76 years have passed since a military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. The attack was the catalyst that launched the United States into World War II (WWII).
Over 2,000 service men and women were killed that day, along with hundreds of civilians on the island of Oahu as Japanese planes bombed them. American battleships lay destroyed in the harbor, four of them sunk — including the Arizona and Oklahoma, and almost 200 planes were wiped out.
Calling it “the date which will live in infamy,” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war the next day.
There has long been a debate whether FDR “let” Pearl Harbor happen to provide him with the political room to declare war on Japan. FDR and his top advisors agreed with the British that the U.S. needed to get into the war on Britain’s side. But it was also a poor idea to have the U.S. fire the first shot: Japan had to appear as the aggressor. This was the only way to sway the majority of the U.S. population who were opposed to entering WWII.
Whether it was a surprise attack or not, the U.S. should be prepared.
The Pentagon is now bracing for Pearl Harbor, part II.
Michael Judge, a former contributing editor at the Wall Street Journal and the Far Eastern Economic Review, said the war of words between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is so dire that it could culminate in the rogue state launching a devastating attack. And, if lessons are not learnt from the past, it could lead to mass destruction.
Judge wrote in an article for Politico, “One would hope that the goal in Washington today, as in nearly all diplomacy, is to avoid war — especially one that might include a nuclear exchange.”
The U.S. cannot afford the same mistakes as it did in the events leading up to Pearl Harbor, especially when the threat is nuclear.
Taking a lesson from history, meanwhile, Hawaii on Dec. 1 restarted regular tests of its air raid siren system, last heard from during the Cold War.