This piece expresses the views of the author only, and is not meant to state or imply the opinion or views of this website.
December 7 marks the sixty-first anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
That may be ancient history to many of you, but its lessons are still applicable today.
That Was Then
Over sixty years ago, the United States saw Japan invading and conquering rather large sections of China, and not too kindly. Among many other things, to the Japanese in China, “getting head” meant taking your sword and lopping a few Chinese ones off.
Very few Americans liked this, but even fewer wanted to do anything upfront and personal about it.
So what did they do? They imposed sanctions on Japan, most particularly on oil and scrap iron (this was before the Middle East produced a lot of oil).
You don’t fight a modern war without oil, so before the sanctions seriously cramped Japan’s free-swinging Chinese lifestyle; we got Pearl Harbor. That’s how sanctions worked that time.
Three and a half years of usually vicious war later, Japan had effectively lost the ability to continue fighting a modern war. Despite (and in some minds because of) the hopelessness of the cause, Japan refused to surrender and indeed was preparing for an invasion.
It took two nuclear weapons to produce the necessary attitude adjustment. The great irony of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is that it probably was one of the greatest lifesaving events in military history for the attacked. Had there been an invasion instead, forget the Allied lives saved; millions of Japanese would have died of war, disease or starvation due to it.
Sometimes, you just can’t reason with people or countries. You can only stop them.
This Is Now
We have a rather similiar situation in Iraq. We have someone in charge over there who likes to fight a lot, but doesn’t fight too well, and is even worse at picking them. He starts fights he can’t win, and thinks he can win when he can’t.
We have someone in charge in Iraq who very credible sources say believes his primary mistake when invading Kuwait was not having a nuke first to keep the Americans away. This is why he really, really wants to have nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and has been willing to do just about anything to keep that possibility alive.
As nations get bored with sanctions and tired of not making money from Iraq, that someone in charge gets more and more money to develop his toys.
We have someone in charge in Iraq who wants to do something for which he’ll be remembered forever in history. When prospects of his survival got a little dicey during Desert Storm, this fellow asked his scientists to scrape up enough nuclear material for one nuke to be fired at Israel.
I guess even ill-fame is better than no fame.
We have someone in charge in Iraq who with just a couple nuclear weapons that could be delivered by missile, plane, truck, hell, even camel, could knock out almost a quarter of world oil production for years at best, decades at worst. Doing or just threatening to do that would pretty much would let him determine the world’s oil prices, a sizable chunk of which would end up in his pocket.
This would at best mean a major world recession like we had in the seventies (and probably a good deal worse). $3, $4, $5 a gallon gas in the U.S. (and more elsewhere) for a number of years. High inflation, high unemployment for the same.
But if you’re a young American and lose your job, don’t worry. The U.S. military will be happy to have you, indeed, it may need you so much they’ll bring back the draft.
This would provide plenty of money for plenty of weapons and probably an invasion of Israel (that’s the fame part). Nor would it take very many nukes to wipe Israel off the map (this would knock out the Palestinians, too, but they don’t seem to know or care about that).
However, whether it be conventional or nuclear, Israel going down would still be quite capable of delivering at least dozens if not hundreds of mushroom clouds as a parting gesture (this is something many in the Middle East don’t seem to realize, either).
None of this would make any sane person happy, and believe it or not, those running the U.S. government are pretty sane.
It’s not like George W. woke up one day and said, “Let’s invade Iraq!” This was been discussed during the Clinton administration and rejected mostly because there wasn’t public support for major military action then. There is now.
It was discussed within the Bush Administration shortly after 911, and it was decided Afghanistan first, Iraq later. Now is later.
The argument for invading Iraq now is simply this: What will it take for you to realize this warmonger really isn’t a good guy? Nuclear threats? Nuclear blasts? A lot of nuclear blasts? Do you have to wait for another Pearl Harbor before doing anything about it?
Wouldn’t it be better to pay a price now to stop it rather than pay a much bigger price later?
During the nineteen thirties, a lot of people said the same things about Hitler they say about Iraq now. They weren’t concerned about what was happening within Germany. They thought Hitler was reasonable, that he’d stop at some point, that he wouldn’t bother them.
They were wrong.
For those of you who say, “This isn’t going to happen,” if you look at the guy’s track record, it kind of leans towards it happening. We’re not talking about the Dalai Lama here.
Remember, this guy actually thought for a long time that the half-million plus soldiers in Desert Storm wouldn’t have the guts to attack him. Then he thought he’d beat them off. Imagine what kind of mistakes he might make if his forces are fortified with some vitamin U235.
Iraq isn’t like Nazi Germany? Well, in one sense that’s true. Nazi Germany wasn’t on the verge of having nukes. Nazi Germany never used the chemical weapons they had. Nazi Germany didn’t have biological weapons. This guy in Iraq checks the checkbox “Yes” on all three.
This man isn’t like Hitler? Well, for somebody who isn’t like him, he sure likes to read up on him (and even more so Stalin), apparently for pointers and tips.
He takes them to heart, too. On the whole, the average Iraqi is likely to be safer with the U.S at war with him than with that guy in peace.
No, we don’t want the place. In fact, the irony is a successful invasion of Iraq should eventually make Osama happy because a peaceful Iraq means no more need to keep American troops stationed all around the Middle East to be ready for that guy. No more troublemaker, no more need for cops hanging around waiting for trouble.
You need to ask yourself, what made Hitler so dangerous? What made him so successful in Germany?
Hitler simply told Germans what they wanted to hear: that they were powerful and important and deserved to run at least a big chunk of the world, and the only reason why they weren’t was that they were victims of an evil world putting and keeping them down. All they had to do to take their rightful place is the world was to do whatever Uncle Adolf wanted.
And like the legendary rats of Hamlin, they followed the Nazi Pied Piper to their doom.
Actually, Uncle Adolf was primarily concerned about himself; the German people were just tools for his own self-glorification. When Germany was going down, it wasn’t his fault. No, the German people were not worthy of him and his dream, and they deserved to die for it.
Sounds a little familiar to what’s going on right now with more than a few people in the Middle East finding the guy in Iraq a hero for standing up to big, bad America (and making them feel important)?
Hitler could have been stopped early, but those who could have didn’t want to go through the trouble. A few years later, fifty million people died largely as a result of that.
Can you understand that people who know this don’t want to go through this again if they can help it?
I don’t know if doing nothing now will deliver that kind of result later; all I know is that mushroom clouds are bad for you. So is nerve gas.
Amazingly, there are many people even in the West who find the guy in Iraq the good guy in all this, or at least a better one than George W.
Now you may not like America, and you may even be somewhat right about certain things it has done, but couldn’t you find a better champion than this guy? Will it take a nuclear blast or threats to get it through a lot of thick skulls that this guy in Iraq isn’t such a swell fellow after all and is likely to be worse than even America? Or will people just do a 180 and blame America for not acting then?
What will it take? What will it take? Can we not learn from the past? Do we have to go through Pearl Harbor, again?
The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq by Kenneth M. Pollack. This former CIA and NSC Iraq analyst for the Bush Sr. and Clinton administrations reviews all the evidence and reluctantly concludes that sanctions will no longer work and that military action is required to prevent much worse later.
Bush At War by Bob Woodward. If you think Dubya can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, this will give you a pretty good idea of how he operates.