The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a punctuation mark in the historical narrative of America's journey to war against the Axis. The rhetoric of the Imperial militarists in Tokyo had long telegraphed their intent to turn the Far East and the Pacific Basin into a Japanese lake. Their campaigns in China gave ample evidence of their willingness to commit any brutality to further their aims, and provided justification for the 'yellow peril' faction above and beyond mere xenophobic/racist sentiments of the time. At a time when U.S. military line training aids depicted the Japanese soldiers as nearsighted,bucktoothed monkey men the halls of the almost-completed Pentagon were filled with Captains, Generals, and Admirals anxiously pondering the lessons of Tsushima and trying to envision just where airpower would fit in the order of battle that would obviously be dominated by battleships.
Years before the first Val tipped into its dive over above Battleship Row, we had already exchanged gunfire with German U-Boats and seen U.S. flagged ships sunk by enemy action in the Atlantic. We had embargoed deliveries of U.S. steel and petroleum to Japan over their atrocities in China. Our government had formulated sweeping plans to harness industry and manpower in spite of a prevailing isolationist sentiment across much of a depression-battered nation.
I have a lot of problems with FDR's social and economic legacy, but one thing I never fault him for is his leadership in preparing the country to fight and win a war we didn't want and didn't ask for.
The part of Texas I grew up in is dotted with old airfields. I knew old men who were shotgun-shack sheepherders living on canned beans and rabbit fritters on December 6th 1941 who became draft-protected Essential War Material Suppliers within a week of the attack - in one case one of those old boys tells the story that he didn't even know we were at war until a War Department man pulled up to his shack in a Packard to let him know that government engineers were coming to develop the oil resources under his range. America knew we had been attacked, knew we had to get into the fight...but without the foresight of FDR's diplomats and planners we'd have been restricted to drilling with wooden rifles and sending out convoys to Britain until 1943 or 44 - if we were allowed the grace to survive that long. We were in horrible shape, as continental powers go, in 1941 - make no mistake about it - but the military and industrial preparations made beginning around 1939 did make it possible for us to go on the offensive soon enough to win the fight.
John Podhoretz has a column in today's New York Post about the latest iteration of the Democratic effort to label President Bush. Today's effort is Evil Doofus. It's an excellent read, shifting from what the Democrats want to believe to what Bush is actually accomplishing and the personnel moves he's making to make it happen.
More Americans died on September 11th than at Pearl Harbor. We had three decades of storm warnings on the part of fundamentalist Islamic terrorists vice the one the Nazi/Italy/Japan axis gave us prior to attacking us on our own soil. A majority of Americans decided to fight.
Unlike in 1941, the minority political party has declined to participate this time around. I believe we can, and will, win without them. We must. Just like a billion dollars in one pile, very few people can comprehend the power we actually have at our disposal. All those carriers, airplanes, and troops we've paid for over the course of our lives represent the manifestation of adult appreciation of the world we live in...and the fact that we didn't entirely disarm after we won WW3 means that a slim majority of all our elected leaders knew deep down that we could not afford to not pay the price to maintain them.
The surreal, actually outrageous, reality about our strategy to eventually defeat the threat is that it pivots on the creation of democracies... And who howls loudest that we are wrong? Who equates beheading jihadis with Minutemen? That we are doomed to defeat? The same people who pride themselves on being caring, broad minded, progressives. The people that can find a victim to champion faster than a blogger can hit the enter key. What will they tell their kids when they ask "What did you do in the war?" while on the way to the airport to visit the ruins of Ur or visit Palestine and Israel for shopping? In their post-election flailing, they appear to seek oblivion over making any attempt to join in the battle to defeat the greatest threat to Western democracy since the Sov's were defeated.
I expect the next calendar year to see the face of the world changed in ways unimaginable. Bush is collecting a new cabinet of operators and staffing critical agencies and benches with street cops, successful businessmen, and constitutional jurists.
Afghanistan swore in a president yesterday. Iraq will elect their first in January.
I believe that the Iranians will do the same within eighteen months, and Syria not long after.