Skip

A date which will live in infamy
December 7, 2005 8:09 AM   Subscribe

December seventh, nineteen forty one. 64 Years ago today, 2,471 people were killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In response, one of our greatest leaders made one of his greatest speeches. And you can listen to it here.
posted by Mayor Curley (85 comments total)

 
"I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us."
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:09 AM on December 7, 2005


...shall never again endanger us.

Goosebumps.
posted by Gator at 8:12 AM on December 7, 2005


Ah, the good old days, when after a foreign attack on American soil, we focussed our military efforts on battling the people that had actually attacked us.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:13 AM on December 7, 2005


Thanks Mayor
posted by caddis at 8:14 AM on December 7, 2005


Ah, the good old days, when after a foreign attack on American soil, we focussed our military efforts on battling the people that had actually attacked us.

Actually, we focused our engergies on beating Germany first.
posted by Cyrano at 8:16 AM on December 7, 2005


The worst part about Pearl Harbor Day is that it's just become another instrument in the War of Words between partisans.
posted by Plutor at 8:21 AM on December 7, 2005


Newsflash Cyrano - Japan and Germany were in an alliance. Iraq and Al Qaeda were not.
posted by Sk4n at 8:30 AM on December 7, 2005


it's all specious. the WOT isn't WW2. engaging in such references is playing right into the hands of GWB etal.
posted by quonsar at 8:32 AM on December 7, 2005


Is that why the administration insulted the german chancellor? I will not condone a course of action that leads us to war!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:32 AM on December 7, 2005


.
posted by NationalKato at 8:33 AM on December 7, 2005


Actually, we focused our engergies on beating Germany first.

But then they had actually declared war on you at the same time.
posted by biffa at 8:38 AM on December 7, 2005


From Pearl Harbor to V-J Day: 1347 days
From 9/11 to today: 1183

Will we win the war on terrorism in the next 164 days?
posted by orthogonality at 8:39 AM on December 7, 2005


Will we win the war on terrorism in the next 164 days?

Terrorism is an ideology, not a country or enemy you can beat into submission.
posted by NationalKato at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2005


That depressed me. Not necessarily the subject matter, but the whole feeling around it - Roosevelt's excellent oratorial manner, the reams of applause that followed him, the whole manner around the attack and what followed.

Not to hijack the thread, but it got me thinking about patriotism and love of country and president. Those of you who remember pre-Nixon (or even Roosevelt's time) - was there ever this all-pervading sense of healthy patriotism, love for President and country? Or is that one of those myths that comes from fuzzy memories? (I was born in 1982 and the first president I remember is H. W. Bush, so that gives you an idea of my view on the whole thing...)
posted by kalimac at 8:46 AM on December 7, 2005


"I don't think you can win it [the war on terrorism]." - George W. Bush on NBC's Today Show, August 30, 2004.
posted by odinsdream at 8:47 AM on December 7, 2005


Just think, before WWII, there was no CIA and the military-industrial complex hadn't taken control of the government yet. Oh what a different country it was.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:55 AM on December 7, 2005


Excuse me. Woohoo!? One of your greatest leaders, not one our ours.

Since I can't access the site from work, I'll stick to being annoying for the moment.
posted by twine42 at 8:58 AM on December 7, 2005


...Was there ever this all-pervading sense of healthy patriotism, love for President and country?

It's largely forgotten today that, at that time, there was a noticeable isolationist streak in American society. And FDR was by no means universally loved by Americans.

I've mentioned this in other threads; apologies of I'm boring anyone: Two aphorisms of my dad's that have stuck with me were "I fought the Germans on behalf of Standard Oil" and "I was a political prisoner of Franklin Delano Roosevelt."

Dad was working at Picatinny Arsenal the day before Pearl Harbor, manufacturing howitzer barrels. To him, the only surprising aspect of the US entry into the war was that it was as a consequence of the Japanese attacking. He was convinced that FDR, whom he hated then and ever after, was eager to get the US into a shooting war in Europe on England's behalf. (In fact, the US Navy was already conducting ASW on behalf of UK-bound convoys.)
posted by alumshubby at 9:19 AM on December 7, 2005


was there ever this all-pervading sense of healthy patriotism, love for President and country?

Well, on Dec. 6, 1941, American entry into WW2 was a very hard sell. People remembered how bad WW1 sucked, and didn't want a repeat. The Japanese attack was a colossal strategic blunder, because it changed a lot of Americans' minds instantly.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:19 AM on December 7, 2005


Excuse me. Woohoo!? One of your greatest leaders, not one our ours.

