Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

If you live long enough you begin to wonder if you ever get the full story. The forces trying to hide the truth all too frequently are at least as strong as those trying to bring it to light. An article in the current New York Review argues that the West has been hoodwinked by Putin, who never intended to continue the reforms the White House and European capitols naively believed had become permanent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. Instead, his gangster regime intended from the start to subvert any reforming democratic impulses. The free press and other fledgling institutions were smothered and a nationalism that sees the West as the enemy was created. And, mind you, this is just now dawning on the experts whose profession is to closely follow Russian affairs. So it is with the attack on Pearl Harbor 73 years ago today. The official narrative is that the United States was asleep at the switch when the Japanese Imperial Fleet swooped down from the north to bomb the Pacific Fleet early on Sunday, December 7, 1941. All eight battleships at anchor were damaged and four were sunk; three cruisers and three destroyers suffered the same fate. Nearly 3500 sailors and soldiers were killed or wounded and 188 aircraft were destroyed. Much more recently, the official narrative was you can keep your own insurance policy if you want to. I think we can agree that government quite frankly lies when it is in its interest. Sometimes the truth comes out – the architect of Obamacare couldn’t keep quiet about his brilliance and bragged in several videos that it was designed with the “stupidity” of the public in mind – and sometimes it remains buried. I think the secret of Pearl Harbor, on which I based my roman à clef The Great Liars – named one of the Best Books of 2014 by Publishers Weekly – is that America’s war planners knew the Japanese attack was coming and deliberately withheld this intelligence from the naval and military commanders in Hawaii. Why, you ask, would they commit such a heinous act? Because they had to. The American public did not want to get involved in another European war – there had merely been a cessation of hostilities after 1918 that people mistook for peace – but the windows was closing on when an intervention would be successful or even possible. The French, Poles and Lowland Countries had been overwhelmed by the German armies and England was sagging on the ropes, fearing an invasion in the near future. Its beaten army had left its weapons and everything else at Dunkirk and another French beach where an even bigger evacuation took place a week later. Hitler could have finished them, but stopped his Panzers from going for the kill. Roosevelt’s administration knew it had to do something dramatic to get the country out of neutral. Knowing as early as February of that year that the Japanese contemplated an attack and following their planning through reading diplomatic and naval codes and coded telegrams sent by a spy in Honolulu, Washington tracked the enemy fleet through listening posts on the Pacific rim. The invaluable carriers and the Pacific Fleet’s other modern warships slipped out of Pearl Harbor and harm’s way well in advance of the attack. The fury ignited by the attack accomplished what the administration wanted. It got us in the war. But, as had been planned beforehand, America went after Germany first, leaving Japan for later.

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