Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 7, 2009

68 Years Ago… A Week Ago…

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jessica Herrera-Flanigan on December 7, 2009

7:53AM, the first wave came.  At approximately 8:55am, the second wave appeared. By 9:55am, it was over.

2,400+ dead.
1,282 wounded.
Four U.S. Navy battleships sunk.

188 Aircraft destroyed/damaged, along with several cruisers, destroyers, and a minelayer.

Sixty-eight years ago today, the Empire of Japan unexpectedly and without a formal declaration of war, attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  The attack united America.  The day after the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his “a date which will live in infamy” speech, resulting in Congress passing a formal declaration of war against Japan and solidifying the nation’s commitment to enter  World War II on the side of the Allies.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks eight years ago, a number of commentaries and analysis emerged comparing the 9/11 attacks to Pearl Harbor.   Some noted that the 9/11 attacks were the worst ever on American soil, surpassing Pearl Harbor.  Many noted the shock that accompanied both attacks.  Some analyzed the strategic (Pearl Harbor) vs symbolic (9/11) nature of the attacks. Others just noted that both united our nation.

Perhaps fittingly, President Obama’s speech last week “on the way forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” at West Point had tinges of President Roosevelt’s speech from December 8, 1941 throughout it.  The challenge, of course, for President Obama is reuniting the nation in the quiet of the moment – eight years later – rather than in the days after an attack. He seems aware of the challenge, calling in his speech for a united America and making a case for relevancy.  The coming days of Congressional action and public polls will help determine whether he was successful in his attempt.  As for the speeches, here is a line-by-line analysis of President Roosevelt’s speech with some excerpts (in blue) from the much longer Obama speech:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people.  They struck at our military and economic nerve centers.  They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

We did not ask for this fight.

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. 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.

Al Qaeda’s base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban — a ruthless, repressive and radical movement that seized control of that country after it was ravaged by years of Soviet occupation and civil war, and after the attention of America and our friends had turned elsewhere.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

Under the banner of this domestic unity and international legitimacy — and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden — we sent our troops into Afghanistan.  Within a matter of months, al Qaeda was scattered and many of its operatives were killed.  The Taliban was driven from power and pushed back on its heels.  A place that had known decades of fear now had reason to hope.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yet huge challenges remain.  Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backwards.  There’s no imminent threat of the government being overthrown, but the Taliban has gained momentum.  Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border.  And our forces lack the full support they need to effectively train and partner with Afghan security forces and better secure the population.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The People of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

Over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with al Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government.  Gradually, the Taliban has begun to control additional swaths of territory in Afghanistan, while engaging in increasingly brazen and devastating attacks of terrorism against the Pakistani people.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan.  And now, we must come together to end this war successfully.  For what’s at stake is not simply a test of NATO’s credibility — what’s at stake is the security of our allies, and the common security of the world.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.

We’re in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country.  But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan.  That’s why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border.

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.

It’s easy to forget that when this war began, we were united — bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear.  I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again.I believe with every fiber of my being that we — as Americans — can still come together behind a common purpose.  For our values are not simply words written into parchment — they are a creed that calls us together, and that has carried us through the darkest of storms as one nation, as one people.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941 a state of War has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

Going forward, I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly.  Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly $30 billion for the military this year, and I’ll work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda.  It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak.  This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat.  In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. And this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity.  We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.

With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounding determination of our People – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.

America — we are passing through a time of great trial.  And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear:  that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering.  We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes.

Thank you.  God bless you.  May God bless the United States of America.   Thank you very much.  Thank you.

However one may come out on the debate on Afghanistan, remember that today’s anniversary is one that honors and remembers the soldiers, both at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere, who protect our nation.  Regardless of one ‘s political views, those individuals deserve thanks and respect for all they do.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

December 7, 2009 @ 11:12 am

First, respect and sympathy for all of the “Greatest Generation” men and women who lived and many who died during the period of WWII. Perhaps unavoidable even in retrospect, I view August 1914 and its aftermath until April 1945 and of course also August 1945 as the suicide of the West and its civilization as we know it. No need to explain that opinion but I believe well documented.

As to 9/11, the major difference between the attacks of that date and the attack on Pearl Harbor is not the surprise or tactics but the largely civilian nature of the targets of the 9/11 attacks. As we know that not all the targeted population that day was civilian although uniformed casualties remarkably slim.

Unfortunately, I view the President’s West Point address as a “Speech that will also mark a date that will live in infamy”! No need to document my reasons at this point but time will tell. I also am increasingly of the view that the cadets at various US Service academies are “Innocents” and subject not just to military training and development of academic and military expertise but formal indoctrination. What would be of interest is exactly what gets taught about US history and government and military/civil relationships to the Corps of Cadets! What texts are used and what professors! We do know that languages of South and East Asia are rarely taught nor cultural analysis.

