When Winston Churchill surveyed the staggering magnitude of worldwide carnage and destruction at the end of World War II, he said that there was never a war easier to prevent than the one which had just devastated so much of the world.
He said that the earlier we would have opposed Hitler, the lower the cost would have been. At one time, according to Churchill, a memorandum could have stopped Hitler, given the balance of military power against him early on.
When Hitler stationed troops in the Rhineland in 1936, in violation of major international treaties, the military commanders in charge of those troops had orders to retreat at the first sign of French military opposition, since France alone at that point could have overwhelmed the German army as it existed then.
Although France at that point was militarily capable of stopping Hitler in his tracks, and preventing World War II, politically the French government dared not move. The French people, with the horrors of the First World War still painfully vivid in their memories, wanted no part in military operations.
The net result was that Hitler grew stronger militarily over the years and then invaded France at a time of his choosing. The French then found themselves at war, whether they wanted to be or not. And they soon found themselves defeated and subjugated under Nazi rule.
Barack Obama has done more than anyone else to promote the dangerous illusion that we can choose whether to have a war or not. But our enemies have already made that choice.
Retired Marine Corps General James Mattis said: “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it’s over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”