Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sacrifice


Keeping the effort afloat, women knew a lot about sacrifice during WWII.



For the past few nights, I've been watching several parts of a great documentary on PBS simply entitled "The War." In it, people learn about a whole host of issues coming from the vantage point of citizens from one of four different US communities during World War Two, such as Mobile, Alabama and Sacramento, California. What's astoundingly clear is that everyone - man, woman and child - sacrificed everything to ensure victory. Why? Because it was a necessary war.

People were saving the fat from their bacon because it could be used to make munitions. They were baking birthday cakes with neither flour nor sugar. They were working in factories 24/7, pumping out more planes than people could fly (which is a lot, considering dozens were lost every day). Meanwhile, almost an entire generation of men and women put their lives at risk, all around the world, as nurses and soldiers, to protect the globe from a very real - and potent - threat. United States citizens did anything and everything they could to win because they knew, in their heart of hearts, that Germany had to be defeated. Back then, the Axis really was an Axis of Evil, even if politicians of FDR's stripe weren't as practiced in using falsified fear and hyperbole.

Meanwhile, our politicians today are so convinced Iraq is just that they're willing to sacrifice a lot - after all, just think how much larger those tax cuts for the rich could have been! Politicians are so proud of their troops, they encourage none of their own sons and daughters to become Army Strong. (FDR's eldest son served in one of the most elite and dangerous Pacific fighting forces. Reportedly, one of Bush's twins is engaged to be married.) Our elected leaders show their support for our men and women who risk their lives every day by wearing stickers on their cars and making sure they don't have enough proper body and Humvee armor. Because, really, wouldn't paying for all that be cheating or something?
Our cause is so necessary that there's no point in even trying to come to a diplomatic solution, or reaching out to the world for help. Nope, we own Iraq and we're even willing to make our children pay for it, quite literally. That's how much it's worth sacrificing for, because, really, who can expect people to go without cell phones that can toast bread and televisions so advanced that they really do take you out to the ball game? Some sacrifices are too much to bear.

Here's the most important lesson from "The War." Unless a country is willing to sacrifice everything, it ought to think twice about waging a war in the first place. Where are all the war supporters demanding to pay higher taxes to fund it, or demanding the draft be instituted so their sons and daughters can risk their lives, too? Can anyone imagine the people who fought World War Two being willing to sacrifice just the same for similar justifications that brought us to Baghdad? Maybe they really were the greatest generation, after all. At least they were a generation of people who were only willing to wage wars they felt were so necessary that they'd sacrifice everything to win - because they had to win, or else.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you don't see the Muslim extremists in the same light as the Nazis, you're thinking like Neville Chamberlain.

Anonymous said...

Unless John McCain wins the Presidency, the last combat veteran to serve will be fighter pilot George Herbert Walker Bush, shot down over the Pacific.

Ryan Adams said...

Anon 5:49,

The thing is that while some Muslim extremists are certainly extremely dangerous, they're certainly not "in the same light" as the Nazis. The Nazis almost destroyed an entire ethnicity and conquered nearly all of Europe (save England and Switzerland and about half of Russia). I don't care how bad Al Qaeda is, it's not Adolf Hitler bad. They just don't have the same kind of power.

Furthermore, they're a very small part of the Muslim picture. The key to "defeating" the Muslim terrorists is to make all of the Muslim people be against them. Our war in Iraq is certainly not accomplishing that. There's no country we can defeat to end terrorism, or person we can kill. There's no money source we can take away that will forever rid it. The only way to rid it is through making them illegitimate to all of their people and governments. We've a long way to go before that happens.

Anon 9:11,

There as a day and age when John McCain showed leadership potential. That's long gone. That's also why he's now way down the list in likely candidates to get the nomination. I don't think we need people with combat experience to understand the implications I talked about during this blog - though, certainly it helps (at least, in GHWB's case, knowing that he didn't allow our troops to go into Baghdad, knowing that it wasn't worth the costs and rewards).

My point with this blog was to essentially say that only wars that America people are willing to sacrifice everything for should be fought. If the administration demanded a draft and much, much higher taxes to pay for this thing, almost no one would support it - including the 26% or so of people who still support this President and this war.

Anonymous said...

we did defeat a country to rid Afganistan of the Taliban, a direct victory. You say they're not that powerful, some said that when the Nazis were only the "brownshirts", then we had "Krystalnacht". And in the age of biological/nuclear/chemical weapons they don't need to conquer a large territory to have their terrorism inflict the kind of damage Adolph could only dream about.

Anonymous said...

By the way closer to home for you don't you find it dangerous how the Muslim fanatics treat homosexuals the same way the Nazis did. Investigate the treatment in Iran.

Ryan Adams said...

I know about how Iran treats homosexuals. We should offer amnesty to any gay people in Iran. However, we can't - and shouldn't - invade that country.

Also, Afghanistan was an important fight... and, sadly, we're not giving it the effort now that we need to. We've allowed the Taliban to come back - and that's happened largely because Iraq has diverted our efforts there.

Finally, I didn't say that terrorists aren't a major threat, they're a threat that can be countered with a strong intelligence system: our intelligence agencies can both prevent attacks and prevent attacks from becoming disasters. They failed doing the latter on 9/11, they've likely succeeded in other ways I don't know about, because they're often kept secret.

But you really need to read your history: the Nazis killed over 23 million people in the Soviet Union, alone. Al Qaeda would have to commit 7,866 9/11s to kill that many people. Over 25 million other people died as a result of the Axis, including almost 20 million at the hands of the Japanese in China. We're talking about completely different levels of threat that require completely different tactics to end that threat. One required a major, world-wide war. Terrorism, on the other hand, requires vastly superior intelligence and an effort to make the entire world, especially Muslims, shun that movement. To do that, it's going to require a lot of diplomacy and certainly an end to the war in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

Ryan - your statistics take in a period of over ten years for the Axis powers, and assume that the only Taliban casualties were on 9/11. Talk to London, France - and Marianna Pearl.

Anonymous said...

Don't be condescending, it doesn't become you. The Nazis should have been properly dealt with before they became the full blown power that brought that devastation. That's why we need to deal with the Muslim extremeists now. You don't think that allowed to grow they wouldn't exterminate the non-beleivers.

About Ryan's Take