EDITOR’S NOTE: In commemorating Pearl Harbor Day, L.A. area writer Ed Rampell “compares where America stood four years after both the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 sneak attacks.” In his email submitting this post Ed says, “As a historian who co-wrote a book about Pearl Harbor, I have some unusual insights into these tragedies and uncovered some startling juxtapositions between then (1945) and now (2005).”
December 7, 1945 Vs. September 11, 2005: Infamous Comparisons
By Ed Rampell
December 7th marks the 60th anniversary of Imperial Japan’s 1941 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, which has often been likened to the 9/11 terrorist strikes. This past Sept. 11th was the fourth anniversary of Al-Qaeda’s airborne assaults on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, which some have dubbed “the New Pearl Harbor.” It’s thought provoking to compare this four-year milepost to where America stood on Dec. 7, 1945, four years after what President Roosevelt called the “date which will live in infamy.”
Following Japan’s Pearl Harbor strike, the U.S. declared war on Tokyo on Dec. 8, 1941. Rome and Berlin declared war on Washington Dec. 11, 1941, which then declared war on Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany that same day.
Although Congress never declared war on Afghanistan or Iraq, on Oct. 11, 2002 Congress authorized President Bush to use force in Iraq. The U.S. invaded Iraq March 19, 2003, although Baghdad hadn’t attacked America. U.N. Weapons Inspectors were unable to find the WMDs that Bush claimed threatened the U.S. but subsequent inquiries proved didn’t exist. The 2005 documentary Beyond Treason claimed the U.S. used depleted uranium, which spreads radiation, in Iraq. An Italian documentary broadcast Nov. 8, 2005 contended U.S. forces used white phosphorous – considered by some to be a napalm-like chemical weapon – against civilians in Falluja in 2004.
A week after the Pearl Harbor air raid, a salvage organization was established. By February 1942, three battleships, two cruisers, two destroyers and other vessels were repaired. Three additional damaged battleships went on to serve in WWII, thanks to history’s greatest salvage operation.
Groundbreaking on the Pentagon began Sept. 11, 1941; it was dedicated Jan. 15, 1943, costing $83 million. The Pentagon’s partial reconstruction after it was attacked cost $700 million; its outer ring was officially reopened Sept. 11, 2002. As of Sept. 11, 2005, no major buildings have been rebuilt at Ground Zero.
Washington spent $341 billion on WWII. The War Resisters League claims the U.S. military budget is “$643 billion for FY 2006 including estimates for the Iraq/ Afghanistan supplemental…” CostOfWar.com claims that as of Nov. 30, 2005, America spent $223 billion-plus on Iraq.
On Feb. 19, 1942, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 placing 120,000 residents of Japanese ancestry in internment camps. The last internee was released Oct. 30, 1946.
In June 2002 Attorney General Ashcroft launched the National Security Entry Exit Registration System – which the ACLU likened to “the Nazis’ requirement for Jews…” NSEERS led to deportation proceedings for 13,740-plus Arabs, Muslims and South Asians; none were publicly charged with terrorism. MissionIslam.com contends NSEERS “resulted in 144,513 males… interviewed, registered, photographed, and fingerprinted.” The website claims 15,000 Muslims were detained or arrested, 3,208 deported, and 3,434 faced deportation proceedings.
As of Dec. 7, 2005, about 520 detainees remain at Guantanamo. According to Rolling Stone, “7,000 prisoners were jammed into Abu Ghraib, a complex erected to hold… 4,000 detainees.” On Aug. 27, 2005, 1,000 prisoners were released from Abu Ghraib. Two weeks earlier, Al-Jazeera reported Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Myers was suppressing attempts to release additional photos and videos documenting prisoner abuse there. In October 2005, the Bush administration, led by Vice President Cheney, sought a CIA exemption from a torture ban that 90 senators had voted for. On Nov. 2, 2005, The Washington Post revealed the CIA was holding terrorist suspects in secret prisons in Eastern Europe. After more than three years behind bars, Jose Padilla was finally charged Nov. 22, 2005 with terrorist-related crimes – but not with plotting to detonate a dirty bomb, as the government had alleged for years. That same day, Britain’s Daily Mirror claimed that according to a leaked Downing Street memo, Bush planned to bomb the HQ of the Al-Jazeera satellite TV network in Qatar in 2004.
On April 25, 1945, 50 nations’ delegates met in San Francisco for the United Nations Conference on International Organization, creating a Charter adopted June 25, 1945. America and its Allies established the U.N. Oct. 24, 1945.
