Lessons Learned from Pearl Harbor

Go Lean Commentary

What would you do if backed into a corner and there’s a threat on your life?

For many people their natural impulse is to come out fighting. They say that this is not aggression, rather just a survival instinct.

Believe it or not, this depiction describes one of the biggest attacks in American history: the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor. See VIDEO here:

VIDEO – World War II History: Attack on Pearl Harbor – http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/world-war-ii-history/videos/attack-pearl-harbor

Retrieved December 7, 2016 from History.com – On December 7, 1941, Japan launches a surprise attack on American soil at Pearl Harbor.




This is the 75th Anniversary of that attack – a few days ago: December 7. That’s a lot of years and a lot of lessons. Still, 75 is a pretty round number, like 25, 50 and 100. This commentary has been reserved for now, a few days late on purpose because of the best-practice to “not speak ill of the dead” at a funeral or memorial service. But a “lessons learned analysis” is still an important exercise for benefiting from catastrophic efforts. After 75 years since the Pearl Harbor Attack on December 7, 1941, this post-mortem analysis is just as shocking as it was on this “day of infamy”.

Consider the details of this maligning article here (and the Appendices below); notice that it assumes a conspiracy:

Title: How U.S. Economic Warfare Provoked Japan’s Attack on Pearl Harbor
By: Robert Higgs

cu-blog-lessons-learned-from-pearl-harbor-photo-1Ask a typical American how the United States got into World War II, and he will almost certainly tell you that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the Americans fought back. Ask him why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and he will probably need some time to gather his thoughts. He might say that the Japanese were aggressive militarists who wanted to take over the world, or at least the Asia-Pacific part of it. Ask him what the United States did to provoke the Japanese, and he will probably say that the Americans did nothing: we were just minding our own business when the crazy Japanese, completely without justification, mounted a sneak attack on us, catching us totally by surprise in Hawaii on December 7, 1941.

You can’t blame him much. For more than 60 years such beliefs have constituted the generally accepted view among Americans, the one taught in schools and depicted in movies—what “every schoolboy knows.” Unfortunately, this orthodox view is a tissue of misconceptions. Don’t bother to ask the typical American what U.S. economic warfare had to do with provoking the Japanese to mount their attack, because he won’t know. Indeed, he will have no idea what you are talking about.

In the late nineteenth century, Japan’s economy began to grow and to industrialize rapidly. Because Japan has few natural resources, many of the burgeoning industries had to rely on imported raw materials, such as coal, iron ore or steel scrap, tin, copper, bauxite, rubber, and petroleum. Without access to such imports, many of which came from the United States or from European colonies in southeast Asia, Japan’s industrial economy would have ground to a halt. By engaging in international trade, however, the Japanese had built a moderately advanced industrial economy by 1941.

At the same time, they also built a military-industrial complex to support an increasingly powerful army and navy. These armed forces allowed Japan to project its power into various places in the Pacific and east Asia, including Korea and northern China, much as the United States used its growing industrial might to equip armed forces that projected U.S. power into the Caribbean and Latin America, and even as far away as the Philippine Islands.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933, the U.S. government fell under the control of a man who disliked the Japanese and harbored a romantic affection for the Chinese because, some writers have speculated, Roosevelt’s ancestors had made money in the China trade.[1] Roosevelt also disliked the Germans (and of course Adolf Hitler), and he tended to favor the British in his personal relations and in world affairs. He did not pay much attention to foreign policy, however, until his New Deal began to peter out in 1937. Afterward, he relied heavily on foreign policy to fulfill his political ambitions, including his desire for reelection to an unprecedented third term.

When Germany began to rearm and to seek Lebensraum aggressively in the late 1930s, the Roosevelt administration cooperated closely with the British and the French in measures to oppose German expansion. After World War II commenced in 1939, this U.S. assistance grew ever greater and included such measures as the so-called destroyer deal and the deceptively named Lend-Lease program. In anticipation of U.S. entry into the war, British and U.S. military staffs secretly formulated plans for joint operations. U.S. forces sought to create a war-justifying incident by cooperating with the British navy in attacks on German U-boats in the north Atlantic, but Hitler refused to take the bait, thus denying Roosevelt the pretext he craved for making the United States a full-fledged, declared belligerent—an end that the great majority of Americans opposed.

