Posted by Scott Malensek on 28 September, 2007 at 8:09 pm. 12 comments already!


History does repeat itself, and those who fail to learn from it are doomed to repeat it. Is there a common, repetitive historical theme that connects the blitzkrieg across Europe, the Imperial Japanese sweep of the Pacific-including the Pearl Harbor attacks, and the attacks of September 11th, 2001? Of course there is! Prior to each of these geopolitical shockers, the people of Europe, the United States, and the bulk of the world for that matter had all been lulled into a false sense of security. These events happened while we were asleep, because we were asleep, and because our eyes were closed, we did not see the threats coming.

Sure there were those people who saw the dangers of NAZI Germany, fascist Italy, Imperial Japan, Communism, and of today’s Jihad against the west.

"By the autumn of 1933 it was plain that neither by precept nor still less by example would the British effort for disarmament succeed. The pacifism of the Labour and Liberal Parties was not effected even by the grave event of the German withdrawal from the League of Nations. Both continued in the name of peace to urge British disarmament, and anyone who differed was called "warmonger" and "scaremonger." It appeared that their feeling was endorsed by the people, who of course did not understand what was unfolding."
-Winston Churchill, Memoirs of the Second World War

President Kennedy’s description of the pre-World War II appeasement lullaby (the "sleeping period" as he labels it) illustrates the deliberate effort of populations to ignore threats-to make excuses-in even more clarity.

"The people of England hated war so much, they realized now more strongly than ever what it would mean to England and her position in the world, that they could not bring themselves to face its inevitability. Thus there were two ideas working in England from September 28, 1938, to September 3, 1939. One was a firm determination to build up her strength, and the other was a feeling that England might now have peace. Maybe Hitler might be satisfied; maybe he was merely bluffing; maybe he really meant it when he said this was his last territorial claim in Europe. We can see the effect of these feelings during the following months when Germany and the Soviets invaded Poland and World War II began."
-John F Kennedy, Why England Slept

"And we were certainly distracted. Terrorism happened somewhere else, not here. We were instead entertained and alternately repulsed by O.J. Simpson, JonBenet Ramsey, the booming stock market, Monica Lewinsky, and a host of matters that seem particularly shallow in light of 9/11. While many of America’s best reporters chased hanging chads and butterfly ballots in Florida after the 2000 Presidential election, Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi were also in the state, learning to fly the planes that they would turn into giant bombs."
-Gerald Posner, Why America Slept

If history can be akin to an algebraic formula, then John F Kennedy’s "sleep period" is a simple one:

When a threat is seen, it can either be faced or denied. The growth of communism, Pacific imperialism, and European fascism of the 1930’s was clearly evident, and while many identified it and screamed from the ramparts, too many chose to deny the threat, to make excuses, and convinced themselves that nothing should change; everything will just magically work itself out. Those who saw these international threats to world peace and morality had to be shouted down and marketed as threats themselves lest the reminding become too great and the threats be faced for facing such threats would always be infinitely harder, uglier, and more costly in blood and treasure than simply and literally turning our back on them.


December 7th
September 11th

courtesy: U2’s Bullet the Blue Sky and the movie Pearl Harbor

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