Today is December 7, 2015 and the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii that started the official US involvement in World War II. Japan claimed the United States had provoked it into attacking by using trade embargoes of strategic materials and supplied weapons to its enemy, namely the Kumintang Government of China it had been fighting officially since 1937 but unofficially since 1932. The US was, in fact, supplying weapons and men (the few men of the "Flying Tigers") but in very small amounts compared to what it was already sending to Great Britain. The US had seen how ineffective diplomacy was in stopping Japan's aggression but was unwilling to go to war over it. Japan didn't see it that way, there have been several good books over the folly of the Japanese Militarists in refusing to see reality and how war was inevitable. Due to America's "Arsenal of Freedom" attitude Germany too joined in by also declaring war but unlike Japan it could not easily attack US bases, only stepping up its U-boat campaign against US ships carrying supplies to the beleaguered British.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a strategic failure, largely in part as it missed the most important ships of the US Navy's Pacific Fleet, its aircraft carriers. It was followed by coordinated attacks across the Pacific and even Indian Oceans against the British Royal Navy and the US Navy's smaller Asiatic Fleet. It marked the invasion of the Philippines (the time zone difference made the attacks on Clark Field, Manila on December 8) and ushered in six months of sloppy victories by the Imperial Japanese Navy and worse defeats by the Allies. Admiral Yamamoto ran his "six months" of easy victories until the epic Battle of Midway which showed the Japanese could be beaten by the US with pre-war assets, those that survived the Pearl Harbor attack. From there the United States Navy was growing in power while the Imperial Japanese Navy was losing the war of attrition. Sadly it took almost 4 years and millions of lives to finally get the Militarists of Japan to admit defeat.
Let us remember that attack which ended the "Battleship Era" relegating them to secondary support roles and putting the Aircraft Carrier as the penultimate warship on the seas. And let us remember the honored dead, the valiant souls of those navies and armies who were defending their countries against foreign aggression and paid the ultimate price for it.
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