Friday, June 06, 2008

Remembering June 6 is D-Day

Today is the 64th anniversary of D-Day.

Right up-front, I do not pretend that I have been glued to CNN or the broadcast stations listening for some news anchor to make note of the day. But I did ask a gathering of about ten visitors to FCNL if any of them had heard a reference to what occurred this date in 1944; none had.

Does it matter anymore? Well, no and yes. Or perhaps “maybe” and then “no” – unless that last “no” could possibly be a “yes” if I think about it.

Let me simply give my perspective. Then you decide for yourself and let me know your position which then can be posted on the blog site.

On the “no” side, the world that emerged from the death (estimated to have totaled 55 million civilian and military combined) and destruction of World War II piled on the destruction and death (estimated 15 million total) of World War I in many ways disappeared in the last dozen years of the 20th century. With the anchors that had defined the bi-polar world wrenched from their mooring by the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact and then the USSR, the geo-political world drifted for the first half of these 12 years (1988-1994) with no one in charge.

Then came the new genocides in Rwanda and Burundi and the break-up of Yugoslavia which re-awakened the religious and ethnic divisions that had lain dormant for 80 years. What started as civil war became internationalized by the intervention of NATO and/or the UN under the doctrine of the “responsibility to protect.”

So we come back to World War I and Woodrow Wilson who believed that the United States had a responsibility to spread democracy and democratic institutions around the globe. This is the same belief that George Bush carried into the White House in 2001. But unlike Wilson, who saw an equitable, non-punitive peace treaty with the new post-war German government as the starting point for his crusade against autocratic rule, Bush was determined to take the nation into war to achieve his crusade

World War II has been christened “The Good War” while the First World War can muster no better epithet than “The War to End All Wars.” And while this latter carries with it a sense of moral obligation to avoid new wars, the harsh “peace” terms imposed on the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) virtually guaranteed future armed conflict in Europe.

Given the above, my answer is “yes, D-Day still matters.” We have started in the same direction as the world went in the early 20th century. It is not the same path but a more harrowing one because now eight countries have nuclear weapons that, if ever used, could wreak sufficient destruction to doom the planet and the human race.

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