Seventy-four years ago tomorrow, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Within twenty-four hours of the attack, President Franklin Roosevelt summoned a joint-session of Congress to seek a formal declaration of war.
Last week, two Islamic terrorists — one of whom was on a foreign visa — shot thirty-one civilians in San Bernadino, California, killing fourteen of them. These terrorists had pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”), which is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (“ISIL”). Tonight, President Barack Obama addressed the nation concerning this terrorist attack.
Although the circumstances in 2015 are different from what our nation faced in 1941, the resolve of a president to defend our nation from acts of foreign aggression should remain constant at the very least. In this vein, I have re-imagined what President Obama’s December 6, 2015 address to the nation would have been like if he had channeled the resolve of President Roosevelt from December 8, 1941:
On Wednesday, December 2th, 2015 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
It will be recorded that the distance of California from the Middle East makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago.
The attack four days ago in San Bernadino, California, has caused many American lives to be lost.
Previously, ISIL also launched an attack against Paris, France.
Previously, ISIL also attacked a Russian jet liner.
Previously, ISIL has beheaded Christians for their faith.
ISIL has, therefore, undertaken an offensive extending throughout the World. The facts of ISIL’s actions speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated attack, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by ISIL on Wednesay, December 2, 2015, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Compare this modern paraphrase of FDR’s address to Congress with what President Obama actually said. Pertinent quotes are below:
Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists. For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets. I think it’s time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united, and committed, to this fight.
My fellow Americans, these are the steps that we can take together to defeat the terrorist threat. Let me now say a word about what we should not do.
We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq. But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits.
The strategy that we are using now — airstrikes, Special Forces, and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country — that is how we’ll achieve a more sustainable victory. And it won’t require us sending a new generation of Americans overseas to fight and die for another decade on foreign soil.
In short, President Obama exclaims how we can beat ISIL in the battlefield. But then, in the very same breath, he says that we shouldn’t do it because we might encourage ISIL’s recruiting efforts (as if bombing them isn’t doing that already). How absurd!
If President Roosevelt had expressed similar feelings in 1941, he would have been summarily impeached right then and there.
Seriously. Imagine if FDR had said, more or less, what President Obama said just this very night:
Members of Congress, we should not be drawn into a long and costly ground war with Japan. That’s what the Emperor wants. He knows that he can’t defeat us on the battlefield. But he knows that if we occupy the Pacific islands, the Japanese can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw more kamikazes to attack our ships.
History shows that we did have a long and costly ground war with Japan, losing thousands of our troops in places like Corregidor, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. And history shows that the Japanese devotion to the Emperor enabled the island nation to maintain insurgencies for years in odd and sundry places, draining our resources and mobilizing recruits. So if FDR had declared what Obama would say seventy-four years later, he technically would have been correct.
But he didn’t say that.
He didn’t caution us against fighting.
Instead, President Roosevelt spoke of the “grave danger” that America faced as a result of Japanese aggression. He spoke of taking “all measures for our defense.” And he promised that we would “defend ourselves to the uttermost.”
Then he directed the U.S. Army and Navy to kick Tojo’s ass…. which they did!
If President Obama had simply called on the American people to fight this evil — by calling it evil — without pulling any punches, we would be all in.
But instead, the President of the United States just told the terrorists that he intends to fight them with one arm tied behind his back. That is an open invitation to come back and do some more.
Friends, that is not the way to win a war…. That’s how you lose one.