Which explanation do you prefer?:

1. In a post about a British national tragedy, you should feel free to refer to yourselves without qualifying nationality.

2. FDR was a british leader inasmuch as he basically violated US law to get Britain supplies under Lend-Lease. And Churchill was an american leader because he was an inspiration to Americans both home an on the front.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2005


Churchill was also an American because he was born in America. Look it up.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:28 AM on December 7, 2005


we focused our engergies on beating Germany first.

True. We had to. They were choking off the rest of Europes oil and were a much more strategic threat to us.

was eager to get the US into a shooting war in Europe on England's behalf

Good thing too, huh. Can you image the shape of this world had we not?

I like the FDR didn't say over simplistic extreme things like "evil" but rather used "dastardly." Like the Japanese were cheating at cards or something.
posted by tkchrist at 9:28 AM on December 7, 2005


In response, one of our greatest leaders made one of his greatest speeches.

Really? I thought 'the response' was to drop nukes on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
posted by metaxa at 9:30 AM on December 7, 2005


Newsflash Cyrano - Japan and Germany were in an alliance. Iraq and Al Qaeda were not.

But in fact it was agreed that Germany would be first priority.

I am inclined to agree with Qounsar. There is no need to introduce statements regarding Iraq into this. It serves no purpose. Apples and oranges.
posted by a3matrix at 9:35 AM on December 7, 2005


Churchill was also an American because he was born in America. Look it up.

Uhm, he was born in Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, England...
posted by metaxa at 9:35 AM on December 7, 2005


If WWII was an MMORPG:
T0J0: lol o no america im comin 4 u
Roosevelt: wtf! thats bullsh1t u fags im gunna kick ur asses
T0J0: not without ur harbors u wont! lol
Roosevelt: u little biotch ill get u
'I don't think you can win it [the war on terrorism].' - George W. Bush on NBC's Today Show, August 30, 2004.
"We are winning and we will win."- George W. Bush, August 31, 2004
Stay the course!

posted by kirkaracha at 9:38 AM on December 7, 2005


Those of you who remember pre-Nixon (or even Roosevelt's time) - was there ever this all-pervading sense of healthy patriotism, love for President and country? Or is that one of those myths that comes from fuzzy memories?

I wasn't alive then, but I ask my parents about it all the time--they were both in elementary school during this era. From what I gather, I wouldn't call it so much an "all-pervading sense of healthy patriotism," but more of citizen involvement at all levels. Everyone felt some level of responsibility for contributing to "the war effort." Between the rationing, women joining the workforce en masse, the newsreels at the movies, and the propaganda everywhere else, it was impossible to forget the nation was at war. So it wasn't so much patriotism as a common goal everyone was contributing toward, whether they liked it or not.

Nowadays the resources needed to wage war are pulled from our taxes, and war doesn't affect you directly unless you are a defense contractor or a military family. It's pretty easy to completely ignore the current war, which is a little sickening.

My parents grew up fighting Hitler and Tojo in their pretend schoolyard battles--today's kids fight imaginary villains like Darth Vader and Zurg. They are being raised by post-watergate parents, who know that most of our leaders aren't all that heroic. Some days, I long to be so inspired by a leader, by a cause. I think everyone does.
posted by whatnot at 9:38 AM on December 7, 2005


From FDR's speech:

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

The conventional wisdom is that the timing was not intentional. As this Wikipedia article describes it,

Because of decryption and typing delays, the Embassy personnel could not manage to do so. The long message breaking off negotiations ... was delivered well after the intended time, and well after the attack had actually begun.

On the other hand...

Freshly discovered diplomatic papers published here this week seem to overturn standard versions of the events leading up to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, which have been told with little disagreement over the essential facts in history books on both sides of the Pacific.

------------------------------------------------------------

On preview, to return to FDR's speech, notice that he doesn't even mention Germany, which declared war on the US on the 11th:

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.
posted by alumshubby at 9:40 AM on December 7, 2005


one comment - germany declared war on the united states first ... there's no denying that fdr was waiting for this to happen and was quick to take the opportunity, but that's how it went down
posted by pyramid termite at 9:41 AM on December 7, 2005


Churchill was also an American because he was born in America. Look it up.

