December 7, 1941

Sixty five years ago this morning, our country was attacked by Japan. Whether it was a “surprise” attack or not is debatable; much evidence exists for foreknowledge by FDR and his military of something big coming their way. Obviously, a war was inevitable once we embargoed oil going to the Japanese.

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Hitler soon followed with his second of two colossal mistakes: he declared war on the United States.

What I want all of you to ponder on today, however, are the ominous parallels between events then and events today. The world faces an enemy today that is more intractable than even the mighty forces of Imperial Japan. We are frozen in a situation today that can go either way. All we need to lose is to lose our will. I fear our generation is not even fit to be a hangnail on the finger of a hand of one the Americans who fought in World War II.

When he learned that the “ultimatum” to the United States was not delivered to the State Department until after the attack had begun, Admiral Yamamoto said that he was afraid all Japan had done was “to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” Our children and our children’s children will curse us for being asleep today, and refusing to wake up.

* * *

If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may be even a worse fate. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.

—Winston Churchill

Our task—ordeal if you will—is that we must make war so godawfully terrible to our enemies, and the rewards of peace and reform so humanely sweet to our friends, that the vast middle in between will have no problem choosing sides.

—Victor Davis Hanson

18 thoughts on “December 7, 1941”

  1. wrong paxtey, theyre fighting to take away transfat.. THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY; WE KNOW WHATS GOOD FOR YOU..

  2. this is from freakonomics

    http://www.freakonomics.com/blog/2006/12/07/why-is-a-soldiers-mom-sending-silly-string-to-iraq/

    Why Is a Soldier’s Mom Sending Silly String to Iraq?

    Because it might be a lifesaver: a soldier can spray the Silly String to look for trip wires around bombs. According to this A.P. article, “Before entering a building, troops squirt the plastic goo, which can shoot strands about 10 to 12 feet, across the room. If it falls to the ground, no trip wires. If it hangs in the air, they know they have a problem. The wires are otherwise nearly invisible.”

    Silly String is not standard military issue (yet), but rather one of many improvisational tools that U.S. troops have come up with in Iraq. Here are a few more that the article cites: “U.S. soldiers have bolted scrap metal to Humvees in what has come to be known as ‘Hillybilly Armor.’ Medics use tampons to plug bullet holes in the wounded until they can be patched up. Also, soldiers put condoms and rubber bands around their rifle muzzles to keep out sand. And troops have welded old bulletproof windshields to the tops of Humvees to give gunners extra protection. They have dubbed it ‘Pope’s glass.’”

    Today is Pearl Harbor Day. My father, like thousands and thousands of others, rushed to join the Army in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor. I do not have any data on this, but doesn’t it feel as though Pearl Harbor is remembered less and less each year? This makes sense, of course, as the event recedes further into the past. But it also seems as if 9/11 has replaced it as a national day of infamy. There’s also the fact that the ongoing war in Iraq may have simply blunted the American for war remembrances.

    There is a really interesting Pearl Harbor article on the OpEd page today’s N.Y. Times. It is a collection of excerpts of contemporaneous reports filed by Robert Trumbull, the Times’s correspondent at Pearl Harbor, detailing the U.S. effort to quickly rebuild the Pacific Fleet after the attack. Trumbull’s reports were never published because they could not pass military censors. Even better than the single OpEd is this page on the Times’s website, which includes PDF’s of Trumbull’s original dispatches.

  3. The world faces an enemy today that is more intractable than even the mighty forces of Imperial Japan.

    I know your heart is in the right place re: defending America, but come on now, this is not even close to being true. Let’s not trivialize the Second World War in the Pacific Theater. Japan was an industrial power with munitions factories, an army of millions, a navy, an airforce, and an cult of fanatical adherence to Emperor-worship which eventually manifested itself in the form of suicidal kamikaze attacks. It took two nuclear bombs plus the mobilization of the entire nation to put them down. Americans were planting victory gardens, women rushed into the industrial workforce to fill the gap of men who’d shipped out to war, etc.

    The only similarity with Al Qaeda is that they have suicidal pilots as well. George W. Bush himself doesn’t think they’re on the same level – after all, he did tell us all to go shopping after 9/11, didn’t he? Not exactly a “blood, sweat and tears” exhortation to sacrifice.

  4. MMerchant, not only do I believe it’s true, I think we are in grave, terrible danger.

    Let’s do some numbers as an intellectual exercise: let’s say there are about 1 billion Muslims in the world. Assume that 10% — no, make it 5% — are fanatical, by-the-book believers in the most extreme, conservative interpretation of Islam. That makes, how many potential shaheeds? How many jihadis?

