Perl Harbour

I just finished watching Perl Harbour, part 2. That’s the part where they get bombed, then bomb back.

In truth, I almost cried watching those people get shot at, the nurses having to pronounce friends dead and move on, having to put an “F” (Fatal – meaning too fatal for treatment) on men in pain.

War is hell. As I get older the more the truth of that statement comes to me. I’m against war. I’m against people dying in painful ways in the prime of their life. I’m against people shooting at others they can’t even see, people they would get along with just fine if it weren’t for them being from different countries.

That is why I view peace activists with disgust. They are disgusting people. Thousands, millions of men (and women) have died because of people calling for peace where peace is only possible in the short term, where war can only be put off not avoided. Where a dictator was appeased rather than overthrown. Where treats of war are explained away rather than challenged. Where hungry wolves are fed to come back again and again instead of shoot.

One of the biggest reasons I almost cried was that America learnt a lesson that day. They learnt that they could not ignore the war that had been going on for more than 2 years. Britain had come to the brink, and only the brave pilots of their air force turned back the Nazi invasion.

But even though the tide had been turned, the USA still stood by.

Reading the accounts from the time from the British perspective, getting the USA on side was a very big deal. Manpower was just one factor. The USA was even then a huge country, and safe base capable of producing war munitions on a massive scale.

Had the USA chosen to join from the getgo, who knows what the scenario would have been? Would the phony war have gone differently with twice, three times the solders on the Allies side? Would Japan had been kept to a smaller base? Who knows?

There are some things we do know however. We do know that Germany violated sanctions imposed after WWI, in increasingly blatant terms until those sanctions were not worth the paper the were written on. We know that in the 20’s the idea of Germany matching the size of Britain’s air force was laughable – and yet they were vastly superior at the time of the Battle of Britain. This superiority was not just in numbers, their technology was far ahead at the start of the war. Why did this happen?

What happened is the same attitude as today’s peace activists. Dictators are just misunderstood misfits. Keep them amused, and they will go away. Threats are just posturing; invasions can be ignored. Sanctions are hurting the people. We have a benign strategic environment, so save money by cutting back our offensive forces and focus on peace keeping.

Of course, history never repeats exactly. Things are different. Instead of European heads of state, we have Arab terrorists. Instead of Chamberlain saying “Peace in Our Time” we have France saying “Yes, we should invade, but not yet”.

But it’s funny how similar the lessons look if you compare them. In both Perl Harbour and 9/11, the USA bear was poked with a sharp stick. Only one thing happens when you do that – a swift and decisive action.

One more thing made me cry. We still have peace activists. But unlike the aftermath of Perl Harbour they are not a tiny, isolated minority. They’re running the show. They are appeasing the next dictator, the next threat.
It’s all going to happen again. But next time it will happen with nuclear weapons.

We’ve failed our last lesson but graduated anyway. We’re now out of the arena where mistakes don’t matter, give or take a few years total war.

The next lesson is going to be very, very hard to take.

1 comment

  1. The similarities go further than that.

    Many Americans considered WWI to be an utter disaster created by Europeans for Europeans and nothing to do with them.

    America was strongly divided on the issue of going to war against Germany in a very similar to way to how it is divided now over Iraq. (Oddly there seems to be an Afghanistan shaped blind spot.) The papers of the time look a lot like they do today, almost exactly in some cases. There were also many pro-Nazis in the US – another blind spot today.

    The attack on Pearl Harbor provided a unifying event (albeit imperfect) that Roosevelt was able to use to become openly involved where previously support had been more in terms of material. The issue of anglophobia remained in some quarters however which had some nasty results for the US. For example the navy boss was a rabid anti-Brit and ignored all advice and/or intelligence. His efforts to deal with the u-boat threat consisted of deploying a PR exercise showing capital ships patrolling. Meanwhile the Germans were sinking US coastal trade like it was going out of fashion.

    On one occasion a u-boat came inside a sinking ship to finish it off with its deck gun because they were so close to a populated area that the captain was afraid of any over shoots hitting civilians and American civilians were treated to the sight of an enemy sub on the surface being light up by a burning ship and shelling it with impunity.

    With 20/20 hindsight and some serious spin it is obvious to most that the US should have been in boots and all and when they did join it was whole heartedly. With context neither is true.

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