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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Shades of 1938?

One watches the world with fascination and foreboding these days.

Putin and the Chinese are poking their imperialist fingers in the eyes of the democracies on their borders. ISIS and Al Qaida, and its many offshoots, are expanding their brutal insistence on a return of a Caliphate and 7th Century Sharia Law to the Muslim world. Amid this growing set of threats, American power has been allowed to wane, leaving us with the smallest navy since 1938, and with a "war-ending" President, whose ideals seem perfectly suited to allowing these ominous changes to proceed, unchallenged by any credible threat of resistance or retaliation.

Meanwhile, our friends in Europe and Asia, most notably the Germans and the Japanese, have only small armed forces, a legacy of the post-WWII restrictions on rearming, and a reflection of the preventive power of the American "Nuclear Umbrella" that the Free World has enjoyed ever since 1945.

Air strikes, and in particular drone strikes, seem unlikely to solve any of the present problems in the Mideast. In fact, they may serve to convince Islamist radicals that we in the West are a cowardly bunch, unwilling to face them in a fair fight. Given their ethos that martyrdom in the name of Allah is their highest honor, our sterile air attacks will only serve to provide propaganda film, and to motivate more to volunteer for the ISIS army.

Shades of 1938

In the 1930s, Hitler took the Sudetenland. Japan took much of China and of the Pacific Rim. Italy invaded Ethiopia. We and the European democracies stood by until Poland fell to the Nazis (and to Stalin!). America stood by until Pearl Harbor was attacked. Then, all Hell broke loose, all over the world.

Our tour last spring of Basil Kimball's wartime path from Utah Beach to Merseburg, Germany, was an emotional eye-opener for me, to the brutal reality of World War II.

I am reminded of an old rhyme:

"Round and 'round the little wheel goes, 
And where it stops, nobody knows. 
Except the Lord, and He won't tell!"

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