Today is the day we remember the grand invasion of Europe known as D-Day. Hundreds of thousands of men stormed beaches, bombed enemy buildings, fired giant guns at nearly impenetrable bunkers; all members of free peoples, all members of the right side of history. Our society remembers World War II because of its altering of history. We remember it because of the Holocaust. We remember it because it is the one war most people consider just, that most people consider untouchable from moral questioning.
There are plenty of people out there on the Left and the Right who have issues with World War II and the actions of America during that time. They like to bring up the bombing of Dresden, the use of atomic weapons and the internment of Japanese to name a few events. Some go so far as to say that FDR was a communist and conspired to bring the US into a war so it could save the Soviet Union. There are countless reasons pacifists and isolationists give, all hindsight, of course.
I believe every war is wrought with moral choices and I believe that in every war there are times when moral right gets in the way of military victory. Most the horrific acts in war are done despite the military goal (the Holocaust, Srebrenica , Darfur, etc), but like the use of atomic weapons to force Japan's surrender, sometimes you have to put down the enemy hard, so it stays down.
Honestly, I don't think we can ever determine if a war is just as it's being fought. We can believe it is, we can give evidence to why it is (or why it isn't), but it is only in the aftermath of war can we actually say if it was right or not. The Holocaust was only rumor and stories to the public until the camps started to be uncovered. For four years, we fought based on other reasons: Hitler's aggression, Japan's imperial ambitions, Italy's arrogance. We fought because we were attacked. We fought because there was a threat.
Today, the media, the politicians and all of us politicos tend to justify conflicts both real and hypothetical by alluding to World War II. I don't think this is a bad thing to do when it's relevant, like with Iraqi's ethnic cleansing and sadistic torture network, but sometimes a threat is just a threat and making it more popular with allusions to the valiant actions of World War II, loosely or accurately, creates the idea that the only just war is one where we do it despite our own interests. Sometimes, our interests are reason enough.
ICYMI: Jeffrey Ostler, The Lakotas and the Black Hills - At Amazon, Jeffrey Ostler, *The Lakotas and the Black Hills: The Struggle for Sacred Ground*.
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