Much will be made in the blogosphere today of comparisons between events and currents 62 years ago and those of the here/now. All of them are crap. There's no parallel at all, except to the extent that then, as now, our military was called upon to do violence. Honor your fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers--those whose generation dropped everything to go fight the true face of evil.
Why was that a good war? I'm certainly invested in the notion that it was, and that it was, in all likelihood, the last good war. It's surely the last war about which there's any certainty as to the rightness of our country's actions and choices. Those who argue that evil is evil, in any of its forms, and who would compare the fundamental, world-sweeping evil of Nazism to the evil of today are missing a point of scale.
It is hyperbole to suggest that terror looms as the same kind of threat to our way of life as did Nazism. Globally, more infants die needlessly in a day--every day--than the number of people who died in the horrors of 9/11. Between 40 million and 60 million people were consumed by World War II, depending on whose figures you believe. The scale of the threat of terrorism is miniscule by comparison.
That doesn't make terrorism right, or something to be ignored; it means what it says, that the threat needs to be viewed in scale. More people died in auto accidents in 2001 than died in the World Trade Center. It may be a hard idea to confront, but by way of scale, terrorism is a pretty mundane threat.
This matter of scale tends to diminish the war metaphor, but more importantly, I think (and certainly today), it diminishes other--real--wars, and it's a bit of an insult to those sacrificed in them. Like World War II, which took a significant step toward ending, 62 years ago today (I'll spare you here my usual argument about the suffering of the Russian people in making a more significant contribution toward bringing about that end).
Does this itself diminish the contributions of those Americans who've died or otherwise suffered grievously in Afghanistan and Iraq? Of course not. They are brave people who signed on to serve their countries and followed the orders they were given in doing so. It doesn't demean them to suggest that their political leadership was flawed; in fact, it's a compliment to their patriotism and professionalism.
Today should be a day for contemplating the deeds of the generation that won World War II. Please don't spoil it by comparing our invasion of Iraq to the deeds done by those magnificent men and women.
The Accounting Beyond the Account
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