North Korea has been making headlines a great deal lately, and not for good reasons.
In a move that must have warmed the hearts of millions of impoverished North Koreans scraping to find enough food to keep their families from starving, the nation’s leadership announced intentions to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States, calling the US the “sworn enemy of the Korean people.”
A few days later, North Korea confirmed it was ending the 60-year armistice connected to the 1950-53 Korean War.
On March 30, Pyongyang declared it was in “a state of war” with South Korea, and Kim Jong-un stated that rockets were ready to be fired at American bases in the Pacific in response to the US flying two nuclear-capable B2 stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula.
While US intelligence officials speculate that Kim Jong-un is using the bluster to assert control over his country, and his ultimate goal is recognition rather than getting involved in a devastating conflict, the general consensus seems to be that the baby-faced dictator is decidedly unpredictable, if not eight kinds of crazy.
Which is just what the people of North Korea don’t need at this point.
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I’m going to go out on a limb and guess this was not put together by the typical Facebook user.
One of the last living Doolittle Raiders died this week in northern Kentucky, less than two months before what will be final reunion of the famed group.
Maj. Thomas C. “Tom” Griffin served as a navigator on one of the 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers that attacked mainland Japan on April 18, 1942, in a daring raid that lifted the spirits of an American nation still demoralized from Pearl Harbor and numerous other Japanese victories.
With Griffin’s death there are just four surviving Raiders: Lt. Col. Richard Cole, of Comfort, Texas; Lt. Col. Robert Hite of Nashville, Tenn.; Lt. Col. Edward Saylor of Puyallup, Wash.; and Master Sgt. David Thatcher of Missoula, Mont.
The last surviving Raider pilot, Bill Bower, died in early 2011.
Griffin, 96, died Tuesday in a veterans nursing home in northern Kentucky.
He was among 80 men who took part in the hazardous mission. The attack on Tokyo, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet 650 miles off the coast of Japan, shocked the Japanese and gave American morale a needed boost.
One does tire of the simplistic rhetoric of self-proclaimed “peace advocates,” the ones who often use the Christmas season as opportunity to point out mankind’s flawed and violent nature, which they contend far too often trends toward war.
Take Barbara Kelly, writing in the Savannah News. She begins a recent column by stating that “we are a young and evolving species, and seem to have much trouble being at, or staying at, peace.”
She then takes aim at the United States when writes: “Many think of our nation as a peaceful one, but this is not the case. Our country is 235 years old, and for 209 of those years we have been at war. Some declared and some not – but the dead don’t care about the distinction.”
Kelly, as many do, make the mistake of assigning equal guilt to all combatants when she writes that most wars are about money.
While she may be correct that most wars today are indeed about money in one form or another – whether it be territory, citizens who can boost industrial output and gross domestic product, or simple wealth acquisition through plunder – the inference that all combatants is both wrong and simplistic.
The most obvious example of this is World War II. Allied forces such as Poland, France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union fought against Nazi Germany out of self-preservation.
As long as I’ve been reading about World War II – some 35-plus years for those of you scoring at home – there’s been a faint but continuous drumbeat of revisionists who claim President Franklin Roosevelt not only knew the Japanese planned to attack Pearl Harbor, but that he welcomed the surprise assault as a way to get the US public to back our entry into the conflict on the Allied side.
FDR needed a jolt like Pearl Harbor, which occurred 70 years ago next week, to overcome America’s then-strong trend toward isolationism, it’s argued, and he was willing to sacrifice more than 2,400 American lives and a good bit of the US Navy on that fateful day to do so.
To be certain, hindsight has proven that there were intelligence warnings of an impending attack on Hawaii, and the decidedly overall unprepared nature of Pearl Harbor can’t help but raise eyebrows decades after the event.
But, as the Coyote Blog argues, this approach to history is not only simplistic, it fails to present an accurate picture of the situation at the time.
This is a fun but generally foolish game. The same game was played after 9/11, pointing to a few scraps of intelligence that were ‘ignored.’ But the problem in intelligence isn’t always lack of information, but too much information. In late 1941, the US government was getting warnings from everywhere about just about everything. It is easy as a historian to pick out four or five warnings and say they were stupidly (or purposely) ignored, but this fails to address the real point – that those warnings were accompanied by a thousand false or misleading ones at the same time. The entire Pacific theater had already had a whole series of alerts in the months leading up to Dec 7, one false alarm after another. It is Monday morning quarterbacking that strips the intelligence problem of its context. To prove that something unusual happened, one would have to show that these warnings were processed or prioritized in a manner that was unusual for the time.
Early indications are that a skull found while dredging Pearl Harbor this spring could well be that of a Japanese aviator killed during the historic attack on Dec. 7, 1941.
An excavation crew dredging the harbor recently made discovery. Archaeologist Jeff Fong of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific said forensic scientists are conducting tests on the skull, adding that early analysis has made him “75 percent sure” that the skull belongs to a Japanese pilot.
Fifty-five Japanese airmen were killed and 29 of their aircraft were shot down in early-morning surprise attack. By comparison, some 2,400 US service members died in the raid, which brought the US into World War II.
No Japanese remains have been found at Pearl Harbor since World War II.
How tough was Geoff Fisken, the World War II fighter pilot from New Zealand who went on to become the highest scoring British Commonwealth pilot in the Pacific?
Once, following a sortie, Fisken’s mechanic fainted when he alighted from his aircraft with shrapnel protruding from his hip, according to a story by the Rotorua Review.
“I didn’t know it was there,” Fisken told the Review in 2000. ‘”It felt sore, with blood all down my leg. I tried to pull it out with a pair of pliers at the hospital but it was still too sore. They cut it out and put on some sulthalimide, strapped it up and I was able to fly again in three or four days.”
Fisken, who registered 11 kills while piloting CAC Wirraways, Brewster Buffaloes and Curtis P-40s, died over the weekend in New Zealand at age 96.
Japan began excavations today at a former army medical school to search for human remains linked to a notorious World War II program that is said to have conducted biological warfare in China and live experiments on foreign prisoners of war.
It is uncertain if the excavation will unearth anything, but the effort is a sign that the government is open to the possibility of facing its long-kept wartime secrets, including the experiments conducted by the military’s shadowy Unit 731, according to the Associated Press.
Unit 731 was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Japanese personnel.
Its activities, which included subjecting prisoners to vivisection without anesthesia, have never been officially acknowledged by the Japanese government even though historians and participants have documented them.
America’s last surviving World War I veteran turned 110 Tuesday, one of just three survivors of the Great War still alive.
Frank Buckles lied about his age in 1917 when he was 16 so he could enlist. The Army sent him to France, where he drove ambulances and motorcycles. After the armistice, he helped return German prisoners of war to their country.
Buckles was one of more than 70 million men and women worldwide who served in the “War to End All Wars,” the greatest conflict mankind had witnessed to that point.
Today, he lives with his daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan, at Gap View, W.Va.