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The Ghosts of World War II

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Unread 09.06.19, 02:34 AM
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The Ghosts of World War II

On 09.05.19 07:42 AM posted by Victor Davis Hanson

World War II ended 74 years ago. But even in the 21stcentury, the lasting effects endure, both psychological and material. After all,the war took more than 60 million lives, redrew the map of Europe and endedwith the Soviet Union and the United States locked in a Cold War of nuclearsuperpowers.

Japan and South Korea should logically remain naturalallies. Both are booming capitalist constitutional states. Decades ago bothnations emerged from devastating wars. And in pacifist fashion they vowed neverto suffer such mass carnage again.

Both nations are staunch allies of the United States. Theyare likewise similarly suspicious of their neighbor, aggressive communistChina, which threatens their economies and security. Yet Tokyo and Seoul arenow more adversaries than democratic allies, and they are locked in a bitterfight. In their acrimony over trade and past war reparations, neither canforget World War II.

South Koreans continue to press for more reparations toatone for the horrific treatment of the Korean Peninsula by Japanese occupiersand imperialists. Imperial Japan stripped Korea’s natural resources andexported thousands of Korean women to war zones to be raped by Japanese troops.

The wealthier that South Korea becomes, the more anascendant Seoul begins to rival — and worry — Tokyo. And the more distantWorld War II becomes, the more Japan and South Korea relive their bitter sharedwartime past.

The United States has had difficulty forming a Pacificalliance of containment against a bellicose China. Australia, the Philippinesand Southeast Asian nations fear Chinese aggression. But they also share bittermemories of merciless Japanese imperialism that killed as many as 15 millionChinese — the vast majority of them civilians.

In their minds, our allies know China is the chief threat.But in their hearts, even now they can’t quite forget how their ally Japan oncecommitted genocide throughout the region.

NATO was designed to avoid another European war and theconstant threat bullying from Germany and Russia. NATO’s creed, first, was thatthe United States should stay engaged in Europe and never again allow it tocommit collective suicide. Second, America was to keep Russia out of WesternEurope as it did in at the end of World War II. Third, the alliance must keepGermany “down” so it would never start another European war. Thatthird element of the original NATO mission is often laughed at as entirelyirrelevant today.

But is it? Germany now dominates the European Union. Itsbanks squeeze Southern European countries for overdue loan payments. Berlinpressures Eastern Europe — whose leaders grew up with lectures about thenightmares of Nazi Germany — to follow Berlin’s disastrous open borders plan.That laxity has resulted in more than a million migrants flocking into the EUfrom the Middle East and North Africa.

Berlin also tried to hold the United Kingdom hostage toprevent Brexit — the verdict of the British people, a majority of whom votedto leave the EU. Less than half of today’s German population has a favorableview of America, the country whose troops and nuclear umbrella still keep avirtually unarmed Germany secure.

A clairvoyant in 1945 might have warned both Europe and theUnited States that a “Fourth Reich” financial powerhouse wouldsomeday dominate Europe.

In addition, Germany still has an existential fear ofRussia. After all, more than 3 million German soldiers perished on the EasternFront in World War II. Millions of German-speakers were ethnically cleansedfrom postwar Russia and Eastern Europe by the Russian Army.

No wonder that German Chancellor Angela Merkel seeks closeties with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin’s autocratic Russia. As was trueduring the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, Germany onceagain has little if any ability to ward off Russian aggression, whetherconventional or nuclear, and knows it.

Finally, a recent poll of Americans reveals a veritableabyss between younger and older Americans. Today’s millennials, children of thepostwar baby boomers, grew up in the affluence of the late 20th and early 21stcenturies. They claim that they will be far less likely to marry, to valuereligion or to feel patriotic.

In contrast, those who were once children during World WarII, or who had parents and grandparents who fought in the war, have a far morerealistic appraisal of human nature and the need to find security, stabilityand transcendence in a dangerous world.

One way of keeping sane and safe during and after such aglobal catastrophe was to marry and raise a family, to believe in God, and toappreciate the unique morality and strength of a victorious United States.

World War II ended in 1945. And then again, it really did not.


The post The Ghosts of World War II appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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