    Islam once ruled over most of Eastern Europe. They would have conqured Europe had they not been defeated at Lepanto and Vienna. Their strategy today is to out-birth us and create Muslim minorities that cannot be ignored. Sharia is becoming a part of the British and French legal systems by default because of political correctness. The entire underpinning of Western culture and society, based on pluralism and on the adherence to common law, are being eroded.

    Their ultimate goal has not changed simply because you don’t think so. The reality will hit us hard and I hope you’re there to admit a grave error when it happens. If you survive.

    P.S., Bush was wrong about not saying clearly who the enemy was. He was being PC and it will cost us.

    P.P.S., Gore would have sold us out faster, so don’t bother asking the obvious question… 🙂

  5. For those who want to not just Remember Pearl Harbor, but also to get some idea of our Navy’s epic struggle with Imperial Japan, visit this excellent site:

    http://www.history.navy.mil/index.html

    And go see “Flags of Our Fathers.” Powerful stuff.

    Take a minute, say a prayer for all our fighting men – and women; then and now. Pray our fighting forces will have the leadership they deserve as well as the unconditional support of the American people, always. We do live in very dangerous times, whether the ostriches among us accept it or not.

  6. Great post George! I completely agree. The parallels are astounding. I think it’s scary, though, that being politically correct no matter the cost has become the highest goal in our society.

  7. Let’s do some numbers as an intellectual exercise: let’s say there are about 1 billion Muslims in the world. Assume that 10% — no, make it 5% — are fanatical, by-the-book believers in the most extreme, conservative interpretation of Islam. That makes, how many potential shaheeds? How many jihadis?

    It’s probably more like 5% of 5% if we’re going to go for numbers. We all know there’s a huge stretch between someone who talks trash and someone willing to take action. Look, you can run a number exercise with any large population and come up with fearsome scenarios. There’s 560 million people in Latin America and we know for a fact that there is some level of hated for the US within that population. Let’s say 1% absolutely want to see us dead. Does that mean we should plan on defending against 5.6 million killers? No.

    Islam once ruled over most of Eastern Europe. They would have conqured Europe had they not been defeated at Lepanto and Vienna.

    Let’s get it right – it was the Ottoman Empire that sent an army to Vienna and a navy to Lepanto. Going back to the “more lethal than Japan” analogy, can you name any territory that’s been lost to these modern-day terrorists that we should care about? Maybe you can point to Gaza, but then again, who the hell wants Gaza? At least the Ottomans were after something valuable.

    Their strategy today is to out-birth us and create Muslim minorities that cannot be ignored.

    When was this “strategy” laid out? I think you have it backwards. The only reason they “outbirth” the West is because Western birth rates have been in decline for decades. Did the Muslims conspire to create the birth control pill, modern consumerism or the two-income family?

    Sharia is becoming a part of the British and French legal systems by default because of political correctness.

    How so? I’ve been to both places recently, nobody made me observe any Sharia mandates. I even had a nice pork chop at a pub in Kensington.

    I’m just saying – the terrorist threat is real, but let’s not hype it beyond reason.

  8. MMerchant,
    “Let’s get it right – it was the Ottoman Empire . . .” Yes, it was the Ottomans, who were largely Muslim which is why they went and killed the Armenian Christians. Call it what you will, but they were Muslims, Turkish Muslims, but nonetheless believers in Islam.

    “who the hell wants Gaza?” Well, it looks like both Palestine and Isreal do because they’ve been fighting over it for years.

    “I’ve been to both places recently, nobody made me observe any Sharia mandates.” There are parts of England and France that are observing Sharia laws and integrating them into the legal systems. No, it’s not all over the countries yet, but it’s there. It’s is starting over here too. In Minneapolis, there are Muslim taxi cab drivers who refuse to take passengers who are “trasporting alcohol” because “it is a sin.”

    That’s not hype, that’s reality.

  9. Yes, it was the Ottomans, who were largely Muslim which is why they went and killed the Armenian Christians.

    If you follow the history of the Armenian genocide, it occured during WWI under the rule of the Young Turks, who were secular, not Islamicist. One of the Three Pashas who ruled Turkey at the time had just lost a major battle against the Russians and to cover for his failure he accused the Armenian population of having lent support to the Russians.

    BTW, the Ottoman Empire also oppressed and mistreated the Arabs and it wasn’t because they were Christian. Ever heard of Lawrence of Arabia? He was successful to an extent in organizing Arab insurgents against the Ottomans because the Arabs hated their Turkish guts.

    Well, it looks like both Palestine and Isreal do because they’ve been fighting over it for years.

    Israel doesn’t want Gaza and hasn’t wanted it for some time now, with the exception of a very small community of settlers they had to extract forceably. Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on Earth – in fact it’s more of a massive urban slum than a homeland for anyone.

    In Minneapolis, there are Muslim taxi cab drivers who refuse to take passengers who are “trasporting alcohol” because “it is a sin.”

