Shortly before 8 AM on December 7, 1941, the Japanese Navy, employing the largest naval attack force ever assembled, launched an unprovoked, sneak attack on the US Pacific Fleet, that lay at rest at Pearl Harbor and on surrounding military bases. Within short order, 5 of the 8 battleships docked on "Battleship Row" were either sunk or sinking and the rest were severely damaged. Several other smaller ships and most of Hawaii's combat aircraft were damaged or destroyed, as well. By the time it was over, 2,403 Americans had been killed in that cowardly attack and another 1,178 wounded.
Every year at this time, Action America takes this opportunity to honor those brave American service men and women and the civilians who died or were wounded at Pearl Harbor. But this year, their sacrifice is particularly poignant, since we are living in a time that is not all that different from late 1941. It should be clear that the best thing that we can do to honor the heroes of Pearl Harbor, is to insure that our government never allows such a sneak attack to be perpetrated on us or our military again. Make no mistake, it was not a failure of the military that led to the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was the pride of our own leaders and we just may be heading in the same direction today.
Even though the Japanese used such cowardly methods, there was no excuse for our government to have allowed our military to have been so blind-sided. First, the Japanese aggression was clearly visible in the war that they had been waging in Indochina since 1937. We know that the government was concerned about this, since Roosevelt moved the US Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor 18 months prior to the attack, specifically as a warning to the Japanese. Furthermore, the Western powers had halted all trade with Japan five months prior to the attack, which starved the Japanese of the oil and minerals that they needed to continue their war in China. From then on, as the desperate Japanese schemed to seize the oil and mineral-rich East Indies and Southeast Asia, it became more and more obvious that a Pacific war was virtually inevitable.
For months, prior to the attack, the Japanese had been playing a diplomatic cat and mouse delay game, while they prepared for war, much as we see Iraq doing today. They knew and we knew that they could not possibly win, just as Araq does today. And on top of all that, our government was aware that historically, Japan could not be trusted, since modern Japan had never preceded an act of war with any type of formal declaration of war or other diplomatic formalities. We knew that their leaders were unscrupulous and the people fanatically religious, just as we know that the Iraqi leadership is unscrupulous and the people are fanatically religious. We knew that they would attack sooner or later, just as we know that either directly or indirectly, through terrorists, Sadam will attack the US and US interests around the world. It was a given, then, just as it is today.
But then, as now, our leaders were too concerned with politics and looking good, to take the preemptive action necessary to protect us and our military forces. Roosevelt didn't want to be seen as starting the war with Japan, even though he knew that it could not be avoided. He wanted the Japanese to strike first.
2403 Americans died so Roosevelt could look good.
Let us hope that we do not have to face a similar death toll, so Dubya can look good. He doesn't need the blessing of the UN or any individual nations. Iraq is a threat to us and if left to their own devices, will eventually attack us, either directly or indirectly, through terrorist surrogates. We not only have the right, but the duty to defend ourselves. Sure, like Japan, in 1941, they wouldn't stand a chance. But, like Japan, they could cause us severe harm for a short time.
Today, as we honor those heroes who died at Pearl Harbor, we need to consider that the greatest dishonor to their memory, would be to know that an enemy was poised to attack us and let it happen again. We know that Sadam has the weapons and is willing to use them. Even as the weapons inspectors are playing their little games in one part of Iraq, he may well be moving weapons of mass destruction into the hands of terrorists in another part of the country. In fact, he would be much more likely to want to give a large portion of those weapons to terrorists than risk them being discovered and destroyed by the inspectors, so the inspections are likely to speed up that process.
It's time for Bush to forget about "looking good" or worrying about what the United Nations will think and take the preemptive steps necessary to protect the United States from an attack that will most certainly come, should we wait too long, as we did in 1941. We don't need any outside approval, especially from the the debating society that the UN has now become.
Let us honor those heroes who died at Pearl Harbor. It's time to protect ourselves.
It's time for a first strike.
2003 John Gaver
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