I am appalled at the disgraceful parade of Americans who, seeing their country at war with a savage enemy, have become “advocates of surrender, withdrawal and defeat.” They “see the violence as senseless, the bloodshed as repugnant and the current strategies as too flawed to continue to invest in them.” These words from Newt Gingrich describe what we all see daily played out in the press and Congress — with a special performance during the Senate’s recent all-night and ill-fated surrender show. Judging by their age, I’d have once thought that those defeatist senators knew better.
But here is where it really hits home: my own sister is singing the same song! When we visited recently she had all the MoveOn talking points down pat. “Bush lied us into war…it’s all for oil…we’re killing innocent Iraqis…” and of course, not much clue about the consequences of quitting.
What happened? Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard puts it this way, “The Democratic party in Congress, much of the media, and the foreign policy establishment have joined together to panic the country, and the Bush administration, into giving up.” True, but that’s no excuse for my sister. She knows better. Like me, my sister was alive during World War II when the whole country was mobilized for victory. Like me, she remembers the Hollywood celebrities — the Tom Cruises and Brad Pitts of their day — who joined up and fought the enemy. Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, Glenn Ford, Paul Newman, Kirk Douglas, and Alec Guiness are but a few. Big name stars and directors enlisted, performed before soldiers at military bases, or in other ways contributed to the war mobilization.
She remembers, as I do, the long-ago and very exciting night that the glamour-girl Hollywood star Dorothy Lamour came to town to launch a war bond drive riding in a parade with our very own grandfather (!), the local U.S. congressman. How we wanted to go to the parade, but were declared too young and put to bed brokenhearted.
She remembers the stamps that children were given to save toward buying war bonds — getting war stamps for our birthdays was a very big deal. She remembers collecting tin foil, and learning to knit squares to sew into blankets for the troops. She remembers memorizing all the military songs and singing them with our friends — “Up we go into the wild blue yonder….” She remembers rationed food and gasoline, blackouts, and the lengths to which Americans accommodated themselves to win The War. And nobody complained. Americans did what had to be done and they never — as far as I knew — mentioned surrender.
Nope, not one soul wanted to lose, even though this war, like all wars, was fraught with foul-ups, unforeseen consequences, missed opportunities and casualties, casualties, casualties — over 400,000. Concerning D-Day alone, historian Victor Davis Hanson said it well, “When the disaster in the boscage near the Normandy beaches ended more than two months after D-Day, the victorious Americans, British and Canadians had been bled white. Altogether, the winners of the Normandy campaign suffered quarter-million dead, wounded or missing, including almost 30,000 American fatalities — losing nearly 10 times the number of combat dead in four years of fighting in Iraq….By any historical measure, our forefathers committed as many strategic blunders as we have in Afghanistan and Iraq — but lost tens of thousands more Americans as a result of such errors.”
Hanson offers that “World War II was an all-out fight for our very existence, in a way many believe the war against terror is not.” But the lesson of that war, he says was “how to overcome occasional abject stupidity while never giving up in the face of an utterly savage enemy.”
So now I’m left with the question: Just now, as the Surge seems starting to work, how can my sister and all those WWII-era senators have forgotten what they once knew so well — that victory is the only goal? Whatever has come over them, it must not be allowed to prevail.
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