Published: Monday, January 5, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 5, 2004 at 1:14 a.m.
With a new year upon us and our troops still serving in hostile areas of the world, it would be germane to unfurl a few pages of history that portray how conquering nations have treated the defeated country.
We clearly find evidence of violence, pillage, rape and unreasonable demands for reparations by those who have conquered. The Rape of Nanking documents stark evidence of the above; also Stalin's executions of thousands, Saddam's wholesale destruction of his own people and the Cambodian purge are but a few examples of the death and horror impressed upon people that were too weak to effectively defend themselves.
This axiom, however, does not seem to apply to the United States as we have compiled a reputation as victors - then rebuilders.
The Berlin airlift is a prime example of American concern and reconstruction. Berlin was 90 percent destroyed by Allied around-the-clock bombing during World War II. Today, it is a city of beauty. With the assistance of the United States it has been rebuilt so carefully that the scars of war are only those that have been preserved.
The Marshall Plan helped to reconstruct Western Europe, aid was given to Russia after its collapse, technical aid offered to a reeling Japanese economy after World War II, billions in recent loans to Iraq - the list goes on and on as American generosity has consistently provided a worldwide rebirth of hope.
Today, we carry a two edged sword - forged of justice and restoration. Those that cry out against our nation's efforts need to remember that our service men and women are still fighting in a hostile arena. Left-wing posturing provides us with a position that is probably not shared by all of the veterans who fought for freedom's cause; however, they have every right to do so under the Constitution of the United States. Let us be thankful for the freedom fought for and won by American veterans in the many theaters of war throughout our history.
A preemptive strike, such as Iraq, can create a domino effect that leaves a message to those who only seem to understand the use or threat of force. Possibly, we might never know how many lives were saved by a nation willing to say "no more" to a despotic dictator who brought about the torture and deaths of thousands of innocent people.
While other nations joined us, it was the United States that took the lead in bringing about a "spidery" end to one of histories worst criminals. Those countries unwilling to support our efforts would do well to read the history of mankind regarding the main causes of world conflict.
Hitler called us decadent and soft; Japan looked upon us with contempt and did not consider us a worthy foe; Russia pushed us to the brink by installing missiles in Cuba; and North Korea, along with China, underestimated our will in the 1950s to contain the threat of communism.
Today we are the most powerful of all nations and the world must recognize us as the voice of freedom, for no other country has the will and means to provide stability. Those countries that try to undermine our cause for justice encourage terror and weaken the political/military structure necessary to prevail in these precarious times.
Japan might not have attacked us so quickly at Pearl Harbor if we were not so unprepared and considered such an easy target. We need to remember that, historically, a so-called dominant military force usually seeks a target of opportunity that offers little resistance. We must exhibit fortitude and live with vigilance, for we can no longer wait to be struck by a militant nation or terrorist group, as hesitancy does not provide for a security that precludes peace in our times.
On April 3, 1918, the U.S. House of Representatives accepted The American Creed on behalf of the American people. The last paragraph reads as follows: "I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag and to defend it against all enemies."
Let us thank God that there are Americans who do believe in those 32 words, and this writer is proud to be one of them.
Bob Gasche served in the Marine Corps in World War II. He lives in Gainesville.
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