In June 1940, Henry L. Stimson, who had been secretary of war under Taft and secretary of state under Hoover, became secretary of war again. Stimson was a lion of the Anglophile, northeastern upper crust and no friend of the Japanese. In support of the so-called Open Door Policy for China, Stimson favored the use of economic sanctions to obstruct Japan’s advance in Asia. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau and Interior Secretary Harold Ickes vigorously endorsed this policy. Roosevelt hoped that such sanctions would goad the Japanese into making a rash mistake by launching a war against the United States, which would bring in Germany because Japan and Germany were allied.

Accordingly, the Roosevelt administration, while curtly dismissing Japanese diplomatic overtures to harmonize relations, imposed a series of increasingly stringent economic sanctions on Japan. In 1939 the United States terminated the 1911 commercial treaty with Japan. “On July 2, 1940, Roosevelt signed the Export Control Act, authorizing the President to license or prohibit the export of essential defense materials.” Under this authority, “[o]n July 31, exports of aviation motor fuels and lubricants and No. 1 heavy melting iron and steel scrap were restricted.” Next, in a move aimed at Japan, Roosevelt slapped an embargo, effective October 16, “on all exports of scrap iron and steel to destinations other than Britain and the nations of the Western Hemisphere.” Finally, on July 26, 1941, Roosevelt “froze Japanese assets in the United States, thus bringing commercial relations between the nations to an effective end. One week later Roosevelt embargoed the export of such grades of oil as still were in commercial flow to Japan.”[2] The British and the Dutch followed suit, embargoing exports to Japan from their colonies in southeast Asia.

An Untenable Position
Roosevelt and his subordinates knew they were putting Japan in an untenable position and that the Japanese government might well try to escape the stranglehold by going to war. Having broken the Japanese diplomatic code, the Americans knew, among many other things, what Foreign Minister Teijiro Toyoda had communicated to Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura on July 31: “Commercial and economic relations between Japan and third countries, led by England and the United States, are gradually becoming so horribly strained that we cannot endure it much longer. Consequently, our Empire, to save its very life, must take measures to secure the raw materials of the South Seas.”[3]

Because American cryptographers had also broken the Japanese naval code, the leaders in Washington knew as well that Japan’s “measures” would include an attack on Pearl Harbor.[4] Yet they withheld this critical information from the commanders in Hawaii, who might have headed off the attack or prepared themselves to defend against it. That Roosevelt and his chieftains did not ring the tocsin makes perfect sense: after all, the impending attack constituted precisely what they had been seeking for a long time. As Stimson confided to his diary after a meeting of the war cabinet on November 25, “The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.”[5] After the attack, Stimson confessed that “my first feeling was of relief … that a crisis had come in a way which would unite all our people.[6]

Source: The Independent Institute – Online Community – Posted: May 1, 2006; retrieved December 7, 2016 from: http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1930
See Appendices below for cited references and profiles of the Author and the Organization.

So this establishes why the Japanese may have been motivated to attack Pearl Harbor in the first place. The motivation seems more complicated than initially reported.

The Bible declares that:

“For there is nothing hidden that will not become manifest” – Luke 8:17



After 75 years, the before-during-after facts associated with the Pearl Harbor Attack should be available for full disclosure. What are the lessons here for the Caribbean and today’s effort to secure the Caribbean homeland while expanding the regional economy? We truly want to consider these main points, these lessons; (the hyperlinks refer to previous Go Lean commentaries):