Still, a useful post if nothing else to mark the bookends on the rise to American power and the demise! Personally I would argue that 9/11 was a strategic attack although by what may be referred to as non-state actors or perhaps a international cause, that of opposition to US ignorance, hubris, and expansionism while arguing it has no ulterior motives. The key tell-tale to me is US consumption of 25% of the world’s resources with less than 5% of its population. Our “shining city on a hill” requires a lot of energy among other resources to just keep the lights on. The other item which interests me in the comparison is the willingness of the Japanese throughout the Pacific War to launch what the US called suicide attacks and the continued well of volunteer “suicide” bombers that seem to be produced by the militant Jihadis. Clearly, warfare is often won by those who want it the most! Personally I don’t believe suicide is the test but it is of interest that TORPEDO Eight (the torpedo bombing squadron that had no survivors or almost none) at battle of MIDWAY bought time for others to arrive and turn the tide in the Pacific War early on. Reading history of US MEDAL of HONOR winners also reveals that whatever the motivation many died in what I would view as a suicidal effort. If the steel core of a combat unit is willingness to sacrifice oneself whatever the label, then perhaps President Obama should be made aware of Napoleon’s statement “It is amazing what men will do for tiny bits of colored ribbon.”

To all those who on behalf of the US paid the ultimate sacrifice whatever their personal beliefs and judgement about their own actions we (the US) as a polity owe the deepest honor and respect. My hope of course is for a society that does not by design require that sacrifice to obtain its ends which is why I am so critical of the fundamentalist Jihadis who thrive on promoting the deepest schisms in the human psychology and their societies. In short, hoping we win, and also serve justice, peace, democracy, and humanity writ large. May the Peacemakers be blessed.

Comment by christopher tingus

December 8, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

I have had the sincere honor to shake the hands of some of the men who were under attack 68 years ago at Pearl Harbor as well as many men who fought on the beaches and the Pacific islands and decades later….a great Republic bankrupt not only in monetary terms, but in leadership…

We as a nation haven’t a clue nor the willingness, the stamina to stay the course of adhering to the principles set forth in the US and State Constitutions as well as abiding by the verses and commandments found within the Bible….

As an international business development type, I am appalled that metals and resources of every kind are being bought up and stockpiled by the Chinese government and we here in the US cannot even find a few “fiat dollars” to get a manganese mine up and running instead of importing managanese –

Involved in substantial waste water project developments and focusing in on bringing quality water to so many in Africa and other places where children cannot even drink a clean glass of water, the west pledges $10 billion to Africa for “green” projects when a trillion and more bails out bankers who still are hoarding billions of dollars in their coffers waiting to lend at higher interest rates with no hoot to the folks have such a challenging time these days….

To the Muslim fundamentalists, your grandiose schemes hiding behind the skirt of supposed spiritual belief of some sort which condones outright killing of innocent folks – God will deal with you….

To the EU and Vatican, soon you will be encouraging and participating in warfare in the streets and God Bless you for like the Muslims, you are not prophets not worthy priests or mentors…you, too will fail. In fact, if one takes a godo look at history, mankind and his various form of government has always failed since Babylon. History surely repeats itself –

Mankind’s greed, its lack of patience and tolerance, it narrow perspectives, etc, etc. is pointing our earthly home in a course surely to lead to further strife and human dysfunction despite the lessons of Pearl Harbor and so many other battles over the centuries.

I remember one oldcer gent telling me the story of his fighting in the islands of the Pacific where he was order by the brass to take six of them up tne river and drop them off and collect them the next day for the Japanese had sent a note indicating their willingness to surrender. The next morning when this sailor returned up the river to pick up the officers, he found them…all six with their helmets on top of their heads cut off and placed on top of each officer’s rifle. How gullable the Americans? How ruthless and evil so many are today who choose to intentionally kill women, children and innocent men simply trying to etch out a bit of Life amidst such chaos.

Sixty eight (68) years we continue to struggle for democracy against the evil doers, however from my perspective, we have all lost the battle today given the technology at hand, especially bio/chem weapons and the willingness of mankind to use such weapons.

This nation was founded on Judeao-Christian principles and while even those entrusted by vote are doing their utmost to impose their values, to circumvent these principles, the values of a gracious society whose young men and women have their boots on foreign soil to do their utmost to bring harmony and peace, for adversaries to talk instead of utilize weapons, banrupt, having a void in local, state and national leadership pervaded with partisan politics, self-agenda, corruption rampant among people everwhere….

God Bless us all for the attack on Pearl Harbor or on the Worldn Trade Center are only the continuance of mankind’s hatred towards wone another, often within families, and while we must do out utmost with the global community to thwart the bad guys, unfortunately Winston Churchill has passed away and we have no one individual, man or woman who care enough to distrust much of what is said and done today for the day of the honorable “handshake” is merely a memory….

God Bless America!

Christopher Tingus
Harwich, MA 02645

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