Historical Significance: Why We're in Iraqby Raymond S. Kraft, (c) 2006
Reprinted with permission
Sixty-three years ago, Nazi Germany had overrun almost all of Europe and hammered England to the verge of bankruptcy and defeat. The Nazis had sunk more than 400 British ships in their convoys between England and America taking food and war materials.
At that time the US was in an isolationist, pacifist mood, and most Americans wanted nothing to do with the European or the Asian war. [Ed. note: Sound familiar?]
Then along came Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and in outrage, Congress unanimously declared war on Japan, and the following day on Germany, who had not yet attacked us. It was a dicey thing. We had few allies.
France was not an ally, as the Vichy government of France quickly aligned itself with its German occupiers. Germany was certainly not an ally, as Hitler was intent on setting up a Thousand Year Reich in Europe. Japan was not an ally, as it was well on its way to owning and controlling all of Asia.
Together, Japan and Germany had long-range plans of invading Canada and Mexico as launching pads to get into the United States [Again, sound familiar?] over our northern and southern borders, after they finished gaining control of Asia and Europe.
America's only allies then were England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and Russia. That was about it. All of Europe, from Norway to Italy (except Russia in the East) was already under the Nazi heel.
The US was certainly not prepared for war. The US had drastically downgraded most of its military forces [as the Clinton administration did again] after WW I because of the depression, so that at the outbreak of WW II, Army units were training with broomsticks because they didn't have guns, and cars with 'tank' painted on the doors because they didn't have real tanks. A huge chunk of our Navy had just been sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor.
Britain had already gone bankrupt, saved only by the donation of $600 million in gold bullion in the Bank of England (that was actually the property of Belgium) given by Belgium to England to carry on the war when Belgium was overrun by Hitler (a little known fact).
Actually, Belgium surrendered in one day, because it was unable to oppose the German invasion, and the Germans bombed Brussels into rubble the next day just to prove they could.
Britain had already been holding out for two years in the face of staggering losses and the near decimation of its Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain, and was saved from being overrun by Germany only because Hitler made the mistake of thinking the Brits were a relatively minor threat that could be dealt with later. Hitler first turned his attention to Russia, in the late summer of 1940, at a time when England was on the verge of collapse.
Ironically, Russia saved America's butt by putting up a desperate fight for two years, until the US got geared up to begin hammering away at Germany.
Russia lost something like 24,000,000 people in the sieges of Stalingrad and Moscow alone . . 90% of them from cold and starvation, mostly civilians, but also more than 1,000,000 soldiers.
Had Russia surrendered, Hitler would have been able to focus his entire war effort against the Brits, then America. If that had happened, the Nazis could possibly have won the war.
All of this has been brought out to illustrate that turning points in history are often dicey things. Now, we find ourselves at another one of those key moments in history.
There is a very dangerous minority in Islam that either has, or wants, and may soon have, the ability to deliver small nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, almost anywhere in the world.
The Jihadis, the militant Muslims, are basically Nazis in Kaffiyahs -- they believe that Islam, a radically conservative form of Wahhabi Islam, should own and control the Middle East first, then Europe, then the world. To them, all who do not bow to their will of thinking should be killed, enslaved, or subjugated. They want to finish the Holocaust [despite Ahmadinejad's assertion that it never happened], destroy Israel, and purge the world of Jews. This is their mantra (goal).
There is also a civil war raging in the Middle East -- for the most part not a hot war, but a war of ideas. Islam is having its Inquisition and its Reformation, but it is not yet known which side will win -- the Inquisitors, or the Reformationists.
If the Inquisition wins, then the Wahhabis, the Jihadis, will control the Middle East, the OPEC oil, and the US, European, and Asian economies. [If that happens, nevermind gasoline rationing in the U.S. Petroleum products, other than those produced locally, will not be available to the U.S. market at any price.]
The techno-industrial economies will be at the mercy of OPEC -- not an OPEC dominated by the educated, [relatively] rational Saudis of today, but an OPEC dominated by the Jihadis. Do you want gas in your car? Do you want heating oil next winter? Do you want the dollar to be worth anything? You had better hope the Jihad, the Muslim Inquisition, loses, and the Islamic Reformation wins.
If the Reformation movement wins, that is, the moderate Muslims who believe that Islam can respect and tolerate other religions, live in peace with the rest of the world, and move out of the 10th century into the 21st, then the troubles in the Middle East will eventually fade away. A moderate and prosperous Middle East will emerge. [The United Arab Emirates has recently made huge strides towards creating a more stable Middle East, by forgiving more than $7 billion (including interest) in Iraqi debt incurred by Saddam Hussein. This was done as a gesture of brotherhood, and to give the Iraqis a better opportunity to stand on their own as a newly democratic Arab state without the smothering burden of paying Saddam's debts. UAE President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was quoted as saying he hoped canceling the debt would lighten the "economic burden" facing Iraqis, and he urged the country to unite behind al-Maliki's Shiite government. UAE also has named an ambassador to Iraq, as has Jordan, and Kuwait and Bahrain say they will soon follow suit.]
We have to help the Reformation win, and to do that we have to fight the Inquisition, i.e., the Wahhabi movement, the Jihad, Al Qaeda and the Islamic terrorist movements. We have to do it somewhere. We can't do it everywhere at once.
