Remember Pearl Harbor. Remember 9/11.
That was the plea to the United States Wednesday from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking to a joint session of Congress from a bunker in Kyiv.
“Remember Pearl Harbor, the terrible morning of December 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you,” he implored. “Remember September the 11th, a terrible day in 2001, when evil tried to turn your cities into battlefields when innocent people were attacked from the air.”
Indeed, we remember Pearl Harbor. We remember 9/11. And that is precisely why the United States is not giving Mr. Zelenskyy what he wants.
You have to hand it to the guy. He is persistent and persuasive. He is brave and inspiring.
Churchill in a T-shirt.
In a war-torn world of dizzying propaganda, Mr. Zelenskyy stands tall. The graphic video and haunting music he played for members of Congress would melt even the coldest heart into weeping compassion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is an evil, sick, vicious tyrant who will one day burn in hell.
But, as Mr. Zelenskyy said, remember Pearl Harbor. Remember 9/11.
• • •
The surprise Japanese raid on the United States at Pearl Harbor came at a time when the U.S. was still new to the global stage — wary and cautious. For years, President Franklin Roosevelt denied Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s pleas to enter the war against Hitler.
It is worth noting that Hitler fried in hell long ago, yet he lives on today as a convenient comparison to Mr. Putin by those desperate for the U.S. to do more in Ukraine, potentially sparking a new world war.
We have yet to see Mr. Putin’s final death count on this earth, but it’s hard to see a perfect Hitler-Putin comparison at this point in history. Anyway, Mr. Putin’s predecessor — Josef Stalin — was a far more equal comparison to Hitler.
Thankfully for all of us alive today, Roosevelt and Churchill had the great wisdom to use Stalin to pursue peace in the world.
Yet, before Dec. 7, 1941, Roosevelt was steadfastly opposed to “doing more” to help his European friend in desperate need. He did what he could. Sent lethal aid, gave encouragement and prayed.
But Roosevelt never lost sight of America’s own economic and national security interests. Roosevelt was strictly America First.
All that changed, of course, after Pearl Harbor. Suddenly, America’s national security interests dramatically changed, as did the will of the American people.
Once stirred to action, America did not stop killing until our last enemies’ white flag was raised from the smoking rubble.
• • •
Remembering 9/11 is no less important, though for different reasons.
Sixty years on, America was a different country. A lone superpower. Leader of the free world. Far warier — though less cautious — on the world stage than in 1941.
America’s sprawling interests and strained alliances reached deep into every corner of the globe. For decades, we had turned a blind eye to evil tyrants in the Middle East in exchange for their dirty oil.
As part of that unholy alliance, the crazed religious psycho zealots who were our oil partners in the Middle East used boxcutters to turn our commercial airliners into missiles filled with innocent civilians and slammed them into our skyscrapers. And the Pentagon. And an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Even before the first innocent soul leapt to his death from the top floors of the World Trade Center on that crisp autumn morning, the lesson of 9/11 was clear.
American energy independence was no longer a matter of convenience, but a matter of survival. Never again should America be beholden to such animals for the lifeblood of our economy and our freedom.
Unfortunately, political leaders in Washington were slow to grasp that simple lesson. And, within two years, they doubled down on the Middle East by invading Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with plotting or carrying out the 9/11 attacks.
We went as “liberators” on a charitable “regime change” mission and the political media in Washington ate it up. They “embedded” themselves into the effort. It was all so cheery and bipartisan.
There was virtually no dissent.
Until the next election and dissent became politically expedient to American kleptocrats like then-Sens. Biden and John Kerry, who turned against the very war they had voted to start. And we now know how that all ended.
American soldiers were killed and horribly disfigured — for no reason. Iraqi civilians and children were slaughtered — for no reason. Vast American treasure torched in desert burn pits — for no reason. Decimated American credibility around the world — for no reason.
They didn’t even find the fabled “weapons of mass destruction” they promised us.
• • •
Now today the Washington War Machine is startled to get questions from those of us who remember the Iraq War, those of us who refuse to forget the Iraq War, those of us who learned indelible lessons from the Iraq War.
Never again will we be led quietly into another insane war.
They call us “Putin stooges” and accuse us of spreading “Russian propaganda” for simply asking: What is in the best interest of America? What exactly are we trying to accomplish?
Yes, indeed, Mr. Zelenskyy, never forget Pearl Harbor. Never forget 9/11.
• Charles Hurt is the opinion editor at The Washington Times.
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