Sept. 1, 2009
You may not be interested in war, said Leon Trotsky, but war is interested in you.
I probably wouldnt agree with anything else that bloodstained old Bolshevik said. But Trotsky was right about that.
On my last visit with my mother in 2005, she told me how my father had proposed to her in 1944. I had never heard the story before. They were discussing their favorite poems by Scotlands beloved Robert Burns. My mother said she really liked Mary Morrison Ma Jo [My Joy]. You realize, Pop said in popping the question, if you marry me your name will be Mary Morrison. It was only their third date, but Pop was shipping out soon for the war zone, having already been in a ship torpedoed by a U-Boat. The prospect of being torpedoed again, like the prospect of being hanged in a fortnight, concentrates the mind. So, they were married, and remained faithfully so for 54 years: a Yankee from New York and a southern lady from the mountains of Virginia. The war brought them together.
My daughter and my wife this summer made a project of cleaning out boxes and plastic tubs from 30 years of Navy moves. My wifes military career had put several lifetimes of memorabilia into an unsorted jumble of packing boxes. Her mothers wedding pictures were unearthed. Not the wedding to her dad, but to Edith Lloyd Stewarts first husband, 1/Lt. Alex Stewart, an Army Air Corps flier, who had been shot down over Romania. Edith lived in a twilight world for seven years, not knowing if she was a widow or not. Finally, with Alex declared dead, she was free to marry Kates dad Jim Dougherty.
War is interested in you. It reaches out and grasps our lives in ways that, at any conflicts outset, we cannot readily imagine. The events set in motion 70 years ago shaped my wife and me and touched the lives of people all over the world, even people whose lands were far removed from the actual fighting.
When he visited the White House at Christmas in 1941, right after the U.S. entered the war, Churchill was asked by Franklin Roosevelt what this new world war should be called. At that time, people still referred to the horribly destructive war with Germany of 1914-1918 as the Great War. Churchill had even invoked biblical imagery, calling that earlier war Armageddon.
Under the White House Christmas tree that somber December of 1941, just weeks after Pearl Harbor, Churchill said this new death struggle with Hitler Germany and militarist Japan might be called the unnecessary war. He said there was never a war that could have been more easily averted than the vastly destructive worldwide conflict that soon came to be known as World War II.
Ronald Reagan said it best, as he did so often. None of the wars of his lifetime had occurred because the U.S. was too strong. Today, we are undergoing another period of weakening. As is typical when a liberal occupies the Oval Office, the Defense budget is reduced and key weapons programs diminished. And while the country is profoundly distracted by seemingly interminable debates over the federal government takeover of health care, the economy, and education, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced an inquisition.
Mr. Holder and his staff will grill CIA agents. These are the men and women who have successfully prevented the second attack against the continental U.S., a murderous assault that virtually every analyst at the time of 9/11 said was inevitable. The Washington Post reports that morale at the CIA is low. Is this surprising? Those who put up a wall between the CIA and the FBI prior to 9/11, and who made it impossible for our intelligence and law enforcement agencies to cooperate fully, are back in the saddle.
Let us all pray for our countrys safetyand for those who put their lives on the line for us each day. And let us never forget that we cannot keep war from our shores by wishing it away.
This Administration is pursuing a policy of catch-and-release with terrorists in Afghanistan. It is ready to read them their Miranda rights. This is a very dangerous path.
War is becoming more interested in you.