Monday, December 07, 2015

Pearl Harbor and FDR

Some things bear repeating. Reposted from December 7, 2011.

photo from Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library
December 7, 1941, is a day that will live in infamy, and a large part of its living on in the American memory is due to the spectacular war time leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Though my parents changed early on from Democrat to conservative Republican, they still revere Franklin Roosevelt. Not for his domestic policies but for his ability to galvanize and lead the country in time of war.

My dad served in the Pacific theater in World War II. America lost over 400,000 men with another 600,000 wounded in World War II. My mom, on the home front, suffered not only the anxiety of her young husband going off to war but a stiff rationing program endured by the entire nation for more than four years.

Yet from December 7, 1941, to his death on April 12, 1945, President Roosevelt rallied the country to overcome economic and military obstacles in pursuit not only of military victory, but an "unconditional surrender" victory in a two front war in which military service was not for a fixed time period but for the duration plus six months.

The nation also peacefully accepted the "relocation" of nearly 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese to internment camps by executive order--with no civil or political rebellion. Though this proved an unnecessary precaution, it is a token of Roosevelt's ability to unite the nation to all out war at whatever cost.

The national unity and resolve that Roosevelt inspired is breathtaking in light of the civil and political opposition against every significant U.S. war since World War II, especially the war in Vietnam. This despite the fact that none of the succeeding wars have incurred anywhere near the losses in terms of military casualties and home front sacrifices of World War II.

Franklin Roosevelt, like Winston Churchill, was an extraordinary war time leader. Churchill gave the British spine to resist and fight when their homeland was daily under attack. Roosevelt gave Americans a resolve to fight, sacrifice and die in the hundreds of thousands even when their homeland was not under attack after Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor, a surprise attack American loss matched only by 9/11, stands as a monument to the greatness of the American people to turn an unprovoked attack into a complete military victory in African, European and Pacific theaters of war and as a monument to the outstanding war time leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt.


MAX Redline said...

Great post, TD! While there's a lot of stuff about FDR I'd never agree with, it remains that unlike Barry, he was excellent at uniting the country in difficult times. Unconditional surrender is something Obama would never demand, but would acquiesce to.

T. D. said...

Unconditional surrender and extreme victory tactics (like interning the Japanese). Even to this day the Dems never diss him for that though it is probably the most offensive executive action ever taken by a U.S. president. Shoot. No one has even mentioned taking him off the dime. Even the Japanese offended by a memorial to a Gresham doctor who supported Roosevelt's interning policy don't blink an eye at carrying around money honoring the guy who gave the order and made sure it was carried out. Go figure.

T. D. said...

From a NYT op-ed:
Interning Japanese-Americans is still legal.

"The leading example comes out of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. The Supreme Court upheld the internment in its 1944 Korematsu decision, and that ruling has never been judicially reversed. Technically, it remains good law. But it has been effectively overridden by other actors, and in the court of public opinion. A formal apology and payment of reparations, enacted by Congress and signed into law by Ronald Reagan in 1988, supplies the formal evidence. Korematsu continues to provoke popular shame."

MAX Redline said...

In other words, Trump's proposed ban would still be legal. I thought as much.

T. D. said...

Yes, Max, and it has to be. The Commander in Chief can constitutionally stop habeas corpus for citizens in cases of invasion and rebellion for the public safety. (Art. 1, Sec. 9) So, he can arrest and hold people without bringing them before a judge and charging them, but he can't intern them in a camp? Or can't stop non-citizens from coming into the country? People who say it's unconstitutional have not thought seriously about what the constitution says. The Framers left a hole you can drive a truck through purposefully in cases where the defense of the country is at issue. And they were right to do that. Freedom doesn't matter if you can't defend it.