[Pearl Harbor] Seventy-five years ago today

December 7, 2016
"FDR asks for a declaration of war"

“FDR asks for a declaration of war”

On the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt delivered this speech to a joint session of Congress:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And, while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

You can listen to FDR giving the speech here. (Real media file.)

Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the US. Four years later, Mussolini had been executed by his own people, Hitler had committed suicide, and Germany, Italy, and Japan were under occupation.

Today’s lesson: It’s not a good idea to make us angry.

(Reposting of an old post, somewhat edited.)

Climate Advocates Look to Totalitarian China for Leadership

November 14, 2016

Not surprising, since the core of environmentalism itself (as opposed to a wise conservationism) is totalitarian.

Watts Up With That?

Smog hangs over a construction site in Weifang city, Shandong province, Oct 16. 2015. Air quality went down in many parts of China since Oct 15 and most cities are shrounded by haze. [Photo/IC] Smog hangs over a construction site in Weifang city, Shandong province, Oct 16. 2015. Air quality went down in many parts of China since Oct 15 and most cities are shrounded by haze. [Photo/IC] Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Trump’s America cancelling billions of dollars of UN climate payments apparently opens the way for totalitarian China to assume the moral high ground in global environmental diplomacy.

Trump Win Clears Way For China to Lead on Climate

The election of climate change skeptic Donald Trump as president is likely to end the U.S. leadership role in the international fight against global warming and may lead to the emergence of a new and unlikely champion: China.

China worked closely with the administration of outgoing President Barack Obama to build momentum ahead of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The partnership of the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters helped get nearly 200…

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Sunday Not Quite A Book Review: “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history 1962-1976”

July 3, 2016

Book Cover Dikotter Cultural Revolution

Since I haven’t been posting much of late, I thought a good way to get back into the swing of things would be to revive the Sunday Book Review series. Great idea!

Trouble is, the book I read is one that I can’t get a handle on the right approach to reviewing it. smiley d'oh! smiley headbang wall

The topic is so large and so complex that I’m left with just one thing to say: if you are ever tempted by the idea that things would be better if we just gave government all the power it wanted, read Frank Dikotter’s “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history, 1962-1976”. That should slap some sense into you.

The book tells the story of bloody turmoil China was thrown into for over a decade because of the paranoia and whims of one all-powerful man, Mao Zedong. Setting faction against faction, even against his own Communist Party, Mao threw China into such chaos that at times it seemed a second civil war might result — and in some locales, it did.

Fearing that his “comrades” would sideline or even depose him for his horrific errors in the 1950s, worried that a Khrushchev waited in the wings to bring ideological revisionism and a denunciation of Mao’s legacy as Khrushchev did to Stalin in his 1956 “Secret Speech,” Mao and his allies waged war against enemies often made up wholly in Mao’s mind.

The price, of course, was paid by the people. Whether looking for “capitalist roaders,” “revisionists,” members of various “anti-Party cliques” and agents of foreign powers lurking within the Party itself, or merely people of “bad class background” (for example, former landowners under the old regime and their relations), enemies weren’t just found among a few rivals to Mao. Dikotter’s book tells in appalling detail how ordinary Chinese had to suffer because of Mao’s whims: prison camps, “reeducation” centers, thousands of city residents exiled to the country with no relevant skills and yet expected to survive — and never return to the city. People humiliated, driven to suicide or beaten to death by teenaged “Red Guards.” Knowledge, learning, and arts declared worthless, even evil, if they didn’t conform to “Mao Zedong Thought” and serve the class struggle. The horror stories of Lovecraft and King are nothing compared to what really happened in China in the 1960s.

Over and over, we’re treated moments of madness, but also shown how people resisted, or at least tried to survive. When Mao’s insane economics made even basic goods almost impossible to get, many set up secret factories and trade routes, reestablishing an underground capitalism in Communism’s heartland. Secret book clubs meeting to share a copy of forbidden Western literature. Playing Classical music on old phonographs in a closet, hoping no one would hear and denounce you to the authorities.

It’s said that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” China in the Cultural Revolution is a glaring example of this, and Frank Dikotter’s “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history, 1962-1976” should be part of any “scared straight” program for anyone tempted by statism.

Highly recommended.

PS: “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history, 1962-1976” is available in hardcover and Kindle format. I’m happy to say the Kindle book was well-formatted and free of any errors as I recall. Fair disclosure, I get a few cents from purchases made through my links.


How the North Korean Air Force trains: with paper airplanes

June 13, 2016

That sure seems to be the import of the video at the end of an article about other North Korean weirdness. Here’s a screen clip:

"Planes go ZOOM!!"

“Planes go ZOOM!!”

Click the link or the photo, then go to the bottom of the article to watch the video. I’d swear they are practicing attack runs on a giant map, all while Dear Leader III looks on, happy as a pudgy murderous dictator can be. Mel Brooks would steal this for one of his movies.

