The Big Picture
Source: The author is attorney and writer Raymond S. Kraft, who lives in California.
Sixty-three years ago, Nazi Germany had overrun almost all of Europe and hammered England to the verge of bankruptcy and defeat, and had sunk more than 400 British ships in their convoys between England and America for food and war materials.
The U.S. was in an isolationist, pacifist, mood, and most Americans and Congress wanted nothing to do with the European war, or the Asian war.
Then along came Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, and, in outrage, Congress unanimously declared war on Japan, and the following day on Germany, which had not attacked us. It was a dicey thing. We had few allies.
France was not an ally; the Vichy government of France aligned with its German occupiers. Germany was not an ally; it was an enemy, and Hitler intended to set up a Thousand Year Reich in Europe. Japan was not an ally; it was intent on owning and controlling all of Asia. Japan and Germany had long-term ideas of invading Canada and Mexico, and then the United States over the north and south borders, after they had settled control of Asia and Europe.
America’s allies then were England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and Russia, and that was about it.
All of Europe, from Norway to Italy, except Russia in the east, was already under the Nazi heel.
America was not prepared for war. America had stood down most of its military after WWI and throughout the depression; at the outbreak of WWII, there were army units training with broomsticks over their shoulders because they didn’t have guns, and cars with “tank” painted on the doors because they didn’t have tanks. And a big chunk of our navy had just been sunk and damaged at Pearl Harbor.
Britain had already gone bankrupt, saved only by the donation of $600,000,000 in gold bullion in the Bank of England that was the property of Belgium and was given by Belgium to England to carry on the war when Belgium was overrun by Hitler. Actually, Belgium surrendered one day, because it was unable to oppose the German invasion, and the Germans bombed Brussels into rubble the next day anyway just to prove that they could. Britain had been holding out for two years already in the face of staggering shipping losses and the near-decimation of its air force in the Battle of Britain, and was saved from being overrun by Germany only because Hitler made the mistake of thinking that the Brits were a relatively minor threat that could be dealt with later and turning his attention to Russia, at a time when England was on the verge of collapse in the late summer of 1940.
Russia saved America’s butt by putting up a desperate fight for two years until the U.S. got geared up to begin hammering away at Germany.
Russia lost something like 24,000,000 people in the sieges of Stalingrad and Moscow, 90% of them from cold and starvation, mostly civilians, but also more than 1,000,000 soldiers. More than a million.
Had Russia surrendered, then, Hitler would have been able to focus his entire campaign against the Brits, then America, and the Nazis would have won that war.
I say this to illustrate that turning points in history are often dicey things. And we are at another one.
There is a very dangerous minority in Islam (assisted through complacence by the majority—ed.) that either has, or wants and may soon have, the ability to deliver small nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, almost anywhere in the world, unless they are prevented from doing so.
The Jihadis, the militant Muslims, are basically Nazis in Kaffiyahs — they believe that Islam, a radically conservative (definitely not liberal!) form of Wahhabi Islam, should own and control the Middle East first, then Europe, then the world, and that all who do not bow to Allah should be killed, enslaved, or subjugated. They want to finish the Holocaust, destroy Israel, and purge the world of Jews. This is what they say.
There is also a civil war raging in the Middle East — for the most part not a hot war, but a war of ideas. Islam is having its Inquisition and its Reformation today, but it is not yet known which will win — the Inquisition, or the Reformation.
If the Inquisition wins, then the Wahhabis, the Jihadis, will control the Middle East, and the OPEC oil, and the U.S., European, and Asian economies, the techno-industrial economies, will be at the mercy of OPEC — not an OPEC dominated by the well-educated and rational Saudis of today, but an OPEC dominated by the Jihadis.
You want gas in your car? You want heating oil next winter? You want jobs.
You want the dollar to be worth anything? You had better hope the Jihad, the Muslim Inquisition, loses, and the Islamic Reformation wins.
If the Reformation movement wins, that is, the moderate Muslims who believe that Islam can respect and tolerate other religions, and live in peace with the rest of the world, and move out of the 10th century into the 21st, then the troubles in the Middle East will eventually fade away, and a moderate and prosperous Middle East will emerge.
We have to help the Reformation win, and to do that we have to fight the Inquisition, i.e., the Wahhabi movement, the Jihad, Al Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist movements. We have to do it somewhere. We cannot do it nowhere.
And we cannot do it everywhere at once. We have created a focal point for the battle now at the time and place of our choosing, in Iraq.
Not in New York, not in London, or Paris, or Berlin, but in Iraq, where we did and are doing two very important things.
(1) We deposed Saddam Hussein. Whether Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11 or not, it is undisputed that Saddam has been actively supporting the terrorist movement for decades. Saddam is a terrorist.
Saddam is, or was, a weapon of mass destruction, who is responsible for the deaths of probably more than 1,000,000 Iraqis and 2,000,000 Iranians.
(2) We created a battle, a confrontation, a flash point, with Islamic terrorism in Iraq. We have focused the battle. We are killing bad guys there, and the ones we get there we won’t have to get here, or anywhere else. We also have a good shot at creating a democratic, peaceful Iraq, which will be a catalyst for democratic change in the rest of the Middle East, and an outpost for a stabilizing American military presence in the Middle East for as long as it is needed.
World War II, the war with the German and Japanese Nazis, really began with a “whimper” in 1928. It did not begin with Pearl Harbor. It began with the Japanese invasion of China. It was a war for 14 years before America joined it. It officially ended in 1945 — a 17 year war — and was followed by another decade of U.S. occupation in Germany and Japan to get those countries reconstructed and running on their own again … a 27-year war. World War II cost the United States an amount equal to approximately a full year’s GDP – adjusted for inflation, equal to about $12,000,000,000,000 dollars, WWII cost America more than 400,000 killed in action, and nearly 100,000 still missing in action.
