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By Mr. Curmudgeon
On December 7, 1941, military forces of Imperial Japan landed in Thailand and British-controlled Malaya, and began aerial attacks on Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai. Mid-pacific, six aircraft carriers of the Imperial Japanese Fleet – Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku and Zuikaku – launched attack aircraft in the first of three assaults, dropping their bombs on U.S. warships anchored at Pearl Harbor. Eight U.S. ships (the U.S.S. Arizona among them) were sunk, with many among their crews killed. That day, American dead totaled 2,403.
Although Japans’ coordinated military aggression affected lives from China to the Hawaiian Islands, “Remember Pearl Harbor” was the rallying cry for a nation determined to see Japan’s military and navy defeated and her government brought down. Pearl Harbor Day is an anniversary deeply etched into the American psyche.
Al Qaeda’s September 11 surprise attack on American soil is another event forever etched in the memories of a new generation. The striking similarity of these two assaults, though separated by 60 years, was the aggressor’s underestimation of American resilience and resolve. Neither enemy thought to factor in the unquantifiable dynamic of American exceptionalism.
That same failure exists for President Barrack Obama. “The White House has issued detailed guidelines to government officials on how to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, with instructions to honor the memory of those who died on American soil but also to recall that Al Qaeda and other extremist groups have since carried out attacks elsewhere in the world, from Mumbai to Manila,” the New York Times reports. “The attacks themselves and the violent extremism writ large – is not ‘just about us,’” a White House official told the Times.
So why, you ask, is commemorating Al Qaeda’s singular attack on America (no buildings were brought down anywhere else in the world that day) given an international flavor by the Obama administration?
“White House officials … sought to strike a delicate balance between messages designed for these two very important but very different audiences on a day when the world’s attention will be focused on President Obama, his leadership team and his nation,” said the Times.
Obama fancies himself the leader of the international community – first and foremost. And he is far more concerned with how his policies play in Paris than Peoria.
After all, the president took America to war in Libya based on a United Nations Security Council resolution and agreements made with Europe’s NATO members then waging war against strongman Muammar Gaddafi. “Who needs congressional authorization,” Obama must have thought, “when the adoring world I lead gives me the green light.”
As State Department legal adviser Harold Koh insisted at the time, “We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.” In other words, the administration’s position, legal and literal, was that war is simply a state of mind … in particular, Obama’s state of mind.
“I believe in American exceptionalism,” Obama once said, “just as I suspect the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
The president, like all utopians, believes the ideal trumps the real. His global leadership is imaginary, of course, which a cynical world uses to counter America’s vital interests.
And that takes us back to 9/11. The president will observe the 10th anniversary of Al Qaeda’s attacks on U.S. soil, in which more Americans died than at Pearl Harbor, as a global event that, as the New York Times noted, highlights “President Obama, his leadership team” and that bothersome afterthought, “… his nation.” You see, for the president, what is exceptional about that day is, well, Obama.