Today is the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. It’s a day to remember the 2,403 Americans who died at Pearl Harbor, and it’s a day to remember the 16,112,566 Americans who served in the armed forces during World War II.
It is also a good time to reflect on the lessons of history, and the differences between the American response to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the American response to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
2,403 Americans died in the Pearl Harbor attacks, and the response by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was swift and deadly.
On April 18, 1942, a scant 132 days after Pearl Harbor, Army Air Force B-25 bombers attacked Japan during the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.
On August 7, 1942, just 243 days after Pearl Harbor American forces landed on Guadalcanal & Tulagi to start the island-hopping campaign that led to victory in the Pacific.
The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, only 1,338 days after Pearl Harbor. Three days later, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, just 1,341 days after the Pearl Harbor attack.
The Japanese surrendered on August 14, 1945. Only 1,346 days had passed since the attack on Pearl Harbor.
On September 11, 2001 2,977 people were killed during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and in a hijacked plane that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after the passengers revolted against the hijackers.
But the response by President George W. Bush was a disaster. Instead of being swift and deadly, Bush’s response was unfocused and off target.
The initial response was quick, American forces invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 just 26 days after the 9/11 attacks.
But then the wheels came off.
On March 20, 2003, American forces invaded Iraq, even though there was absolutely no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks.
Meanwhile, the man who had planned the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was still alive and still leading al Qaeda attacks on Americans worldwide.
Saddam Hussein’s regime fell on April 9, 2003 575 days after the 9/11 attacks.
Then on May 1, 2003, Bush stood on the decks of the USS Abraham Lincoln and announced “Mission Accomplished”.
Unfortunately, Bush had invaded the wrong country and accomplished the wrong mission. Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks, was still alive.
According to the Washington Post, “6,750 U.S. service members have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom”. And the war isn’t over yet.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana, 1905
On January 21, 2009 George W. Bush left the White House. Osama bin Laden was still alive and still plotting attacks on the United States, 2,689 days after the 9/11 attacks.
2,092 Days had passed since Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech, but Osama bin Laden was still alive.
President Barack Obama made it quite clear that killing bin Laden would be one of the top priorities of his administration.
In the early morning hours on May 2, 2011, 831 days after Obama took office, a small team of American special operations forces, flew by helicopter into a heavily guarded al Qaeda compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Osama bin Laden was killed during the 40-minute battle.
3,520 Days had passed since the 9/11 attacks.
If George W. Bush had stayed focused, and killed bin Laden, 831 days after the 9/11 attacks, bib Laden would have been killed on December 21, 2003.
If FDR had taken 3,520 days to avenge the attack on Pearl Harbor, World War II wouldn’t have ended until July 28, 1951.
Today, the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, is a good day to reflect on the lessons of history, and the differences between the American response to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the American response to the 9/11 attacks.