Territories have a status of disregard Hawaii (Pearl Harbor) and Philippines were attacked by the Japanese. These were both US Territories at the same. The levels of protection and preparedness for territories are sub-standard compared to the American mainland. As a result there was no meaningful plan for the air defense of Hawaii.
Colonialism is/was really bad Japan protested the sub-standard reality of the native Asians under the European colonial schemes. A people oppressed, suppressed and repressed would not remain docile forever; “that a downtrodden people would not stay down, that they would rise and revolt, that they would risk their lives and that of their children to pursue freedom.” – Go Lean book Page 251.
White Supremacy is/was a really bad construct The US Territories (Hawaii and Philippines) were not the first targets for Japan. They targeted all European colonies (British, French and Dutch) territories. Their campaign was to rail against White Supremacy.
Bullies only respond to a superior force Japan avail themselves of expansion opportunities in Far-East Asia as the European powers became distracted in the time period during and after World War I. (Manchuria in China was occupied by Japan starting in 1931). Only a superior force, the US, was able to assuage their aggression.
Economic Warfare can back a Government into a corner When the supply of basic needs (food, clothing, shelter and energy) are curtailed, a crisis ensues. When people are in crisis, they consider “fight or flight” options. Japan chose to fight; Caribbean people choose flight.
Societies can double-down on a bad Community Ethos Japan’s aggression was a direct result of their community ethos that honored Samurai warrior and battle culture. Men would walk the streets with their swords, ready for a challenge. On the other hand, the US (and Western Europe) community ethos of racism was so ingrained that the natural response in the US, post-Pearl Harbor, was to intern Japanese Americans in camps.
All of these bad community ethos were weeded out with post-WWII Human Rights reconciliations. – Go Lean book Page 220.
Double Standards are hard to ignore Japan felt justified in their Pacific aggression because of the US’s regional aggression in the Americas. Before Pearl Harbor, they withdrew from the League of Nations in protest of double standards.
Even after WWII, this double standard continues with countries with Veto power on the UN Security Council.
People have short memories There are movements to re-ignite many of the same developments that led to the devastation of WWII: right wing initiatives in Japan and Germany; Human Rights disregard for large minority groups (Muslims, etc.).
The more things change, the more they remain the same.

This discussion is analyzing the concept of “fight or flight”. According to Anthropologists, individuals and societies facing a crisis have to contend with these two options for survival. The very concept of refugees indicate that most people choose to flee; they choose internal displacement or refuge status in foreign countries. This point is consistent with the theme in the book Go Lean … Caribbean that this region is in crisis and as a result people have fled from their beloved homelands to foreign destinations in North America and Europe. How bad? According to one report, we have lost 70 percent of our tertiary-educated population.

Enough said! Our indictment is valid. Rather than flee, we now want the region to fight. This is not advocating a change to a militaristic state, but rather this commentary, and the underlying Go Lean book, advocates devoting “blood, sweat and tears” to empowering change in the Caribbean region. The book states this in its introduction (Page 3):

We cannot ignore the past, as it defines who we are, but we do not wish to be shackled to the past either, for then, we miss the future. So we must learn from the past, our experiences and that of other states in similar situations, mount our feet solidly to the ground and then lean-in, to reach for new heights; forward, upward and onward. This is what is advocated in this book: to Go Lean … Caribbean!

The Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). One mission of this roadmap is to reduce the “push and pull” factors that contributes to the high emigration rates. For the most part the “push and pull” factors relate to the societal defects among the economic, security and governing engines. Another mission is to incentivize the far-flung Diaspora to consider a return to the region. Overall, the Go Lean roadmap asserts that the economy of the Caribbean is inextricably linked to the security of the Caribbean. The roadmap therefore proposes an accompanying Security Pact to accompany the CU treaty’s economic empowerment efforts. The plan is to cooperate, collaborate and confer with all regional counterparts so as to provide an optimized Caribbean defense, against all threats, foreign and domestic. This includes the American Caribbean territories (just like Pearl Harbor was on the American territory of Hawaii) of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. These American protectorates are included in this CU regional plan.

This CU/Go Lean regional plan strives to advance all of Caribbean society with these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to a $800 Billion Single Market by creating 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance in support of these endeavors.

The Go Lean book stresses the effectiveness and efficiency of protecting life and property of all Caribbean stakeholders: residents, trading partners, visitors, etc.. This is why the book posits that some deployments are too big for any one member-state to manage alone – especially with such close proximities of one island nation to another – there are times when there must be a cross-border multi-lateral coordination – a regional partnership. This is the vision that is defined in the book (Pages 12 – 14), starting with these statements in the opening Declaration of Interdependence:

x. Whereas we are surrounded and allied to nations of larger proportions in land mass, populations, and treasuries, elements in their societies may have ill-intent in their pursuits, at the expense of the safety and security of our citizens. We must therefore appoint “new guards” to ensure our public safety and threats against our society, both domestic and foreign.

