|General Dwight D. Eisenhower speaks with paratroopers of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Division, shortly before the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944. (US Army Photo)|
For those of you not familiar with this mini-series from HBO, the ten episodes are based on the book of the same title by Stephen Ambrose. The book, and the series, follows one company, Easy, of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. From the days of their initial training at Camp Toccoa in Georgia to the immediate aftermath of the end of the war in Europe, we follow these men through the war.
After I watched the first two episodes on Saturday last, I found I just could not continue. The emotions I was feeling were, to say the least, overwhelming.
Many of the men portrayed in the series, like most of their generation, have passed away. Some died during the war, some died afterwards but before the making of the series, and some of those interviewed at the beginning of each episode have since passed.
As has the guy I first watched the series with, my Dad.
But beyond all that, one thought I had on Sunday as I watched a few more episodes was this, was World War II the last "good" war? And what do I mean by that?
World War II was fought against a cruel and evil regime in the case of Nazi Germany. The Japanese Empire was also cruel, and certainly demonstrated a great capacity for evil. No one can argue that the Nazis were not evil. When your stated goal is to destroy an entire group of people, the Jews, how can you be anything but evil? (That particularly virulent disease has yet to be eradicated from the world. The Israelis are still fighting for survival, every day.) With the Japanese, their evil was more casual than it was calculated. Which is almost worse. Yes, their culture was, and is, very different from ours, but they must have known how we would perceive their actions. They just didn't care.
And Bataan will not be forgotten by those who remember such things. (God forbid we ever forget.)
We were attacked, yes, though there was some provocation on our part towards Japan, but that was mostly due to their actions in China. Japanese actions in China were pure evil. As the people of Nanjing could attest to.
So there you have it, a vast struggle against great evil. I also know that one of our Allies exhibited as much evil as the Nazis. Communism is on a par with National Socialism, as to who was more evil, Hitler or Stalin? Take your pick. But as Churchill famously put it, "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."
Germany and Japan had to be defeated immediately, Stalin and his evil minions would have to wait.
So in those terms it was a good war, a necessary war. The country was united as never before and has not been since, not even after 9-11 were Americans so ready to step up and do their part.
Now Korea was, in my mind, a good war, a necessary war, but it was made necessary by stupid political statements as to the United States' defensive perimeter (which an idiot Secretary of State outlined in a speech and which did not include Korea), perhaps making the Communists think they could get away with it. Also they thought that as the U.S. had done virtually nothing to prevent Mao from taking over in China, why would we fight for Korea?
We did though, with one hand tied behind our backs due to the possibility of a wider war against the Russians. We were fighting the Chinese, just not "officially" I guess, letting those bastards pretend that the Chinese troops fighting in Korea were volunteers. Anything to avoid another world war I suppose.
Vietnam remains a mystery to me. The politicians demonstrated, once again, that they know nothing of war. Doesn't matter the nationality, politicians, once war is decided (which is their job) should let the soldiers fight it. But they don't, they meddle, they send "messages."
And soldiers die.
While we were in Vietnam for the right reasons, we certainly didn't act like we knew what we were doing.
Desert Storm? Fought for oil, pure and simple. Yes, Saddam should have stayed out of Kuwait, didn't belong to him. So we went in, kicked his ass, then left him in power. I blame Colin Powell for that. I did at the time, I still do. Bad advice in my opinion.
So we had to go back. And we're still there.
Afghanistan? Another bad idea.
Libya, Egypt, and now Syria. Is our goal to piss off the entire Middle East? Intervention in those areas was a very bad idea. A criminally stupid idea.
What's the goal? How do you define victory? If you can't define what victory is in concrete terms, then you have no business expecting American troops to go there and bleed for some nebulous concept of turning those folks into democrats or republicans. Our way of government isn't for everyone.
There are days when our way of government isn't fitting any more for certain elements of our own society. Some idiots out there still think socialism works.
Some of those fools need to visit Venezuela.
So yes, World War II was the last "good" war. I have no idea what the next one will be like, Hell we're still in the middle of the one which started back in 2001. Which is maybe simply a continuation of the first Gulf War.
I don't know. Only time will tell.