Musings of a Canadian Slacker

Sunday, December 07, 2003
Today is Pearl Harbor Day. As a student of history, I find that the parallels between the Japanese attack on the U.S. Naval Base in Hawaii and the Al-Queda attack on the United States are worth some examination.
However, I don't find the most facile parallel interesting: that they were both surprise attacks which roused the United States to a righteous rage which enabled them to smite their enemies mightily. Though this is a legitimate interpretation.
The most interesting parallel for me is that they were both desperate and unsuccessful attempts to strike a crippling blow at the moral strength of the United States. Both the Japanese and the Islamists seem to have bought into the idea that Westerners are effete and incapable of sustaining losses of this magnitude. The openness of our society and the relative luxury that is within the reach of most Westerners has lulled the non-West into a complacency. A complacency that says, "its ok to attack them, kill a few and they back off". Both 9/11 and 12/7 had the same purpose: to compel the United States to stop interfering in the Middle East in the former case and the Far East in the latter. In both cases, it backfired in the worst way. The Japanese militarists and the Islamic fundamentalists needed the United States to go away in order for their plans for hegemony in their respective regions to bear fruit. Instead, what they got was a far more energized and focussed United States involvement. A United States (to borrow a phrase from Oliver Stone) with a personal interest in seeing them suffer.
Neither opponent realized how far the United States was willing to go in vanquishing their enemies. The Japanese learned, and the Islamists are in the process of learning that it can be very far indeed. .

(Inspired by Michele; many of the more cogent ideas cribbed shamelessly from Victor Davis Hanson; arrogance and errors by me alone)