Tag Archives: WWII

Unity becoming a signature issue among Democrats

I have heard a lot of talk of the “u-word” among those who are running for president of the United States.

They want to bring unity to the country. They want to bridge the divide that is growing between and among various ethnic, religious, racial and political groups.

They say we are living in (arguably) the most divisive period in our nation’s history. I agree with their goal. I favor a more unified country, too. The divisions that have torn us apart have created nations within the nation.

I am going to disagree with the implication I have heard from some of the Democrats running for president that this division is the worst in our history.

We had that Civil War from 1861 to 1865. The nation fought against itself, killing 600,000 Americans on battlefields throughout the eastern third of what is now the United States of America.

The Great Depression brought about huge division, too. Americans tossed out a president and brought in another one who promised a New Deal. It took some time for the economy to recover. Indeed, it’s been argued that World War II was the catalyst that sparked the nation’s economic revival.

Then came two more wars: in Korea and Vietnam. Those conflicts produced division as well. Vietnam, particularly, brought death in our city streets as well as in far-off battlefields.

The divisions today are severe. Donald Trump campaigned for the presidency pledging to unify the nation. He has failed. Indeed, his rhetoric only has deepened the divide.

The white nationalist debate that has flared with the New Zealand massacre allegedly by someone associated with white supremacists has underscored the division.

So now we have a huge and growing field of Democrats seeking to succeed Donald Trump as president. One of the themes that links them all is their common call for unity. One of them, Beto O’Rourke, says he wants to “restore our democracy.” OK, but . . . how?

Seeking unity is a noble and worthwhile goal. I applaud any candidate who says he or she wants to make that a top priority.

However, I am no longer in the mood for platitudes. I need some specifics on how to achieve it. I know that Donald Trump is a lost cause. He cannot unify his own White House staff, let alone a nation he was elected to govern.

The rest of the field needs to lay out their plans to achieve what Trump has failed to do.

In . . . detail!

‘No president has worked harder’

This isn’t a huge leap, so I feel comfortable in presuming that Donald Trump is angry over the revelations about all that “executive time” he takes in the White House.

That has to explain the Twitter messages he fired off declaring how “no president has worked harder than me” at making America great again and all the myriad tasks associated with being president of the United States.

He bellowed something about the “mess” he inherited in January 2017. How he has restored the military, repaired the Veterans Administration, dealt with “endless wars,” stopped the North Korean nuclear threat . . . and on and on.

No president has worked harder than this guy?

Hmm. Let’s see about that.

I wonder if his work ethic exceeds that of, say, Abraham Lincoln, who served while the country was killing itself during the Civil War; or when Franklin Roosevelt was trying to win World War II after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; or when John F. Kennedy had to face down the Soviet Union’s missile threat in Cuba; or when George W. Bush had to respond to the 9/11 terror attacks.

Donald Trump would have us believe he has worked “harder” than those previous presidents? And what about the results of all those issues Trump has tackled? North Korea is still developing nukes; we’re still at war in Afghanistan and Iraq; the VA work remains undone; the military was just as strong when Trump took office as it is now.

It is typical Trumpian hyperbole, exaggeration and — dare I say it — outright lying.

In support of a ‘nation of immigrants’

I am feeling the urge to stand once again in support of an ideal that occasionally gets lost in the hot-topic debating point of the moment.

We’re talking a lot these days about illegal immigrants. The discussion once in a while gravitates toward a discussion of all immigrants. Yes, even the foreigners who venture to our country legally get caught up in this discussion.

I am the grandson of immigrants. All four of them became great Americans. They came here of their choosing. They sought a better life than what they had in Greece and Turkey. They married — in this country — and brought 10 children into this world among them. Five of those children served in the U.S. military and of those five, three saw combat in World War II and Korea; my father was one of the WWII combat vets produced by the immigrants from Greece.

My story is not unique. It is one of tens of millions of stories that the immigrants and their direct descendants can and have told over the years.

