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9/11, Peal Harbor, and renewal(4 posts)

9/11, Peal Harbor, and renewalMe Dot Org
Sep 11, 2002 12:31 PM
I was thinking this morning that 9/11 is a deep notch in the American timeline, that every American will remember where there were that morning, just as people remember when they heard John Kennedy was assasinated or Pearl Harbor was bombed.

And thinking of Pearl Harbor made me think of an incident that happened with my father, who served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

A few years ago my father and my sister came to visit me in San Francisco. We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Golden Gate Recreation Area just north of the Bridge. There we climbed to the top of the old fortified gun placements that looked down over San Francisco bay, built to defend against a possible Japanese invasion of the West Coast.

As we walked back to my father's car, I asked him if he could have conceived in 1941 that he would drive to these fortified gun positions in a Japanese car.

He looked ironically at his Nissan and said "Not unless we lost".

Our greatest accomplishment in World War II was not defeating the Germans or the Japanese. It was in helping to rebuild those nations, so that in spite of Dresden, Hamburg, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we count the Germans and the Japanese as our friends in this world.

The Germans and the Japanese were both able to rise above the military defeat and redefine their nations, while retaining their national identity.

I believe that a nation that provides freedom, justice, and the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives for its citizens is much less likely to produce terrorists and hatred.

Hatred thrives the most when there is a climate of fear. Martyrdom is always a much more attractive option when there is no hope. Extremism thrives where there is a lack of purpose.

We should remember the lessons of World War II as we help to rebuild Afghanistan. If we can help build a nation that has justice, freedom and opportunity, perhaps the example of a predominatly Islamic democracy can be an example to other countries in the region.
Good pointsPaulCL
Sep 12, 2002 5:05 AM
Maybe we can do that with Iraq???
Interesting thoughts.Alex-in-Evanston
Sep 12, 2002 8:06 AM
Japan and Germany's renewal (and Israel's creation) after WWII are amazing feats. I wonder if the western world has much interest in helping to industrialize the Islamic countries of South Asia. I think a passive, stable regime is the maximum we're targeting in that area. After all, we're not talking about countries that have traditionally been major trade partners with the United States. Iraq has a powerful military but it's economic base isn't much more than accepting foreign investment for resource extraction.

I would bet a dollar for a dime that when I'm 75 (2049) there still won't be major industrial goods coming into the U.S. from that part of the world. What I'm really waiting for is a personal computer or processor from an Indian company. I have no idea why they aren't dominating that industry. It boggles the mind how well Indian software engineers perform abroad but how pathetic their homespun industry still is.

Just some musings,

There are certainly differencesMe Dot Org
Sep 12, 2002 9:01 PM
Germany and Japan were both heavily industrialized countries before WWII. Afghanistan - well, as someone said, you can't bomb Afghanistan back to the stone age because they're already there.

Japan and Afghanistan are interesting in that they were both isolated countries. Before 1853, when Perry steamed into Uraga Harbor, Japan was pretty isolated, even keeping Christian Missionaries isolated to Nagasaki. After viewing Perry's warhips, Japan had a rude awakening about what sea power meant to an island country. They learned their lesson well, in a very short period of time.

Afghanistan's 'ocean' has always been its mountainous terrain, which has made it inhospitable for foreign invaders, and its mountains tend to perpetuate its own isolation. Whereas Japan has embraced many aspects of Westernization, Afghanistan sees its own tribal customs as a protection against being assimilated (literally and figuratively) by the west.

The challenges of bringing a secular democratic form of government to a deeply Islamic and tribal nation are great. I think that spending money on the country's secular education infrastructure would be a good place to start. 1999 literacy estimates are 47% for men over 15, approximately 15% for women.

Iraq is another story. Iraq is (compared to Afghanistan) relatively modern and westernized. One thing seldom mentioned is that Hussein is from the Iraqi minority Sunni Moslems, while Bin Laden is Wahabi and many of Hussein's internal opposition as well as the government of Iran are all Shi'a. When people speak of an alliance betweeen Al Quaeda and Iraq, I think it must be viewed along the lines of the U.S. relationship with the mujahadeen of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 70's and 80's: My enemy's enemy is my friend.

Two models are applied to Iraq's behavior: The Hitler Model and the Soviet Union Model. The Hitler model postulates that we should attack now, just as Germany and France should have attacked before Germany had a chance to industrialize.

The Soviet Model postulates that Iraq will not use WOMD out of self preservation, just as the Soviet Union did not. The Soviet Union (Reagan's 'Evil Empire') had stockpiles of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons that Iraq could never dream of emulating, yet it crumbled without a shot being fired.

My personal feeling is that Saddam Hussein is first and formost concerned with his own survival. During the Gulf War, although he had stockpiles of chemical weapons, there is no evidence that he used them. Yes, he would use(and has used) them against the Kurds, because he didn't fear their retaliation. I think he does fear the retaliation of the United States. One Ohio class sub gives anyone with an ounce of self-preservation a pound of doubt.

Saddam attacked Kuwait, but he did so because he thought he could get away with it. We sent wrong message diplomatically, in that our response was not made in clear, unambiguous terms. Remember, at that time, we had been using Iraq as our proxy against Iran, and we still had hope of bringing Iraq 'into the fold'.

Hussein is a dictator, and an enemy of the United States, but he is not a terrorist bent on martyrdom. A martyr would use a weapon of mass destruction without fear of consequence. A dictator, especially one who has had to battle factions in his own country, knows something about power: when to use it and when to refrain.

Could Saddam use his WOMD? Yes. But I don't see a scenario that exists today where he would. Of course, if we invade, and he feels he has no hope...