Musings … Now and again, Americans should look back at the past because, as George Santyana said, Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. World War II was the most destructive conflict in history. It cost more money, damaged more property, killed more people, and caused more far-reaching changes than any other war in history. The wars following World War Two, while they might be just as violent, don’t compare in scope to The Big One. In the late 1930’s the United States was about 17 down on the list of nations considered to be world powers. At the end of the war we were the one and only superpower.
In the 1930s, the U.S. Army had only about 130,000 soldiers, making it the sixteenth largest force in the world, smaller than Czechoslovakia, Poland, Turkey, Spain, and Romania. At one facility, Willow Run, it was said that they turned out a complete B-24 Liberator bomber every 55 minutes. Between 1939 and 1945, the Allies dropped 3.4 million tons of bombs, which averaged to 27,700 tons per month. From 1940-1945, the U.S. defense budget increased form $1.9 billion to $59.8 billion. At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, there were 96 ships anchored. During the attack, 18 were sunk or seriously damaged, including eight battleships. There were 2,402 American men killed and 1,280 injured. Three hundred and fifty aircraft were destroyed or damaged.
More than 650,000 Jeeps were built during WWII. American factories also produced 300,000 military aircraft; 89,000 tanks; 3 million machine guns; and 7 million rifles. In 1944 alone, the United States manufactured 96,318 aircraft. We made 60,973 tanks. Rifles and carbines made during the war totaled 12,500,000.
Hollywood played its part, and not just by making movies, but providing real heroes. Several famous actors were decorated during WWII. For example, Henry Fonda won a Bronze Star in the Pacific, Walter Matthau was awarded six battle stars while serving on a B-17, and David Niven was awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit. Ernest Borgnine and Tony Curtis both served in the Navy and Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable flew combat missions over Europe.
So…why am I telling you this? Because, my friends, the United States is facing an enemy more heinous, more sinister, more barbaric, than the Nazis…and that’s saying something.
Somebody sent me a picture of Ronald Reagan with the caption, “If I were still around IS-IS would be was-was.” We’ve had several really good men in the Oval Office…men that knew what was needed and took the necessary action. Sadly, what we have now is a person who’s devoted to denigrating the United States, reducing it to a second, or third-world, entity. Because his agenda was carefully planned, even though he announced what he was going to do, and he moves in baby steps, the American public has been largely agreeable to whatever he proposes, and the feckless Congress goes along, seemingly more interested in their individual re-election, their party’s power and whatever else they can negotiate for themselves…instead of the security of the country in which they live and have sworn an oath to protect.
In about the same time it took for the Obamacare website to get up and running…and it still isn’t running as well as Amazon or even H&R Block, the United States rose to become a world power, out-producing every other country, and contributed mightily to winning World War Two. From a nation deep into a depression to the most powerful country on the face of the earth…ever, in about 6 years…the same number of years we’ve had an appeaser-in-chief in the White House.
Arthur Neville Chamberlain was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the German speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany. Like Obama, Chamberlain took the word of a warmonger, and like Chamberlain, our country will suffer the consequences.
There were several decisive battles, both in the European theater of operations and the Pacific. The battle of Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, as an example, where our untested troops went up against seasoned German troops and was significant as the first large-scale meeting of American and German forces in World War II, the relatively untested and poorly led American troops suffered heavy casualties and were pushed back over 50 mi from their positions west of Faid Pass in the initial days of the battle.
In the aftermath, the U.S. Army instituted sweeping changes from unit-level organization to the replacing of commanders. When the same combatants next met, in some cases only weeks later, the U.S. forces were considerably more effective. The Siege of Bastogne was an engagement in December 1944 between American and German forces at the Belgian town of Bastogne, as part of the larger Battle of the Bulge. The siege lasted from December 20–27 when the besieged American forces were relieved by elements of General George Patton’s Third Army.
In the Pacific, the island-hopping campaign raged, and several significant battles were fought. The Battle of Guadalcanal and codenamed Operation Watchtower by Allied forces, was a military campaign fought between 7 August 1942 and 9 February 1943 on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theater of World War II. It was the first major offensive by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan.
Guadalcanal marked the transition by the Allies from defensive operations to the strategic offensive in that theater and the beginning of offensive operations, including the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, and Central Pacific campaigns. There was the Marianas “turkey shoot”, so named because of the ratio of Japanese planes shot down as compared to Americans. There was Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa also, all with horrendous losses of American troops. Australia, which was to have been the prize in the Japanese conquest plan, was never taken and I like to think it was because of our PT boats, one of which was commanded by a certain Navy LT named Kennedy.
Folks, I bring this up because our once-vaunted armed forces are not respected or feared anymore. We are a paper tiger.