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Pearl Harbor – Seventy Three Years Ago

The following article was written by Owen T. Smith, Chairman of IWP.

Seventy three years ago, December 7th 1941, a day which Franklin Delanor Roosevelt declared “shall live in infamy,” a fleet of Japanese aircraft attacked the US Navy Base in Pearl Harbor taking out a key portion of the US Navy, killing or wounding 3500 Americans. The attack at Pearl Harbor signaled the entry of the United States into the Second World War. December 8th, FDR appeared before a joint session of the Congress — they declared war, a war that cost over seventy million lives. The Second World War was to be the War that would end all wars.

Not so. World War II was followed by the Cold War, a forty-five year struggle between the United States and its allies in the West and the 

Soviet Union and its Communist dominated satellites in the East.   Ronald Reagan fought Communism from the time he was President of the Screen Actors Guild through his two terms as President of the United States. Early   in his Presidency, Reagan, who is widely hailed as the most popular President in history, developed plans to destroy Communism and end the Cold War. Recently declassified documents have demonstrated plans designed to put an end to the Cold War by bankrupting the Soviet Union. A secret national security team of Reagan’s closest advisors including William  Clark, Reagan’s National Security Advisor who had been Chief Judge of the California Supreme Court when President Reagan was Governor of California, Edwin Meese, White House Chief of Staff who had the same role in California during Reagan’s term as governor, and William J. Casey, an OSS chief from World War II who served as Reagan’s campaign manager and was Director of Central Intelligence, outlined plans to bankrupt the USSR by building the US military and denying the USSR access to the world energy markets. Details of these plans have been revealed in the recently declassified White House documents. 

The Reagan Administration worked closely with Pope John Paul II, the Polish Pope, to support the Polish Solidarity movement. Reagan and members of his national security team including Clark, Casey and General  Vernon Walters briefed the Pope on what was happening in Poland and the rest of the world on a regular basis using raw intelligence data. The United States provided vital humanitarian and communication support to Solidarity through the Vatican. Military support was provided through other channels. Pope John Paul II’s visit to his native Poland resulted in the first crack in the breakup of the Soviet Union. Soon thereafter, Hungary formed a non-communist government. In the fall of 1989, East Germans were allowed to migrate to the west. By December, the prediction of General Walters — then U.S Ambassador to Germany — was fulfilled.  Although his superiors at the State Department were skeptical, Walters told President George Bush that the Berlin Wall would fall during his Presidency. It did. 

During the Cold War there were numerous “Close Calls” — situations which could have erupted into nuclear war between the West and the East. Korea, Vietnam, and the Cuban Missile Crisis are a few examples. 

The world we face today is more volatile than the post-WWII Cold War, including the tension in Ukraine.  Without provocation, the Russians have been seeking to retake Ukraine. Why? Because they need access to Western Europe — Russia is Germany’s gas station. 95 percent of Germany’s oil and gas comes from Russia through Ukraine. Russia needs that currency to support its economy. The West has imposed sanctions — seized bank accounts of prominent officials, restricted trade. These have had little impact. The ultimate sanction would be to flood Europe with low cost oil and gas, denying ex-KGB officer Putin access to the currency needed to keep the Russian economy afloat. 

Putin is testing the world. Russia supplied the so called separatists in Ukraine with the anti-aircraft missile which brought down a civilian plane — reminiscent of the shooting down of a South Korean Civilian aircraft during the Cold War. Russia has renewed the patrol of the US Coast by resuming flights just outside US control — again reminiscent of the Cold War.

In addition to the struggle with Russia, the world faces radical Muslims — who kill for no reason — because Christians refuse to become Muslims.  This is reminiscent of Hitler ordering the death of hundreds of thousands Jews during WWII.  These radicals use social media to shock the world with beheadings. Neither the Germans during WWII nor the militant ISIS have any respect for the rules of war.

It is difficult to answer the question of whether this is a second Cold War or a Third World War. 

Pope Francis, speaking of the killing of Christians merely because they are Christians, has described the current world situation as World War III:  “Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction …War is madness. …War ruins everything, even the bonds between brothers. War is irrational; its only plan is to bring destruction: It seeks to grow by destroying.”

Pope Francis has indicated that the current effort to suppress ISIS meets the church’s criteria of “Just War.” 

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former head of the Soviet Union, has described the current tension between the West and Russia as having the potential for Cold War II.

Irrespective of the WWIII or Cold War II, the world is in a worse situation than it was during the 1980’s when the U.S. was able to demonstrate its military might. We have to make sure there is never a Pearl Harbor again. The world can not afford another WWII.