating a democratic, peaceful Iraq, which will be a catalyst for democratic change in the rest of the Middle East, and an outpost for a stabilizing American military presence in the Middle East for as long as it is needed.
The central assertion of this article – that the Iraq war limits, rather than expands, Islamic radicalism and militant activity – is highly debatable. Most sources (CIA, RAND corporation, Pentagon) believe the contrary is true.
One fact remains: The casualty counts don’t support the author’s assertion about killing the “bad guys.”
We have killed at least 16,500 insurgents. Al-Qaeda claims 4,000 of those, as of two years ago.
But various terrorists and our own soldiers have killed at least nearly ten times that many civilians. Ten times would be 151,000 – the lowest count. The highest by a legitimate source is over a million Iraqis killed because of the chaos caused by our invasion.
WW II, the war with the Japanese and German Nazis, really began with a “whimper” in 1928. It did not begin with Pearl Harbor. It began with the Japanese invasion of China. It was a war for fourteen years before the US joined it. It officially ended in 1945 — a 17-year war — and was followed by another decade of US occupation in Germany and Japan to get those countries reconstructed and running on their own again . a 27-year war.
Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931, and China in 1937.
WW II cost the United States an amount equal to approximately a full year’s GDP — adjusted for inflation, equal to about $12 trillion dollars. WW II cost America more than 400,000 soldiers killed in action, and nearly 100,000 still missing in action.
Most estimates say, adjusted for inflation, it would have cost around $5 trillion. It did cost the US $306 billion. The MIA numbers are apochryphal.
The KIA is accurate.
The Iraq war has, so far, cost the United States about $160,000,000,000 which is roughly what the 9/11 terrorist attack cost New York. It has also cost about 4,000 American lives, which is roughly equivalent to lives that the Jihad killed (within the United States) in the 9/11 terrorist attack .
Not true. Iraq war costs are $500 billion and climbing, by about $2 billion a week, according to a Congressional Research Survey.
It’s hard to estimate the cost of the 9-11 attacks, financially, as most of it was to the stock market. Relief costs were, at most, in double-digit billions.
The cost of not fighting and winning WW II would have been unimaginably greater — a world dominated by Japanese Imperialism and German Nazism .
This is not a 60-Minutes TV show, or a 2-hour movie in which everything comes out okay . The real world is not like that. It is messy, uncertain, and sometimes bloody and ugly. It always has been, and probably always will be.
The bottom line is that we will have to deal with Islamic terrorism until we defeat it, whenever that is. It will not go away if we ignore it.
If the US can create a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq, then we have an ally, like England, in the Middle East, a platform, from which we can work to help modernize and moderate the Middle East. The history of the world is the clash between the forces of relative civility and civilization, and the barbarians clamoring at the gates to conquer the world.
The Iraq War is merely another battle in this ancient and never ending war. Now, for the first time ever, the barbarians are about to get nuclear weapons. Unless somebody prevents them from getting them! ..
We have four options:
1 . We can defeat the Jihad now, before it gets nuclear weapons.
2 . We can fight the Jihad later, after it gets nuclear weapons (which may be as early as next year, if Iran’s progress on nuclear weapons is what Iran claims it is).
Four years from then, at earliest.
3 We can surrender to the Jihad an! d accept its dominance in the Middle East now; in Europe in the next few years or decades, and ultimately in America .
4 . We can stand down now, and pick up the fight later, when the Jihad is more widespread and better armed, perhaps after the Jihad has dominated France and Germany and possibly most of the rest of Europe. It will, of course, be more dangerous, more expensive, and much bloodier.
If you oppose this war, I hope you like the idea that your children, or grandchildren, may live in an Islamic America under the Mullahs and the Sharia, an America that resembles Iran today.
The history of the world is the history of civilization clashes, cultural clashes. All wars are about ideas, ideas about what society and civilization should be like, and the most determined always win.
Those who are willing to be the most ruthless always win. The pacifists always lose, because the anti-pacifists kill them .
I would argue that the outcome of the Cold War does not bear this out. The Soviets were willing to be quite ruthless indeed.
Remember, perspective is everything, and America’s schools teach too little history for perspective to be clear, especially in the young American mind.
