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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 26, 2010 16 Elul, 5770

The Dangerous Dog Days of Summer

By Victor Davis Hanson



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Historian Barbara Tuchman characterized the events leading up to World War I as the "Guns of August."

While there is no statistical evidence that wars break out any more often in late summer than in other seasons, the world was torn apart twice during the 20th century: in early August 1914, and then again on Sept. 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Maybe it is the effects of the heat, or the sense of urgency to do something before the cold of winter; but nonetheless, we've also seen a lot of late-summer violence the last few decades.

Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, leading to an American-led air campaign and ground war in early 1991 that demolished the Iraqi army. On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 radical Islamic terrorists took down the World Trade Center complex and hit the Pentagon -- the worst foreign attacks on the continental United States since the British burned much of Washington, D.C., in 1814.

What can we learn from these dog-day cataclysms?

First, for all the rising prewar tensions, the general slaughter to follow was mostly unforeseen. Experts thought August 1914 would lead only to a war "over by Christmas" -- not 500 miles of trenches from the North Sea to Switzerland, and 8 million combat dead by 1918. Even after Hitler invaded Poland in a lightning strike, no one dreamed that more than 50 million deaths would follow.

Second, these late-summer bloodbaths usually followed from the initial impression of aggressors that they would face few consequences. After the Munich Agreement, Hitler had no reason to believe that gobbling up Poland would lead to a world war rather than more of the same appeasement. Saddam Hussein had no idea that the United States would react to a far-away border dispute by mobilizing a global coalition against him, and by bombing large swaths of Baghdad. Likewise, few imagined that nine years after 9/11, American troops would still be fighting in Afghanistan to keep the Taliban -- the former hosts of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda -- from returning to power.

In short, grand professions of peaceful intent in the face of global tensions, or even noble indifference to dictatorial aggression, instead ensure that war follows.

Finally, in the ensuing wars the United States lost thousands of soldiers when it was not well prepared -- and far fewer when it was. There was almost no American military in 1914 and little more when we declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungry in 1917.

America was once again woefully unarmed in 1939, when Germany started the European war, and not in much better shape when attacked by the Japanese in December 1941. As a result, in both of its victorious world wars the United States lost tens of thousands of troops.

A fully armed and mobilized volunteer American military forced Iraqi forces out of Kuwait with relatively few losses. And even in the long current slogs in Iraq and Afghanistan -- for all the heartbreak of their terrible human costs -- fewer American soldiers have died than in single past battles like the Meuse-Argonne or Iwo-Jima. In short, America never went to war regretting that it was overarmed and overprepared.

We should keep such bothersome late-summer history in mind this August. The world is once again heating up with the weather. Iran boasts of its new nuclear reactor -- with more to come. A nuclear North Korean keeps threatening South Korea. Hezbollah and Syria are arming to teeth with new missiles. And an assurgent Turkey is seeking an updated version of its Ottoman imperial past. Meanwhile, the United States has unsuccessfully reached out to firebrand leaders such as Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Syria's Bashar Assad, while drifting away from its Indian, Israeli and European allies.

More worrisome, in times of 1939-like recession and staggering deficits, the United States is understandably talking of massive cutbacks in its military. Nations never reduce defense expenditures because they want smaller militaries, but because in tough times the public shortsightedly thinks that money is better spent on social programs at home.

The combination of provocative rivals abroad, our president's constant assurances that the United States has been at fault in the past and wants to reach out to enemies in the future, and probable defense reductions should remind us to tread carefully this late summer.

Unfortunately, the past Guns of August teach us that war may be looking for those who are not looking for war.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.


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