Sign-up to receive our free newsletter.
By Mr. Curmudgeon:
In the spring of 1942, Gen. Douglas MacArthur granted an interview to Time magazine correspondent Theodore H. White. “The best navy in the world is the Japanese Navy,” said MacArthur, “A first-class navy. Then comes the British Navy. The U.S. Navy is a fourth-class navy, not even as good as the Italian Navy.” When MacArthur later expressed concern that a Japanese invasion taskforce steaming to New Guinea’s Port Moresby was a precursor to an invasion of Australia, U.S. Admiral Ernest J. King – a combative sea dog – said, “Let them come.”
The Japanese squadron consisted of 53 ships and 127 aircraft. The U.S. naval taskforce, on the other hand, numbered 27 ships and 128 aircraft. Clashing vessels did not engage in direct combat. The battle of the Coral Sea was history’s first over-the-horizon naval confrontation where carriers and their aircraft proved decisive weapons. Although the battle was a tactical victory for the Japanese fleet, the strategic triumph fell to the United States.
“Congratulations on your glorious accomplishment of the last two days,” said a cable from Admiral Chester Nimitz to King, “Your aggressive actions have the admiration of the entire Pacific Fleet …You have filled our hearts with pride and have maintained the highest traditions of the Navy.”
Japan’s seemingly unstoppable conquest of the Pacific, which began with the attack on Pearl Harbor, halted in the warm waters off the Solomon Islands, setting the stage for the Pacific war’s turning point one month later at the battle of Midway.
Last Friday, the U.S. Navy informed Congress that the carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) would not sail from its home in Norfolk, Virginia, for scheduled repairs at Newport News “due to the uncertainty in the Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations bill, both in the timing and funding level available … CVN-72 will remain at Norfolk Naval Base where the ship’s force personnel will continue to conduct routine maintenance until sufficient funding is received …”
While America commits economic and military suicide in a fruitless attempt to save unsustainable entitlements, China is undertaking an ambitious carrier-building program. “We expect China to build at least one indigenous carrier, probably two or more, but they have not revealed how many they intend to build, what the construction schedule will be or what their mission will be,” a Pentagon official told the Washington Times.
Last November, the Reuters News Service reported China’s “home-built J-15 fighter jet took off from and landed on the Liaoning, a reconditioned Soviet-era vessel from Ukraine which only came into service in September this year.”
“China is embroiled in disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam over South China Sea islands believed to be surrounded by waters rich in natural gas. It has a similar dispute with Japan over islands in the east China Sea,” said Reuters. China’s outgoing President Hu Jintao told a gathering of the Communist Party Congress their nation’s naval policy is geared to “win local war.”
In her book Pearl Harbor, author Susan E. Hamen writes, “Japan had to rely on other countries for imports of items such as iron, oil, natural gas, and rubber … With the Depression of the 1930s, which affected most of the world, Japanese leaders had the opportunity they needed to proceed with their plan for dominance. The Japanese set out to rid Asia of European rule with the battle cry, ‘Asia for Asians!’ … The officers of the Imperial Japanese Army felt the United States and other Western countries were in Japan’s way of becoming a great nation.”
On the morning of December 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sat in his study toiling over his stamp collection when he answered a call from Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox . A White House butler later recalled the president’s reaction to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, “My God! How did it happen? I will go down in disgrace,” said a stunned FDR. His diversion of tax dollars into New Deal programs proved ineffective in alleviating the ill effects of the Great Depression, with many of his programs declared unconstitutional by the high court. FDR thought his administration’s refusal to modernize America’s defenses in response to Germany and Japan’s military adventurism, using tax dollars to buy the Democratic Party’s lock on Washington power, would destroy his presidency.
Americans, instead, focused their ire on the new foreign enemy and rallied around the White House stamp collector. This should provide some comfort to the current White House golfer/skeet-shooter should China project its military might with its new fleet of aircraft carriers. With history as our guide, Americans won’t remember that New Deal, Great Society and ObamaCare entitlements kept America’s Navy in port … when China attacked.