I was just at Blenheim Palace and I'm pretty sure that I was in England at the time.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:45 AM on December 7, 2005


There is no need to introduce statements regarding Iraq into this. It serves no purpose. Apples and oranges.

While I knew damn well that Faint of Butt was trying to drag Bush into this thread through the side door, I was responding to his statement as written. And taken as written it is wrong. I agree it's an apples and oranges thing.
posted by Cyrano at 9:47 AM on December 7, 2005


"Actually, we focused our engergies on beating Germany first."

Well, yes the US did but this statement is not factual. As we were already prepared for the type of battle called for in Europe, we jumped in. (I am using the term 'prepared' very, very loosely here.) Essentially a supply and air power war for awhile, and then in late 1942 the US hit Africa. This was with England of course, and it should be pointed out the Brits were fighting the war long before we decided to join in the fray. I mention all of this because it would appear some folks don't know or have forgotten along the way.

Meanwhile, in the Pacific, the moral booster of the Doolittle Raid took place in April of 1942. It was a pin prick on the country of Japan but a large slap in the face to the ego of Japan.

Then in June of 1942, The Battle of Midway took place. Some consider this turning point and everything after that was people dying, in mass.

I recommend this book for the US view of the start of the African battle.

The Wikipedia is a nice starting point for all of this, and has references to lots of other books, etc. Hopefully this helps to understand why the quoted statement above is at best misguided.
posted by fluffycreature at 9:52 AM on December 7, 2005


.
posted by Captaintripps at 10:01 AM on December 7, 2005


Really? I thought 'the response' was to drop nukes on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
posted by metaxa


That was my general impression as well. One of our nation's most embarassing moments, in my opinion.

"We're sorry - but Country? You were being kind of a bitch!"

/end paraphrased Dane Cook moment
posted by agregoli at 10:12 AM on December 7, 2005


I happen to think FDR was easily the greatest American president of the 20th century. But along with alumshubby, I've got some older relatives who fought in WWII who absolutely hated the guy, which was a real shock to me when I found out. In particular, there's a relative who got drafted towards the end and was shipped out to the Pacific. Before the nukes were dropped, lots of these guys (anecdotally) were pretty much convinced that FDR was a patrician asshat who was going to send them to their deaths for no good reason. And the anti-war movement against involvement in Europe and Asia was much stronger than people tend to remember--and let's not forget Lindbergh and the American Nazi party. History is always messy.

It's always satisifying to have one's book-lurnin' tempered by those who were there.

Great post.
posted by bardic at 10:17 AM on December 7, 2005


It takes a lot of hindsight to claim that the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombs were a "fuck you" response to Pearl Harbor, especially considering the gap of nearly four years and the intense firebombings that exceeded the destruction of the atomic bombs.
posted by mikeh at 10:26 AM on December 7, 2005


.
posted by BuffaloBandit at 10:30 AM on December 7, 2005


Churchill was also an American because he was born in America. Look it up.

Winston's mum was born in the US, maybe that's the confusion.
posted by the cuban at 10:30 AM on December 7, 2005


Before the nukes were dropped, lots of these guys (anecdotally) were pretty much convinced that FDR was a patrician asshat who was going to send them to their deaths for no good reason.

Roosevelt was not president when the bombs were dropped, Truman was. FDR died in April of 1945. The first bomb (the Trinity test) was detonated in July of that year. Still, I could see where such a show of force might change opinions about the long-term course of action.
posted by mikeh at 10:30 AM on December 7, 2005


This link has a little more background on the "Germany first" philosophy whereby the US determined priorities in waging World War II.
posted by alumshubby at 10:34 AM on December 7, 2005


No shit. A lot of the GI's who hated FDR thought highly of Truman for obvious reasons. My larger point is that when Americans today uncritically think of WWII as a resoundingly "good war," they overlook many voices who frankly didn't give a damn about the Jews, the Chinese, the French, the British, etc. More to the point, many Americans didn't think it was worth the sacrifice, even as the war ended.

(I happen to think it was, but I wasn't their either.)
posted by bardic at 10:37 AM on December 7, 2005


*there*
posted by bardic at 10:38 AM on December 7, 2005


Losing The War by Lee Sandlin, which has been posted on MeFi before, is one of the best essays I've ever read about WWII, and includes information on the general "mood" of America at the time of the Peal Harbour attacks. I can't praise it strongly enough. Very long, but worth it.
posted by you just lost the game at 10:41 AM on December 7, 2005



I happen to think FDR was easily the greatest American president of the 20th century.


