By Richard A. Widmann
Following the devastating attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th, various commentators have attempted to explain the event to their audiences. One frequent allusion was that of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Perhaps Disney's recent film was stuck in the minds of our media as some even dubbed the recent attack Pearl Harbor II. Other writers and media sources couldn't avoid the term "kamikaze" to describe the hijackers suicidal destruction of people and property. The attacks of September 11th however were not at all like those of December 7th.
The government of Japan had been in long albeit failing diplomatic talks with the United States for years prior to Pearl Harbor. When the attack came, the Japanese attacked military targets in a military operation. In the case of the recent attacks, the terrorist leadership basically remains faceless, still denying involvement and responsibility. The targets in the recent attacks were not military at all. Bin Laden's gang targeted civilians, business people, and innocents. Even the Pentagon attack used innocents as a human bomb to strike at America's military headquarters.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a devastating blow to our military and our country but was understood as the opening salvo of a war between nations. The attacks of September 11 were atrocities plain and simple.
The media does a disservice by making useless comparisons to the Second World War. Likewise the American government should focus and should have been focused on those who will cause harm today. For the past several years visitors to the United States are given forms on which they must declare if they were members of the Nazi party or supporters of that regime in any way. Anyone making such a declaration is denied entry to the United States. The U.S. government has also spent a small fortune persecuting the aging Cleveland autoworker John Demjanjuk for "crimes" that there is no evidence that he committed. The Demjanjuk case is only one of many such cases.
While our Office of Special Investigations hunted octogenarians from Eastern Europe, young vital terrorists were studying in our country, taking flight lessons, and planning the murder of our citizens. The time is long over-due to focus on the real danger. Hollywood, the media, and our government must give up their infatuation with Japanese and German villains and focus on the present danger and threat.
Let's stop thinking of our current situation as a replay of Pearl Harbor or World War II. Our enemies will not fight this conflict as World War II was fought. We cannot win by fighting it that way either. Such tactics would be as useful as sending lancer divisions against tank columns.
If there is anything from the Second World War worth recalling it is that our enemies in that conflict, the Japanese and the Germans are now our friends and allies. It is a point well worth remembering. Let’s view our current conflict clearly and not through the distorted lens of old hatreds. Let us pray that we will have the fortitude to do what must be done. But let us also long for the day when, like the Germans and the Japanese, that we will call the sons and daughters of our current adversaries “friends and allies.”
Installed: 07/27/98, 1: 00 AM, PST