Nov 27, 2008

Don't Worry. Be Happy

The biggest  player  we never heard of in the Pearl Harbor fiasco was Stanley Hornbeck, Rhodes Scholar,  author, diplomat of note, and expert in all things oriental. He'd worked his way to the top of  the Foggy Bottom bureaucracy and had the ear of Secretary of State Cordell Hull. He told his boss the Sons of Heaven were bluffing. America had scads of time to prepare for Pacific war.  The silly goose even put it to paper in a memo to Hull  on Nov. 26:

"Were it a matter of placing bets, the undersigned would give odds of five to one that the Japan and the United States will not be at "war" on or before March 1 (a date more than 90 days from now..)."

In his autobiography he alibied with psychobabble,  hard to parse but apparently  basically claiming he misquoted himself.  Regardless, his memo may have given Hull  the excuse he wanted to go into full-Rambo diplomatic mode, even as the high chiefs of the Army and Navy were pleading: "Stall. We're not ready."

And so far, no one had thought to tell Admiral Kimmel and General Stark much about just how hairy things were getting.  Besides, that Japanese invasion fleet  --the one we knew about -- was a long way from Hawaii, south of Formosa and still chasing the Southern Cross.  Military Intelligence knew that was good news for the Ford Island moorings.

Twelve thousand miles away the choppy North Pacific Ocean aggravated the saki hangovers of the Emperor's airmen. Kido Butai was underway, the Kuriles just below the horizon astern, the sunny tropical target some 3,000 miles beyond the bow. Fleet course east by southeast.  Ten days to glory.

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