December 7th, 2013

72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor

[NOTE: This is an updated repeat of a previous post.]

Today is the seventy-second anniversary of the December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. The generation that reacted to it by mobilizing and fighting World War II is on its last legs. But they were the ones we still call “the Greatest.”

I was reminded of this while watching one of those Oliver North “War Stories” TV shows, about Pearl Harbor. It featured some of the elderly participants reminiscing about that long ago day. Before each one spoke, there was a photograph of him back in 1941: young, vibrant, handsome, full of life. Now they were ancient, and most only vaguely resembled their former selves. But they still transmitted great moral strength and a kind of Gary-Cooperesque stoicism and understated bravery as they told their stories.

A couple of facts: it’s become fashionable to believe that FDR knew about the attack in advance and let it happen anyway. But those 12/7-truthers are almost undoubtedly wrong. Roosevelt wanted to get us into the war, and he knew a Japanese attack was coming at some point, and informed his generals to that effect, but he knew none of the particulars in advance.

This idea of a government in cahoots with the enemy, willing to let innocent Americans die, keeps coming up again and again. A certain not insignificant segment of the population appears to favor such conspiracy theories, probably because we don’t like feeling vulnerable to sudden attack. We’d rather think Daddy in the White House could have stopped it but chose not to—that makes him powerful but amoral, rather than powerless to protect us.

Here’s a post I published fiver years ago on Pearl Harbor Day. It focuses on FDR’s famous speech afterward, and the will and resolve he amply demonstrated. Will and resolve in war remain extremely relevant these days, in Afghanistan (at least Obama hasn’t made any references yet today to “the bomb that fell on Pearl Harbor,” his gaffe from July, 2008).

Here is just a little bit of Roosevelt’s post-Pearl Harbor speech, in case we need reminding of what American resolve used to sound like:

…No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

Here’s the speech itself:

The memorable phrase that began FDR’s address, “a date which will live in infamy,” wasn’t in Roosevelt’s earlier draft. It reads “a date which will live in world history.” That sounds like a high school essay; Roosevelt crossed out “world history” and added “infamy” in his own hand. A wise choice.

15 Responses to “72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor”

  1. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “This idea of a government in cahoots with the enemy, willing to let innocent Americans die, keeps coming up again and again. A certain not insignificant segment of the population appears to favor such conspiracy theories” neo

    In general, I would agree that no prior US government has colluded with the enemy. Till Benghazi that is and until it became undeniable that Obama has no intention of stopping Iran from gaining nuclear capability. Obama and Kerry are both on record as knowing full well the dangers Iran going nuclear poses;

    “the region will be far less stable and far more threatened if Iran were to have a nuclear weapon. It will spur a nuclear arms race. It has risks for greater terrorism. It will be destabilizing. ”

    Kerry said the threat extends beyond the possibility that Iran could actually use the weapon on its enemies, specifically Israel. Iran simply having a nuclear weapon would “spur a nuclear arms race” in the region and could be used to support terrorists groups like Hezbollah, he said.” Interview with SecState John Kerry – March 5, 2013

    Given that Obama and his administration know all of this, if this isn’t prima facie evidence of an American government’s willingness to let innocent Americans die and of acting in collusion with an enemy, then what is? Is anything short of providing Iran with American nukes, insufficient proof?

  2. rickl Says:

    The Obama administration’s restrictive rules of engagement are getting American soldiers killed in Afghanistan, and saving the lives of Muslim jihadis.

    John Kerry has his own issues with treason dating back to Vietnam.

    Yes, the present administration is an enemy of America, no question about it. As is anybody who supported it.

  3. NeoConScum Says:

    N-Neocon: John Toland’s book, “Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath”, (1982) is well worth your reading. A hell of a piece of work. Admiral Kimmel was hung out to dry & blame by Roosevelt and his boys. Not idiotic ‘truther’, ‘conspiracy’ stuff.

  4. blert Says:

    NeoConScum…

    Read “Day of Deceit”

    ISBN 0-684-85339-6

    Then perhaps the Kimmel story — and why, time and again, the USN refuses to exonerate him. (or General Short)

    I also highly recommend: “The Great Pacific War”

    ISBN 0-312-06364-4

    You will NEVER think highly of ‘Yamamoto’s’ attack plan after that read — ’cause it wasn’t his plan at all.

    AFTER reading “The Great Pacific War” you’ll understand why Short had the planes lined up on the runway. ( It’s from the book.) You’ll understand why Midway, as a battle, ever occurred. (Think: Battle of Yap) You’ll discover that all of the critical invasion beaches were written up — in 1925! You’ll find that Yamamoto got his copy while on service in Washington DC at that time….

    And then there’s: “Betrayal at Pearl Harbor”

    ISBN 0-671-79231-8

    This is a tell-all book from THE top code breaker in GCHQ, literally the horse’s mouth. In his account you’ll find out exactly how, and how early, the British ( ie himself ) broke into the Japanese cypher systems. It was shockingly easy, BTW.

    Between them, these accounts de-bunk much of what passes for informed knowledge on the war, with particular emphasis on the cypher-war.

    GCHQ and NSA have been spinning fables ever since these books hit print. Snowden’s revelations have put paid to their mendacity.

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    I read part of Admiral Kimmel’s autobiography available online. He published it only after the war was over and/or FDR was long and buried.

    Democrats have a long tradition of sacrificing honorable military officers for short term gains. American robustness, security, and prosperity allows such things to go unanswered for, but eventually the payment will be due.