That is precisely why I am mentioning it here.

It is that this nation of immigrants must not ever lose sight of its creation and the strength it has acquired from the work of those who came here and who built the nation we all love.

Yes, I know that many of those who came here from afar did not venture to our shores of their own volition. They were rounded up by slave traders and shipped across the ocean to become “property” of slaveowners. They obtained their freedom eventually while the United States was fighting a bloody and gruesome civil war over their enslavement.

Those Americans have become an important part of the national fabric. They achieved greatness.

This ongoing debate over whether to erect The Wall along our southern border is intended ostensibly to curb illegal immigration. In actuality whatever is occurring on our border is a longstanding event.

But as we keep yapping and yammering at each other over whether The Wall is worth the expense, we must take care to avoid that slippery-slope debating point that swallows up those who have ventured here lawfully.

I have heard it said over many years that we need to slam the door shut, that we have enough immigrants here already. Indeed, the president of the United States has talked openly about establishing a merit-based system that screens those seeking entry, allowing only those who possess the requisite skills to succeed in this Land of Opportunity.

That is as un-American a proposal as I can imagine, given the contributions that those four immigrants from southern Europe I mentioned earlier brought to this country. They weren’t well-educated. They didn’t come with special training or skill.

Instead, they all came to our land intent on falling in love with this great nation. They did. The nation was enriched by their presence.

Let us not forget that they are far from the only immigrants who can — and who have built — the greatest nation on Earth.

When did ‘globalism’ become a four-letter word?

Donald John Trump has declared himself to be a “nationalist.” He puts “America first.” His mantra draws huge cheers from his crowd of faithful followers.

But wait! When did nationalism become a clarion call for isolationists, those who want nothing to do with the rest of the world? When did it become a four-letter word, an epithet, a badge of dishonor?

Trump has demonstrated his so-called nationalism in distressing ways.

He yanked the United States out of Paris Climate Accord, contending it would cost American jobs; he terminated U.S. participation in the deal hammered out with several other allied powers to deny Iran access to nuclear weapons; he has berated our NATO allies, saying they need to pay more for their protection; he has threatened to withdraw from the World Trade Organization.

Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, said earlier today that previous presidents didn’t enter into these international treaties to help other countries; they do so to help the United States. McFaul made specific mention of the Paris accord, agreed to by President Obama. “He didn’t do it help France,” McFaul said. “He did it to help the United States!”

Globalism is merely a recognition that the world is shrinking. The United States cannot realistically function as a sort of Lone Ranger on the world stage. Yes, we remain the strongest nation on Earth. We are without question the most indispensable nation on the planet.

I am puzzled to the max why Donald Trump wants to make us less relevant to the rest of the world when we can contribute greatly to world stability. Isolationism has led us down some precarious paths in the past. There were those who didn’t want us to enter World War II because they argued that Europe’s fight against the Nazis wasn’t our concern. Well, the Third Reich’s allies in Tokyo took care of that idiotic notion.

Trump calls himself a “nationalist.” He wants “put America first.” The slogan — along with “Make America Great Again” and “build that wall” helped elect him president of the United States.

At what cost? To my way of thinking, he is costing this nation the trust of our allies and the increasing enmity of our foes.

How in the world does that make us safer? Or great?

Yes, we’ve seen ‘fire and fury,’ Mr. President

You no doubt remember when Donald John Trump threatened North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un earlier this year with “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen.”

Kim had issued some threats to the United States. The president was having none of it. Well, the president isn’t exactly a student of history, as we know.

Seventy-three years ago today, one of Trump’s predecessors, President Harry Truman, issued the order to release a new kind of “fire and fury” on a nation with which we were at war.

A U.S. Army Air Force B-29 bomber took off on Aug. 6, 1945, from Tinian Island and headed for Hiroshima, Japan. It dropped a single bomb on Hiroshima. It killed tens of thousands of Japanese citizens in an instant. It was the first time the world saw a nuclear weapon deployed in a hostile act. It wouldn’t be the final time.

