Thursday, December 07, 2006

Declarations of War

Today, December 7th, commemorates the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the event which propelled the United States into the Second World War. Franklin D. Roosevelt, for all of the actions that he took that may have pushed our enemies into war (such as a peacetime draft and a military buildup before any commencement of hostilities) certainly did one thing exactly right: He went to the Congress and asked for a Declaration of War-something his successors have all failed to do. "Use of force" resolutions are not Declarations of War.

The difference in the national mentality between 1941 and today is quite stark. When Congress declared war in 1941, they asked for all of the collective resouces of the United States to be utilized in the name of defeating the enemies of America. As a result, all of our collective strength as a people was put into doing something for the war effort. Entire factories were changed over from making the products they normally made and were converted to make tanks, bombs, guns, jeeps, uniforms, helmets, packaging food for the troops-if it needed to be done for the war, people took it as their patriotic duty to help America bring the war to as speedy and successful a conclusion as possible. It wasn't a mere matter of giving this contract or that contract to this or that company (although companies certainly got war contracts). The entire nation was mobilized to do something. People quit using butter so the troops could have it-margarine was invented as a result. People grew "victory gardens" so that produce could be shipped overseas. People gave their rubber, aluminum, and other scraps over to make the materials of war. Civil Defense was mobilized to guard against attacks on the Continent-there was not a person alive in America left untouched by the war.

Yet in our "War on Terror" that we are told has the Iraq War as an extension, we are not being asked to truly sacrifice as a people. We are sending our men and women overseas and they are fighting and dying, and we are being told that there is a good reason for this undeclared war. If this reason is real, then put all of the people into the war effort and make us all sacrifice for the cause as our grandparents did in World War II. If this cause in Iraq is not worth the same level of sacrifice as the "
Greatest Generation" gave to win World War II, then perhaps it isn't worth the fight at all.

Freedom is not free, and causes that are right and just are worth fighting for-and they are worth mobilizing a nation to fight as well. If we aren't ready to fight a war as a nation, and our leaders are unwilling to tell us
Why We Fight, then is this a cause that is a matter of our freedom, or is it a bill of goods we've been sold?

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