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What happened to the World War II spirit?

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What happened to the World War II spirit?

What happened to the World War II spirit?
May 08
15:19 2020

We often praise the generation that brought a successful end to the evil of Nazi ambition as simply “the greatest generation.”  Though we usually think of that in terms of our military men and women, it should also be applied to the folks on the home front who supported the war effort – those “Rosie the Riveters” who left home each day to work in the factories, the Hollywood stars who made patriotic movies and crisscrossed the nation to sell War Bonds to finance the war effort.

We were a unified nation that spoke with one voice.  We were unabashed flag wavers.  When the peace was won, we welcomed our sons and daughters back home with ticker-tape parades and thanked them with jobs, housing, and free education.  We respected and honored those who fought, died, or were wounded in battle.  We even made the winning General, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the President of the United States.

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That victory was 75 years ago – and we have never had such a sustained unifying moment since.  It started with the War in Korea.  It was an undeclared war that was referred to as a “police action” – even though it looked a lot like a war and American soldiers died as if it was a real war.

Hardly rested from the high toll of World War II, President Truman sent American soldiers to the Korean peninsula to curb the Communist expansion that he had mistakenly empowered by drawing the “containment line” offshore Asia – giving Communist China the false impression that the United States had no vested interest in the nations of Southeast Asia.  When China promoted a civil war against the government of Korea, Truman corrected his own diplomatic blunder by committing to the defense of the Seoul government – and the war … uh … police action was on.

The exuberance of victories over the Axis powers led by Germany and Japan did not carry over to another war.  It was controversial – if not unpopular – from the onset.  The American people wanted out of Korea.  For the first time in American history, we did not win a war.  We simply entered into a nation-dividing cease-fire – an armistice – with the forces in North Korea that remain in place today.  Officially our war footing with North Korea remains unchanged since the days of the conflict.

Even though Eisenhower warned against engaging in a ground war in Vietnam – limiting any involvement to advisory or limited air support – President Kennedy sent in U.S. troops to fight on the ground.  And when they were deemed insufficient, he sent in more and more during an era of escalation that ran through to President Johnson.  Johnson escalated the war effort even more – promising to produce a victory in the end.  But public opposition to the war intensified to the point of civil disorder.  Young Americans were fleeing to Canada to avoid the draft.  Demonstrators were killing and being killed in the streets.

Promising to end the war in Vietnam, President Nixon finally pulled the plug and retreated from Vietnam.  It was not a cease-fire that left behind a divided nation, but a full-fledged victory for the Viet Cong and the leaders in Hanoi.  In America’s retreat, we abandoned the Hmong people, who fought bravely and fiercely alongside American soldiers.  We left them to be slaughtered in Vietnam and in the killing field of Cambodia.

The United States then became embroiled in a series of conflicts in the Middle East.  As an opposition strategy to Russia’s fighting to control Afghanistan, we allied with and armed the Taliban.  After forcing Russia out, we were faced with the necessity to fight against the Taliban.  We have been engaged in that war for 17 years – the longest war in American history – and we are not winning.  It is likely we will withdraw ignominiously.

We engaged in Desert Storm to force Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, out of Kuwait.  It was a limited success but necessitated another war to topple the Hussein regime.  While we arguably won the military conflict when Hussein was ousted, we did not achieve our objective of stabilizing Iraq as an American ally in the Middle east.  In fact, we have been losing influence in Iraq to Russia and Iran ever since.

President Obama put America behind the rebel efforts to topple the brutal Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad.  Obama declared that Assad must go – and assured the world that the brutal dictator would be ousted in the near future.  We committed airpower, advisors, and military aid to the rebels.  After encouraging the anti-Assad rebels to take up arms – and after drawing a line in the sand as a threat to Assad — Obama pulled back America’s commitment, leaving the victory to Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies – and causing the largest and deadliest exodus migration in the post-biblical history.

The last stronghold of anti-Assad forces was in western Syria – along the Turkish border – where our loyal allies, the Kurds, held steadfastly.  President Trump ended the Kurd occupation along the Turkish border with an agreement with Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The removal of the Kurds from their long-held region was something even the Syrian government could not achieve by military force.

During this era of winless wars, America not only became a harshly divided nation, but we lost a sense of national pride and patriotism.  Among the new left-wing intelligentsia, flag-waving is a sign of intolerance and oppression.  Our fighting men and women limped home from the fields of conflict with virtually no celebration and even a sad level of derision and disrespect.  The increasingly influential left drove wedges between the United States and our allies – and demonstrated dangerous sympathy for our international adversaries.

Self-hatred among large segments of the American left has tilted the Democratic Party to the port side and generated an unprecedented anti-patriotic bias in the news media.   We have become that Balkanized nation where diversity trumps unity in politics and policy.

While we have had major diplomatic achievements based on traditionally conservative American values and leadership – the opening of China and the fall of the Soviet Union, to mention the most important of them – we have not won any of America’s most recent armed conflicts.  And in warfare, if you did not win, you lost.

So, there ‘tis.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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