D-Day anniversary: Commemorating the Second World War and preparing the Third [World Socialist Website]

7 June 2014

Few will remain unmoved by the appearance Friday on the beaches of Normandy of 90-year-old veterans marking — in many cases for the last time — the slaughter of D-Day in which nearly 20,000 troops — both Allied and German — lost their lives. Those present for the 70th anniversary commemoration were among the lucky who survived that day in 1944, but surely they have remained haunted by the memory of those who did not and marked for their entire lives by this terrible experience of their youth.

The presence of this dwindling band of survivors of World War II — the greatest exercise in mass killing in the history of the planet — only underscored the boundless hypocrisy of the official ceremonies in which President Barack Obama played the leading role.

Historic ironies abounded at Normandy’s 70th anniversary. In the run-up to a ceremony ostensibly marking a decisive defeat for fascism, the US president toured Europe to drum up support for a Ukrainian regime that came to power in a US-backed coup spearheaded by neo-Nazis. These same ultra-right forces are now being employed with Washington’s support to carry out war crimes against the people of eastern Ukraine.

The principal foes of the US and its allies in World War II — Germany and Japan—are today being prodded by Washington to re-militarize for the purpose of assisting US imperialism in the encirclement of Russia and China. In both Germany and Japan, historians are reworking the portrayal of World War II to justify the crimes carried out by German and Japanese imperialism.

Obama’s speech at Omaha beach was typical for the US president, filled with empty rhetoric, historical references stripped of any real content, and personal anecdotes that managed to be both exploitative and insincere.

Obama had next to nothing to say about the cause for which the sacrifices of 70 years ago were made, outside of a brief reference to “Nazi guns” and “Hitler’s wall.” He demonstratively excluded from his potted history any reference to the Soviet Union, which by the time of the Normandy invasion had already inflicted a strategic defeat on the Wehrmacht at Stalingrad. The Red Army was responsible for 80 percent of the casualties inflicted on German forces, and the Soviet people suffered 26 million dead in the war.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of Obama’s speech was his attempt to equate the war fought by the aged veterans brought together in Normandy with the “post-9/11” US military and its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He predicted that someday “future generations… will gather at places like this to honor them — and to say that these were generations of men and women who proved once again that the United States of America is and will remain the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known.”

What “freedom” did the US bring in wars that killed over a million Iraqis and Afghans? And at what places will future generations gather to mark these wars — Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, Bagram prison or the scenes of countless drone strikes, bombings and night raids against civilian populations?

Even as Obama was speaking, his European tour was overshadowed by a right-wing furor in the US media over the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who apparently walked away from the war in Afghanistan after writing that he was “sorry for everything here” and describing the US military as “an army of liars, backstabbers, fools, and bullies.”

In World War II, the American ruling class was largely able to conceal its own militarism and global appetites behind a broader democratic appeal, thanks to the intense hostility of working people in the US and internationally to Hitlerite fascism. Today, it cannot credibly make any such appeal. The American establishment confronts a population that is largely in sync with the sentiments of Sergeant Bergdahl and hostile to foreign military interventions.

World War II, nonetheless, was no more a war for democracy or crusade against fascism than World War I was the “war to end all wars,” or, for that matter, the invasion of Iraq was a struggle against terrorism. In the period leading up to the war, major capitalist interests in Western Europe and the US lauded both Hitler and Mussolini, seeing their fascist dictatorships as bulwarks against socialist revolution…

Excerpted; full article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/06/07/pers-j07.html
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Also see related article: “The Lies Grow More Audacious” by Paul Craig Roberts [on D-day and Normandy landing] – http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/06/06/lies-grow-audacious-paul-craig-roberts/

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