Credit to Dorsano for this story:
A very interesting letter appeared today (the 64th anniversary of Pearl Harbor) in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The letter, written by a career Naval Officer, points out that if the Bush doctrine on pre-emptive war is taken as a basis for starting a war, then the Pearl Harbor attack would have been justified on the part of the Japanese.
The letter reads:
Remembering Pearl Harbor seems doubly -- or even triply -- important today. With that memory comes also the voice (rebroadcast almost every year) of President Franklin D. Roosevelt declaring to Congress and the nation, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked ..."
My 31 years of service as an officer in the U.S. Navy were richly satisfying -- in large measure because of the men and women with whom I served. But even more, my satisfaction came from an appreciation for living in and serving a nation dedicated to the principles of freedom and opportunity and justice for all, and of nobody being above the law.
But now, we are living in a country whose administration both declares and acts upon the belief that preemptive strikes are wise foreign policy, are a legitimate use of our military. Was the attack on Pearl Harbor anything other than a preemptive strike?
I ask President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- are we now to view Pearl Harbor as the product of a sound foreign policy by a nation with a strong military? Or would we instead be wise to remember that December 7, 1941, is still a date which will live in infamy?
ALAN YOUEL, RICHFIELD
Now, the United States was, as we know, involved in supplying the Chinese (with whom the Japanese were then at war) with arms, had adopted an active military posture, (whether to goad the Japanese into war or not, is debatable, but certainly from their viewpoint it was) and as such had to be considered a threat. In fact, the American military was the only one in the Pacific that actually could stand up to the Japanese. And there is absolutely no question that the United States military in 1941 was more capable of attacking Japan than Saddam Hussein was in 2003 of attacking the United States.
So, the whole idea of a pre-emptive war (a new concept in the history of the United States, developed by the Bush administration) is exactly what we were on the receiving end of on December 7, 1941. Making crass distinctions based on governmental types (i.e. it is OK for a Democracy against a dictatorship, but not by a Monarchy against a Democracy) is weak and won't hold water. Either, as Mr. Youel expounds on, 'preemptive war' is acceptable as a national policy or it is not. But saying something is 'acceptable for us to do, but not when used against us' brings us perilously close to the kind of logic we were fighting against in World War II and in the Cold War which followed it.
Now, I still consider December 7, 1941 to be a 'day of infamy.' Do you?