Three days later, another bomber flew over Nagasaki, Japan, and repeated the destruction.

The Japanese surrendered five days later, ending the world’s greatest, bloodiest and costliest conflict.

President Truman took office in April 1945 upon the death of President Franklin Roosevelt. The new president knew only a tiny bit of information about the Manhattan Project, where scientists were working on this terrible new weapon way out yonder in Los Alamos, N.M.

President Truman was briefed fully not long after he took office. The military brass told him, in effect, “Mr. President, we have this weapon under development that we believe will bring a quick end to the war.” The president agreed.

He would say many years later that he harbored no regret over using the atomic bomb. I have saluted President Truman many times over the years for the decision he made, based on the evidence he had at the time — and the lives he saved by persuading the enemy to surrender and allowing us to forgo an invasion of Japan by sea, air and land forces.

Fire and fury? There it was.

NATO remains our most important alliance

On one hand, Donald Trump is right to insist that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization member nations pay more for their defense.

The president, though, is talking way past the sale with his relentless attacks on our nation’s alliance in Europe, the one created after World War II as a defense against potential aggression by the Soviet Union.

He is insulting the heads of state and government of virtually all those nations. He suggests Russia controls Germany because it sells the Germans oil and natural gas. Holy crap, man! Does the president have any clue as to what Europeans are thinking and saying out loud about his own relationships with the Russia and the former chief KGB spook who runs that country?

NATO remains as credible, viable and important today as it was at its founding. For the president of the United States to undermine an alliance full of nations that came to our defense after 9/11 plays directly into the hands of Vladimir Putin, whose mission as Russian president has been to, um, undermine NATO.

I wonder if Putin is going to thank Trump when they meet in Helsinki for doing his job for him.

Happy birthday, America; you’re still great

Happy birthday, America.

You look pretty good for being 242 years of age. Allow me these brief thoughts as we light some fireworks, grill some chow outside in the summer heat and toast your ever-lasting and enduring greatness.

I want you to disregard the blathering of our current president, who campaigned for office and then took office vowing to “make America great again.” He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You’re still great. You’ve always been great.

And, yes, the 45th president isn’t the first occupant of that office to make such a claim. Others have done so. But this guy keeps harping on it. He wears that goofy “MAGA” hat at campaign rallies.

Now, even though we celebrate your greatness, America, I must concede that you haven’t been perfect. The founders said at the beginning of the Republic that “all men are created equal.”

They were short-sighted. Women weren’t allowed to vote. That right didn’t come until 1920, for crying out loud. Furthermore, many of the founders were slave holders. They held men, women and children in involuntary bondage.

You’ll recall, America, how we waged a bloody Civil War over slavery. We killed hundreds of thousands of Americans to preserve our Union and, yes, to free those enslaved families.

Civil rights battles have ensued. We marched in protest against wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. We endured a Great Depression. We were attacked at Pearl Harbor and then we went to war against tyranny in Europe and Asia.

We let our guard down on 9/11 and were attacked yet again by terrorists.

In spite of all that, we remain great. We allow people to complain openly about the government. We allow freedoms that other countries have emulated. We are free to worship as we please — or not worship at all if that’s what we choose.

We allow “due process” under the law. We grant liberty and freedom.

And despite what that president of ours insists, we remain a beacon that attracts immigrants from those around the world.

I am proud to be an American. I am proud of my country, warts and all. Believe me, America, you’ve grown a few more of them in recent years. However, I salute you.

Let’s all have a happy birthday, America.

74 years later, D-Day still stands alone

The Greatest Generation generally is defined as millions of American men and women who stood firm against tyranny during an intense, bloody and desperate global conflict.

Meaning no disrespect to those Americans who answered the call for freedom, let me suggest that the Greatest Generation comprised men and women from around the globe.

Seventy-four years ago today, American soldiers — along with Canadian and British comrades in arms — splashed ashore at Normandy, France. They had just completed a harrowing journey across the English Channel to pierce Adolf Hitler’s Fortress Europa.

