The United States of America has been a champion of liberty and a foe of tyranny for all of its years. During the 20th Century the United States defended free nations from German Nazis, Italian Fascists and Japanese Imperialists; and later from Soviet Communism that eventually spread to within 50 miles of the U.S. Those threats were answered and put to rest by American might and right.
But what if we had not stopped those enemies?
It is hard to imagine, but imagine "what if" any of the totalitarian regimes had conquered the United States. It is not likely the dictators would have tolerated the American citizen's inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For a vision of America under the grandchildren of Hitler, Mussolini and/or Hirohito, imagine the drab black and white existence of people in Moscow or East Berlin before the collapse of communism. Picture the goose stepping children being reared in North Korea.
It is unlikely that any of those 20th Century schemes to control the world would have succeeded; because they were led by madmen destined to implode, and because the various factions would have likely ended up fighting each other if they did not have the United States as a common enemy.
But what if they had developed the atomic bomb before we did? Pearl Harbor was invaded on December 7, 1941 and the atomic bombs on Japan were dropped in August of 1945. We worked fast, but what if they had worked faster?
The Soviet weapons program began in 1943 during World War II, while the Soviet Union was our ally against Germany. What advantage would Communism have gained if the first nuclear bomb had been emblazoned with a hammer and sickle?
We know that victory in World War II and the development of nuclear weapons made the United States the most formidable world power. What if the Soviets had developed the bomb first?
As proud Americans we like to think that we would have risen to the occasion and would have overtaken the Soviets in the arms race, as we did in the space race.
But what if the Soviets had taken the lead and used their nuclear hammer as a tool to intimidate the United States? What if they had short-circuited the arms race and had taken out our nuclear program in its infancy; and then blackmailed us with the potential to destroy our cities?
Just imagine life in a dictator-controlled America.
We are accustomed to complaining about our government, from City Hall to the White House; the storm troopers of Hitler's descendants would not tolerate protest of any sort. We remember that the Nazis did not tolerate "inferior" races. How different the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s would have been under a Nazi dictator?
Just imagine the Western Hemisphere if Japan had conquered America.
None of that happened, of course. We like to think that America would not have permitted a successful invasion.
However, recall that the United States flirted with Socialism during the FDR years, and remember that England was a Socialist country for several years. Free people might be tempted by such social experiments, but are not likely to give up their freedom for the sake of others.
But look at what happens when the unthinkable happens and a country like North Korea is allowed to exist. There is absolutely no chance that the people of North Korea will be freed, unless the free world makes it happen.
In President George W. Bush's address to the graduating class of West Point in 2006, he talked about America's role in liberating oppressed peoples.
"In 1947, communist forces were threatening Greece and Turkey, the reconstruction of Germany was faltering, mass starvation was setting in across Europe," President Bush recalled. "In 1948, Czechoslovakia fell to Communism; France and Italy appeared to be headed for the same fate, and Berlin was blockaded on the orders of Josef Stalin. In 1949, the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon, giving our new enemy the ability to bring catastrophic destruction to our homeland. And weeks later, Communist forces won their revolution in China, and claimed the world's most populous nation for Communism. And in the summer of 1950, seven North Korean divisions poured across the border into South Korea, marking the start of the first direct military clash of the Cold War. All of this took place in just the first five years following World War II."
The United States continued to fight for freedom and eventually won the Cold War.
But what if we hadn't won?
And what if we don't win the War on Terrorism?
What if they gain nuclear capability or develop some other weapons of mass destruction; or what if they just launch a "successful" series of suicide bombings in the United States?
And what if, instead of standing tall and fighting back as most people did after September 11, 2001, they would instead begin to cower and capitulate, encouraging the enemy to be even bolder?
What if, God forbid, the Taliban takes control of our lives?
Who would help us? That is the question to ponder.
Note that all of the countries that were liberated in the 20th Century were freed due to military intercession by the United States, material support of the United States or with the encouragement of the United States.
What if we were subjugated to a totalitarian invader? It's hard to imagine, but imagine it.
There would be no one to help us.
Let's win the fight over there. Let's establish democratic governments with parliaments and constitutions in the Middle East. Free people live in peace with other free people and will help us end the cycle of terror.
Thank God for the men and women of the military who fought the battles of the 20th Century and may God bless the men and women who are fighting the 21st Century War on Terror.