Sixty-three years ago today, the world changed radically and permanently. The Empire of Japan, fearing that the United States intended to thwart her ambitions in the South Pacific, especially regarding oil and rubber supplies. decides to launch a pre-emptive strike at the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. Strategists believed that such an attack would prevent effective defense against Japanese offensives, and would allow the Empire to negotiate a treaty with the United States from a position of strength. The United States was engaged in diplomatic negotiations with the Empire of Japan at the time, rather naively believing several myths. Among those myths, that the U.S. could impose a blockade on oil and materials shipments to Japan without consequence, and that moving the Pacific Fleet from San Francisco to Hawaii would remind the Japanese of their relative weakness to American battleships. The U.S. Congress also believed that the 'small' Japanese were not willing to risk a conflict with a 'great' power like America. Thirty minutes into the first raid, those myths were violently dispelled.
Many people like to look at the present War against Terrorism in the context of Vietnam, especially our invasion of Iraq. I see it much more like a World War, with the fate of many nations in the balance. Terrorism is at least as great a threat as Fascism was, and it's not hard to look at Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, and see a counterpart to Marshal Tojo or Adolf Hitler. And frankly, the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese never managed to bomb New York, which the terrorists already did.
There are two ways, essentially, to view the WoT in the light of Pearl Harbor. One is to consider how tactically brilliant yet strategically wrong the Japanese were in the attack. The attack worked flawlessly, but instead of convincing America to accommodate Japan, the attack enraged the nation and convinced them to try to eradicate Japan. Some on the Left might want to argue that the decision to pre-emptively invade Iraq has united the militants against the U.S., and inflamed a hatred of America in the Muslim world. They may point to the continuing violence in Iraq as a sign that we are not considered liberators, to the missing bin Laden as a failure to accomplish a signal objective, to the lack of WMD stockpiles in Iraq as an indictment against the validity of the war. They may point to the resentment in many nations against perceived U.S. aggression, to the stubborn refusal by President Bush to admit significant mistakes as a sign of arrogance and myopia, and they may demand we return to the methods of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. But they would be wrong.
The second way is to consider History. People were being killed in many places by terrorists, long before President Bush was elected in 2000. The Khobar Tower bombings, the Kenya Embassy bombing, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, and many other attacks during the Clinton years, show that appeasement and indecision cost innocent lives, and only encourage the monsters. We know for a fact that the 9/11 attacks were planned long before President Bush even chose to run for President, and would have happened no matter who was in office. In fact, one of Ronald Reagan's few mistakes in office, would have to include leaving Lebanon after the Beirut bombings which killed so many Marines. Terrorists are only stopped by force and determination.
The claim that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 is insultingly deceitful in its callous arrogance. That is, he was known to have sheltered, paid, supplied, and sponsored almost a dozen terrorist groups, right up to the invasion. Several of the worst terrorist leaders of the 20th Century were captured or killed by the Coalition in Iraq. Also, remember those warehouses of suicide vests found by Marines, or the torture houses cleared out just last week in Fallujah? Only the most cynical hypocrite could pretend that Hussein is not exactly the sort of terrorist supporter we need to remove. And as others have mentioned, when a rat bites your child, you don't want to just get that one rat, you want to wipe out ALL the rats. We are facing in Iraq the kind of thugs known to cut the heads off unarmed innocents, women as well as men. They are precisely the sort we need to hunt down and exterminate; they cannot be allowed to exist. If it is right to chase down Nazis for their atrocities, it is right to hunt down Islamo-fascists. And many people don't seem to understand where these thugs were bred. They blame the Americans, as if the humiliation of a few prisoners at a prison, however unlawful, would drive a person to become an inhuman monster. The fact is, anyone who has seen the mass graves, the laboratories where Bio-weapons were tested on prisoners, or prisons built specifically to torture children, should be able to understand that these thugs were bred by the policies of the Baathist regime of Hussein, and instructed in their cruel tortures by the sons of the beast, Uday and Qusay. To blame anyone else is obscenely dishonest.
Some have tried to claim that President Bush always wanted to invade Iraq, because there were plans made for the invasion before 9/11. Such claims amount to an admission of stupidity. At the time of Bush's inauguration, Iraq was known to have the largest standing army in the Middle East, Hussein was known to be in violation of his cease-fire provisions, including the disposition of known stockpiles of WMD, including Chemical and Bio-weapon stockpiles, and was known to be actively seeking fissionable materials. Hussein had already committed numerous clear acts of war, including firing on Coalition aircraft in the 'no-fly' zones, and at least one known attempt on the life of a U.S. President. Bush would have been justified in attacking Iraq on February 1, 2001, especially since the official U.S. policy on Iraq had been Regime Change since 1998. After the 9/11 attacks, Hussein's known contacts with terrorist groups, along with worries about the status of his WMD programs and materials, made tolerance of the regime unacceptable. Also, the U.S. was well aware that following the removal of the Taliban, Al Qaeda would seek to re-establish itself in another Middle Eastern country. The fact that AQ entered Iraq after the invasion, only confirms the knowledge that AQ intended to go there in any case. As for the WMD, if anyone wants to pretend that known stockpiles of BW and CW just went away, they are living in a dreamworld and in complete denial of the facts. Surveillance of smuggling operations across the border to Iran and Syria just before the invasion began show the likely new home of the weapons. Fortunately, the successful war is already making an impact, as Libya, Iran, and Syria have all modified their compliance with inspector to deal with the reality that the U.S. is able to enforce any necessary decision. And for those who want to suggest that the best response to our casualties is to give up and go home, I suggest that a few words with any Marine unit which has served in Iraq is in order. While a few individuals may be found who believe the war unworthy of their efforts, the heavy majority of U.S. troops are proud of their work, and serious about their mission. And not particularly interested in the sad-sack pessimism of the Left.
What next? In war, nothing goes completely according to plan, but plans can be made. The simple fact is, most Muslims are not fascists, and no more stomach for 'Jihad' than any other people, especially against innocents. There is reason to believe that Iran can be coaxed to a more moderate stance, especially with the help of China. While the Left likes to imply that President Bush is stubborn, unilateral, inflexible, and stupid, the reality is that he has a good grasp of the conditions in the countries involved, and his plans for the future will stabilize the region and all participants. Just as the Left falsely accused Bush of wanting to bring back the draft, they falsely believe he intends to invade more countries. It is not, to be blunt, likely that Bush will do that, but the Democratic Republic of Iraq will change the region and the world, and her neighbors will find themselves forced to adapt to that new reality, or be left behind.
The Empire of Japan is no more. There is still an Emporer in Japan, but the nation is ruled by a Constitution, one drawn up and implemented by the Americans when they liberated the country from the fascist regime. Japan does not see eye to eye with the U.S. in everything, but does remain one of our strongest allies, especially in that part of the world. Iraq may well follow the same course.