North Korea: Where surrealism found its home.

Afterthought: On a more serious note, I’m reminded of something George C. Scott says toward the end of “Patton.” I’m paraphrasing, but General Patton (Scott) says he knew the Germans were beaten when he realized they were using wagons and horses for their retreat. In other words, they were running out of fuel and thus the ability to sustain modern combat operations.

Makes one wonder how long North Korea could keeps its planes flying if the Korean War turned hot again.


(Video) Memorial Day and America’s “Forgotten War” in Korea

May 30, 2016

korean war

The Korean War (1950-53) is sometimes called America’s “Forgotten War,” the one that came between our crushing victory in World War II and the turmoil of our defeat in Vietnam.

It’s forgotten in part because its results were, at first glance, inconclusive: the North Korean regime survived, and the war was suspended in a ceasefire. In other words, a “draw.”

I’ve argued before that this is an incorrect way to view the war. True, we failed in our initial objective: to liberate all the Korean peninsula. But our later goal, the survival of the South Korean state, turned into a good few could have anticipated. Since the war, South Korea has become a prosperous democratic nation and a close ally of the United States. So, while we didn’t achieve all our war aims, it’s hard not to call this “victory.”

North Korea, on the other hand, gives new meaning to the phrase “Hell on Earth.”

For Prager University, historian Victor Davis Hanson (1) looks at the Korean War and offers not only the same reasons I adduce to call it a win, but also points out why it was an intensely moral fight on the part of the US and its allies:

The Korean War, and the men who fought it, should never be forgotten.

Footnote:
(1) One of my intellectual heroes.

 


Bookshelf update – The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976

May 29, 2016

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Frank Dikötter’s  “The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976”.

Book Cover Dikotter Cultural Revolution

 

I’m only a few chapters into it, so far, but it seems to be another proof of something I’ve long believed: that Human history produces far more horror than any story by King or Lovecraft. The Cultural  Revolution, like so many other Leftist attempts to remake humanity –the French Revolution during “the Terror,” Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy (2), the USSR, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Cuba, North Korea– shows how dangerous it is to let one person, one group, or government in general to have too much power.

The Cultural Revolution is available in both Kindle (1) and hardcover formats.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. But I still think it’s a good book.

Footnote:
(1) I’m happy to say I’ve found no typos or formatting errors, so far. These are all too common in Kindle e-books.
(2) Yes, Fascism and Nazism, two variations on statism, are products of the Left.


North Korea: more sudden deaths, totally coincidental

January 5, 2016
"You are too short! banished!"

“Likes long walks on the beach and unusual executions.”

I mean, look. Two ex-pat North Korean doctors working in the same clinic die of simultaneous heart attacks after a night of drinking. What’s suspicious about that?

The doctors, An Hyong-chan, 56, and Chol Ri-mun, 50, died in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, late on Friday or early on Saturday after suffering heart attacks. That they died at around the same time from the same cause and in the same location is just the beginning of the tale.

The men, who worked at a clinic that also served as their home in the city’s Tuol Kork district, reportedly died after their wives – also doctors – injected them with an unnamed drug to counteract the effects of an evening of heavy drinking.

The women grew concerned after their husbands developed fevers, abnormal heartbeats and weak pulses after the couples returned home from a night out with 10 other North Koreans, during which the two men had drunk “numerous cocktails”, according to the Phnom Penh Post.

The women told local police they had injected their husbands with “a medicine and a serum” to counteract the effects of the alcohol, and that the men died of heart attacks about an hour later, the newspaper said.

Note that the wives informed the embassy first, then –“hours later”– finally told the locals. Time enough for a clean-up crew and to get stories straight?

As The Guardian notes, this is far from the only mysterious death in which North Korea is part of the picture. One of Kim’s close advisers died in a car wreck just a few days ago. And the regime does have a habit of creatively executing those who somehow offend it. (1)

So, it’s possible it happened as described, but I see other, more likely scenarios:

The wives murdered their husbands on their own. Perhaps the men were abusive, or maybe they were cheating on their marriages, or the women wanted their men gone for other personal reasons. The wives call the embassy because that’s what’s expected of Norks overseas. North Korean officials show up, figure out the plot, and cover things up to prevent embarrassment to the regime and will administer “justice” on their own.

The wives were agents of the regime, willing or unwilling, and executed their husbands on State orders. “Why” is anyone’s guess, but Pyongyang has never been shy about having people killed. In this case, the embassy was called once the mission was completed, and they showed up to get all the details straight before the Cambodians can ask awkward questions. The women will be whisked away and never seen again. Case closed, too bad for the honored dead.

Either one is possible, though I think the last is most plausible.

But the truth? I doubt we’ll ever know.

Footnote:
(1) I was so sorry to learn that the story of Kim feeding his uncle alive to starving dogs was a hoax. Dude, I was counting on you!