The Day the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor

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This day is remembered as the “day that will live in infamy,” in American history. It is the day when the Japanese attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor. Your editor’s father was there when it happened, stationed at Schofield Barracks.

Years ago, we asked what it was like.

“What was it like? It was mostly confusing. All of a sudden, there were planes overhead. I thought they were our planes…putting on some Sunday show…or just hot-dogging around. Then, I realized that they were trying to kill us. By that time, bombs were going off in the harbor…and falling on our base too… We were being strafed. And we were completely unprepared. I rushed out of the barracks half dressed over to the armory. We didn’t even have any weapons at hand. We had to get them out of the armory…and I had the keys. So, I ran over and started handing out rifles. We managed to shoot down one of the planes with a Browning automatic. We thought it was the beginning of an invasion, so we got our rifles and got ready to for the next wave of the attack. Nobody seemed to have a very good idea of what was going on…. They even blacked out the radio. We didn’t know what was going on…but I knew it was the start of something big.”

We spoke about ‘claptrap wars,’ last week. Any politician worth shooting can whip the public up for war; especially if it is a war against an unworthy opponent. American history – like the history of almost any major nation – is pockmarked by them. Wars against Indian tribes…wars against the Mexicans…wars against the Spanish…and the banana republic wars…

Until the Japanese attacked, Americans had fought in only one war worth fighting. And that was a war they lost. Sherman burned and looted from Atlanta to the sea…and drove Ol’ Dixie down. The wrong side won.

If anyone ever writes a book on the families that inflicted the most damage on America, the Sherman family should be on the list. Not quite as high up on the list as the Roosevelts, Kennedys or the Bushes, perhaps, but still among the top 10. One brother laid waste to Georgia; his brother was a senator who tried to lay waste to Wall Street. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was a milestone in government interference in the economy.

But back to WWII… At least the right side won in the war against Japan. And won well. Instead of the bloody frontal assaults of the War Between the States…or WWI…General MacArthur carefully outflanked the Japanese, cutting her long supply lines and depriving its army of vital supplies. The Japanese navy, for example, ran so low on fuel it couldn’t maneuver; and Japanese aircraft never performed as well as American planes, partly because they had no access to high octane fuel.

Thanks to MacArthur, casualties in the Pacific were only a fraction of those in Europe. Well done, Mac…

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.
Bill Bonner

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Comments

  1. I sympathise if there is a personal factor in your comments about Sherman laying waste to Georgia, but I think you’re not taking into account that he had no other option.
    The North had the war won in 1861 by any rational consideration of when it’s time to give up and sue for peace. The South was blockaded, but chose to fight on. This left the North with no choice, if it wanted to win, but to inflict the kind of devastation that still has people talking about how bad Grant and Sherman were 150 years later. Of course the North could have chosen to sue for peace itself, but why should it have?

    Reply
  2. And lets not forget they finished it with a nuke. That really left very little doubt who won.
    And then they followed it up with a 2nd nuke, just to get rid of that very little doubt.

    Unpopular Truth
    December 9, 2009
    Reply
  3. …and of course in American eyes nobody else was involved. It was all down to the US or A. As for the Nukes, well a trip to the memorials in Nagasaki or Hiroshima illustrate that the U.S has nothing to be proud about. Funny how if the other side targets civilians it’s a war crime but when the “good guys” do the same it is a tactical decision. It is a funny old world.

    Greg Atkinson
    December 9, 2009
    Reply
  4. “Thanks to MacArthur, casualties in the Pacific were only a fraction of those in Europe. Well done, Mac…”

    Not sure the Chinese and Filipinos and Brits and Indians and Aussies and other assorted allies would remember it that way – But yeh, America did a remarkably good job on skipping the pain. And picking up the gain.

    Reply
  5. Winners don’t commit war crimes Greg. Only the losers.

    What are some of the jokes about General “I shall return” MacArthur – Stuff like ” … behind 20,000 dead marines”, ” … for your money” etc

    Reply
  6. You really need to stick with something you know about Bill cos it’s obvious you know bugger all about the S

    Terry Jones
    December 9, 2009
    Reply
  7. oops fat finger syndrome!! To continue…..It’s obvious you know bugger all about the Second World War.
    Economics seems to be your forte. Social comment and History not so much.
    Good work otherwise

    Terry Jones
    December 9, 2009
    Reply
  8. It’s a common failing Terry – Heck, the Russians think THEY had something to do with spoiling Hitler’s plans – It becomes so tedious trying to explain to them that the entire Eastern Front thing was just a lark while the West was figuring out which bit of the French coast to visit.

    Reply
  9. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were disgraceful acts of violence against innocent civilian people. If it was necessary to nuke one city…of course not, but for the sake of the argument, was the second still justified? But what else can you expect from us humans? Still there has been much to admire about America…more so in the past.

    Lachlan Scanlan
    December 9, 2009
    Reply
  10. Gidday Ned. That rat turbine idea has knocked the price of oil around, maybe on fears of an energy supply glut ;) but I mighta blew up my own long trade :(

    Lachlan Scanlan
    December 9, 2009
    Reply
  11. The US had cut Japan’s supply lines and they also put their finger into imperial Japan’s back door in China with their Flying Tigers out of Burma …. and guess what Bill? Both these acts of US aggression were undertaken before the Pearl Harbour “unprovoked & cowardly act”. So the 2 acknowledged post WWI Pacific imperial powers slugged it out and the bigger one with domestic oil and more resources at close hand won. Being a non imperially inclined conservatives we wouldn’t be excusing either side.

