It's a little unnerving to read the timeline of terrorism committed against Americans over the past 20-plus years in the name of Islamo-fanatacism. That's a lot of sustained hate (though nothing, I guess, compared to that in Isreal/Palestine or the hundreds of years of "troubles" in Ireland). Maybe it's because you brought up Ambrose earlier, but my mind wandered to something he describes in his meomoir, To America. That was how much the Japanese and Americans hated each other.
The men on the front lines, whether the U.S. Army or Marines, or the Japanese army, were extraordinarily young. They carried in their packs a heavy burden of racism. They fought to live or die, and did so because of the hatred they felt toward each other.There's a parallel between that war and the one we now find ourselves fighting. Both the Japanese and Islamists fought to preserve an anti-modern, anti-progress relic of a culture. And the Japanese were turned into friends and trading partners/competitors by a horribly destructive, years long war. I can't see the same sacrifice being made by America today to turn Iraqis into friendly rivals, maybe because we're too refined to allow ourselves to hate them the same way they do us, and the Japanese and American infantrymen did. And so the war creeps on, tragedies adding up much more slowly.
The outrages they committed are surpassed only by the holocaust. In the Pacific, what the men asked of themselves went beyond the notion that there is a limit to human endurance. In an environment that always changed but could always be described as "hell," they did things never seen before or since. There are many contenders for the Worst War That Ever Was, but a combination of factors give the Pacific War some claim