Let’s play the “what if” game. What if Adolf Hitler invaded Poland, stayed there and didn’t bother anybody? What if Hitler decided that going to war with America was a bad idea and was perfectly happy being the new Polish dictator? What if the United States had said, “What a great idea, we don’t have to go to war in Europe and have our good men killed?” What if America closed its eyes and hoped that the mustache-wearing Adolf would just disappear? What if...
Keep dreaming. World War II didn’t happen that way. Hitler went on from Poland to walk through and conquer the rest of Europe, was within an arms length of destroying Great Britain, and went on to invade the Soviet Union. The question must be asked, who stopped Hitler? It was the United States of America.
If it were not for the United States’s involvement in the Second World War, the world today would look drastically different than it currently does. The Third Reich would replace todays European Union, and Her Royal Majesty’s citizens would be speaking German.
The United States could have stayed out of World War II, but didn’t. We saw a threat and believed that the threat needed to be stopped by all means necessary. This involvement and ultimate victory over evil cost the United States 292,000 men (not including the wounded), and 2,896.3 billion dollars (in 2002 money) equal to 130% of the United States’s annual GDP.
Approximately a total of 17.2 million Allied soldiers died stopping them, with the Soviet Union, the United States, and Great Britain losing the most men in battle. In addition, there were also 27.3 million more civilian casualties. Was this a pretty war? No. Was it necessary to have so many die in the defense of freedom? Absolutely. We owe these Allied soldiers our liberties and freedom that we take for granted every day.
Let us look at the reconstruction of Europe after the war by the United States. The U.S. decided to put Europe on a solid economic footing so dictators like Hitler would not be able to take advantage of a bad situation and drag the world back into war. The United States looked at the big picture and invested even more money under the Marshall Plan into Europe in order to avoid a possible war in the future.
Turning to today’s War on Terror. We are faced with an enemy that is harder to identify than yesterday’s Nazi but yet has the same goal of world domination. Islamic terrorists have called for Muslims around the world to take up arms against Americans. These terrorists are unafraid to die in their campaign against us. What do we do? Do we play “what if”? What if terrorists hadn’t flown two planes into the World Trade Center? What if the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan didn’t exist? What if Saddam Hussein hadn’t supported terrorism around the world? Let’s close our eyes and hope that he disappears into thin air. Saddam’s only torturing his own people, why should we care? If the Trade Center collapsed and no one saw 3,000 people die...did they really die? We then can assume that the 200 Spaniards who died in the Madrid train attack aren’t dead either.
60 years ago our Allies did not recognize the Nazi threat until Hitler marched his troops through their front door. Today, history repeats itself. Once again our Allies do not realize the danger they are in. They too are on a hit list. They choose to close their eyes and hope that terrorism will go away. They are waiting to see terrorism on their front porch before they open their eyes and move to defend themselves. Again, the United States is at the forefront of the war.
This is a war that is costing lives; both military and civilian. This war will cost the U.S. and the world billions if not trillions of dollars. We won the war against the Nazis. Will we win the war against terrorism? I don’t believe so. When we see our soldiers being killed in Iraq, and civilians being murdered around the world, we lose our perspective. We assume that if we click our heels together and chant, “there’s no place like home”, terrorism will cease. Nonsense. Winning the war against the Nazis took four long years with millions dead, and billions spent. Billions more were spent reconstructing Europe. Americans once had patience and forethought. Today Americans only see their dead in front of them and nothing more. Do we expect to win this new world war on terrorism? We will only win if we open our eyes and stop playing “What If”.