"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7, 1941

Pearl Harbor was the second and fatal bad decision made by the Axis powers in 1941.   The first was Adolph Hitler's decision, driven by his Nazi ideology, to invade Russia in June 1941 in Operation Barbarossa.   By December his troops were bogged down in the Russian winter, and the war of attrition on the Eastern Front had begun, a war Germany could not win -- there would always be more Russian men and women Stalin could mercilessly feed into the meat grinder, which Germany, with a much smaller population, could not match.  Then the Japanese decision to attack Pearl Harbor brought America's industrial might and manpower fully into the war.   After that, victory was inevitable.

But I'm certain that it did not seem so at the time.   History always looks "inevitable" in retrospect.   When you're living it, with the fear of losing very real, and with the individual fear of losing your life, losing everything, a daily experience, victory must have seemed very far away indeed.   America wasn't ready in 1941, but it got ready quickly.   Could we do that again with our current government, our current national character?   I hope so, but I doubt it.

It's the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor today.   That means that a young man who rushed out the day after to enlist -- and there were hundreds of thousands --would, if alive, be around 90 years old now.  Anyone who has any chance to say thanks to a WWII veteran today ought to do so.   We won't have that many more chances.  

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