At the end of the epic movie Tora, Tora, Tora, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the head of the combined Japanese fleet, after the successful attack on Pearl Harbor, refuses to join in the elation of his staff, and makes this haunting observation: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” The line is almost certainly apocryphal. The director of the film, Elmo Williams, claimed that Larry Forester, the film’s screenwriter, had found the line in a 1943 letter written by Yamamoto. However, he has been unable to produce the letter, and there is no other evidence that such a letter exists.
However, there is no doubt that Yamamoto would fully have endorsed the sentiment that the line contained. He had studied at Harvard in 1919-1921, and served two tours as a naval attache at the Japanese embassy in Washington DC. He spoke fluent English, and his stays in the US had convinced him of that nation’s vast wealth and industrial power. He had also developed a fondness for both America and Americans.
In the 1930’s Yamamoto spoke out against Japan allying with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, fearing that such an alliance would lead inevitably to a war with the US that Japan would lose. He received frequent death threats as a result from fanatical Japanese nationalists. These were not idle threats, as such nationalists did assassinate a fair number of Japanese politicians and military men during the Thirties who were against war with the US. Yamamoto ignored the threats with studied contempt, viewing it as his duty to the Emperor and Japan to speak out against a disastrous course. Yamamoto wrote in a letter to one nationalist:
Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it would not be enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices. Continue reading
“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old. “
Seventy-one years ago today, on June 4, 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill rallied Great Britain to the coming Battle of Britain with his “We Shall Never Surrender” speech. In the face of an overwhelming defeat in France, Churchill gave no thought of peace with Hitler, but rather called his people to a hard uphill fight against evil. It is simple to call a nation to take an easy, expedient, at least for the short term, path. It is difficult to call a nation to a path filled with danger, and with the issue of the struggle quite in doubt, in order to defeat a great evil. Any politician can do the former; only a statesman can do the latter. Here is the text of the speech: Continue reading
My sainted father was 8 years old on December 7, 1941. He told me how the next day men and older boys, ranging in age from 60-16, gathered in long lines in front of the recruiting offices in Paris, Illinois to sign up to fight. I think those of us who weren’t alive at that time have difficulty grasping the impact Pearl Harbor had on the nation, as it launched the country on a crusade to break the power of the Empire of Japan and Nazi Germany. Continue reading
From Churchill’s speech to Congress on December 26, 1941. A great leader and a great orator. Sadly, our times have a lack of both. Continue reading
Yesterday, June 18, marked the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech to Parliament, as he alerted Great Britain to the coming Battle of Britain. Churchill did not sugar coat the situation for his listeners. Britain faced a formidable enemy and the odds were against them. However, rather than a call for negotiations or surrender, Churchill called for defiance and victory. He starkly reminded his listeners that a victory for Nazi Germany would mark the end of Christian civilization. Churchill was not speaking in hyperbolic terms. He was a careful student of history, as well as writing and making it, and other than politics, history was his ruling intellectual passion throughout his long life. He realized that the menace of Nazi Germany was sui generis and could not be lulled by appeasement or a meaningless negotiated peace that Hitler would violate with impunity, but that rather the Nazis must be resisted implacably with all the force that the Brits could muster. Everyone who cherishes freedom is in the debt of Churchill for the words that he spoke on June 18 and his leadership at a time when the fate of the world truly hang in the balance. This was the finest hour indeed for him and the nation he led, and no leader can have a finer accolade. Continue reading
Hattip to Allahpundit at Hot Air. One in five British adults were unable to identify a picture of Winston Churchill in a recent survey.
As part of the survey, carried out to mark this week’s 70th anniversary of Churchill’s prime ministerial tenure, more than 1,136 people were asked to identify three prominent 20th century PMs including Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.
One in five (19%) adults failed to name Churchill, with the figure rising to 32% of 25 to 34-year-olds and 44% of those aged 16 to 24.
Following the pattern, researchers projected the rough date when the leaders would no longer be recognised, with Churchill’s demise predicted in 80 years’ time…
The survey, which involved people naming black and white headshot photos of the prime ministers, saw Churchill mistaken for Stephen Fry, Robert Hardy, Michael Gambon, Charlie Chaplin, Oliver Hardy, John Betjeman and Roy Hattersley, the Royal Mint said…
Kevin Clancy, head of Historical Services at the Royal Mint, added: “It’s shocking that one of our greatest statesmen runs the risk of potentially being forgotten.
On the anniversary of the beginning of World War II, I recall this speech of Churchill, and his presentation, before the beginning of the Battle of Britain in 1940, of alternative futures for mankind based upon how the war came out. For all our problems since the Allied victory in that war, the mind recoils from what the world would have been like after an Axis victory.
During his term as President, George W. Bush had on loan from the British government a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the oval office. The Brits offered to extend the loan to President Obama. Nope, he decided to send the bust packing. Perhaps some of our thoughtful readers might have guesses as to what bust Obama might replace it with?