Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Bad War?

By Victor Davis Hanson
Normandy, France

An excerpt:

. . . The thousands of Americans lying beneath the rows of white crosses at Normandy Beach, at Hamm, Luxembourg, and at St. Avold in the Lorraine probably did not debate the Versailles Treaty or worry too much whether a B-17 took out a neighborhood when it tried to hit a German railyard.

Instead, our soldiers were more worried that they had few options available to stop Nazi Germany and imperial Japan — other than their own innate courage and valor. The American dead in European cemeteries never bragged that they were eagerly fighting a “good” war; they were reluctantly finishing a necessary war that someone else started.

Those GIs and the leaders who sent them into the carnage of World War II knew that Americans could do good without having to be perfect. In contrast, the present critics of the Allied cause enjoy the freedom and affluence that our forefathers gave us by fighting World War II, while ignoring — or faulting — the intelligence and resolve that won it.

Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman once scoffed at the peacetime wisdom of postwar critics that came across as mass-produced, feel-good “bottled piety.” Others might call it ingratitude.

Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.

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