Usually I dislike writing about days of remembrance since people either attach too much significance to the date or simply fail to think about the reason for the memory of that date. The question becomes, “What are we remembering?” Is it the attack on out navy anchored in Pearl Harbor? No war had been declared although that was due more to human error since the Japanese did intend to serve notice half an hour prior to the bombing. Yes, they weren’t going to tell us they were going to bomb and torpedo our ships and aircraft right then, so yes it really was a “sneak” attack. Seldom does an aggressor say he will attack at this point at this time and with that many men and equipment. Wars are not fought by telling your enemy exactly what you have in mind for them. Besides, sometimes wars are fought for some of the most stupid of reasons. The great world war of 1914 was just such a war. The irony was that so many people across Europe were expecting war and even wanted war, wanted the see the glory it would bring. Few ever had any thought of its ultimate horror. The last time anyone had ever seen the horror of trench warfare was Petersburg in 1864.
So what are we suppose to remember about December 7th, 1941? Is it the sneak attack that killed several thousand men and women? Is it the perfidy of such an attack without a declaration of war? Or perhaps we are suppose to remember the sacrifice of those who fought and died. But didn’t those who returned from war make a sacrifice or two themselves? Of course only one out of every ten men in the service during that war ever see action, ever get to the front line. The other nine supported those on the front line. The number of clerical support for men in the field is surprisingly large. Of course now we have far more Navy Admirals than we have ships to command and most ships are commanded by the rank of Captain or below. Modern day armies, navies, and air forces seem to need huge numbers of general officers. Maybe that is what we should be remembering. In times of war the military organization runs very lean out of necessity, in peace it too often becomes bloated beyond effectiveness.
In our remembrance we have, in the past, made our enemies demons. The brutal Huns, the slant eyed evil Japs. And with our recent “Cold War” with the old USSR, once a wartime ally and then an evil empire set on enslaving the world we did the same. The Rooskies couldn’t be trusted, they were immoral animals. After the thaw these same people became our friends and were now just jolly bumbling slavs trying to emulate democracy. Under Putin these same good natured people are once again on the brink of being evil. nd the Chinese have gone from being our friends to being the most brutal of enemies to being friends and now sit on the edge of becoming enemies once again. As for the Germans, well, all that is in the past. So much of that western and central Europe is just a muddled mess and unlikely to pose a threat to anyone but themselves. There is no Napoleon or Hitler on the horizon, Putin will have to do and even he can’t compare to Stalin.
Of course we had a police action in Korea, what a silly name for a war, but lawyers will be lawyers and argue semantics since there is good money to be made doing so. Vietnam was a war and whether one believes it was winnable or not, it certainly caused us some heartbreak. Perhaps its best lesson and one we still have not learned is that if we are going to wage war then we need to go all out total war. Trying to be Mr Nice Guy only gets you killed. And if the very people you are trying to fight for are, for all practical purposes, stuck in the middle, then you never really win their hearts and minds. Nor does the enemy until the conquest is concluded. Now we have been through Iraq twice, seems once was not enough, and into Afghanistan once, like the Russians, and we have yet to learn anything about the use of force except it seems to beget more use of force. Maybe that is why Washington warned against foreign wars, Europe seemed to want to go through that period of making war on each other. Perhaps that is what we should remember.
Ah, but that would mean that we shouldn’t try to rule the world economically. Wait a minute, you think we are trying to rule the world by use of economics? I believe it is called multinational corporations. Not to mention multinational banking. Yes, we’ll spread democracy through debt loads in each nation. A world united and ruled by banks, now that is the hallmark of peace. Until the collapse of all that world wide debt and the losers get sore. Yes, Eisenhower did warn us of foreign entanglements but poor Ike was oblivious to the evil empire of the world banking system. He just thought it was the industrial military system that was the world evil. Well someone has to do the financing. Yes, even forcing aide on poor countries helps to keep our defence workers busy by providing guns, tanks and jet fighters to those who can’t even feed themselves. And what money we hand over mostly goes into the pockets of those who run the country and they create bank accounts so that we can lend their money out to some other poor countries. All this remembrance is depressing me, maybe I should simply forget. I mean, what’s next?