I don't know to many people my age who hate the guy, but I am of the opinion that he was the absolute worst. I see his influence everyday in the current administration, and despair. He was the begining of the end as far as I am concerned.
posted by thirteen at 11:33 AM on December 7, 2005


It amazes me how restrained america was to enter a just war (WWII) and yet how willing it was to enter a... morally-vague war (Iraq). It's quite a contrast, althought that being said, it seems the President (at the time) was more than eager to go to war. Are leaders more warmongery than the general public? and why? Is it because they have "all the information" and we just want to sit with our heads in the sand? Or is there something else at work here?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:34 AM on December 7, 2005


If you want to read a graphic eyewitness account of the Pearl Harbor attack, there's a good one available at MemoryWiki . It's the first featured memoir (by Adam Fernandez).
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:41 AM on December 7, 2005


I thought that we dropped nukes on Japan as a "fuck you" to the Soviet Union (or maybe as a sort of "hey if you this/then fuck you" gesture). rather than to the Japanese who were already pretty beaten.

Of course charges that we were more willing to bomb Asians than Europeans are probably at least sort of fair.
posted by illovich at 11:42 AM on December 7, 2005


We did wear the white hat in WWII, but it sure had a lot of blood on it.
posted by breakfast_yeti at 11:46 AM on December 7, 2005


Losing The War by Lee Sandlin, which has been posted on MeFi before, is one of the best essays I've ever read about WWII, and includes information on the general "mood" of America at the time of the Peal Harbour attacks. I can't praise it strongly enough. Very long, but worth it.
posted by you just lost the game at 1:41 PM EST on December 7 [!]


Wow!

Incredible piece.

Thanks for for posting that.
posted by caddis at 11:58 AM on December 7, 2005


Or is there something else at work here?

WW2 was one hell of a national sacrifice. We diverted 4 1/2 years of GDP to it. 16M people served, 500,000 died, a million or two got otherwise fucked up.

We got off light in WWI, but even the unpleasantness of that experience (gas attacks, maiming of veterans) was branded in our cultural memory.

We also had more trepidation taking on Iraq in 1990-91. The relative cakewalk was an immense boost for militarism; we knew Iraq was no match for us militarily in 2003.

But as of yet, there has been no sacrifice among the american people as a whole. We've borrowed ~$200B for this war, but these war bonds are now sold with the same interest rate as the normal US debt issues (AFAIK the "War Bonds" of WW2 were sold at 3% maturing in 10 years).

Imagine how popular this intervention would be if we actually had to pay for it.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:35 PM on December 7, 2005


Thanks everyone who responded to my question - I know enough to know that history is whitewashed, but not how :)

I'm slowly making my way through Martin Gilbert's The Second World War: A Complete History, and am now inspired to read a little faster. It's excellently written; it just happens to be in about 6 point type.
posted by kalimac at 12:36 PM on December 7, 2005


It takes a lot of hindsight to claim that the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombs were a "fuck you" response to Pearl Harbor, especially considering the gap of nearly four years and the intense firebombings that exceeded the destruction of the atomic bombs.

yeah, the moral power of the a-bombs is something only really apparent in retrospect IMV. 200 B-17s could deliver 1kt of bombs on target, so a single 15-20kt bomb was a quantitative but not quite qualitative difference.

I think the general treatment of the POWs in the Philippines etc. had a great deal to do with the enmity the allies felt against the Japanese. Plus Japan's brutal actions in China in the 1930s left them on very thin moral ice when they found boot was on the other foot.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:50 PM on December 7, 2005


.



Excellent post. My grandfather is a pearl harbor vet - one of the last surviving in the area, though he doesn't like to talk about it much.

On rare occasions, I've been able to sit him down and discuss it. He was working as a mechanic on the U.S.S. Vestal, a repair ship that was chained to the Arizona when the bombing started. The commander of his ship earned the first medal of honor in the war for climbing back aboard his ship after getting blown off and grounding it to prevent it from sinking.

It was interesting taking my grandfather to see that god-awful Pearl Harbor movie. We both agreed that the plot was absolute dreck, but the battle scenes were filmed in real time, and it was neat to sit next to him while he whispered what would happen next. "Okay, that's the Oklahoma - she's going to go belly up in a second..."

posted by kaseijin at 1:03 PM on December 7, 2005


The conventional wisdom is that the timing was not intentional. As this Wikipedia article describes it,

Because of decryption and typing delays, the Embassy personnel could not manage to do so. The long message breaking off negotiations ... was delivered well after the intended time, and well after the attack had actually begun.