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance.

The Go Lean roadmap is not a call for a revolt against the governments, agencies or institutions of the Caribbean region, but rather a petition for a peaceful transition and optimization of the economic, security and governing engines in the region. To establish the security optimization, the Go Lean book presents a series of community ethos that must be adapted to forge this change. In addition, there are these specific strategies, tactics, implementation and advocacies to apply:

Community Ethos – new Economic Principles Page 21
Community Ethos – new Security Principles Page 22
Community Ethos – Minority Equalization Page 24
Community Ethos – Impacting the Greater Good Page 34
Strategy – Mission – Enact a Defense Pact to defend the homeland Page 45
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Homeland Security – Naval Operations Page 75
Tactical – Homeland Security – Militias Page 75
Implementation – Assemble – US Overseas Territory into CU Page 96
Implementation – Foreign Policy Initiatives at Start-up Page 102
Implementation – Security Initiatives at Start-up Page 103
Implementation – Ways to Promote Independence Page 120
Planning – Ways to Model the EU – Constructs after WW II Page 130
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Homeland Security Page 180
Advocacy – Ways to Mitigate Terrorism Page 181
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Intelligence Gathering Page 182
Advocacy – Ways to Enhance Tourism – Mitigate Risky Image Page 190
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Emergency Management Page 196
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 218
Advocacy – Ways to Impact US Territories Page 244

Now is the time to lean-in to this roadmap and “fight” for Caribbean change, as depicted in the book Go Lean…Caribbean. At this time, there are no State Actor adversaries – like Imperial Japan – seeking to cause harm to our homeland, but that status quo can change very quickly. Some Caribbean member-states are still de facto “colonies”, so enemies of our colonial masters – France, Netherlands, US, UK – can quickly “pop up”. We must be ready and on guard to any possible threats and security risks.

The movement behind the Go Lean … Caribbean book seeks to make this homeland a better place to live, work and play. Since the Caribbean is arguably the best address of the planet, tourism is a primary concern. So security here in our homeland must take on a different priority. Tourists do not visit war zones – civil wars, genocides, active terrorism, Failed-States and rampant crime. Already our societal defects (economics) have created such crises that our people have chosen to flee as opposed to “fight”. We do not need security threats as well; we do not need Failed-States. We are now preparing to “fight” (exert great efforts), not flee, to wage economic war to elevate our  communities.

This will not be easy; this is heavy-lifting, but success is possible. The strategies, tactics and implementations in the Go Lean roadmap are conceivable, believable and achievable. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix A – Reference Notes:
1.  Harry Elmer Barnes, “Summary and Conclusions,” in Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace:A Critical Examination of the Foreign Policy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Its Aftermath (Caldwell, Id.: Caxton Printers, 1953), pp. 682–83.
2.  All quotations in this paragraph from George Morgenstern, “The Actual Road to Pearl Harbor,” in Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, pp. 322–23, 327–28.
3.  Quoted ibid., p. 329.
4.  Robert B. Stinnett, Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor (NewYork: Free Press, 2000).
5.  Stimson quoted in Morgenstern, p. 343.
6.  Stimson quoted ibid., p. 384.


Appendix B – About the Author:

Robert Higgs is a Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from JohnsHopkinsUniversity, and he has taught at the University of Washington, LafayetteCollege, SeattleUniversity, the University of Economics, Prague, and GeorgeMasonUniversity.


Appendix C – About the Independent Institute:

The Independent Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, scholarly research and educational organization that sponsors in-depth studies of critical social and economic issues.

The mission of the Independent Institute is to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity.

Today, the influence of partisan interests is so pervasive that public-policy debate has become too politicized and is largely confined to a narrow reconsideration of existing policies. In order to fully understand the nature of public issues and possible solutions, the Institute’s program adheres to the highest standards of independent scholarly inquiry.
Source: http://www.independent.org/aboutus/


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