MartiniPundit

Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Pearl Harbor Plus 64

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Today is Pearl Harbor day – sixty-four years ago, the Japanese Empire launched a sneak attack on the United States Pacific Fleet, then based at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. President Roosevelt called it a date which would “live in infamy.” It was a bright, Sunday morning, when just before 8 am, a wave of planes came out of the blue to shatter the American fleet. Two hours later, when it was over, the eight US battleships: Arizona, California, Maryland, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia, were sunk or badly damaged. One, the Arizona, would never be repaired, and another, the Oklahoma would founder being towed to the west coast, but the other six would eventually be returned to service.

This is the Pennsylvania after the attack: 

Also destroyed in the attack was most of the air power the US had there, but significantly, neither the dockyard facilities nor the logistics facilities of Pearl Harbor were seriously damaged. Most important of all, not a single American carrier was at Pearl Harbor.

So why did the Japanese attack? The short answer is resources. Engaged in a brutal conquest of China, the Japanese were consuming vast quantities of oil, rubber, and other resources basically not found in the Japanese Isles. As their invasion of China created more alarm and revulsion in the west, the Japanese found themselves facing a trade embargo, and now began to look for the resources it needed in Southeast Asia. However, the US Pacific Fleet was a serious threat to Japanese expansion plans. Thus they resolved to strike at the US battleship fleet, ironically with the weapon – the aircraft carrier – that would make the battleship obsolete and render the entire attack a colossal error.

The Japanese attack was a brilliant piece of planning, staff work, tactical execution, and daring. It was, at the same time, strategically insane. The last thing the Japanese wanted was a protracted war with the United States, which they knew they could not win, so they staged a blow which would prevent the US from projecting naval power in the Pacific for the amount of time necessary for them to complete their resource grab. After which, some sort of negotiated truce would be possible. Or so the Japanese warmongers deluded themselves. Instead, the surprise attack galvanized a nation, and made a return to the status quo ante impossible. The Japanese – admittedly, not all of them – fundamentally misread the American character and it cost them dearly.

There is a parallel to our modern Pearl Harbor – September 11th. In this, the same fundamental miscalculation was made by the enemies of the United States, believing the nation weak, and unwilling to defend itself. The 9/11 attacks were intended to force us to withdraw from the Middle East, and from the world stage so as to give Osama bin Laden and his ilk a free hand to reestablish the Caliphate. Like the Japanese sixty-four years ago, Osama misread the American character and it has cost him dearly. It’s not over yet, but it will end the same way World War II did – with the unconditional surrender of the enemies of the United States.

A glass raised to the men and women who died at Pearl Harbor, and on 9/11.

Information, links, and images of Pearl Harbor can be found here. My thoughts on this day last year are here.

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Written by martinipundit

December 7, 2005 at 1:59 pm

Posted in History, Ships

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