On the other hand...

Freshly discovered diplomatic papers published here this week seem to overturn standard versions of the events leading up to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, which have been told with little disagreement over the essential facts in history books on both sides of the Pacific.


Actually, not. War with Japan was a hard sell. That's why FDR not only allowed, but actually encouraged (by moving the fleet from the protected West Coast to the far less defensible, and easily reachable by the Japanese, base at Pearl Harbor) the death of 2,471 people. Just another fucking politician ready and willing to let regular people die in order to further geopolitical goals.
posted by krash2fast at 1:26 PM on December 7, 2005


The conventional wisdom is that the timing was not intentional. As this Wikipedia article describes it,

Because of decryption and typing delays, the Embassy personnel could not manage to do so. The long message breaking off negotiations ... was delivered well after the intended time, and well after the attack had actually begun.

On the other hand...

Freshly discovered diplomatic papers published here this week seem to overturn standard versions of the events leading up to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, which have been told with little disagreement over the essential facts in history books on both sides of the Pacific.


Actually, not. War with Japan was a hard sell. That's why FDR not only allowed, but actually encouraged (by moving the fleet from the protected West Coast to the far less defensible, and easily reachable by the Japanese, base at Pearl Harbor) the death of 2,471 people. Just another fucking politician ready and willing to let regular people die in order to further geopolitical goals.
posted by krash2fast at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2005


Churchill was also an American because he was born in America

well, his mom was American
posted by matteo at 1:37 PM on December 7, 2005


That's why FDR not only allowed, but actually encouraged ... the death of 2,471 people.

You might want to get some Depakote for that schizo-affective disorder you've got. And talk to your haberdasher because your aluminum foil hat's too tight.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:57 PM on December 7, 2005


What ever happened to leaders who could give a decent speech? FDR was an excellent orator, and Churchill even better.

Compare them with the likes of Bush and Blair.
posted by iso_bars at 2:04 PM on December 7, 2005


What iso_bars said.

I believe it was Disraeli who memorized all of his speeches (sometimes hours long) and recited them from memory?
posted by kalimac at 2:30 PM on December 7, 2005


moving the fleet from the protected West Coast to the far less defensible, and easily reachable by the Japanese, base at Pearl Harbor

Yeah. You NEVER want to stage your weaponry in better proximity to your potential enemy and closer to your strategic interests ahead of time.

Naw. You want to keep as far as way as possible as to say, maybe double or triple your response times to an attack. Gives your more time to think about a response. Throws the enemy off when you take your time.

I mean, really. Everybody expects a surprise attack. Nobody expects a slooooow motion reaction. Freaks 'em out.

[rolls eyes.]
posted by tkchrist at 3:11 PM on December 7, 2005



I mean, really. Everybody expects a surprise attack.


A surprise attack, but a not unexpected attack.

I am not really interested in the semantics of what should have been done, but Hawaii was not a state, and there was absolutely no chance of a sneak attack on the West coast of the US. Could not have happened without advanced warning.

Yeah. You NEVER want to stage your weaponry in better proximity to your potential enemy and closer to your strategic interests ahead of time.


And everyone should always keep their eggs in one basket too.
posted by thirteen at 3:21 PM on December 7, 2005


We've borrowed ~$200B for this war

According to Rep. Murtha, we've already spent $277 billion, and they’re going to ask for another $100 billion next year.

$377,000,000,000
posted by kirkaracha at 3:40 PM on December 7, 2005


O tempora, o morons
posted by rob511 at 4:33 PM on December 7, 2005


krash2fast
posted by alumshubby at 4:42 PM on December 7, 2005


I think the general treatment of the POWs in the Philippines etc. had a great deal to do with the enmity the allies felt against the Japanese.

Maybe so, but I think more of the enmity was due to the suprise attack, and racism was a big factor on both sides of the war in the Pacific. Even Bugs Bunny did racist propaganda (torrent, ads NSFW).

There were a lot of German-Americans, and they didn't get interned in huge numbers the way Japanese-Americans did. Americans had different attitudes towaards the Germans and Japanese. Ernie Pyle wrote:
In Europe, we felt that our enemies, horrible and deadly as they were, were still people, but out here, I soon gathered that the Japanese were looked upon as something subhuman and repulsive; the way some people feel about cockroaches and mice.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:52 PM on December 7, 2005


no chance of a sneak attack on the West coast of the US

Sure there was. A slim chance. But not -ZERO- chance (no pun to the japanese aircraft intended).

