Monday, January 01, 2007
2. We must never tolerate any barrier to our utmost effort -- Today there are many such barriers--barriers of jealousy and fear of executive power in Congress; of tradition and bureaucracy in the armed forces; of selfish interest in industry; of short sightedness and incompetence in administration. In all fairness to men whose lives are at stake we cannot afford any longer to tolerate these barriers.
3. We must never cease to be vigilant. -- Our relations with one another demand that we achieve unity; but it must be formed around ends, not men. We may hope, but we cannot assume, that forces which a few weeks ago acted on a belief in the victory of the Axis are now acting in the service of democracy. For a few hours the weight of the disaster which they have brought upon America, and which itself has united our people, has silenced them. But their voices will rise again. In every corner of America we must watch for them and recognize them.
Many of the comments take issue with the editorial. This war isn't the same, it's against an idea (terrorism) not a state, it's a con perpetrated by the extreme right wing, theocons, neocons, and oil companies. One commenter criticized the editorial for its exuberance for war in 1941. Another commenter responds:
With all due respect, you are off-base here. On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan reached across thousands of miles to destroy a substantial part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in home waters. That act plunged the U.S. immediately "deep into war".
I know this has nothing to do with medicine and that this site has readers of all political persuasions, but bear with me, because this is something that's been a great deal on my mind this past year and likely to be for the next year. It's not something that obsesses me, but it's always there below the surface, and I've noticed it's that way with my patients, too. A patient will say that they're going to do something they've always wanted to do but never made the time, and they'll say as an aside, "I figured I might as well do it now, the world's going to end soon anyway," or another will worry out loud about the fate of Medicare or Social Security in five or ten years and conclude, "Oh, well, the way things are going there won't be a Washington in ten years, anyway." There's a sense of resigned despair in the face of nuclear armed terrorist states and megalomaniacal dictators and a nation that - if the newspapers are an accurate reflection - can't be stirred to care about its own self-preservation.
Which brings me to that comment about Pearl Harbor from The New Republic. The assumption today is that Pearl Harbor was different than 9/11, that it was a military "attack on American soil." But it wasn't, was it? Hawaii wasn't even a state, it was a territory, valued for its sugar and pineapple production.
My son's high school band played a tribute to Pearl Harbor during their holiday concert this year. It was an arrangement of Eternal Father Strong to Save that incorporated the sounds of bombers and explosions into the traditional navy hymn. The band director played old film clips of the attack while the band played on. And I kept wondering, what would happen if Pearl Harbor had happened in today's Zeitgiest? I couldn't escape the conclusion that if it happened today, we would blame ourselves for the attack. The prevailing refrain would be that we had no business basing war ships on those islands, that our very presence in those islands was a threat to Japan, and our own imperialistic ambitions the problem, not Japan's. If Americans of the 1940's had the hearts of Americans today, we would have heard "No war for sugar!" and excoriations of "Evil Del Monte," rather than "the day that will live in infamy." There would have been a study group and we would have handed over Hawaii to the Japanese, after all 80% of its farmers were Japanese. And we would have given them Alaska to boot.
We're a Prozac nation now. Let's hope we can stir ourselves enough to care in the year to come.
posted by Sydney on 1/01/2007 08:59:00 AM 5 comments
I have held my tongue a lot with the recent shift away from medical and towards political posts - not the least of which is for the simple reason that we appear to be on the opposite ends of every political spectrum possible.
The other was an attack on a symbol of American prosperity,...
Buddhistvalkyrie - with a great deal of squinting and charitable interpretation I can infer perhaps one rational position from your comment: you were against the Iraq War? I'm afraid I can't see anything in most of the rest that isn't verbiage in search of a point, though. It is however nice to know that terrorist acts, which I thought explicable human behaviors subject to mundane analysis and response, are actually things so mystical and incomprehensible that no active response beyond mindless revenge is possible. I guess a lot of intelligence types can quit their tedious day jobs, then.
By 8:47 PM, at
There were some people against US entry into WWII before Pearl Harbor. Some were against anything FDR wanted. Some people, Irish-Americans for example, did not want the US fighting on the side of the English. German-Americans, Italian-Americans and others probably did not relish a US war on their homelands. There were pacifists. It was just over 2 decades since Americans had to fight in an ultimately inconclusive European war. Probably few expected war in the Pacific. The only way to defeat a military power like Japan allied with a military power like Germany, both of whom were clearly intent on conquest, was war. the attack on Pearl Harbor clarified that. Perhaps that is why the New Rrepublic felt the need for such strong language.
Given the drumbeat of pessimism from most of the media, I think American optimism has held up pretty well. And now that the Republicans have gotten a good spanking (which, given their candidates, they deserved), liberal politicians, pundits, and most of the the media will probably stop blaming the world's ills on them. Remember, before the elections it was all about "getting out of Iraq," and now it's about sending MORE troops? The Democrats will never recover if we lose Iraq on their watch. Most people still prefer the Republicans for national security, and the Dems know it. Murtha and his ilk are a disaffected (but vocal) minority. The long-term Democratic strategy is not going to be retreat in the war on terror. I predict that the big turnaround in the "First 100 days" will be purely one of appearance, not substance.
By 2:01 PM, at