AIR RAID PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NOT A DRILL

Seventy years ago those words ushered in a period of unbelievable agony, trial, effort and sacrifice. What was once before was forever changed afterward. Jack-booted thugs bent on their “Final Solution” strode cobblestone streets of the land distantly remembered as the forebear of a new nation, a New World. And across the broad expanse of the ocean called “peaceful” – because it’s discoverer found such contrast to the stormy passage he had recently survived, rampant nationalism was advancing at the tip of bayonet and crushing naval power.

The warnings were there – it’s just that being so far away; over the horizon in distance and mind, that what happened in the dim, exotic lands of East Asia just didn’t map to the concerns of Pennsylvania Avenue, Wall Street, or 5th and Main. The Old World was in flame yet again, though by now it was beginning to appear that once more, the oceans would serve as a guardian to keep the Ancient Evil – Over There and our boys home, over here. No more Beallau Woods, no more Marnes — no more Flanders. The plucky occupants of a small island off the coast of that continent – protected again by the seas, had apparently staved off the onslaught of the German air force, which washed across the Channel and appeared to break on the rocks of “the Few” who rose in their isle’s defense. Cause for muted celebration – but not really of our concern. And now that industrial war machine had turned its attentions to the riches of the Eurasian heartland and engaged in battle with yet another statist foe. Fascist against Communist, German against Russian; West vs Oest /Восток против Запада. Let them slug it out and bleed each other white – not our concern. Let the Old World and the Far East dissolve in flame and fury – we have our own problems and the great distances of the oceans to protect us…

Seventy years ago a lesson was seared in a generation’s conscious and would underpin the awakening of a giant, heretofore unseen or much thought of.

A slogan was born and a promise made – a lexicon updated.

For the better part of the remaining century that followed, as plans were drawn, metal cut and bodies counted; that phrase lay, oft time unspoken, deep within the hearts and minds of men as they prepared for a war they hoped and prayed would never come.

“No more Pearl Harbors”

Less than a decade after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the twin strategic surprises of Russia with The Bomb and North Korea’s invasion of the South forced a re-evaluation of force structure and planning — there would be no recovery from a nuclear Pearl Harbor, ergo tens of thousands of nuclear weapons were stockpiled and deployed – some on quick alert, less than 30 minutes from delivering a nuclear fist of vengeance on the Soviet Union.  Unblinking satellites and constant probes around the periphery ensured that there would be no surprise attack.

“No more Pearl Harbors”

That war didn’t come, but on the eve of the 60th anniversary another adversary reached out and struck our nation.  Scheming and executing from within, they turned vanilla airliners into the most lethal of cruise missiles, taking almost 3,000 innocent victims with them.  As it was in the days and weeks after Pearl Harbor, the enormity of missed opportunities and agencies working in a vacuum providing unintended enabling actions to the jihadist’s mission gradually reveled itself and a new cry was raised in parallel – “No more 9/11’s”  A decade long land war in Central Asia ensued with significant blood and treasure expended.  And now, the problems at home seem so overwhelming. An economy that can’t seem to pick itself off the deck. A work force embraced by hopelessness of ever finding a job in a land of plenty. And across the broad oceans, beyond the visible horizon old forces are stirring once again in different lands. Scores to be settled – philosophies to be paid homage; resources to be gathered and sent homeward.  Debts rendered – accounts marked “paid” in blood red.  Fiscal debts mount while fleets dwindle, airframes age and manpower is excised by broadsword and battle axe rather than scalpel, none of which passes unnoticed.

And a promise which rang with clarity across a land and through generations is but a fading whisper upon the ear.

Remember Pearl Harbor.

Ceremonies and observances of the 70th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor may be found here (CHINFO PDF)