    Reply
  12. No comments [or scores???] on me Russkie comment? – A hint: It’s sarcasm … Sorry – I forgot the :) to tell them who know no history other than America’s version of same to laugh on cue.

    Some figures:
    WWII German population approx 80 m … from memory – Look it up yaself …
    German army approx 6 m … Again from memory – ditto above.
    Germans destroyed at Stalingrad (for Axis double and add a bit) – Approx 0.4 m – Bit of a b for one city! – July 1942/Feb 1943
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Stalingrad#Casualties
    Total Germans destroyed on Eastern front – Approx 2.74 m (figure to Dec 1944) … Ouch!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_casualties_in_World_War_II
    Normandy invasion by the Western Allies – June/July 1944 … HELLO the date???
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Normandy

    Plus a quote: “By measure of manpower, duration, territorial reach and casualties, the Eastern Front was as much as four times the scale of the conflict on the Western Front that opened with the Normandy invasion.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Front_(World_War_II)

    An aside – Wanna know the funniest joke I’ve heard in the last few years? No??? Nevermind, I’ll tell you anyway! – It was Hillary Clinton (the “ary” bit of Billary I like to think of her as – That Americans thought about making their president – Which is a joke in itself!) telling the Chinese that “The United States has a well deserved financial reputation” – I nearly rolled around on the floor – Then the fear came upon me that this poor silly thing truly believes her OWN national rhetoric!!! And I thought: America is very big and powerful. And its leaders are dumb to the point of being retarded – We are ALL very deeply in the poo!

    Jeez, yuze Yanks are the most pig ignorant dumb buggers who are actually literate that it’s possible to imagine … Please go and read some WORLD history! Ya might be OK at turning over a few short term bucks speculating when Father Fed backs ya with borrowed bickies from chinatown, but ya aren’t much good for anything else nowadays.

    Reply
  13. G’day Lachie – I think ya oil could do just fine over the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 years mate? Like BP’s houses maybe? Providing ya pick the right companies!!! Or an ETF (is that what they’re called?) that doesn’t fudge its figures maybe? Crazy bloody world! Smile – Ned.

    Reply
  14. Your comment is awaiting moderation. – So DR says – *** OK – I’ll corrupt the wiki links and the comment can come through with same once moderated *** Same follows:

    No comments [or scores???] on me Russkie comment? – A hint: It’s sarcasm … Sorry – I forgot the :) to tell them who know no history other than America’s version of same to laugh on cue.

    Some figures:
    WWII German population approx 80 m … from memory – Look it up yaself …
    German army approx 6 m … Again from memory – ditto above.
    Germans destroyed at Stalingrad (for Axis double and add a bit) – Approx 0.4 m – Bit of a b for one city! – July 1942/Feb 1943
    http: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Stalingrad#Casualties
    Total Germans destroyed on Eastern front – Approx 2.74 m (figure to Dec 1944) … Ouch!
    http: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_casualties_in_World_War_II
    Normandy invasion by the Western Allies – June/July 1944 … HELLO the date???
    http: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Normandy

    Plus a quote: “By measure of manpower, duration, territorial reach and casualties, the Eastern Front was as much as four times the scale of the conflict on the Western Front that opened with the Normandy invasion.”
    http: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Front_(World_War_II)

    An aside – Wanna know the funniest joke I’ve heard in the last few years? No??? Nevermind, I’ll tell you anyway! – It was Hillary Clinton (the “ary” bit of Billary I like to think of her as – That Americans thought about making their president – Which is a joke in itself!) telling the Chinese that “The United States has a well deserved financial reputation” – I nearly rolled around on the floor – Then the fear came upon me that this poor silly thing truly believes her OWN national rhetoric!!! And I thought: America is very big and powerful. And its leaders are dumb to the point of being retarded – We are ALL very deeply in the poo!

    Jeez, yuze Yanks are the most pig ignorant dumb buggers who are actually literate that it’s possible to imagine … Please go and read some WORLD history! Ya might be OK at turning over a few short term bucks speculating when Father Fed backs ya with borrowed bickies from chinatown, but ya aren’t much good for anything else nowadays.

    Reply
  15. “The wrong side won.”
    Wonder what the parrellel universe looks like where the “right side” won and all da ‘merican black coons in Ol’ Dixie are still picking cotton for da man – Compared to ours where all da black, brown, yellow and white coons worldwide are picking cotton for da ‘merican man? :)

    Reply
  16. Not much different I guess – Coons are coons – Regardless of colour or nationality. And da man’s da man – Regardles of colour or nationality.

    Reply
  17. …how many broken hearts, each but a pearl on a strand…lost in the salty ocean that infamous day shall never be known…in a letter, on a shelf, in the drawer…in the garden beneath a favourite place…i wonder…or lost in the afghan sands of tommorrows’…broken hearts…do you know…?…broken hearts…do you..?…

    Reply
  18. Hi Bill,

    On a partially unrelated note, I was wondering what your thoughts are on the ‘Military Industrial Complex’ driving much of the political and public policy in America, and how you think that will that will impact the economy in the long run. I’ve not heard you cover that topic, but I’d be very interested in your perspective.

    regards

    Chris

    Chris Johnson
    December 21, 2009
    Reply
  19. …today may 11, 2011…a broken heart landed beside my hedgemaze, it is a heart of crumpled cellophane, a silver and red helium balloon with two red cords that twisted around a cherry branch, and handwritten on the red side is…” Dad, Forever missed, Forever LOVED, NEVER FORGOTTEN, Heroes Get remembered, I LOVE YOU, I’ll make you PROUD”….

    Reply

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