Pearl Harbor


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December 7, 1941 is “a date which will live in infamy.” The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii led to the United States entering World War II. Wired has the short course on what happened that day. Link

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@Johan-
1. Of course the attack was designed as a surprise. The Japanese are very sensitive about this though, because (they claim) that they actually intended to give warning first, albeit with VERY little time to react. To them an attack without ANY warning would be dishonorable, and they (internally) suffered some shame because as it turns out, they played it so tight that there was no warning. To Westerners, the difference between no warning and a half hour warning to the other side of the globe was very little. It's merely amusing that the Japanese considered the tiny bit of warning they intended would absolved them from shame of a dishonorable attack.

2. The attack itself is history -- I'm not judging modern Japanese for what their grandfathers did. But let's not revise it either. The thing that bothers me is that after many decades, MODERN revisionists have suddenly stopped labeling the event as a "sneak attack" because they fear the English terminology carries the implication that the Japanese were "sneaky". Even though for many decades the event was always called (as a complete phrase) "the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor", it has been adjusted in modern reports and writings to be a "surprise attack". The difference in wording is subtle, especially to a non-native speaker of English, but the intent is pretty profound. We are more afraid of offending modern Japanese than honoring the memory our own war dead. Any time people start rewriting history from what was recorded by primary source, I get nervous. It was universally called a "sneak attack" then. Why change it now?
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Sid,
I don't really see your point here. The attack was designed as a surprise attack and it would be pointless to send the warning in advance. Since there was radio silence between the attack force and the government I'm assuming it was just a matter of ill logistics that it arrived a bit later than intended.

So what is it that actually bothers you?
Surely it's not the fact that they attacked a military target without a warning that give ample time for the US military to respond, since this is quite allowed by the Hague convention.
So if it's just the wording, then sneak implies that they crept up on pearl harbour which they indeed did. However, since there were no indication that they were about to attack in due time (ignoring conspiracy theories) then a surprise attack is far more suitable. However, if you don't feel comfortable with any of them, you can try to say that it was a coup de main which might be much more appropriate.
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Has anyone else noticed that about 10 years or so ago, news reports and documentaries stopped calling it a "sneak attack" (which it had been termed since 1941) and now refer to the event as a "surprise attack". The difference is subtle yet disconcerting. It's not like Yamamoto's pilots jumped out of a cake somewhere waving banners and throwing confetti. It WAS sneaky and it irks me to see revisionists paint it as anything but that.

Yes, the Japanese did tried to time it so that their famed 14 page diplomatic letter (essential a polite declaration of coming hostility) arrived *just before* the attack took place, but because of time lags in transcribing and decoding in their embassy, it didn't make it until well after the attack. They always use the unintended delay as an excuse that they didn't intend to be sneaky, as in "well, we intended to save face for ourselves by giving Washington a couple of worthless minutes of vague warning that we might be up to something soon on the other side of the world, but it didn't work out that way... so sorry". The crocodile tears they shed later about the unintended lack of warning of hostilities and how bad they felt over it always bothered me. It was a sneak attack then, and still is. Don't weaselword it.
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