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From Yamamoto to Al-Zarqawi By: Michael Lopez-Calderon
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The aircraft struck with precision.  It was morning and the intended target was caught by surprise.  For months, intelligence[i] had gathered data that eventually led the American pilots to their prized target.  The man they killed had masterminded several attacks, including one that killed a large number of American military personnel.  He had met a violent death, and there was rejoicing among U.S. military personnel and politicians upon confirmation of his demise.  The above appears be an account of the recent airstrike that eliminated Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi.  In fact, it is not.  The prized target in the above mentioned was Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack and one of Japan’s greatest naval strategists.  His Naval Air Squadron 705, consisting of two twin-engine Bettys and nine Zero fighter-escorts were pounced upon by sixteen USAAF P-38 Lightnings led by Major John W. Mitchell.  The date was April 18, 1943, the time 11:35 A.M. and the location was Buin, Solomons Islands of the South Pacific.[ii]  

Compare the World War II special operation[iii] to the recent strike that killed Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s blood-drenched mastermind:

June 7, 2006, 6:15 P.M. Baqubah, Iraq time, a 500-pound GBU-12 smart bomb, delivered by an USAF[iv] F-16C, struck terrorist mastermind Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi’s reinforced concrete and steel safe-house.[v]  A second 500-pound smart bomb, this time a GBU-38, was dropped by the same F-16C, ninety-eight seconds later.  The combined explosive force of the two bombs killed two terrorists, two women and a small child, and rendered al-Zarqawi mortally wounded.[vi]  Poetic justice was served as this terrorist monster lived long enough after the bombing—fifty-eight minutes—to realize his American enemy had located him and delivered justice.  Months, in fact years of tireless efforts and close calls by U.S. Special Operations finally delivered us (and Iraqis) from this evil.  Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi had been Osama Bin Laden’s dark “Prince” of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.  By far the most ruthless of all terrorist leaders and planners in Iraq, and perhaps the world, al-Zarqawi was described as “A terrorist among terrorists …the scariest guy in the room, frightening his Sunni hosts…with his unique combination of cruelty and competence.”[vii]  Now he will never again terrorize. 

There are some similarities to the U.S. military operations against Yamamoto and Zarqawi: Death occurred at the hands of American aircraft; both involved precision airstrikes; it took prolonged planning and careful execution to kill both men; and of course, these two enemies of the United States met their end in wartime.

On the other hand, a few contrasts stand out: Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku was a respected, professional naval officer of the Imperial Japanese Navy.  He had visited and much admired the United States, and though responsible for planning the attack on Pearl Harbor, had voiced grave concerns about “waking up the American sleeping giant.”  Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi was a professional thug, a drug-peddler, and a rapist convict who embraced extreme Wahhabi doctrines while in a Jordanian prison.  Admiral Yamamoto, like many Japanese naval officers, opposed the more militarist and fascist elements of the Japanese Army.  Al-Zarqawi endorsed and promulgated the most extremist Islamo-fascism, often frightening his own Sunni-Wahhabi allies.  The United States had officially declared war against Japan while no such official declaration exists against the stateless Islamist terrorists.  Finally, while Yamamoto was a primary strategist behind the attack on Pearl Harbor, Al-Zarqawi had no role behind the attack of September 11, though he was every bit as evil as Osama Bin Laden[viii] and Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and subscribed to their ideology.

Unfortunately, there is one outstanding contrast that I have yet to mention, and it does not bode well for the United States.  Unlike the brilliant American military strike that killed Yamamoto, the Al-Zarqawi hit appeared to produce a tepid and equivocating reaction among a majority of America’s cultural and media elites.  Indeed, many “anti-war” and human rights groups deplored the gloating over Zarqawi’s demise.  Even worse, some in the Democratic Party’s leadership seemed at times morose, unenthused, and ungrateful.  No thanks nor credit was given to the Commander in Chief, and the praised heaped on the U.S. military was disingenuous as evidenced by immediate calls for withdrawal from Iraq.

