For the World War II generation there was clarity.
The attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941, united the nation as it had never been before — in the conviction that Japan must be smashed, no matter how long it took or how many lives it cost.
After the defeat of the Axis powers in 1945, however, Americans divided.
Only with the Berlin Blockade of 1948, the fall of China to Mao and Russia’s explosion of an atom bomb in 1949, and North Korea’s invasion of the South in 1950, did we unite around the proposition that, for our own security, we had to go back to Europe and Asia.
What was called the Cold War consensus — that only America could “contain” Stalin’s empire — led to NATO and new U.S. alliances from the Elbe to the East China Sea.
Vietnam, however, shattered that Cold War consensus.
The far left of the Democratic Party that had taken us into Vietnam had repudiated the war by 1968, and switched sides to sympathize with such Third World communists as Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh and the Sandinistas.
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