We have created a focal point for the battle at a time and place of our choosing . . . in Iraq. Not in New York, not in London, or Paris or Berlin, but in Iraq, where we are doing two important things:
- We deposed Saddam Hussein. Whether Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the 9/11 terrorist attack or not, it is undisputed that Saddam had been actively supporting the terrorist movement for decades. Saddam was a terrorist! Saddam was a weapon of mass destruction, responsible for the deaths of probably more than 1,000,000 Iraqis and 2,000,000 Iranians.
- We created a battle, a confrontation, a flash point, with Islamic terrorism in Iraq. We have focused the battle. We are killing bad people, and the ones we get there we won't have to get here.
We also have a good shot at creating a democratic, peaceful Iraq, which will be a catalyst for democratic change in the rest of the Middle East, and an outpost for a stabilizing American military presence in the Middle East for as long as it is needed.
WW II, the war with the Japanese and German Nazis, really began with a 'whimper' in 1928. It did not begin with Pearl Harbor. It began with the Japanese invasion of China. It was a war for fourteen years before the US joined it. It officially ended in 1945 -- a 17-year war -- and was followed by another decade of US occupation in Germany and Japan to get those countries reconstructed and running on their own again . . . a 27-year war.
WW II cost the United States an amount equal to approximately a full year's GDP [Gross Domestic Product] -- adjusted for inflation, equal to about $12 trillion dollars. WW II cost America more than 400,000 soldiers killed in action, and nearly 100,000 still missing in action.
The Iraq war has, so far[as of 2006], cost the United States about $160,000,000,000, which is roughly what the 9/11 terrorist attack cost New York. It has also cost about 3,000 American lives, which is roughly equivalent to lives that the Jihad killed (within the United States) in the 9/11 terrorist attack. [As of 2008, the death toll in Iraq is more than 4,000, but it is still slightly more than 1% of the cost of American lives in World War II, which all of America was solidly behind.]
The cost of not fighting and winning WW II would have been unimaginably greater -- a world dominated by Japanese Imperialism and German Nazism.
This is not a 60-Minutes TV show, or a 2-hour movie in which everything comes out okay. The real world is not like that. It is messy, uncertain, and sometimes bloody and ugly. It always has been, and probably always will be.
The bottom line is that we will have to deal with Islamic terrorism until we defeat it, whenever that is. It will not go away if we ignore it.
If the US can create a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq, then we have an ally, like England, in the Middle East, a platform, from which we can work to help modernize and moderate the Middle East. The history of the world is the clash between the forces of relative civility and civilization, and the barbarians clamoring at the gates to conquer the world.
The Iraq War is merely another battle in this ancient and never-ending war. Now, for the first time ever, the barbarians are about to get nuclear weapons. Unless somebody prevents them from getting them.
We have four options:
- We can defeat the Jihad now, before it gets nuclear weapons.
- We can fight the Jihad later, after it gets nuclear weapons (which may be as early as next year, if Iran's progress on nuclear weapons is what Iran claims it is).
- We can surrender to the Jihad and accept its dominance in the Middle East now; in Europe in the next few years or decades, and ultimately in America [likely in your lifetime, or that of your children].
- We can stand down now, and pick up the fight later when the Jihad is more widespread and better armed, perhaps after the Jihad has dominated France and Germany and possibly most of the rest of Europe. It will, of course, be more dangerous, more expensive, and much bloodier.
If you oppose this war, I hope you like the idea that your children, or grandchildren, may live in an Islamic America under the Mullahs and the Sharia, an America that resembles Iran today.
The history of the world is the history of civilization clashes, cultural clashes. All wars are about ideas, ideas about what society and civilization should be like, and the most determined always win.
Those who are willing to be the most ruthless always win. The pacifists always lose, because the anti-pacifists kill them.
Remember, perspective is everything, and America's schools teach too little history for perspective to be clear, especially in the young American mind.
The Cold War lasted from about 1947 at least until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989; forty-two years!
Europe spent the first half of the 19th century fighting Napoleon, and from 1870 to 1945 fighting Germany -- seventy-five years!
World War II began in 1928, lasted 17 years, plus a ten year occupation, and the US still has troops in Germany and Japan. World War II resulted in the death of more than 50,000,000 people, maybe more than 100,000,000 people, depending on which estimates you accept.
The US has taken more than 3,000 killed in action in Iraq [As previously noted, that number is now more than 4,000.] The US took more than 4,000 killed in action on the morning of June 6, 1944 [D-Day], the first day of the Normandy Invasion to rid Europe of Nazi Imperialism.
In WW II the US averaged 2,000 KIA a week -- for four years. Most of the individual battles of WW II lost more Americans than the entire Iraq war has done so far.
The stakes are at least as high . . . A world dominated by representative governments with civil rights, human rights, and personal freedoms . . . or a world dominated by a radical Islamic Wahhabi movement, by the Jihad, under the Mullahs and the Sharia (Islamic law).
It's difficult to understand why the average American does not grasp this. They favor human rights, civil rights, liberty and freedom, but evidently not for Iraqis.
'Peace Activists' always seem to demonstrate here in America, where it's safe.
Why don't we see Peace Activists demonstrating in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea, in the places that really need peace activism the most? I'll tell you why! They would be killed!
The liberal mentality is supposed to favor human rights, civil rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc., but if the Jihad wins, wherever the Jihad wins, it is the end of civil rights, human rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc.
Americans who oppose the liberation of Iraq are coming down on the side of their own worst enemy!
Raymond S. Kraft is a writer and attorney living in Northern California who has extensively studied Middle Eastern culture and religion.