Unexamined Premises

How to Fight and Win a War: Bombs Over Tokyo

Sad news:

Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, one of four surviving Doolittle Raiders who attacked Japan during a daring 1942 mission credited with lifting American morale during World War II, has died. He was 94. Rod Saylor said his father died of natural causes on Wednesday in Sumner, Washington.

He was a young flight engineer-gunner and among the 80 airmen who volunteered to fly the risky mission that sent B-25 bombers from a carrier at sea to attack Tokyo on April 28, 1942. The raid launched earlier than planned and risked running out of fuel before making it to safe airfields. “It was what you do … over time, we’ve been told what effect our raid had on the war and the morale of the people,” Saylor told The Associated Press in a 2013 interview.

Wounded, nearly fatally, at Pearl Harbor just four months earlier, the United States decided the way to even the score was to put planes in the air and show the Japanese that we could hurt them. The Americans didn’t withdraw to the safety of San Francisco and San Diego, nor bomb some useless atoll in the Pacific, or issue a stern warning to the emperor to turn over Tojo and Yamamoto in order to bring them to “justice.”

No — we went right to the heart of the evil of the Empire of Japan and delivered a message that while not militarily significant at that point, nevertheless may have been the decisive act of the war in the Pacific: it shook the Japanese to their core as they realized that what they had hoped would be an easy victory over a demoralized enemy would turn into the gates of Hell for them, with no possibly for victory over an aroused foe who would not quit until it had nuked the bastards.

Contrast this with the pathetic American reaction to 9/11. Go ahead; I dare you. On second thought, let me do it for you. Here’s FDR in his memorable Pearl Harbor speech:


And now here’s the Conqueror of Iraq and Afghanistan, declaring war not on Islam or Saudi Arabia, but on “terror.” It is instructive to note that those “victories” will not survive his unworthy successor’s presidency. Be sure to watch it all the way to bitter, depressing, futile end, with its “religion of peace” boilerplate, invocation of Allah, and its reference to blasphemy.

“Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them…. Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

Except, of course, in the “holy cities” of Mecca and Medina, in which case we will just let them live happily ever after, fulminating against the West and plotting its destruction. The only way to stop evil is to go to its heart, rip it out and stomp on it. To demoralize the enemy and make him understand that he can’t win and therefore must surrender unconditionally, or die. That everything he believes will soon turn to ashes and will henceforth be just a bad memory — just ask the current leader of the Thousand-Year Reich or the “divine Emperor” of Japan. Anything else — anything “proportional” — is just a pinprick and worse than useless, because it only encourages them to keep fighting. 

The 16 B-25 bombers, each carrying five men, dropped bombs on targets such as factory areas and military installations and headed to designated airfields in mainland China realizing that they would run out of fuel, according to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Three crew members died as Raiders bailed out or crash-landed their planes in China, but most were helped to safety by Chinese villagers and soldiers. Of eight Raiders captured by Japanese soldiers, three were executed and another died in captivity.

Saylor told the AP in 2013 that he was one of the lucky ones. “There were a whole bunch of guys in World War II; a lot of people didn’t come back,” he said.

But we won, unconditionally. Are we worthy of their sacrifice? Is this guy?

Pay no price, bear no burden

Pay no price, bear no burden

The next president of the United States will have to clean up both Bush’s and Obama’s messes. Let’s pray he’s up to the job.