Current events with the Islamic State and the run-up to World War II are strikingly similar. Adolf Hitler’s stated intention to conquer Europe and eliminate Jews is paralleled by the Islamic State’s aim to conquer all of the Middle East and eliminate Jews and other nonbelievers.
Before we entered WWII, there was a strong division of opinion here between isolationists and interventionists, just as today we have those who believe we should not venture into foreign wars and those who advocate strong military steps.
The isolationists had strong advocates, including Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, of Massachusetts, the father of President John F. Kennedy, and famed aviator Charles Lindbergh. They seemed to have won the day when Neville Chamberlain, then British prime minister, negotiated with the Nazis and proclaimed, “Peace in our time.”
But Germany started its offensive in 1939 and quickly overran weaker smaller countries. (The Islamic State, likewise, has started its conquest in Iraq and Syria.) Before long, Hitler had overrun Europe in line with his predictions. American shipping was threatened by German submarines.
In September 1940, Congress passed the draft law, requiring universal military service, but as is well-known, it finally took the Japanese at Pearl Harbor in December 1941 to drag us into the conflict.
The similarities of today’s developments are clear. Hitler made gains in central Europe and then overran France; the Islamic State is making progress in Iraq and Syria. Hitler threatened the U.S. with submarine attacks, while the Islamic State has its own forms of terrorism, including personal attacks, stabbings and beheadings.
Obviously, the Islamic State has to be dealt with. So far, none of the major Middle Eastern nations, e.g. Egypt, Saudi Arabia , Libya, have shown any inclination to take on the Islamic State. Our European allies are preoccupied with masses of migrant Muslims.
So, without question, it is up to the U.S. Let us hope that our leadership in Washington, both executive and legislative, sees this clearly and is gearing up to do what is necessary. WWIII is surely approaching. The sooner we act, the better.
Joseph A. Polack
retired chemical engineer