However, there was no chance of sneak attack if put our carriers on the moon either. My god! Why didn't we put them on the moon! Shenanigans! I cry shenanigans!

Look. Dude. All this wild "what if"ing and conspiracy theorizing 50 years later leaves out the most convenient fact. And that is: Human beings are fallible. Large government bureaucracies are fallible. Communications systems, especially in 50 years ago, were fallible. My god. Look at how thing get fucked up today!

That the much of the pacific fleet was withdrawn from FORWARD bases, where it was thought they were MORE vulnerable, to Hawaii and not placed in San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco or Seattle is more likely a function of competing political interests, underestimation of the enemy, and muddled strategy.

Frankly I don't know. And neither do you.

But it is irrelevant. because we SHOULD have fought the Imperial Japanese. And it is possible had the attack at Pearl Harbor been a deliberate sacrifice it is likely that sacrifice was well made and saved millions of lives in the long term. because while the Japanese remained un-checked aggressors in Indo-china, the Philippines, China, and Korea they were well on their way to slaughtering tens of millions.
posted by tkchrist at 4:56 PM on December 7, 2005


iso_bars: about that whole speech thing, cross reference it with who writes the speeches. I'd wager that since speech writers started doing all the writing they've lost a lot of the passion and individual opinions of the leaders.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:35 PM on December 7, 2005


Dang. Just, well, dang.
It amazes me that even this long after the war, people still have so many misconceptions and misinterpretations and outright falsehoods about it.
What does this say about whether or not the truth will come out about the current war even 100 years from now?
It's kind of sad.
posted by nightchrome at 5:48 PM on December 7, 2005


It amazes me that even this long after the war, people still have so many misconceptions and misinterpretations and outright falsehoods about it.

Luckliy, you know the real truth.
posted by tkchrist at 6:09 PM on December 7, 2005


And everyone should always keep their eggs in one basket too.

LOL. How many islands are there in the Pacific, under US control circa 1930-1940 and with proper infra-structure, capable of deep harboring, docking and fitting battleships, carriers, and destroyers? How many are there far enough away from Japan to be considered reasonably safe by 1930's aircraft range standards?

I'd say your options are few, bud. Pearl was about as good as it got.
posted by tkchrist at 6:19 PM on December 7, 2005



But it is irrelevant. because we SHOULD have fought the Imperial Japanese.


I don't wholly disagree with your other points, but this to me sounds just like the people who say we should be fighting what ever stand in for terrorism. I say the President had no business starting a war against the will of the people who would have to suffer and die to win it. The ends justify the means is hardly our national motto. The people were lied to, and their interests were worked against. FDR was as big a liar as any George Bush.
posted by thirteen at 6:22 PM on December 7, 2005



I'd say your options are few, bud. Pearl was about as good as it got.


^Especially if you want to keep all your sunken ships together.^

You are referencing the era. Nothing was super fast then, and in the preparation for the desired war, I am not sure what difference an extra 3 days would have been in whatever senarios you are imagining. That is assuming we were acting in a neutral fashion. Since we had a shadow war alreading running at the time, you are correct, there are few other places to place the ships.

I would be curious to hear your idea of why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor actually. I am not messing with you, just enjoying the conversation.



^ means rimshot. This is my attempt to boost the use of inline tages for greater understanding on the WWW.
posted by thirteen at 6:28 PM on December 7, 2005


sounds just like the people who say we should be fighting what ever stand in for terrorism.

I am miserable at editing MeFi posts.

"what ever stand-in for the word "terrorism" any given speaker wishes to choose from in the Middle East"

It is stil awkward. Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians. Just look at a Paris Paramus posts to see what I mean.
posted by thirteen at 6:35 PM on December 7, 2005


Luckliy, you know the real truth.

tkchrist: No, I don't. Which was kind of my point. Take a break from being defensive for a moment.
posted by nightchrome at 7:59 PM on December 7, 2005


I'd say your options are few, bud. Pearl was about as good as it got.

The issue is a forward base for subs and destroyers (which lacked the range to cruise into Empire waters without refueling from tanker or capital ship), not to mention economizing fuel usage for the big boys. Fleet speed was something like 15 knots, so the 2400 miles to HNL would take more like a week to navigate, and the big boys would have to replenish from tankers, taking another day out of the schedule.

