It was a quiet time. Things could not have been better. Some people were still asleep. After all, it was only 7:55 AM. Other people were having breakfast, while still others were getting ready for church on a tranquil Sunday morning, in this tropical paradise. Everyone had been told, by those who should know, that there was no reason for concern.
Life was good.
The date was December 7, 1941.
Then the first bomb dropped on the Naval Air Station at Pearl Harbor. A mere 110 minutes later, 2,335 U.S. servicemen had been killed, with another 1,143 servicemen wounded. Sixty-eight civilians had also been killed and another 35 wounded. The USA had just become the latest victim of a sneak attack by a nation that had never, in its long history, preceded an act of war with a declaration of war or any other type of warning. The Japanese had played upon the naivety of a U.S. president, who had ignored the lessons of history.
But he was talking out of both sides of his mouth. That’s because the infamy wasn’t all the fault of Japan. Don’t get me wrong. Japan was primarily at fault. But our own government was partially responsible for the high body count at Pearl Harbor, due to their complete incompetence.
The administration had refused to believe that we had enemies who might attack us without warning. Instead, they played politics with with the lives of our soldiers and sailors, and the people of Honolulu, knowing full well of Japan’s history of not preceding hostilities with any kind or warning or ultimatum. The Roosevelt Administration intentionally kept our theater commanders in the dark, denying them access to the Operation Magic intercepts that contained critical information. Instead of keeping theater commanders informed, they were sent a series of cryptic messages from Washington and as a result, our military forces were caught entirely off guard and unprepared.
In fact, had it not been for the boldness of Admiral Kimmel, in sending his carriers out on patrol, without escort, the U.S. might well have lost the war, since all of our carriers would have been sunk at their moorings, along side the battleships and other ships that were sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor. We would have been totally defenseless in the Pacific. Instead, only six months after the Pearl Harbor attack, three of those carriers turned the tide of the war in the Pacific, at Midway Island, sinking four of Japan’s largest carriers – a defeat from which Japan would never recover and which put Japan on the defensive for the rest of the war.
But the fact that those U.S. carriers were not in port at the time of the attack, was due to the decision of an admiral in Hawaii, not a decision made in Washington, DC. While there are many who believe that Roosevelt wanted the fleet to be attacked, to give him justification for entering the war, I just can’t bring myself to believe that any president (before Obama, anyway) could on his worst day, be so cold and heartless. However, the best case scenario is that Roosevelt and his administration were entirely incompetent, in that they refused to believe that our enemies were so cowardly that they would attack without warning.
So fast-forward to modern times. Every year on December 7, our leaders pretend to honor those who died as a result of those past failures. They make grandiose speeches, promising to not let the lesson of the sacrifice of those servicemen be lost. They go on to make empty promises that they will make sure that their administration will be prepared to defend our nation from any and all enemies.
Then came September 11, 2001 and once again, this nation learned the same painful, but entirely unnecessary lesson that we learned in 1941. Clinton had been suckered in to the same complacency that plagued Roosevelt, in that he allowed our military and intelligence readiness to decline, believing that he could bargain with those who have been taught from birth, to hate all who do not accept Islam.
400 years before Christ walked this planet, Plato observed, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
It is a truism that the most powerful and successful will always have enemies among those who have less power. This isn’t to say that all who have less power will consider the most powerful to be their enemy. But there will always be some among that second tier, who will be willing to do anything to be on top. This is a fact that time will never change. Therefore, you would expect that any competent leader would keep that truism at the forefront of his mind.
But today, we see Obama attempting an “outreach” to the Muslim world, while simultaneously doing everything he can to weaken our military readiness. But to make matters worse, even when we have relief troops in place, as we did during the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Obama orders the relief troops to stand down. The result was the needless slaughter of four Americans - U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens; information management officer Sean Smith; and two security officers who were former Navy SEALs, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
But the incompetence began much earlier. Formerly classified cables, now released, show that Ambassador Stevens had warned the State Department repeatedly for months, that the consulate security was lacking and that there had been a rise in Al-Qaeda activity in the area. The last such warning went out only hours before the attack on the consulate.
On this day of remembrance, as we look back at the attack on Pearl Harbor and remember the gallant servicemen whose lives were sacrificed, due to White House incompetence, it is abundantly clear that America’s current leadership has forgotten the lessons of Pearl Harbor.
The heroes of Pearl Harbor deserve more than an obligatory speech from a president who claims to have been born in Hawaii, but who doesn’t even understand the circumstances surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Although the current administration has forgotten the lessons of Pearl Harbor and how and why those heroes died, we the people will keep their memory alive, that their sacrifice will not have been in vain. Hopefully, the next president we elect will be one who actually learns from history, rather than one like Obama, who considers history to be nothing more than a boring college subject.
But until then, it’s up to us to keep alive the memory of those who died at Pearl Harbor, along with those who survived that terrible attack and the lesson that the USA learned, at the expense of the lives of those brave U.S. servicemen and Hawaiian civilians. We remember their sacrifice and the lesson it delivered, even though the current administration doesn’t.