Betsy Speicher

The Real Lesson of World War II

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The Real Lesson of World War II

August 27, 2007

IRVINE, Calif.--In a recent speech at the Foreign Wars National Convention, President Bush defended the Iraq war, comparing it to America's actions in Japan following World War II. He argued that by sacrificing the lives of American soldiers in order to bring freedom to Japan, we were able to turn the Japanese into friends and allies; by doing the same in Iraq, we will ensure that the Iraqis one day become allies as well.

But according to Dr. Yaron Brook, "President Bush is twisting history to defend his immoral war. The real lesson of World War II is that American self-defense requires crushing and demoralizing the enemy so that it is non-threatening--not sacrificing the wealth and lives of Americans in order to spread "democracy" and make hostile nations like us.

"The goal of World War II was not Japanese freedom--it was the unconditional surrender of the Japanese war machine. To achieve that goal, America unleashed its full military might against Japan, smashing its infrastructure, and killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese, military and civilian. And because the Japanese had been thoroughly defeated, U.S. troops faced no Japanese insurgency. America's goal in setting the terms and guiding the creation of a new state was to ensure that defeated Japan remained non-threatening to Americans; the goal was not a selfless mission to serve the needs of the Japanese people.

"President Bush has rejected the lessons of World War II and the goal of U.S. security. Instead of eliminating the threat from states that support the cause of Islamic totalitarianism--particularly its main sponsors in Iran and Saudi Arabia--he sent Americans on a mission to bring the vote to secular Iraq. Instead of crushing and demoralizing our enemies, Bush made our top priority protecting Iraqi civilians, Iraqi infrastructure, and Iraqi religious shrines--sacrificing American troops to that end. Instead of demanding that Iraqis embrace a pro-Western and, thus, non-threatening government, President Bush declared that they have the right to elect a government of their choosing--including a hostile, Islamic state.

"President Bush is wrong. American security does not depend on bringing elections to the Middle East--it depends on making hostile regimes in the Middle East non-threatening. To achieve that, we need a real war. Not one that substitutes the goal of defeating the enemy with a self-sacrificial crusade for democracy, but one that places no purpose higher than American self-defense. A war like World War II."

Dr. Brook discusses this issue in greater depth in "'Forward Strategy' for Failure," an essay co-written by ARI junior fellow Elan Journo. The essay was published in the spring 2007 issue of The Objective Standard, and is available online at the journal's Web site:

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