September 10, 2008
Would Obama have given up after Pearl Harbor?By James Lewis
When you walk through the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, and you see the oil bubbles still rising from the sunken wreck of the USS Arizona below the Memorial, you have to ask yourself a simple question: Why is Hawaii an American State, rather than a subject colony of the Empire of the Rising Sun? If you look at the map, Hawaii is right in the middle of the Pacific, and Japan was a major naval power, totally dedicated to an ideology of war, suicide charges, divine emperor worship, and racial superiority.
The reason for Hawaii's sunny well-being today, of course, is the American response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Everybody knows that, we hope; but apparently Barack Obama still doesn't get it.
If Obama had grown up in Hawaii under the whip of the Japanese Imperial Army he would never enjoyed his stellar Harvard career. He would not be running for the American presidency today. He would not even have been body surfing on Hawaii's magnificent beaches. As a teenager Barack Obama would have been drafted into work battalions and sent to serve the Emperor somewhere in the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Imperial Japanese were not apologetic about dominating other races. They were taught to hate, enslave and arbitrarily kill whites, blacks, Chinese, Filipinos, and Indonesians if they got in the way of the Emperor's forces.
Senator Barack Obama is a lifelong beneficiary of the American answer to Pearl Harbor. The ironies are endless; apparently Obama's first father figure, Frank Davis, was sent to Hawaii by the Communist-controlled Longshoremen's Union to beef up the CPUSA network on the islands, with all its military bases and personnel. Apparently Frank Davis didn't serve in the US Army against fascism. As a loyal Stalinist he supported the Hitler-Stalin pact before Hitler invaded Russia. Thanks, Frank. You were just the right father figure for the young Barack Obama.
We all fall for the seductive illusion that we are the natural and inevitable outcome of human history, because, well, we're us and we deserve our good fortune. Right?
Wrong. That's a delusion historians call "presentism." Every teenager in the world falls for it; if we're lucky, we learn better as we grow up. In fact, our unprecedented well-being today came from a hundred thousand close calls in the past, which just happened to turn out the way they did --- plus the endless hard work, vision, courage, and determination by millions of people who built what we have today. We stand on the shoulders of giants.
A Jewish Holocaust survivor once told me that his family's survival was "pure luck." He was too modest to say "plus endless courage, determination, intelligence and faith." But of course it was all of those things, and more.
Had history taken a different turn after Pearl, we might now be the racially oppressed subjects of the Emperor of Japan. But our parents and grandparents did not surrender in World War I, II and the Cold War -- the most recent historical turning points that made our comfortable lives possible.
This is where the war in Iraq comes in. Obama completely misunderstands what happened in Iraq -- the surge and everything that came before it. That is because he believes the liberal media, which have done their best to misinform the country ever since 9/11/01. As a result, our Democratic candidate for president just doesn't get what turned things around for the United States, just as he doesn't get why we overthrew Saddam, and how the US has won its wars historically. He doesn't get any of our history, including the Civil War, which liberated the slaves. None of it was easy; none of it was inevitable; all of it took extraordinary self-sacrifice, courage, and leadership by thousands and thousands of our forefathers and mothers.
This is not the kind of thing you can learn by cramming for the next day's headlines, which is what Obama has been doing -- trying to learn the ropes on the fly.
But maybe it all starts with a lack of gratitude and understanding for America's response to Pearl Harbor. Obama should go back and look at the Arizona Memorial, and start rethinking his history.
The United States has experienced devastating setbacks in every major war. Washington, Lincoln, FDR, Truman, and Reagan were all told to quit and cut our losses. They didn't -- even when the newspapers and their political enemies screamed and yelled, walking a fine line near treason. George W. Bush's experience with Iraq has been absolutely straight down the mainstream of American history, including all the setbacks, the gut-punching pain of losing good soldiers, the military turnaround once we found the right leaders, the betrayals by our political class, and the victory we are seeing today.
Judging by his words Obama would have given up at all the crisis points in the past: Pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Bulge, the Berlin Airlift, Bull Run, the British burning the White House in 1812, and Valley Forge. After all, the Left did not want us to fight Hitler either -- not until Stalin ordered them to flip.
Barack Obama is a highly-educated Harvard lawyer, but he doesn't get the most important things a president must know. The September 11 attacks were the closest thing to Pearl we've encountered in more than two centuries. We were massively attacked, by surprise, by merciless enemies we had hardly thought about, who deliberately killed thousands of innocent Americans in a single day.
After Pearl Harbor the United States rallied powerfully and struck back; but after 9/11 we didn't seem to have the guts any more. But our president did, and our armed forces did, with the support of conservative Americans -- maybe 60 percent of all adults, according to the Pew Survey covered in these pages by Bruce Walker.
Obama gave up after 9/11, just like the Democratic Party. We can only guess that had he been FDR he would have sued for peace with Imperial Japan. That is consistent with his loud preference for "talking" with all the disgusting tyrants, including Ahmadinejad and presumably Al Qaida.
Obama and his advisors are just deeply confused about the reasons why we had to strike back in an unmistakable way: Not for revenge, not for bloodlust, and not for machismo -- but to make it clear beyond doubt that we could never be attacked again by a rogue power -- Al Qaida, Saddam, Iran, North Korea, China, Putin's Russia, you name it. Libya's Qaddafi got the message fairly quickly. That is the strategic reason why Al Qaida, Saddam, and the Iraqi insurgents have had to pay the ultimate price.
And if Ahmadinejad thinks we will not do the same to him when the time comes, he is very badly mistaken.
War is hard. That's why leaders with a clear moral center make the only possible war leaders in a democracy. Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, FDR, Truman, Reagan. War requires the most delicate and precise moral judgments; nothing else is nearly as difficult. All the simple-minded slogans are tested, and all turn out to be inadequate.
The standard liberal argument is that we should have fought Al Qaida in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. But Iraq has turned out to be the killing field for all the eager Al Qaida martyrs from all over the Muslim world. It was the honey trap that killed the biting ants.
Every war is an ego-crunching learning process. The Israelis, who've had to face that more often than any other country today, have always had heated arguments after every single conflict. There's something to be said for that, because if the argument is conducted rationally (a big if), the truth does emerge after a while. Certainly the US armed forces always look for lessons to learn after a battle, because you cannot rely on your moment-to-moment impressions in the fog of war. It always looks different when you analyze it afterwards with full knowledge of the facts.
Bob Woodward just wrote another sleazy book in which he tells us how it shoulda been done. According to Woodward "Bush didn't exercise leadership" in the surge. Hog patooties. "Leadership" is not some mystical quality that only highly educated WaPo journos can spot. Leadership is what allows you to win against huge opposition from all the Bob Woodwards of the media, from the Demagogue Party, from al Qaida, from Saddam and his minions, the Iraqi militias, the opportunists and corrupt Iraqi politicians, the worldwide Left, the academics, the demoted generals, the do-nothing CIA chairwarmers, and all the other saboteurs.
Leadership is what George W. Bush has demonstrated in spades. And he's been abused for it just like Truman was, and Lincoln and all the others.
What would Barack Obama have done? Obama just thought it was all a miracle. "I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated ... I've already said it succeed beyond our wildest dreams."
But it wasn't a miracle. It wasn't beyond our wildest dreams. It was just the same grueling learning process that Lincoln had to go through, and FDR and all the others. The Petraeus strategy didn't just happen. It was the product of years of hard, slogging, bloody, and finally victorious efforts. It was extremely painful, but in the end, it worked.
War and peace are much too serious to be left to naive amateurs.
James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com