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Editorial – Expert Thuggery at Pearl Harbour (video)

13 December 1941

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 13 December 1941

Expert Thuggery at Pearl Harbour

To parody the familiar advertisement we thought the Hun was black until we saw the Jap. The new extension of the war, which sets the whole world aflame, has been brought about by a very ecstasy of treachery—perfidity elaborated and refined with the delicacy of the virtuoso. Having said so much let us waste no more time, temper or energy on indignation. We have long known that the Japanese were as evil as the Nazis and would strike as the Italians did when they thought they could safely do so.

We expected it after Dunkirk, but the Japanese hesitated; perhaps they were not ready or had not taken the measure of the United States, and thus missed their best opportunity of hamstringing the British Empire. Again we expected it when the Russians were in full retreat and Moscow seemed certain to fall. But again they waited to make sure and the tide turned. But the collapse of France — from which most of our misfortunes have proceeded gave them the footing they wanted in the Southern Pacific and from the moment they established themselves in Indo-China it was certain that they would make a bid for the mastery of the Pacific and the establishment of the ” new order ” in Asia, at the next opportunity.

We complain and rightly of the low cunning with which they held the United States in parley to the last moment and beyond—while they prepared to strike at the British and American outposts in the Pacific, but we have been sufficiently aware of their general intention to be on our guard and the most dismal feature of the early successes they have been able to gain by treachery and surprise is the want of evidence, so far, of vigilance, intelligence, or readiness on the part of the American Navy, caught and mauled at Pearl Island and other ” strong ” points in the Pacific.

The British were ready, but so far as can be judged, have been faced with naval superiority in the Pacific and our naval defence of Malaya has cost us the grievous and surprising loss, from air attack, of our latest battleship, Prince of Wales, and the battle cruiser, Repulse. We have been unable to prevent the Malaya landings, though we are contesting them and the Japanese have swiftly occupied Thailand, the Siamese, in spite of their valorous warnings, making no more resistance than did Denmark. The Japanese have also invaded the Phillipines and let loose hell in the Pacific generally. They have struck shrewd blows the executive arm has brilliantly seconded the subtle brain which prepared the surprise.

It was, of course, clear that the Japanese unsupported had no real chance against the combined strength of Great Britain and the United States in Pacific waters without resorting to strategem. Treachery should have been assumed; the United States was fully warranted in anticipating the stroke. But Japan was ready and the United States was not. The astonishing speed and efficiency of the attack is a warning, especially to American complacency, that this new enemy is dangerous, and his elimination will be a long, arduous and hazardous Process. Much depends on the swiftness with which the United States can react and recover; we do not doubt the issue, but the shock, however salutary, has been unpleasant.

Surprise is a weapon which cannot be used continuously. The Japanese have gained important initial advantages from its use, but they are committed to war on many fronts, against formidable adversaries. They are trying to avoid conflict with Russia. But the duty of our Russian allies is clear and, fortunately, not only their but tier interest. Any Japanese gain interest. Any Japanese gain in (Continued In next column)

The Pacific will threaten the British control of the Middle East, which is vital to Russian defence. Moreover it is inconceivable that the Japanese will continue to pass unchallenged American supplies to Russia through Vladivostok.

The Russians cannot, if they wished, contract out of war with a country which has attacked allies and friends on whom they are utterly dependent for supplies. They are under as clear an obligation to declare war on Japan as we were to declare war on the Axis puppets, Finland, Hungary and Rumania, with whom we had no direct quarrel. This is a point of practical importance, for the powerful Red Army in the Far East may be badly needed as the struggle develops, and it is from this front that the adversaries of Japan may be able to deliver close and mortal thrusts.

Meanwhjle the fog of war hangs over the Pacific and we must wait with patience and fortitude for what is revealed when it clears.