On Sept. 14, 2001 the Senate confirmed John Negroponte – reputedly involved with Central American rightwing death squads – as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. On Nov. 8, 2002, the Security Council passed Resolution 1441, demanding Iraq’s disarmament. Five days later, U.N. weapons inspectors returned to Baghdad. A leaked Jan. 31, 2003 memo alleged the National Security Agency spied on Security Council members. Facing vetoes, in March 2003Washington failed to submit a second resolution authorizing military action in Iraq to a Security Council vote. On August 1, 2005, President Bush named controversial John Bolton U.S. U.N. Ambassador via recess appointment. The U.S. had been without a U.N. ambassador since Jan. 13, 2005.
On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall outlined the Marshall Plan, massive foreign aid for rebuilding war-shattered Europe.
To rebuild storm-battered Gulf Coast states, on Sept. 2, 2005 Congressman Jerry Lewis, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, advocated “a domestic Marshall Plan.” In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the world’s superpower received foreign aid from the U.N. and donor nations, including Bangladesh. On November 22, 2005, Venezuela’s anti-American President Hugo Chavez made heating fuel available to low income Yanquis at a discounted rate.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Allies invaded Normandy’s beaches on LCVP landing crafts invented by New Orleans boat builder Andrew Higgins, whom General Eisenhower called, “the man who won the war for us.”
Louisiana’s National Guard is the only one in the Union with amphibious craft. However, after Katrina, none could be deployed because all were in Iraq, along with 30% of Louisiana’s Guardsmen.
Partisans shot Mussolini April 28, 1945. Hitler and Goebbels committed suicide April 30 and May 1, 1945. After an International Military Tribunal found him guilty of war crimes, Goering committed suicide Oct. 15, 1946. Tojo was executed Dec. 23, 1948. Hirohito remained emperor until his 1989 death.
Saddam Hussein remained at large from April until his Dec. 13, 2003 capture. Hussein’s trial was set for Oct. 19, 2005, but has been plagued by the assassinations of defense attorneys and, as of December 7, 2005, still drags on. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark flew to Baghdad in late November 2005 to assist Saddam’s defense. As of Dec. 7, 2005, Osama Bin Laden, Mullah Omar and Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Zarqawi are still on the loose. On Aug. 1, 2005, the World Tribunal on Iraq called for “the International Criminal Court to indict, prosecute, and punish the perpetrators and collaborators for the aggression against Iraq…” As of Dec. 7, 2005, 2005, Bush, Cheney, Rumsefeld, Powell, Rice, Wolfowitz, Perle, etc., are still at large.
V-E Day was May 8, 1945, 210 days prior to the fourth anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. August 15, 1945 was V-J Day, and on Sept. 2, 1945 Tokyo officially surrendered, respectively 115 and 97 days before Dec. 7, 1945.
Since the conquest of Iraq began March 19, 2003, there have been more than 2,110 dead U.S. military deaths, as well as – according to the Dec. 3, 2005 broadcast of PBS’ The McLaughlin Group – 49,000-plus wounded.
On May 1, 2003, Bush declared: “major combat operations in Iraq have ended… [T]he United States and our allies have prevailed.” Since then, 1,900-plus U.S. forces perished in Iraq; most of them after Bush’s July 2, 2003 “Bring them on” taunt. Since Vice President Cheney’s May 30, 2005 pronouncement that the insurgency was in its “last throes,” 462 Americans died in Iraq (as of Dec. 5, 2005). Hawkish Democratic Congressman John Murtha stunned Capitol Hill on Nov. 17, 2005 by calling for a pullout of U.S. troops. On Nov. 30, 2005, Bush made yet another one of his endless speeches on Iraq, trying to enunciate a victory strategy.
In less than four years after entering WWII, America and its Allies defeated the greatest military threat ever assembled in world history – the fascist Axis powers of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo. But four years after 9/11, Bush remains unable to defeat a ragtag group of insurgents and terrorists, with no end in sight to the Iraqi insurgency and “War on Terrorism.”
L.A.-based freelance writer Ed Rampell is the co-author of “Pearl Harbor in the Movies” and was a featured speaker at Hawaii’s 60th anniversary commemorations of the Pearl Harbor attack. Rampell’s new book is “Progressive Hollywood, A People’s Film History of the United States.” See: www.ProgressiveHollywood.com.