The Cold War lasted from about 1947, at least until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989; forty-two years!
Europe spent the first half of the 19th century fighting Napoleon, and from 1870 to 1945 fighting Germany !
Europe fought Napoleon for about 15 years. The assertion about Germany is rather silly, as sides were switching dramatically during that period.
World War II began in 1928, lasted 17 years, plus a ten year occupation, and the US still has troops in Germany and Japan .. World War II resulted in the death of more than 50,000,000 people, maybe more than 100,000,000 people, depending on which estimates you accept.
The US has taken more than 3,000 killed in action in Iraq. The US took more than 4,000 killed in action on the morning of June 6, 1944, the first day of the Normandy Invasion to rid Europe of Nazi Imperialism.
In WW II, the US averaged 2,000 KIA a week — for four years. Most of the individual battles of WW II lost more Americans than the entire Iraq war hasdone so far.
The stakes are at least as high . ! A world dominated by representative governments with civil rights, human rights, and personal freedoms . . or a world dominated by a radical Islamic Wahhabi movement, by the Jihad, under the Mullahs and the Sharia (Islamic law).
It’s difficult to understand why the average American does not grasp this. They favor human rights, civil rights, liberty and freedom, but evidently not for Iraqis.
“Peace Activists” always seem to demonstrate here in America, where it’s safe.
Why don’t we see Peace Activist demonstrating in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea, in the places that really need peace activism the most? I’ll tell you why! They would be killed!
The liberal mentality is supposed to favor human rights, civil rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc., but if the Jihad wins, wherever the Jihad wins, it is the end of civil rights, human rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc.
Americans who oppose the liberation of Iraq are coming down on the side of their own worst enemy!
The central argument of the essay seems to be that we need to be more ruthless than the enemy to win. That’s rather alarming, and depraved, considering that it was al-Qaeda’s ruthlessness that was a major factor in motivating the Sunni nationalists – terrorists, yes – to join us against al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Furthermore, the essay suffers from two major flaws in comparison:
One, comparing the “jihadists” to the Axis powers. The Axis powers were just that – governmental powers we could unseat and replace with our military presence. Terrorists aren’t. They’re customarily civilians who hide among civilian populations and strike out; kind of like politically-motivated criminals.
Furthermore, as I noted, there are a variety of Islamic terrorists. Many fight one another. Recently, we began giving money to the Saudis through the CIA, to give to Al-Qaeda, to fight Shia Hezbollah in Lebanon. For each different group, there is a different objective. All are mostly composed of middle-class, young males with wealthy money and influence brokers from places like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan supporting them.
So, the notion that we can consider the war on terror to be like World War Two is thoroughly foolish. One involves states fighting states, the other involves a state fighting several non-state actors spread throughout several countries.
The second failure of comparison is the equivalence of expense. World War Two saw us raise millions of men under arms, ship them across two oceans and have a supply train that, even though it was spread over several continents, was flooding with materiel like planes, trucks and gas. We annihilated, occupied and rebuilt numerous large nations. Now that’s a pay-off.
For a lesser but very significant cost, the Iraq War has allowed us to maintain a presence of about 160,000 troops in a single country. Said country has not been rebuilt, or secured by our forces. It has not had closed borders. Fighting still goes on. And, until recently, our troops had inadequate armor and equipment in some cases.
In short, World War Two – good investment. Iraq War – disastrous investment. Beware of comparing inapplicable metrics: We dropped as many munitions in Vietnam as we did on all of Europe in World War Two, and what good did it do us?
Lastly, I leave you with this consideration:
Do we /want/ to turn the War on Terror into World War Two?
Do we want to sacrifice that much? Do we want to make the stakes that dire? Because let me tell you, the reason why we were able to pull it off was because of the extent to which we sacrificed.
So before one considers Kraft’s call to battle, consider this:
Do you want America to have to marshal a force of millions of men? Turn all its industry toward creating the machines of war? Ration dramatically so that we can invade, dominate and reshape populations that – unlike Germany and Japan – are among the most historically disobedient and unruly?
If so, anchors aweigh for a lot of nations who we’ve been calling our allies for a long, long time now.
B.A. Political Science (USC); M.F.A. Professional Writing (USC)