    This is the flip side of liberals complaining about Christian pharmacists who won’t dispense birth control pills for similar reasons. In both cases, these are isolated incidents, and in both cases it takes an incredible if not absurd leap to worry that this is a sign of impending theocracy.

  10. Ok, I stand corrected.

    What are your thoughts on the statements from the terrorist themselves about destroying Israel and the United States while we try to discuss peace with them?

  11. What are your thoughts on the statements from the terrorist themselves about destroying Israel and the United States while we try to discuss peace with them?

    I have two thoughts: 1) Their statements are a combination of wishful thinking, grandstanding for certain audiences and a deliberate attempt to intimidate, and 2) That being said, they are still dangerous people. I’ve never said otherwise. Also, Israel faces an actual threat to its existence – okay, that’s three thoughts.

    All I’m saying, going back to the original comparison with Japan, is that the terrorists are not nearly the same level threat. But yes, they are a menace and we should not dismiss that fact as we remember this infamous day.

  12. Entirely off topic: Anybody know where I can find a Spanish language copy of Jose Marti’s Diary of his travels from Monte Cristi to Dos Rios? I have a friend who runs a website in the Dom Rep and I wanted to forward a passage describing his travels through the Cibao region because it makes a reference to his hometown with an interesting anecdote.

    There’s an English language version called “Selected Writings”, but I don’t want to translate that passage to Spanish, given that I’d probably commit some sort of literary crime in doing that to Marti’s original prose.

  13. Soon we will not have any Pearl Harbor survivors to keep this slice of history alive — and accurate. What a stark difference between the words and attitude of FDR and that of his successors 60 decades later.

    Although I am not a pessimist, I do admit that the longer I watch events unfold in the US, the stronger my conviction that the percentage of Americans with resolve is tiny. The post-WWII generation never had to fight for anything, save perhaps for the Civil Rights Act. And look how twisted that legislation has become in the hands of leftist politicians and misguided judges.

    I believe that Bush has shot himself in the foot since 9/11 with his total inability to articulate vision and truth to the American people. He rightly becomes the butt of jokes and disdain, but it’s self-inflicted. The White House doesn’t have good PR for its agenda in the matter of terrorism, Tony Snow notwithstanding. Bush forgot that the war today is won on the newswires and TV monitors, not just on the ground. In that sense, he has done a terrible disservice to the troops and to all the families who have lost people in the war.

    To his credit, and he’s not my favorite historical figure in any respect, FDR and his fireside chats and the media machine of his day were key in getting the people to suppor the cause. This president has done poorly; he can’t recall verbs and adjectives when he needs to. The least he should have done is find a good, hard-driven mouthpiece in his stead, and push the game plan to the public arena. Then the people can decide. Instead, the political correctness is killing the country, killing the troops, and probably killing a lot of innocent people yet to be attacked by the terrorists plotting evil even as these fingers run through this keyboard for this post.

    Ironically, it is Bush — not Kerry — who has conducted a more “compassionate” war. And in the process is failing to stop the flow of foreign terrorists by hamstringing the military and dispatching it to do “nation building.” Ludicrous. As much as I hate to see this ISG report for what it is — purely political BS — I am glad the president is getting a wake-up call. Let’s see if he goes with the flow and capitulates, or if he does FDR on us.

  14. Little thing I thought I would just mention: Japan attacked us. Iraq didn’t. Inconsequential, I know, to this crowd.

    But I thought I would just remind everyone of the, well, obvious.

    Carry on.

  15. MMerchant
    You asked to know how Sharia law is being included in the British and French system.

    Well here it is and from the BBC (whom I dislike to quote because of their bias, which you can clearly see in this article)
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6190080.stm

    PS: the BBC love the PC and the multiculti attitude but they don’t see the consequences of biased reporting and of allowing others to step over our rights in the name of “multiculturalism”

  16. Little thing I thought I would just mention: Japan attacked us. Iraq didn’t. Inconsequential, I know, to this crowd.

    A couple more little things:

    1) I suspect that if you were around in 1941, you would have wanted peace talks with Japan, because I suspect you are right now against anything that will seriously hurt Al Qaeda or Iran.

    2) Saddam Hussein didn’t send his own military to American airports on 9/11 but he did provide plenty of material aid and comfort to those who did. Using your logic, assuming you could have summoned the guts to say we should fight Japan and not appease them after 12/7, we should have been barred from attacking any of their warships that did not directly participate in 12/7.

    But I thought I would just remind everyone of the, well, obvious.

    Thanks for the reminder that there are folks who can claim to remind us of the obvious while demonstrating that they have no clue about the obvious, something apparently inconsquential to your crowd. You will be cursed by future generations as an Appeaso-crat.

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