Ready for some History Boys and Girls?!?!
I've been studying History and Science for a good part of 30 yrs. now and everytime I turn around, I'm given an example of divine intervention and that yes, there is a God. Today is Dec. 7. On this day, 75 yrs. ago now, military servicemen and women witnessed and endured one of if not the most horrific scenes and experiences in the history of our country.
It began with FDR cutting off Japan from our oil and steel in response to their continuing rape of Manchuria and China that began in 1937. The early founders of the "anti-war" movement (like Gore Vidal) blamed FDR for getting us into the war with this act. In their minds, we should've continued to supply the Japanese conquest and pillage machine. This mentality in this movement continues to this day.
Japan has no major natural resources of its own, so they had 2 choices. They could cool their heels and get out of China, or continue on with imperial conquest. They chose the latter.
Isoroku Yamamoto was probably one of the most brilliant military minds of the 20th Century. He was also a great admirer of the U.S. He had visited and lived in this country as an attache and liaison for the Japanese military. He understood full well what a war with the U.S. would entail. He voiced this opinion to the militarists and Tojo in that a successful war with the U.S. would mean "dictating terms in the White House". This did not go over well and he was labelled a defeatist. Then followed the death threats and his subordinates in the Navy insisting he spent most of his time on ship where they could more effectively protect him.
But the emperor was smart enough to know that any success against the U.S. would require his assistance. Yamamoto knew it had to be an "all or nothing" gamble, something that would stun and force the U.S. to sue for peace earnestly. Outside of 6 months, he guaranteed nothing. Boy, did he nail that time frame!
Yamamoto's plan was absolutely brilliant, but stunningly his choice for the commander of the operation was anything but. Nagumo was a great leader and tactician in his own right, but he was an extremely cautious and methodical man who didn't take chances. These are great attributes under normal conditions, but a disaster in this case.
When receiving word that the primary targets (the carriers) were not in port, Nagumo sort of panicked and understandably so. Where were they? Were they in striking range of the fleet? Had his fleet been detected? Had they already launched an attack? As a result he called off the 3rd wave, took on his planes and headed for home. This was a ginormous mistake. Ironically, every single one of those Japanese carriers would be at the bottom of the sea, along with the majority of the experienced Japanese Naval Aviators in 6 months time........BIG error.
The "3rd wave" was to attack the oil depots and the dry docks. Many historians I believe rightly argue that these, minus the presence of the carriers were the most important targets. Destroying these targets would've made Oahu as a military base in the Pacific completely ineffective for as much as a year or more.
Hawaii, like Japan has no source of petroleum of it's own. Not only would've the resulting fire and environmental devastation caused at least a month's delay, but you were looking at months and months of re-supply from the mainland to replenish it........subject to continuous Japanese submarine attack of course. No oil, no fuel? No ships moving anywhere.
The dry docks were not only critical to the monumental and unbelievable task of repairing most of the battleships and other ships nearly destroyed, but were a key to the miraculous repair of many ships desperately needed in absolutely essential battles to come in the next year.
What if we had at least a year before we could respond? Best case scenario, the war could've lasted a good 2 yrs. longer. Worst case scenario, Japan could've made a successful invasion of the Hawaiian islands as they did in the Philippines, Guam, Wake, etc., etc., etc. very possibly at least partially conquered Australia as well. Now we would've been looking at a duration of 10 yrs. or more, if we win at all.
Funny how things work out, even when it looks to be the most dire. There are a plethora of examples such as this in WWII where things could've gone much differently. Somebody seems to be looking out for us.
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