My local paper, the Bend Bulletin, published a thought provoking editorial by Victor Davis Hanson, historian and classicist at the Hoover Institution, Sanford University on September 25, 2106. Educated in such hallowed halls, I took note of his opinions. And they scared me. In his column he shows how war often takes people by surprise like the calm before the storm-- in spite of long- simmering disputes. Hanson points out that the Great War was sparked by an assassination. The war in Europe flashed into WWII with the attack on Pearl Harbor. And Americans were surprised both times. Surprised--even though evil was marching across Europe and by the late 1930’s Japan and Germany were desperate for resources, in part, because of our embargo. Japan broke down our back door 75 years ago. Why didn’t we believe it could happen to us when our ships were being sunk in the Atlantic and our countrymen were being killed?
On 9/11, American’s again experienced the surprise and horror of an attack on our country, this time by cowards who targeted civilians. They had no honor and most American’s had no clue that we were hated so. The world is a tangle of tension, conflict, ethnocentric bias, and uncertainty. It always has been and always will be. It’s the human condition. We are territorial animals after all. Is our government’s focus were it should be? Are we being so politically correct that we can’t get out of the way of the force of hatred headed our way? Are we going to be surprised and horrified, again, like we were when Pearl Harbor was attacked? So much of the world is already living the horror of war. Why do we think we are immune? The world has grown closer. The oceans that once protected us are no longer barriers. Too many of our neighbors are desperate. And desperate people do desperate things. Victor Davis Hanson ended his column with, “War clouds are gathering. A hard rain is soon going to fall.” I hope I see it coming so I can grab an umbrella, but I doubt it will do much good.
Picture: Bombing of Pearl Harbor; public domain