Sunday, December 7, 1941, was a date that will live in infamy, in the words of President Roosevelt in his speech to Congress on December 8. On December 7, 2011, we commemorate the 70th anniversary of that attack by the Japanese on our military facilities in Hawaii.
Comparisons to 9/11
Sixty years after Pearl Harbor, on 9/11/2001, we were once again attacked on our own soil by foreign forces hostile to us. At that time comparisons were drawn between Pearl Harbor and 9/11:
•Both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 were unprovoked, and both caught the US by surprise.
•Both took place in the morning, and both involved aircraft. The first bomb at Pearl Harbor fell at 7:55 and the first plane hit the WTC at 8:45.
•Both involved substantial property loss. At Pearl, 18 ships were sunk or seriously damaged, plus there was damage to 300 aircraft and to various facilities. In NYC, the entire WTC complex and some nearby buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged.
•Both involved a substantial loss of life. At Pearl, 2,403 men and women lost their lives, all but 68 were military. Over 3,000 were killed on 9/11, and most of those deaths were civilians.
•Both attacks were personal to Americans. Hawaii was an American territory and the attack was against our military installations there. Many knew servicemen who lost their lives or were in Hawaii at the time.
The attack on 9/11 was even closer to home, and involved ordinary people at work, like any one of us. Many people, particularly in the New York metropolitan area, were personally touched by these attacks, knowing people on the airplanes or in the buildings.
•Evil as it was, the Japanese had a strategic objective in attacking Pearl Harbor. The Japanese saw us as an obstacle to further expansion into the Philippines, Australia, and elsewhere. The US had become increasing hostile to Japan and had initiated trade and oil embargoes against it. Their objective was to neutralize our Pacific fleet so it would be out of commission for several years. This would allow the Japanese to continue their conquests in Asia without US interference.
Regarding 9/11, I can not find any strategic objective to an attack on civilian buildings such as we saw on that terrible day. That’s what makes those attacks senseless and diabolical.
Pearl Harbor Strategic Failure
Interestingly, from a strategic point of view, the Pearl Harbor attack was a failure.
It failed in four ways:
1.The most important naval weapon, the aircraft carrier, was untouched in the attack. Not a single carrier was in port at the time. Within a few months our carriers had engaged the enemy in significant naval battles.
2.The second most important naval weapon, the submarine, was also untouched by the attack. The sub base at Pearl was only moderately damaged and was soon back in operation. US subs were attacking Japanese shipping all over the Pacific.
3.The enormous fuel depot at Pearl was completely untouched. Even if no ships had been sunk but the fuel depot had been destroyed, our fleet would have soon been rendered useless for a substantial period of time.
4.The Pearl Harbor attack united Americans as never before. I suspect the Japanese wanted to demoralize us, but the effect was just the opposite. We were resolved to defeat an enemy that was devastating Asia and had now hit our home shores.
Why was it that Pearl Harbor was a failure to the Japanese? I believe it was because God protected us so that we could be instrumental in defeating the evil of Nazi and Japanese expansionism. Without the involvement of the US in the war, I don’t believe these evil expansionist empires could have been stopped. Because of US involvement in the war, Europe was eventually liberated and large parts of Asia were freed from the harsh rule of the Japanese Empire.
So rather than excluding God from our society and our individual lives, let us give thanks for God’s divine protection. Yes, we did have to fight a terrible war with a significant loss of life, but God was with us in that war and gave us the victory.
You may say, “It was the bomb that gave us victory over the Japanese, not God.” Remember, both the Germans and the Japanese were working on atomic bombs, but we were the only ones who succeeded in developing the right technology – that was God’s provision in my opinion.