WASHINGTON -- It seems that as the years pass, the books and films on World War II remain enormously popular. Indeed, I would not be surprised if they are more popular today than they were immediately following the war. After the war, this nation was tired of conflict. Probably many knowledgeable Americans recognized that victory had been no sure thing. Yet now, 65 years after D-Day, the story is reassuring. We are comfortable recalling how America roused itself from isolationism and created a huge army of young soldiers and how President Franklin Roosevelt sent them off to vanquish the Japanese militarists and the Nazi barbarians.
"The sheer improbability of this victory (on D-Day) is part of what makes D-Day so memorable," President Barack Obama sermonized the other day at Omaha Beach. I am not completely sure that I know what the president was talking about. American commanders wanted a cross-Channel invasion of the Nazi positions as early as 1942. They did not expect to fail on D-Day. Perhaps the president meant to stress that victory in war is never a sure thing. There is always enormous risk. If that is his fundamental understanding of war, why is he now so breezy in lecturing the one nation on earth that faces war daily, Israel?
At his speech in Cairo, President Obama emphasized his government's sudden opposition to Jewish settlements on the West Bank, though some of those settlements are crucial to Israeli security. Heretofore, our government understood that in any peace treaty with the Palestinians, Israel was expected to keep some of these settlements after compensating the Palestinians with land from other parts of Israel. It was a matter of national security for a nation that faces war daily.
The idea of accepting some Israeli settlements and compensating the Palestinians for land lost in pursuit of improved Israeli security was agreed to by the past two American administrations, one Democratic, the other Republican. There are signed agreements to that effect. Now, of a sudden, the Obama administration is tearing up those agreements. In Cairo, the president said, "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements." I wonder what Bill Clinton thought about that, and George W. Bush, too.