Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sixty-seven Years After Infamy....

"December 7, 1941.... a date which will live in infamy.... the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. "

So said President Franklin D. Roosevelt as he asked Congress for a Declaration of War sixty-seven years ago.

On that day Japan also attacked Hong Kong, Guam, the Philippine Islands, Wake Island and Midway Island.

In response to this all-out attack, Roosevelt clearly and forcefully declared.... "As commander in chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us...."

Today it is much different. Seemingly nationless enemies strike civilian populations.... cloaked suicidal terrorism is the new norm, not declarations of war between nations.

As Richard A. Clarke who was the White House counterterrorism coordinator under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush explains today in his op-ed "Plans of Attack" (WaPo) .... "Ten young men land a small boat at a quay in a city of 18 million people. Within minutes of setting ashore, they are throwing grenades and raking crowds with automatic weapons fire. Days later, almost 200 people are dead, more are wounded, the financial capital of a nation of a billion people has ground to a halt, and the world is riveted.

"To most of the world, the Mumbai massacre seems inexplicable and random, like the periodic devastation caused by typhoons or tornadoes, or simply pointless, just killing for killing's sake. But the attack was neither random nor pointless. The carnage in Mumbai was goal-oriented, an attempt to advance an overall strategy that is being ruthlessly pursued by the Islamist radical network."

That is the face of conflict today.

Even Osama bin Laden's dastardly 9/11 attack on the twin towers wasn't a Pearl Harbor.... it wasn't backed by a nation declaring war. The very nationless nature of the attack allowed the Bush presidency to name its own target for retaliation.... Iraq.... leading America down the shadowy path of their selective-intelligence "war on terrorism."

Clarke maps out the terrorism minefield facing the Obama administration.... "Seven years after 9/11, the United States has neither eliminated the threat from al-Qaeda nor secured Afghanistan, where bin Laden's terrorists were once headquartered.

"To accomplish these two tasks, we must now eliminate the new terrorist safe haven in Pakistan. But that will require effective action from a weak and riven Pakistani government. It might also depend upon dealing with the long-standing India-Pakistan rivalry."

In the wake of Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt galvanized the nation through his leadership and call for shared sacrifice as he declared war on Japan. It now falls to Barack Obama to rally the nation, and the world, to a common goal.... the defeat of the hydra-headed terrorist monster.

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