After Admiral Yamamoto’s death was verified, no responsible member of the loyal opposition party (that would be the Republicans back then), called on President Franklin D. Roosevelt to “declare victory in the Pacific and go home.”  The respected mass-circulation print media did not call for an end to the fighting in the Pacific.  No bevy of retired generals and admirals challenged then Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, to adopt a new strategy.  Hollywood actors were fighting (James Stewart, Clark Gable), serving in the military at home (Ronald Reagan), raising funds for war bonds (Bing Cosby, Frank Sinatra) or participating in the USO (Dina Shore, Grouch Marx, Bob Hope).  Contrast that with the reaction of the contemporary cultural and media elites as well as the top leaders of the Democratic Party to the elimination of Al-Zarqawi.  Consider some examples: 

·        The Washington Post’s Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer did not directly call Zarqawi a “terrorist” on its front page coverage of June 9, 2006.  Instead, he was labeled a “guerrilla,” a “militant” and an “insurgent.”  Another article dwelled on uncertainty or waxed over how we might have created more Zarqawis.  Many American papers downplayed front page coverage of the Zarqawi operation, a fact documented in the Newseum Web site.  


·        Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) offered a resolution that would have forced the withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops in Iraq by July 1, 2007.  It lost on a vote of 86 to 13.  Another resolution, this one proposed by Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and undoubtedly inspired by Congressman John Murtha (D-Penn.), called on President Bush to begin a phased “redeployment” of U.S. forces.  Rep. Murtha would have them redeployed from Iraq to Okinawa!  In describing the Administration and Congressional Republicans, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said "They're united in a failed policy."  Liberal readers of the Washington Post wrote letters that accused President Bush of guiding the U.S. into becoming “a cold, cruel, bloodthirsty nation” and even charged the Post with “sucking up” to the White House.

There is evidence of a profound contrast today compared to sixty-three years ago.  Adam Berinsky, an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been researching for his forthcoming book, tentatively titled "America at War: Public Opinion During Wartime from WWII to Iraq."  He documents that President Franklin D. Roosevelt followed numerous polls.  Those polls revealed broad support for the war effort, even during the particularly bloody Battle of the Bulge (Dec. 1944-Jan. 1945), which generated over 80,000 American casualties.  Berinsky concludes:

“Support for the war was bipartisan. About 78 percent of those voting for FDR in 1944 wanted to keep fighting until the German army was destroyed … and 73 percent of those voting for the Republicans' Thomas Dewey felt the same.

That's in contrast to the Iraq war: A May Washington Post-ABC News poll found that about 67 percent of Republicans support the war but only 19 percent of Democrats do.”

What a difference between then and now.  The counter-culture’s forty-plus year war against traditional American patriotism, Christian belief, and Western values has poisoned the minds of now three generations of Americans.[ix] 

Somewhere between Buin and Baqubah, a significant portion of America’s elites, i.e., opinion writers, reporters, Democratic Party leaders, entertainers, intellectuals, college professors and their students lost their way.  It remains to be seen if a majority of Americans will follow them down the path to ruin.

[i] Primarily the cryptanalysts of the U.S. Navy.

[ii] Dan van der Vat, The Pacific Campaign, World War II: The U.S.-Japanese Naval War, 1941-1945, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, pp. 262-263.

[iii] The air attack that resulted in Yamamoto’s death had taken months to plan and required an element of surprise in which low flying P-38s shadowed the Japanese planes before launching an aerial ambush just as the enemy planes were landing.

[iv] During World War II, the air force was called the United States Army Air Force (1942-1946), hence the USAAF initials.  The National Security Act of 1947 made the United States Air Force as a separate branch of the armed forces.

[v] After the airstrike, it very quickly became known as the “unsafe-house.”

[vi] Evan Thomas and Rod Nordland, “Death of a Terrorist,” Newsweek, June 19, 2006, pp. 22-31.

[vii] Evan Thomas and Rod Nordland, “Fighting Zarqawi’s Legacy,” Newsweek, June 19, 2006, 32-35. Absolute evil was Zarqawi’s and his Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s trademark.   That evil included car-bombing the United Nations’ mission in Iraq; Zarqawi personally beheading American hostage Nick Berg; his terror group’s executing numerous attacks against Shiites and their mosques; and a grotesque suicide bombing of a wedding party in Amman, Jordan.  In addition, Zarqawi and his terrorists killed scores of American soldiers, hundreds of Iraq policemen and soldiers, and thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. 

[viii] Unless Al-Qaeda has been playing “Weekend at Bernie’s” with Osama, we have to assume that he remains alive.

[ix] For a beautifully, succinctly written account of the Left’s anti-American culture war, read John Harmon McElroy’s Divided We Stand: The Rejection of American Culture since the 1960s. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.


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Michael Lopez-Calderon runs the website Calderon's Call and is also featured on Inherit the Wirbelwind.

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