Lessons of attack still valid

Lessons of attack still valid

Seventy-eight years have passed since Japan made its biggest mistake ever as a nation, its attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

While Dec. 7 is commonly associated with that grave error, it is important to remember that what happened on that terrible day was not the product of a spur-of-the-moment decision by Japan’s leaders.

Planning for the attack was in the works for many months.

America never must forget Pearl Harbor’s lessons, just like the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001, must remain ingrained in this country’s consciousness and determination to be prepared for any evil that might be directed its way.

The United States never must allow itself to be duped by adversaries that project friendliness but at the same time are working to undermine its strengths and security.

Fears based on such realization and such possibilities rightly exist in some quarters in today’s America.

However, the stakes are much higher than they were on Dec. 7, 1941, due obviously to nuclear weapons under control of leaders whose perceived friendliness doesn’t really project what they would like to inflict here.

Pearl Harbor’s death toll of 2,400 would seem miniscule when stacked up against the toll from a surprise nuclear attack.

It’s impossible to know all of the planning that already might be on the “drawing boards” of America’s enemies. The need for strong intelligence services remains vital to America’s safety and future.

Consider some of the facts from 1941 that should be acknowledged as relevant today.

Japan’s success at Pearl Harbor was in part the result of good luck; its strike fleet, comprising six aircraft carriers, nine destroyers, two battleships plus numerous other vessels, traveled the 3,150 nautical miles between the fleet’s assembly site and Hawaii undetected over 12 days.

More tragic was America’s complacency.

In its December 2016 issue, Smithsonian magazine described it this way:

– That Japan was at the time perceived as lacking the military deftness and technological proficiency to pull off an attack so daring and so complicated.

– That Japan knew and accepted that it would be futile to make war on a nation as powerful as the United States.

It eventually was learned that Japanese planners had calculated a year prior to the attack that America’s industrial capacity was 74 times greater than Japan’s and that the United States had 500 times more oil.

Still, the architect of the attack, Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, commander in chief of Japan’s Combined Fleet, although initially skeptical of an attack’s success but under pressure from Japan’s leaders to produce the “right” plan, concentrated on the premise of settling things on the first day “with a strike so breathtaking and brutal that American morale ‘goes down to such an extent that it cannot be recovered.'”

He and the leaders above him miscalculated Americans’ resolve.

During today’s remembrances of the Pearl Harbor attack, be hopeful that America never again will “open a window” to dangerous complacency, eroded security or misguided trust.

In the view of many Americans, though, this nation already has begun opening that unwanted window.


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