These brave men endured unspeakable horror. They faced a determined enemy intent on keeping the land they had conquered four years earlier.

The D-Day invasion today stands as the greatest amphibious assault in the history of warfare. Five thousand ships supported the attack. Hundreds of airplanes flew sorties over the Nazi defenses.

What often gets short shrift, though, is the composition of the entire attack force. It was made up of French fighters and Poles. They formed gallant military units after their own countries fell to the Nazi juggernaut. Other nations took part: Denmark, Greece, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand all participated in this mammoth endeavor.

What’s more, French, Dutch, Belgian and Norwegian resistance fighters never stopped battling the occupiers in the years preceding the launching of Operation Overlord.

It was an international event of the first order.

And I cannot dismiss the bloody fight that was occurring along the Eastern Front as the Red Army marched from the Soviet Union, into Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany as it sought to rid the world of the tyrant Hitler and his minions.

One final note I want to make: Supreme Allied Commander U.S. Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was prepared for the worst on D-Day. He drafted an announcement that he never had to make. He would take full responsibility for the failure of the invasion had the international force been unable to secure the beachhead at Normandy.

That, dear reader, is true leadership.

The Greatest Generation, comprising fighters from many nations, ensured success in the weeks and months that followed the titanic assault against the forces of evil.

We owe all of them an eternal debt of thanks.

Trump ‘insults’ Canadians … nice!

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has some strong thoughts about Donald Trump’s decision to impose punishing tariffs on Canadian steel sent to the United States.

He said: “Our soldiers who had fought and died together on the beaches of World War II … and the mountains of Afghanistan, and have stood shoulder to shoulder in some of the most difficult places in the world, that are always there for each other, somehow — this is insulting to them.”

At a personal level, Trudeau has taken serious offense to the president’s curious decision to go to “war” against the nation with which the United States shares the longest unsecured border in the world.

Yes, Canadians fought alongside Americans and Brits at Normandy. Curiously, we are about to honor the D-Day invasion in a few days.

Sure, Trump recognizes the longstanding alliance between the United States and Canada. Then he said our allies are taking advantage of us in trade. His response is to get back at them; impose these tariffs in a classic protectionist move.

Trudeau is looking for some sign of “common sense,” but says he cannot find it in the policy announced by the “U.S. administration.”

Well, Mr. Prime Minister, a lot of Americans are just as confused as you are. Let us know when common sense presents itself.

Thanks, Mr. POTUS, for putting screws to our allies

Did anyone out there realize the irony of today’s decision by the president of the United States to withdraw from a deal that aims to deny Iran the ability to acquire nuclear weapons?

Here’s how I see it: Seventy-three years ago today, the shooting stopped in Europe, ending one phase of World War II; the result of that was to build alliances with nations across the continent, those with which we fought side by side and, yes, those we opposed.

Those nations had lined up in favor of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. They lobbied Donald J. Trump to stay the course, to improve it, to renegotiate a better deal if he saw fit. What’s more, didn’t Trump campaign for president in 2016 on a pledge to negotiate the “best deals” ever?

The president today — on VE Day — stuck it to our “allies,” the nations we helped liberate from tyranny in World War II.

The president has managed to isolate this nation from much of the rest of the world in its effort to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which no self-respecting civilized nation anywhere on Earth wants to see happen.

I should point, too, that the deal struck by the Obama administration in concert with several other nations provides for the world’s most vigorous inspection process, which has resulted in Iran ridding itself of many centrifuges used to enrich uranium, the key component in the making of nuclear bombs.

Donald Trump, though, wants to speak directly to the hardliners among his inner circle of advisers — and to those voters who continue to abide by the fiction that isolating the United States from this country strengthens American interests.

It does nothing of the kind! It weakens the United States in a world that is shrinking at an accelerating pace.

I fear the president once again has failed to “make America great again.” He instead has made us untrustworthy among those with whom we once fought side by side.