    There’s also Wake Island, as a lesson on what happens with politically appointed Admirals and officers. Relevant to today, given how the military is being purged and cleaned of unreliables.

  6. Eric Says:

    Neo: “in case we need reminding of what American resolve used to sound like”

    President Bush, 20SEP01:

    “Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. . . . But the only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows. . . . This is not, however, just America’s fight. And what is at stake is not just America’s freedom. This is the world’s fight. This is civilization’s fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom. . . . As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world.”

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    As is anybody who supported it.

    Exactly so. Those who have not hardened their resolve, will do nothing when the moment of truth comes. They cannot pull the trigger on their neighbors or their family, their buddies in the police and state forces. But it will be precisely those people who will obey orders to launch an offensive at the front.

    Those who have unclear motivations and have not figured out their ROE justifications already, will hesitate and freeze when the moment to pull the trigger appears.

    There will be no authority, no government, no leader to tell individual American patriots to kill or shoot. It’ll all be up to the individual. And individually, most people will refuse to pull the trigger. Which means they’ll just sit down, shut up, and be carted away. Or sit down and watch as their neighbors are shuffled along into a truck and gone.

  8. NeoConScum Says:

    blert… Thanks much for the suggestions for my upcoming year. I’m an old Pacific War kid who’s Dad was with the 20th Air Force, first in the CBI and then Tinian(West Field)until the end. You will, I suspect, enjoy the Group Motto of Pop’s 462nd Hellbirds: WITH MALICE TOWARD SOME.
    I’d add to your list,”And I Was There”, by Rear Admiral Ed Layton and the greatest of all Pacific War combat memoirs,”With the Old Breed: At Pelelieu and Okinawa”, by E.B.Sledge. Haven’t spent much time there in recent years, so your recommends will put a little fire under my seat.

    Eric..Your quote of that great, stalwart patriot and wartime leader brought mist to my eyes. Between the Obama deliberate vaporizing of recent history and the vapidity of the LIVs and the ‘Milliniels’ and the full arrival of Einstein’s prediction of a “generation of idiots” on their i-Thingies & X-Boxes 24/7, my optimism has fled. Few Americans, 11-years after Pearl Harbor, had forgotten it and its lessons. But, look around us and see how little the vivid memory of 3,000 dead (mostly) American innocents on 9/11 has been made ancient. Mrs.Clinton & John Boy Kerry at State and the disgusting dwarf at Defense, coupled with the hard lefties in the White House… My God, can anyone imagine George W. Bush handing nuclear at’taboys to the Mullahs of Iran and b’yotch slapping Bibi this way??? NOT hardly. I have never feared for my country as I do in The Boy King’s 2nd term.

  9. Eric Says:

    NCS,

    Popular history is mostly myth. Several of Bush’s speeches would rank high in the historical register if they hadn’t been obscured and buried by the dominant narrative makers.

  10. blert Says:

    NCS…

    Another amazing bio was penned by Jocko Clark:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_J._Clark

    He was THE fighting admiral of WWII.

    Ultimately promoted to being the top admiral of the Korean War.

    “In 1944 he was promoted to Rear Admiral and given command of Task Group 58.1 and served under the commands of Admiral Mitscher of the Fast Carrier Task Force, and Admiral Spruance, commander, Fifth Fleet.”

    58.1 was the heart of the carrier force and hold records that stand to this day — really impossible to beat.

    http://www.amazon.com/Carrier-Admiral-Joseph-James-Clark/dp/B0006BR3HQ

    Jocko goes into all kinds of details that are simply fascinating.

    BTW 38.1 was in Ulithi Lagoon when Halsey was fighting the IJN — Leyte Gulf. When the alarm was sounded, 38.1 flew out of the lagoon to engage the IJN… too late. The clash was over. If Jocko had been there, for the battle, it would’ve been far more crushing than it was. 38.1 was being given a break — after eighteen months of continuous combat duty. (!)

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    Eric is right about myths. If a person hasn’t done their own reasoning, experimentation, research, or access to personal experience, they have a hard time figuring out the truth. It becomes ridiculously easy to trust in the experts, society, and authority to tell us the metaphysics, the reality of the world.

    But that state of being is no different from brainwashed zombies kept on a farm for food.

  12. Ray Says:

    Interesting essay on Pearl Harbor here. WWII, like WWI, was going to be over in a few months.
    http://www.burtfolsom.com/?p=2727

  13. Don Says:

    In 2009 I was in Oahu HI for several days and attepted to visit the USS Arizona memorial. When you show up you are given a card which IIRC puts you in place in line for the movie you watch before visiting the ship.

    The back of the card has some fact or character from Peal Harbor history. Turning mine over, it told of John Finn.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_William_Finn

    Ironc, since I met Mr. Finn as a child, when my dad would visit him. I still have a utility belt he gave me.

    As it turned out, I did not have time to visit the Arizona. I did appreciate seeing its memorial in the distance and nearby, the USS Missiouri.

  14. NeoConScum Says:

    Eric…Yep. Just read GWB’s 2nd Inaug. speech, January 20, 2005. It’s a Barn Burner. One of the greats. And, about as far opposite from Obama’s blather as one can find.

    On the night of the Ft.Hood butchery, GWB arrived there to comfort the wounded and shocked/grieving families. That same day—post shooting—the Boy King continued political ‘shout outs’ to supporters in the upper mid-west. Character anyone????

  15. NeoConScum Says:

    blert…Good call, amigo. I’m looking across our study at the ex-library copy of the Admiral’s worthy book,”Carrier Admiral”, as I reply. Sits next to, “Miracle at Midway”.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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