battle of britain 88.
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This September 15, Great Britain will commemorate one of its proudest moments, the 66th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. This is a day that should be remembered and honored not just by the citizens of Britain, but by every inhabitant of this planet who cherishes liberty and freedom.
The Battle of Britain is one of history's turning points. From July to September 1940, the RAF was engaged in a life-and-death struggle with the vaunted Luftwaffe, which until then had known nothing but success in Spain, Poland and France. By the thinnest of margins, the pilots and ground crews of RAF's Fighter Command prevailed, denying the Luftwaffe the air superiority it needed to enable the Wehrmacht to attempt an invasion of Britain.
The victory was not due to the Spitfire's mythical superiority over the Luftwaffe's Messerschmitt fighters. In reality the two aircraft were equally matched, and, it should be remembered, two-thirds of Fighter Command's squadrons flew the older Hawker Hurricanes, which by 1940 were approaching obsolescence, and no match for the ME 109.
The victory was ultimately due to the will power, vision and faith of Winston Churchill and Hugh Dowding, CO RAF Fighter Command. The former, who had been a voice in the wilderness against the appeasement of Nazi Germany, was able at the crucial hour to rally and inspire his country to an extraordinary act of valor. The latter had the very rare ability to think completely creatively.
Dowding realized that the combination of faster monoplane fighters and the invention of radar (in the nick of time) meant that the long-held doctrine of air war - "the bomber will always get through" - no longer applied, and designed, over the opposition of much of his own country's military establishment, the world's first air defense system.
This system, Britain's sole material advantage over Germany, was completed shortly before the war broke out.
TODAY THE West is in a similar mind-set to that of France and Britain after WWI. The horrors of that war generated within Western democracies a profound revulsion of the very idea of war. This led to the policy of appeasement of Nazi Germany.
Following its victory in the Cold War, and the demise of the USSR, the conventional wisdom was that war, as far as the West was concerned, had become a thing of the past and that economics, not politics, would dominate international diplomacy and geopolitics.
Unfortunately large parts of the Arab-Islamic world have not accepted that conventional wisdom. To them the defeat of the Soviet Union was not an opportunity to end war, but one to make war on the West.
Certain Western liberal intellectual circles have proven themselves capable of coming up with a seemingly limitless supply of specious reasons to explain, understand and even justify this visceral hatred of the West by large parts of the Arab-Islamic world.
Ultimately the reason is very simple: resentment of the ascent of the West.
Islam so far has proven congenitally incapable of doing what Christianity has done - allowing the evolution of a society in which the political and religious establishments are independent of one another. It is this evolution that facilitated and expedited the ascent of the West, by enabling the development of a political system based on democracy, freedom of thought and speech, and religious and cultural pluralism. These then spurred the major technological, scientific, economic and social advancements that empowered the West and have enabled it to dominate the globe politically and economically for the past 200 years.
THE ISLAMIC world has had ample opportunity to adopt the values that were instrumental in the West's ascent, but its political and religious establishments have chosen not to. The reason is very clear: They would rather wield total power over a failed society than share power with other groups in a successful one.
To facilitate this they have abused their oil wealth. Instead of using it to promote and develop their societies, they have impoverished them. Petrodollars that could have been spent on creating first-class educational systems have instead been used to create and maintain security apparatuses whose sole purpose is to ensure the absolute rule of a corrupt elite by repressing any sign of dissent.
These same political and religious leaders have constantly aided and abetted the most reactionary elements within their religious establishments, which in return have channeled popular frustrations generated by the regimes' failures outwards, against the "infidel West."
The Islamic world has, for the most part, been willing to buy this, preferring to blame the West for conspiring against it rather than take responsibility for its spectacular failures.
IS THIS perhaps beginning to sound familiar? It should, for all one has to do is replace "Muslim" with "German" and "the West" with "Jews" in order to generate a feeling of d j vu.
For several years the West preferred to ignore the threat posed by Nazi Germany until it was almost too late. In 1940 Britain found itself locked in a life or death struggle with Nazi Germany, outmanned and outgunned. Fortunately it found the required reserves of will power to persevere, and ultimately prevail.
Today we face a similar threat, that of Islamo-fascism. This threat is no less serious than that posed by the Nazis, since it also is founded on an ideology totally incompatible with the core Western values of democracy and freedom. Just as there was ultimately no possibility to compromise with Nazi Germany, so there can be no possibility of compromising and coexisting with Islamo-fascism.
Unlike Britain in 1940, this time Western democracy has entered the battle from a position of relative strength, with all the means needed to prevail. Unfortunately we, or at least much of our political and cultural leadership, seems to be lacking the will to do so. Rather than accept the unpalatable reality that we are faced by an enemy threatened by our values and willing to destroy us in order to eradicate them, there are far too many among us who insist on turning a blind eye toward it.
Just as the democracies deluded themselves into thinking they could coexist with the Nazis, and maintained a policy based on appeasement and compromise, there are unfortunately influential forces within our societies who would rather compromise and appease than face facts and confront.
Churchill's words to Britain and the free world - "It's time to brace ourselves for the coming battle" - uttered after the fall of France, are unfortunately as apt today as they were in the summer of 1940.
However no less important is to fully appreciate the magnitude of what is at stake. The words of Lincoln do this best, because the ultimate targets of the forces of fascism are the very core, idea and values on which "government of the people, for the people, and by the people" is based.
The writer is a former editor-in-chief of Ma'ariv International.