Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pearl Harbor Day--American Victory?

I'm too young to remember it, but I do remember writing a college paper on it. I took the view that it was an American victory (an early example of my contrarian nature, if not my idiocy).

To sketch the argument as I recall:

  • on the tactical level, while the Japanese achieved surprise, they attacked old battleships that never contributed to the war anyhow, while missing the carriers and the oil tank farms that were critical to American success
  • on the strategic level, they (with Hitler's help, as he declared war on us when we declared war on Japan) solved FDR's dilemma of how to bring a reasonably united U.S. into the war on Britain's side. (Churchill said he rejoiced at the attack and slept soundly that night comfortable that he was now on the winning side.)
Pearl Harbor was thus a key step in the eventual conquest of the Axis and therefore a victory.

I still think my logic holds up. And I'd say it's a caution against the easy talk of "winning" and "losing" wars. You can never be sure how history is going to work out.

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