Sunday, May 2, 2010

65 years ago: A different level of resolve

This was previously posted on on or before 2006-12-09:

On this the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, after which the US declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy, we may consider the effort it took to achieve victory.

By the way, Japan attacked us, following which the US landed in Morocco to fight the Germans, then cutting across to Sicily. Only thereafter did we start bombing the Japanese. Granted, we fire bombed the major Japanese cities to complete oblivion - over 110,000 Japanese were burned to death one night in March 1945 alone - and we topped it off with the world's first two nukes in August 1945. The US never put a soldier on Japanese mainland soil. You may recall the Japanese government surrendered on the deck of The Missouri with General MacArthur looking over their shoulders.

Anyway, lesson learned - bombing worked. At least in Japan.

In World War 2, some 440,000 Americans died in combat. That's in less than 4 years, or about 100,000 per year - 8,000 per month. In contrast, after 3.5 years in Iraq, that number is less than 1/100th as large.

World War 2 achieved victory against 3 countries, at least 2 of whom wanted to kill us. 65 years after Pearl Harbor, we have any number of members of a religious death cult who want to kill us. Hitler and Tojo were unsuccessful in their attempts 65 years ago, but will we be as lucky this time? What will it take to win 65 years after the most recent attempt?

The US population was half of today's 300 million, and 440,000 Americans died in combat. This is equivalent to almost one million today. Will we raise an army ten million men strong and see 10% of them fall in battle, in order to achieve victory today?

It is tempting to hesitate now. But what will we say if the enemy manages to explode a nuclear bomb each in New York and Washington? That we didn't expect it? That we didn't act boldly or quickly enough to disarm the enemy? That we thought it was perfectly okay to let Iran and North Korea develop nuclear bombs?

As the war ended in 1945, the lesson was that Hitler should have been stopped years before he invaded Poland in September 1939. Have we remembered this lesson?