I’ll start with the shorter list, the similarities. Many of these may come as a surprise as you may have been left with a different impression by the news you have seen or read. In both conflicts the anglophiles are allied during the crucial moments of the war. These same allies provide a major component of the fighting forces. In both conflicts a majority of the armed forces are either involved directly in the combat or in training new forces while others provide support or relief for the troops in combat. Many, if not most, of our ready reserve are involved in the conflict. In both conflicts we are facing an enemy who believes in its inevitable victory and world conquest. We depend on native populations who are outside of our direct control in this war as we did in WWII. In the WOT we have found the need to rely on support from some, hopefully many, of the warlords to assist us and often strike where stealth is needed. In WWII we had the support of the Polish, Serbian, French, and other underground groups in the European Theater and Chinese and Philippine guerillas in the Pacific Theater. Again, as in WWII we are fighting the enemy on their home turf. This makes for very long support lines leading to many logistics problems. In both of these wars we had to work with allies who, at times, have differing views on strategies and divisions of responsibility.
Now let us consider some of the major differences. The perhaps most significant though least discussed is freedom of the press. In the WOT reporters have few restrictions on their reporting whereas during WWII every piece of news was vetted and censored for content as well as sensitive information. Another difference is the percentage of our population pressed into military service in WWII while we have kept our service members to those willing to volunteer. We have not required any rationing or other sacrifices for the war effort of today’s citizens while rationing and other limitations that were instigated in WWII. This has lead to a feeling of disconnect from the conflict that has implied a lack of the serious nature of this war. The amount of collateral damage is much less severe now than during WWII. This has given the misconception to our enemies that we are unable to inflict massive casualties and damage. This has worked against our goals, as our victories seem less overwhelming to those who oppose our forces. Much of our efforts in the WOT take place out of sight where less of our efforts were clandestine in WWII. Much of what we have accomplished has taken place out of sight, therefore out of mind. Some of these elements have kept our homeland free from possibly devastating terrorist attacks. In this war our enemies wear no uniforms and are irregular guerilla forces while in WWII our enemies were defined by uniforms and fought in open combat rather than relying singularly on ambush and hit and run melting into the population. This defines why much of our efforts are unseen but be assured they are quite effective.
While in WWII an attack on the mainland was a rather remote possibility, in this conflict it is a very real threat, though it has been falsely played down. Part of the strategy for the WOT we have set ourselves in Iraq and Afghanistan as a challenge to our enemies which baits them to fight us on those fronts rather than attack our homeland. This tactic was not a necessity during WWII. In the WOT our enemies are receiving tactical, supplies, morale, and other support from countries who have thus far stayed removed from the actual conflict. This is most evident in the actions of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and other nations or terror groups. This also includes the ramping in intensity of terror attacks on Israel and in other places that are used to force attentions away from the battlefield, or actually making a new battlefield. This was limited to small skirmishes, mostly in the Arab or Muslim countries, during WWII. Where the threat to civilization was obvious and played center stage during WWII, the similar threat in the WOT is played down or ignored and even treated as a silly notion even by some within our government. There exist other differences but I will list one more for the sake of brevity. During WWII we were united as a nation where both parties supported the President once hostilities had commenced. In the WOT there is an obvious rift defined by Party lines. This divided front gives our enemies courage and stamina hoping that our political weakness will force our eventual surrender to their terms or simply pulling our troops out and leaving the battle to others who may or may not be prepared to continue the fight.
Hopefully some of what is written here will give people pause to reconsider their views on the WOT. Perhaps some will take solace that another voice has called out in support of their views. If nothing else, I hope that some of the thoughts and information here gave new insights or an expanded view of the WOT and how it is just as crucial for us to achieve victory as it was in WWII.
Beyond the Cusp