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Pearl Harbor Day. A Nation At War Then and Now.

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Today is the 67th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which triggered America’s entrance into the Second World War. Less than four years later, America had been instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany and had almost singlehandedly defeated Imperial Japan.

US heavy industry was turned almost overnight into a highly coordinated Arms manufacturer, supplying the Allies with everything they needed to fight. At home, women went to work in factories, offices, and all over the home front, there was rationing of everything from tires to typewriters, from bicycles to beef, from fuel oil to coffee. There were blackouts all over America. And most importantly, there was the draft. Young men and women from all over America were drafted to fight and die on foreign shores. Over 400,000 lost their lives.

That is the definition of “A Nation at War”

The term is still used a great deal today to describe the two wars we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003 and 2001 respectively. We’re frequently told we are a ‘nation at war’.

This nation’s armed forces are indeed involved in two serious conflicts, but the nation as a whole is not, and hasn’t been since Iraq and Afghanistan began.

First of all, the actual war in Iraq lasted a few weeks at the most. After Baghdad fell the conflict became a police action and that is what it has been ever since. As for Aghanistan, the US has never made a strategic commitment to victory. The Afghan quagmire is an ongoing, poorly-coordinated battle against a very determined insurgency. The combined combat deaths in these two conflicts over seven years do not even come close to US losses in the single World War 2 campaign to recapture the Solomon Islands from the Japanese.

And on the home front, a visitor from Mars would have no idea we are a nation “At War”. From George Bush’s pathetic appeal to the US public to ‘Shop for America’ after 9/11 onwards, we’ve made no sacrifices at all. No draft, no mobilization of industry, no rations, no nothing. During the period from 9/11 until now, we’ve had a massive consumer and housing boom (and recent bust) but nothing in the way of a national war effort.

America’s international image was defined by the Second World War. It was an astonishing triumph of economic planning, ingenuity, and true grit. We were indeed a nation at war.

The use of the term these days by politicians and journalists is just plain sloppy. It’s a catchphrase, a cliche, and an insult to every man and woman who fought, built tanks, or made sacrifices to the US war effort between 1941-45. There is no equivalency between the experience then and the experience now. It’s also a slight on those who have fought so bravely and in vain in the Middle East. They were the ones at war, not us.

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Written by coolrebel

December 7, 2008 at 12:41 pm

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