Blogs > HNN > VETERAN'S DAY - 1918 - 2008

Nov 12, 2008 12:06 pm

VETERAN'S DAY - 1918 - 2008

This one is for my grandfather, Abraham (Adolf) Preisler who served as a medic in the Austro-Hungarian army World War I. Like many of his fellow Jewish veterans, he believed that his service will protect him and his family from the fascists. It did not. He was murdered in an Austrian death camp named Mauthausen .

He was not the only one. The Great War was followed by a much greater and more horrible war. Why? Because misguided democracies adopted the lesson the NYT editors wish us to adopt now which is peace at any price. How? By stating that it was a meaningless war rather than the first attempt to limit German muscle flexing:

It is now 90 years since the guns stopped firing on the morning that ended World War I, the war that was supposed to end all wars. Nov. 11 is still remembered in Europe as Armistice Day. But in the United States, Armistice Day became Veterans Day in 1954. . . .

Ask anyone what really caused the First World War and you are likely to draw a blank — at best, perhaps, a tale of an Austrian archduke shot in his car in Sarajevo in June 1914.

Why is it that Americans understand so little about World War I? Because they have been subject to a barrage of misinformation from both the left and the right specifically designed to blame democracies for the horror of the war and repudiate their post war Versailles Treaty. The NYT editors write:

There are images, too, from movies and books of the horrors of trench warfare, the colossal waste of human life in one catastrophic, peristaltic battle after another.

It was this relentless attack on the Democracies which provided the totalitarian forces with the ideological tools they needed to rebuild their strength and undermined Democratic resistance. Here the NYT's editors become ambivalent. They are unhappy with the rise of isolationism but celebrate their commitment to peace at all cost:

What we are likely to have forgotten is the horror the Great War stirred in those who witnessed it. For many, the full horror dawned slowly, as they clung to a comfortable self-insulation. . . .

To seek peace, to oppose war, to cherish memory is a way to honor veterans on this day of armistice, this Veterans Day.

Why? Because they do not wish to admit that their advocacy of premature withdrawal from Iraq, like the premature withdrawal from Somalia is likely to create a Rhinelandlike"demilitarized zone" in the heart of the Middle East. The weak states surrounding Iraq will have no more the ability or the will to stand up to an Islamist Iran than the small European states had to stand up to Nazi Germany and democracies which have been convinced that the war against terror, i.e., Islamism, has been a mistake will not be in a position to do so either.

The reason W.W.I. was a prelude for W.W.II. is because we snatched defeat from the jaw of victory. We may yet do so again as WSJ editors correctly remind us:

There's a tendency to talk of these men mainly as our"last links" to the war that was meant to end all wars. But they are also living reminders that much worse was still to come, because the victors failed to prevent the rise of the totalitarian regimes in Russia and Germany, the fascists in Italy and the militarists in Japan, and because the U.S. withdrew from its global responsibilities. Not least among the victims of those errors was Mr. Buckles himself, who spent three years as a civilian prisoner of the Japanese when he was trapped in the Philippines during World War II.

Now we are at a similar pass in Iraq, where the U.S. has effectively defeated Sunni and Shiite insurgents on the battlefield. But whether this costly achievement will hold depends largely on our willingness to support the Iraqi government and steel it against its own fascistic challengers, particularly Iran. If there's one lesson to be learned on this Armistice Day, it's of the price that's paid when we allow victory to slip from our grasp.

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Elliott Aron Green - 11/13/2008

What will the NYT do when Obama sends more troops to Afghanistan, as he has promised? What will NYT say if Euro states refuse to send more troops, as Obama urged them to do in his Berlin speech?