December 7th, the day that will live in Infamy. America's "Never forgive, never forget" moment.
To this day, Americans whose parents weren't even born when Pearl Harbor was attacked still hate the Japanese for bungling a too-slick timing play intended to start the war to "free Asia from Western dominance" with a bang, and to impress upon the West that the East was too powerful and unified to resist. By harboring such hatred, contemporary Americans ignore the fact that Japan reaped the whirlwind resulting from the war seeds they sowed. It's a lesson we should have learned long before this.
American losses at Pearl Harbor were insignificant compared to those inflicted upon the Japanese up to three years and eight months later, when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were vaporized. The permanent loss of two obsolete US Navy battleships and a target ship (all other damaged ships returned to service before the end of the war) and 2400 lives on December 7 is nothing compared to the up to 220,000 "acute deaths" and the destroyed centers of two cities suffered by Japan from the atomic bombings.
Even down in Texas, that's known as being repaid in spades.
Japan was beaten as badly as is possible when the war ended. The last air attack on that country, conducted just hours before the cease-fire of August 15, 1945 was to go into effect, was launched in part to halt the operation of Japan's Nippon Oil refinery at Tsuchizakiminato in northern Hokkaido, the last functioning refinery, in case cease-fire negotiations broke down (as they usually did each time since the first tentative peace overture was attempted in September of 1944). The American air raid was conducted almost with impunity, as the only loss reported by official records was a single fighter plane lost to ground fire.
It was as if Japan was unconscious on the mat and the US aimed a final victory kick at the head, an act of barbarousness intended to inflate the ego and to exult the superego in victory.
I won't attempt to claim that Japan didn't have it coming. The continuing current day uproar in Asia over Japan's long-term refusal to apologize for wartime atrocities and the deaths and destruction caused by Imperial ambition speaks to that.
But when is it okay to release the hatred one's grandparents felt toward an enemy of their nation long since defeated in war?
One has to wonder. Even our site sponsor Amazon still markets war groupie films from The Pacific War, a product which in the wrong hands merely refuels the historic animosity. When said adversary holds so much of our secured indebtedness, such actions might not be in our interest, so maybe the right thing to do is to look at why this continues with an eye toward correcting the imbalance.
Historically, American wars ended definitively, if a bit untidily. For all intents and purposes, the Revolution ended at Yorktown even if hostilities did not. The Civil War ended with Appomattox, even if not every Confederate recognized it as such. For America, the last war to end "cleanly" was the so-called Good War.
On the other hand, the Korean War is still technically underway after 57-plus years, and Vietnam ended in the embarrassing rout of our puppet regime in Saigon.
No war since WWII – not even the Cold War – ever tested the abilities of the American military-industrial complex. Reagan's bully-boy battle with Grenada, and Poppy Bush's World Policeman's Ball in Panama were merely the elitist expressions of a militarized regime which harbored notions of innate natural superiority in the manner of the 1930's Imperial Japanese High Command. But these "actions" weren't enough to feed the blood-lust necessary to drive the world's dominant military power ever forward to new victories, so the Gulf War was used to set up an evil straw man (in the form of a disobedient lackey in need of serious chastisement) so as to be able to boast that he was successfully knocked down.
However, with the enforcement of a "sanctions" period afterwards, leading up to Bush fils' Oedipal bungling of the War Against Terror, can it truly be said that the Gulf War was a definitive victory? I say it cannot. Because it cannot, the need to continue to display successful dominance and physical prowess to ward off challengers has no current means of expression. There is no fresh blood to be lusted over. Thus, one has to continually return to the tarnished trophy of success from yesteryear – from the time when the US alone stood tall above a world in ashes – in order to satisfy this ego need.