The Iraq war has, so far, cost the U.S. about $160 billion, which is roughly what 9/11 cost New York. It has also cost about 2,200 American lives, which is roughly 1/2 of the 3,000 lives that the Jihad snuffed out on 9/11. But the cost of not fighting and winning WWII would have been unimaginably greater — a world now dominated by German and Japanese Nazism.
Americans have a short attention span, now, conditioned I suppose by 60-minute TV shows and two-hour movies in which everything comes out okay.
The real world is not like that. It is messy, uncertain, and sometimes bloody and ugly. Always has been, and probably always will be.
The bottom line here is that we will have to deal with Islamic terrorism until we defeat it, whenever that is. It will not go away on its own. It will not go away if we ignore it.
If the U.S. can create a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq, then we have an “England” in the Middle East, a platform, from which we can work to help modernize and moderate the Middle East. The history of the world is the clash between the forces of relative civility and civilization, and the barbarians clamoring at the gates. The Iraq war is merely another battle in this ancient and never-ending war. And now, for the first time ever, the barbarians are about to get nuclear weapons. Unless we prevent them. Or somebody does.
We have four options
1. We can defeat the Jihad now, before it gets nuclear weapons.
2. We can fight the Jihad later, after it gets nuclear weapons (which may be as early as next year, if Iran’s progress on nuclear weapons is what Iran claims it is).
3. We can surrender to the Jihad and accept its dominance in the Middle East, now, in Europe in the next few years or decades, and ultimately in America.
4. Or, we can stand down now, and pick up the fight later when the Jihad is more widespread and better armed, perhaps after the Jihad has dominated France and Germany and maybe most of the rest of Europe. It will be more dangerous, more expensive, and much bloodier then.
Yes, the Jihadis say that they look forward to an Islamic America. If you oppose this war, I hope you like the idea that your children, or grandchildren, may live in an Islamic America under the Mullahs and the Shar’ia, an America that resembles Iran today.
We can be defeatist peace-activists as anti-war types seem to be, and concede, surrender, to the Jihad, or we can do whatever it takes to win this war against them.
The history of the world is the history of civilizational clashes, cultural clashes. All wars are about ideas, ideas about what society and civilization should be like, and the most determined always win.
Those who are willing to be the most ruthless always win. The pacifists always lose, because the anti-pacifists kill them.
In the 20th century, it was Western democracy vs. communism, and before that Western democracy vs. Nazism, and before that Western democracy vs. German Imperialism. Western democracy won, three times, but it wasn’t cheap, fun, nice, easy, or quick. Indeed, the wars against German Imperialism (WWI), Nazi Imperialism (WWII), and communist imperialism (the 40-year Cold War that included the Vietnam Battle, commonly called the Vietnam War, but itself a major battle in a larger war) covered almost the entire century.
The first major war of the 21st Century is the war between Western Judeo/Christian Civilization and Wahhabi Islam. It may last a few more years, or most of this century. It will last until the Wahhabi branch of Islam fades away, or gives up its ambitions for regional and global dominance and Jihad, or until Western Civilization gives in to the Jihad.
It will take time. It will not go with no hitches. This is not TV.
Remember, perspective is everything, and America’s schools teach too little history for perspective to be clear, especially in the young American mind.
The Cold war lasted from about 1947 at least until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Forty-two years. Europe spent the first half of the 19th century fighting Napoleon, and from 1870 to 1945 fighting Germany.
World War II began in 1928, lasted 17 years, plus a 10-year occupation and the U.S. still has troops in Germany and Japan. World War II resulted in the death of more than 50,000,000 people, maybe more than 100,000,000 people, depending on which estimates you accept.
The U.S. has taken a little more than 2,000 KIA in Iraq. The US took more than 4,000 Killed in action on the morning of June 6, 1944, the first day of the Normandy Invasion, to rid Europe of Nazi Imperialism. In WWII, the US averaged 2,000 KIA a week for four years. Most of the individual battles of WWII lost more Americans than the entire Iraq war has done so far.
But the stakes are at least as high . . . a world dominated by representative governments with civil rights, human rights, and personal freedoms . . . or a world dominated by a radical Islamic Wahhabi movement, by the Jihad, under the Mullahs and the Shar’ia (Islamic law).
I do not understand why the American Left does not grasp this. They favor human rights, civil rights, liberty, and freedom, but evidently not for Iraqis. In America, absolutely, but nowhere else.
Three hundred thousand Iraqi bodies in mass graves in Iraq are not our problem? The U.S. population is about twelve times that of Iraq, so let’s multiply 300,000 by twelve. What would you think if there were 3,600,000 American bodies in mass graves in America because of George Bush? Would you hope for another country to help liberate America?
“Peace Activists” always seem to demonstrate where it’s safe, in America. Why don’t we see Peace Activist demonstrating in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea, in the places in the world that really need peace activism the most?
The liberal mentality is supposed to favor human rights, civil rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc., but, if the Jihad wins, wherever the Jihad wins, it is the end of civil rights, human rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc. Americans who oppose the liberation of Iraq are coming down on the side of their own worst enemy.
If the Jihad wins, it is the death of Liberalism. Everywhere the Jihad wins, it is the death of Liberalism. And American Liberals just don’t get it.
Raymond S. Kraft is a writer and lawyer living in Northern California.