“Enjoy your dream of peace just one more day. Hawaii, you will be caught like a rat in a trap.” Those were the words of Japanese Admiral Matome Ugaki, Yamamoto’s chief of staff, on the day before Pearl Harbor, 32 years ago.
That was how the cocksure Japanese launched their attack on an unsuspecting America dreaming of peace, while both experts and amateurs relaxed in the twin defense myths of that day: that Pearl Harbor was impregnable, the Gibraltar of the Pacific; and that Japan would a be deterred from launching/surprise attack because of fear of devastating U.S. retaliation.
America was caught completely by surprise. Yet, we shouldn’t have
been because there were plenty of warnings — from our Ambassador Japan, Joseph C. Grew, from Korean intelligence, from the FBI, all from the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Most important, Navy Captain Laurance Safford had broken the Japanese codes and given the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department the top-secret Japanese messages to their Ambassadors that war with the United States would begin on December 7. Looking at all the evidence that was available prior to Pearl Harbor, it seems impossible that these warnings could have been ignored.
Today, our Government pursues a policy of negotiation and detente and has abandoned military superiority. Yet, the warnings of aggression against American interests are even clearer today than they were 32 years ago. For example, the respected journal AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY has just reported that the “Soviet Union has launched a three-pronged, nuclear-tipped drive to seize a major share of its global objectives at the expense of what it regards as a seriously weakened United States.”
The first prong is in Vietnam, where the Soviets have supplied 750 tanks and numerous MIG jets to the 194,000 North Vietnamese troops who have infiltrated into South Vietnam since the January cease-fire. The second prong is in Cuba, where Castro, at Russians urging, has placed heavy artillery all around the U.S. base at Guantanamo, and Cuban patrol boats are being armed with Soviet surface-to-surface anti-ship missiles. The third prong is in Israel, where two brigades of Soviet surface-to-surface missiles, equipped with nuclear warheads, are now in position east of Cairo, ready to attack.
AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY reports that informed persons are privately saying that the Soviets are ready to move within 60 to 90 days in South Vietnam, in Cuba, and in the Middle East, either with military force or by military-backed political blackmail. The Soviets believe the United States is militarily and politically too weak to defend our interests.
The lesson of Pearl Harbor to remember is that, while our leaders continue to enjoy their dreams of peace and detente, the bad guys are plotting their next move in the world chess game of raw power and surprise attacks.