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The Last Surrender: What The US Should Learn From The End Of World War II
In July 1945, President Harry S. Truman issued the Potsdam Declaration, after nearly four years of bloody war with Imperial Japan. "We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces. …The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction." The Japanese government did not respond, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were set in motion.
The fearsome spectacle of whole cities being obliterated by single bombs, coupled with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, finally drove a Japan, notorious for its aversion to surrender, to the negotiating table. The Japanese government formally surrendered on Sept. 2 (now known as Victory over Japan Day) onboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. This not only signaled the end of World War II, but an end to the era of formal declared war fought until official capitulation by one side or the other. Since then, the U.S. military has been swimming in much murkier waters.
Following its sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and Western targets across the Pacific, President Franklin Roosevelt officially declared war on Japan on Dec. 7, 1941. This was followed by declarations of war against Germany and Italy on Dec. 11, and a final declaration against Bulgaria on June 4, 1942. The declaration against Bulgaria was the United States’ last leading up to the present day.
Since then, war and the enemies we face have changed. Increasingly, they have become open-ended operations against non-state or quasi-state actors, with no declarations of war or surrender, with none of the legal niceties under international law.
The Korean War was referred to as a “police action” by Truman, under the auspices of the United Nations. Never mind that it was very much a conventional war, with armies of hundreds of thousands of troops from North and South Korea, the United States, and China --- the largest actors involved --- with 25 others in supporting roles. Nearly five million died, mostly civilians.
Technically, the war has never ended, even though the Korean Armistice Agreement has been in place since 1953.
Vietnam was no different. What started as 3,000 military advisors attached to South Vietnam by President John Kennedy turned into 549,500 troops engaged in large-scale combat operations by 1969. Much of the war effort was focused on chasing down North Vietnamese-backed Viet Cong guerrillas across South Vietnam, with the line between civilian and soldier becoming increasingly blurred. No war was ever declared, and it ended with a panicked evacuation of Saigon in 1975 as the North Vietnamese army bore down on the capital.
Following the disaster of Vietnam, the United States was understandably reluctant to get involved in another open-ended war, but the military was not idle. U.S. operations in Grenada, Libya, and Panama all involved a limited numbers of soldiers with short-term objectives quickly met. The deployment in Beirut, Lebanon, aimed towards “peace-keeping,” ended less than sanguinely. Compared to Operation Blue Bat in 1958, it was a fiasco that ended with the death of 220 Marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers in the Marine barracks bombing. During none of these events was war declared.
Even the first Gulf War, almost a model for decisive military action with few casualties, at least on the U.S. side, stretched into almost a decade of no-fly zones, economic sanctions, and constant low-level conflict. Many saw it as a job left unfinished, including most fatefully George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld. The 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation left deep scars in the American appetite for intervention, even as we move towards yet another phase of conflict in Iraq following the rise of the Islamic State.
Finally, we are left with the only conflict zone where a large numbers of U.S. troops is still present: Afghanistan. Following the 9/11 attacks, massive retaliation was not only inevitable, but accepted by most of the international community. But in the nearly 13 years since, the United States has been stuck in a mess of nation building and Islamic insurgency that threatens all the sacrifices made region notoriously known as the Graveyard of Empires.
The rise of Islamic extremism may not be lacking in state actors. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Qatar have all been accused of fanning the flames of a movement that has gotten the United States involved from Somalia to the Philippines, with mixed results. But we are entering a world that makes official declarations of war and peace seem quaint, driven by ethnic tensions and religious fanaticism.
The United States is no stranger to this, as the Barbary pirates, the Banana Wars, and the interventions against Libya and the Islamic State will attest, but we have to quit fooling ourselves that the old rules of war apply anymore.
The untold story of the dapper Marine who became the Greatest Generation's 'distracted boyfriend' meme
It's a photo for the ages: a Marine NCO, a Greek god in his dress blues, catches the eye of a lovely young woman as her boyfriend urges her on in distress. It's the photographic ancestor of the much-loved "distracted boyfriend" stock photo meme, made even sweeter by the fact that this is clearly a sailor about to lose his girl to a Devil Dog.
Well, this photo and the Marine in it, which hopscotched around Marine Corps Facebook and Instagram pages before skyrocketing to the front page of Reddit on Thursday, are very real.
The photo shows then-Staff Sgt. Louis A. Capozzoli — and he is absolutely not on his way to steal your girl.
White supremacist Coast Guard officer who allegedly plotted mass violence imprisoned ahead of fresh charges
GREENBELT, Md. (Reuters) - A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant accused of amassing a cache of weapons and plotting to attack Democratic politicians and journalists was ordered held for two weeks on Thursday while federal prosecutors consider charging him with more crimes.
Attorneys for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump asking the court to recognize the citizenship of an Alabama woman who left the U.S. to join ISIS and allow she and her young son to return to the United States.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.
Trump claims border wall is under construction 'right now' using fence repair footage from 5 months ago
With a legal fight challenge mounting from state governments over the Trump administration's use of a national emergency to construct at the U.S.-Mexico border, the president has kicked his push for the barrier into high gear.
On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted a time-lapse video of wall construction in New Mexico; the next day, he proclaimed that "THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW"
But there's a big problem: The footage, which was filmed more than five months ago on Sep. 18, 2018, isn't really new wall construction at all, and certainly not part of the ongoing construction of "the wall" that Trump has been haggling with Congress over.