Japan's capital ships spent most of the war swinging at anchor at Truk and Singapore since they lacked the fuel oil to mount major operations at any frequency. I've read that had the Japanese destroyed the tank farm at Pearl there would have been no Midway or Guadalcanal in 1942, and the war would have gone on years longer.

(Though this may not have been a bad thing, at least for the US, since all we had to do to win the war was take and hold the Marianas, fly hundreds of B-29s there, and bomb the crap out of the Japanese cities like we did. Then again "liberating" the Philippines first did give the US some moral cover to just get the damn war over by any means necessary; I doubt history would be so silent had we just starting slaughtering Japanese civs wholesale in 1945-46.)
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:14 PM on December 7, 2005


There were a lot of German-Americans, and they didn't get interned in huge numbers the way Japanese-Americans did

This is true, too. One difference was the Japanese were a small population. And immigration was relatively recent, and brief, just 1.5 generations were allowed in before the immigration door was closed ca 1920. We Californians [OK, I] see the hot nikkei sansei of my generation (I guess we're on yonsei now) but forget what the situation was like 1920-1940 here, when Japanese on the whole were treated like coolie labor, or Mexicans.

Had the Japanese had more time and opportunity to integrate into society they would have had better bona fides.

The Japanese were seen, and were to some extent, inscrutable, and "dastardly". Japanese Americans in those less-enlightened times were caught up in this snap judgement.

Such snap judgements that our right-tard mefi friends often fall into wrt Muslims in America from time to time here.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:23 PM on December 7, 2005


And it is possible had the attack at Pearl Harbor been a deliberate sacrifice it is likely that sacrifice was well made and saved millions of lives in the long term

Moving the ships to PH (from San Diego) after the fleet exercises of 1940 was also a signal to the Japanese that our patience was waning.
Unfortunately, the vote to continue the draft in 1941, which passed by just 1 vote IIRC, gave the Japanese a conflicting message wrt how serious we were about engaging them.

1940 was the critical year since it looked like Germany had won the war by taking out France, and Japan successfully moved into French Indochina, closing off China's major access point to our help.

Had the Japanese not attacked PH or American forces, I think the USN would have done its damnedest to draw the Japanese into a fight, eg. bombing Japanese transports with the B-17s we were flying to Clark Field in the Philippines, etc.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:06 PM on December 7, 2005



Had the Japanese not attacked PH or American forces, I think the USN would have done its damnedest to draw the Japanese into a fight, eg. bombing Japanese transports with the B-17s we were flying to Clark Field in the Philippines, etc.


We were blockading them, and overtly supplying the Chinese with fighter pilots and planes. It is not like they did not know the US was looking for a nice terrible war.
posted by thirteen at 10:54 PM on December 7, 2005


good point. July 26, 1941 was when the US froze Japanese assets in the US. I've read the resulting oil blockade was incidental to this action, but forget where (Dunnigan perhaps).

The AVG, however, was still in Burma when war broke out.

Interestingly, Churchill in his memoirs recounts how the initial "modus vivendi" that Roosevelt was to offer the Japanese that fall was "meagre rations" or a "thin gruel" for CKS. This may have been self-serving BS from WSC, but the revised modus vivendi offered to Japan (get out of China!) was of course a non-starter and affront to Japanese national honor.

Like I said above, however, in August 1941 Congress voted 203-202 to retain the draft. Not exactly a signal of martial resolve to be sending to Japan, what with Hitler's spearheads slicing towards Moscow, Britain on the ropes, China completely isolated from the world, and the Dutch East Indies sitting there for the (Japanese) taking.

People wonder why the Japanese were so fanatically suicidal to launch the attack on the US. This is colored by wartime events and lacking a proper Japanese perspective of the sitation in 1941. B-29s able to carry substantial payloads from the Marianas to Tokyo, the combat power of the Essex class carriers + the F6F fighter + the Avenger attack bomber, the expansion of the USMC to six divisions, and the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany were simply not apparent to Japanese war planners in 1941.

What was apparent was (thanks to the fuel and metals embargo) that Japan had only months to decide on winning its new Empire in the South or knuckling under to US pressure and retreating from its springboard in French Indochina and withdrawing its hooks from China proper.

Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Dutch East Indies were incredibly rich prizes, sitting there for the taking. Russia and the UK had its hands full with Hitler, the US was more of a future threat years down the road rather than a present threat, and from the Japanese perspective the Japanese army position on the Asian continent and Dutch East Indies would be completely secure for years and years (and they were).

The Japanese Navy was less sanguine, but they were cashing their paychecks to secure the Empire, and had their 4 superbattleships under construction, the finest fleet aviation arm in the world, and the superiority of numbers for the first few years of the war. What THEY were blindsided by were radar, including radar-fusing (they called it "Magic Fuse") of AA shells, the efficacy of submarine war on their supply lines (the Pacific is a big ocean, so enemy submarines based at Pearl and Austrilia cruising Japan's shipping lanes was somewhat surprising to them), and I suppose the logistics difficulty of striking towards India, Australia, Hawaii, and Alaska, while having to compete with the Army for logistics (IIRC the Japanese Army controlled significant shipping tonnage) and strategy decisionmaking (eg having to fight for the Solomons and New Guinea, NOT the 'deciding battle' the IJN was looking fore).
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:52 AM on December 8, 2005


Actually, we focused our engergies on beating Germany first.

It'd be more accurate to say we focused our energies on helping the Soviet Union beat Germany. "The Red Army and other forces of the USSR inflicted about 80% of losses - about 3 million men - suffered by German land forces...in World War II."

Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 (committing one of the classic blunders), and had failed to knock the Soviet Union out of the war by December. The Soviets counterattacked two days before Pearl Harbor.

Although the Eastern Front probably wasn't decisively lost until the Soviet counter-attack at Stalingrad, which happened 11 days after the Americans invaded North Africa, Germany's best chance to beat the Soviet Union was in 1941.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:41 AM on December 8, 2005


Man, he was pretty pissed off.
posted by joelf at 10:59 AM on December 8, 2005


FDR was as big a liar as any George Bush.

Oh C'mon. That is waaaaay too cynical. And foolishly revisionist.

Maybe FDR did lie. But he lied about an actual threat. A threat that really could destroy the nascent US as we knew it. Unlike Bush FDR didn't concoct a threat purely for political, imperial or private gain.

For God's sake man, do you know what the Japanese were doing? Say what you will about US imperial aims and crimes but the Japanese Empire was murdering and enslaving millions of defenses peoples unchecked.

If there IS any reason to go to war those things would be it, right?
posted by tkchrist at 11:46 AM on December 9, 2005



Oh C'mon. That is waaaaay too cynical. And foolishly revisionist.


What is revisionist about a lie? He provoked a war we did not have to be in, against the will of the people he was supposed to serve.

As for the US, I think it would be a better country now if he had never been president. The man intentionally broke the government and lost no sleep trashing the Constitution. If it is bad for bush to pack the court with ideologues, why not FDR? Habeas Corpus? FDR had no use for it. I cannot find the good in his lies. What lie can justify the mountain of American dead? Their lives had value to them, and FDR is the reason they died. It was a betrayal.

If WWII were happening today, people would be protesting it, and refusing to be drafted.

I know alot about what the Japanese were doing, and it was awful. Bush appeals to that same emotional center in nearly every speech about Saddam. You can say the wars are different, just like I heard Rush complain that the Liberals are wrong to compare Iraq and Viet Nam, but from where I sit, all wars are pretty similar. I hate them all.
posted by thirteen at 9:26 PM on December 9, 2005


What is revisionist about a lie? He provoked a war we did not have to be in, against the will of the people he was supposed to serve.

Didn't HAVE to be in? Your have to be either completly under-educated on the time, on some kind of adolesent moral-relativist kick, or your trolling me. War with Japan was inevitable. It could be on our time-table. Or, after they were done looting asia and building thier resource base, on thier time table.

We will have to agree to disagree on this one becuae a discussion based on such a divergent misreading of historical facts will not be productive.
posted by tkchrist at 4:02 PM on December 11, 2005



We will have to agree to disagree on this one becuae a discussion based on such a divergent misreading of historical facts will not be productive.


Your opinion of my position is uncharitable, but this is a good point to stop. For my part, I have been interested in WWII since I was a child, and have read several books a year regarding it for the last 25 years at least. I know what lead up to the war. We disagree in interpretation honestly, but I am not misreading anything.
posted by thirteen at 6:31 PM on December 11, 2005


« Older The Average Shoveler   |   Bitch-Slapping with the Invisible Hand Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post