by Philip Greenspan
(Swans - January 2, 2006) Traumatic, earth-shaking events are so impressive that many years later, one will readily recall the details of the event and their activities on that ominous day. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was one such example; the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was another.
On the fateful December 7, 1941, several friends and I were listening to a radio broadcast of a football game when a news report interrupted to announce that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by Japanese planes. None of us had any idea where Pearl Harbor was or what that attack might portend. It didn't take long, however, before we realized that the U.S. would shortly be embroiled in WWII.
That evening I walked home with my brother, whose 21st birthday would fall on the following day and was thus anticipating a draft call. He predicted that the war would be over before I, then only 15, would be eligible. It did not seem an outlandish forecast. Most of our acquaintances were convinced that with the US entry in the war it would not last too long. Well, it lasted longer than we expected. I served and was more fortunate than several friends and classmates of roughly the same age who became casualties.
It was a long war. If my calculations are correct, from Pearl Harbor day to V. J. day, August 15, 1945, when Japan surrendered, 1,346 days elapsed. But a great deal was accomplished in that time. The axis powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy had for years, and with an irreversible momentum, gobbled up considerable chunks of real estate. When the U.S. became a belligerent they controlled almost all of Europe, a sizeable portion of North Africa, and extensive areas of Southeast Asia. The ranks of those three nations were augmented by other countries that joined them. In addition big business around the world, including US companies, clandestinely aided the axis powers. The U.S. had formidable allies, most notably Britain and the Soviet Union. One thousand three hundred forty-six days later the allies achieved their military goals. Each of the axis countries had been thoroughly beaten and two of their leaders were gone. Hitler committed suicide and Mussolini was knocked off by his own countrymen. Hirohito, the last of the big three, survived. Pacifying the Japanese was considered more attractive than executing this figurehead. However, many other top officials of the axis were executed for their crimes.
For the White House cabal that established the Project for the New American Century in 1997, the shocking attacks of September 11, 2001 were a dream come true. Their wishes were spelled out in a document, "Rebuilding America's Defenses," which they published before the 2000 election. Achieving their goal would be a long process, it stated, "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor." 9/11 brought them to the forefront of power. The shocking attacks provided solicitude to the U.S. from the entire world. The Congress and the American people readily supported a demand for war on the terrorists responsible -- Osama bin Laden and his fanatic al-Qaeda followers. But the government's hubris and bravado quickly lost the world's good will.
As of today, January 2, 2006, 1,565 days have elapsed since 9/11/01 -- longer than the period it took to defeat the previous axis. What progress has been achieved during that time in the war on terror? Contrary to the rose-colored assertions of the administration and the major media, the situation now is worse than on 9/11. Not only do Osama and al-Qaeda, the primary targets of the war, still exist but fresh recruits have augmented their forces. Regimes have changed in Afghanistan and Iraq -- the two countries where wars were fought. In both instances the new governments, in contrast with the replaced governments, are now quite friendly with Iran, another "enemy" of the U.S. The few allies that helped have dwindled. The morale of the troops is low and the numeric strength of the military is decreasing as casualties mount and recruitment goals are unmet.
Besides the military consequences of the wars, economic, political and other fields were affected. When the U.S. entered WWII the country was slowly emerging from the depression. At its end the U.S. was the world's largest creditor nation with fantabulous prestige throughout the world. US citizens were proud of its accomplishments; and by utilizing the generous benefits of the GI bill -- for education, home ownership, business loans, etc. -- the millions who entered the service could look forward to the future with confidence.
In contrast, today the U.S. is the world's largest debtor and must continually borrow. Much of that debt is held in foreign countries, including China. No longer does Uncle Sam enjoy the good will of other nations. Areas long subservient to the wishes of the U.S., not only in the Middle East but in Latin America as well, are showing greater independence and are rejecting US proposals. Economic conditions for most Americans are worse than on 9/11; and there is no longer trust in the government.
Why did WWII turn out so well? Competent leaders enacted effective programs; and they inspired the citizenry to back the war in any and every way that they could.
The Bushites' formula for winning a war was to fool the world with a PR strategy that would be backed by an accommodating Congress, a puppet media, and a gullible public. Author and journalist Ron Suskind was told by a senior Bush advisor that the "study of discernible reality . . . [was] . . . not the way the world works anymore . . . we create our own reality . . . we're history's actors . . . and all of you, will be left to study what we do." This administration hired top PR and advertising executives, bought journalists, planted stories in the media. They created their own reality and for a while they got away with it. Discernible reality obviously trumped the created reality of the lies, lies, lies, and still more lies of the Bush administration. Proof that the world still works as it always did.
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