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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Thoughts on the Day that Lives in Infamy

Steve Cole writes:

Today is December 7th, the anniversary of the Day that Lives in Infamy. While it has been joined in that status by
September 11th, 2001, the original date still reminds us that there is evil in the world and that it can show up at unexpected moments.

Take a moment to remember the brave men and women who defended America, on that day, on all the days since, and on thousands of days before. The men and women in the US military in 1941 were a handful compared to the military we had a few years later, and today. Outnumbered and overwhelmed, many of those who signed on for a military career knew that when war came, they would be quickly killed or captured and that the US, which had failed to build an adequate military force in 1941, would have to build a new one out of what little there was. The US military that won WWII was a brilliant improvisation, frankly a bunch of amateurs who did not have time to learn how to do it right, but did it right anyway because they were Americans who had been called to do.

Today, things are different. A proper-sized professional military defends America. They know that when a war comes, they will have to win it, not wait around for America to build a new military force as it did in 1942. But the threat is different. The world knows it cannot beat America in a stand-up fight, so now we have to be on guard for the sneaky, the ruthless, and the insane. We also have to accept that there are nations out there determined to build a military that CAN defeat America in a stand-up fight, even if it takes decades. We can never give up the professional military we have, even while we ask it to learn to fight new kinds of enemies. The challenge is to remember how to fight the last war (which will, one day, come back) while learning to fight a new one.