The Charlotte News

Monday, November 3, 1941


Site Ed. Note: Today, the subject is the Triplice between the Axis nations and why as yet Japan had not been forced by its terms to react and come to the aid of Germany, in its claims of unprovoked attack on its U-boats in the Atlantic, by attacking U.S. interests in the Pacific. The piece twists and turns to try to understand, and questions whether perhaps Japan has bolted from the Axis, then concludes that the pact is no more valid than an agreement among thieves.

Ah, but be patient. There would yet be honor in the nation given to being most honorable.

On this very day in Tokyo, at 9:00 a.m., took place the last of the conferences to determine the course of immediate events. After 17 hours, the conclusion was reached to prosecute war against the United States by attacking Pearl Harbor in early December with negotiations to continue through the end of November 30, offering four points of necessary agreement: 1) That the U.S. and Japan would agree to make no effort beyond Indochina to advance militarily into Southeast Asia or the South Pacific; 2) There would be cooperation between the two countries to assure necessary supplies to each from the Dutch East Indies; 3) Trade relations between the two countries would be restored to that before the July freezing of Japan's assets, including restoration of oil trade; 4) The U.S. would not hinder peace between Japan and China (meaning of course, of course that the U.S. would not demand that hostilities cease there as a precondition to agreement).

The plan thus outlined was of course, by its terms, doomed to fail, even if, as the Clapper piece points out, certain commodities were essential from the Pacific to insure continued steel and rubber production, for instance, in the U.S. But this Japanese plan asked that the U.S. undo the policies slowly implemented during the summer as checks on Japan after their late July occupation, with Vichy approval, of Indochina, and offered nothing as concession in the way of removal from that occupation or cessation of hostilities with China, both prerequisite to negotiations with the U.S. In other words, it offered nothing not already exhaustively explored with and rejected by the U.S. State Department.

Thus, as only the foredoomed chance of success of these contingencies stood as possible aversion to the attack, the battle plan was laid forth for the first time this date in its final format and became a fait accompli this day in history.

The Japanese Navy had recommended: "We, as the Combined Fleet, have reached the following conclusion: 8 December is most preferable in view of completion of preparations, moon age and the day of the week." Over the dateline at Pearl Harbor that translated to Sunday, December 7. The reference to moon age insured a moonlit night for final approach to within bomber takeoff range from the carriers to avail the Fleet maximum maneuverability in the last hours before the operation began. The date was selected for the fact that it was the last period in which task force operations could occur before the end of winter, the U.S. presence in the Pacific, especially in the Philippines, was growing stronger, oil was drying up with the U.S. embargo in place since summer, the monsoon season would come in winter in the south, and, as for Sunday, intelligence showed that most of the Fleet would be in the harbor on that day of the week. Obviously, too, Sunday was deemed a day when alerts would be at their slackest time, skeletal crews in place, men dozing soundly in quarters after a Saturday night fête perhaps, others getting ready for morning chapel services, etc.

On this same day, Admiral Nagumo summoned his commanders and informed them of the coming attack on Pearl Harbor, heretofore maintained as vague during the previous two months of maneuvers.

Thus, the choice of topic in The News this day was uncannily perceptive, as if Zarathustra, with his pipeline into both Tokyo and Berlin, had at last returned from Mexico. Maybe, in some sense, he had.

And, as we note reports that some Republican operations in some states have sent out flyers to Democratic voting districts falsely stating the date of voting day, we remind that tomorrow, November 4, is the day. Unless there is a good reason, that your polling place is a thousand miles or more from where you are and you failed to get your absentee ballot, be sure and vote. It is not only your right but your civic responsibility. You cannot be heard to complain for the next four years otherwise. And may the best team win. This time, having learned our lesson, we make no prediction based on polling data, the way the wind is blowing at midnight, the vote of that notch in New Hampshire, or any other thing. We won't even propose to say that there will be a winner, as that notion was belied eight years ago. We shall merely hope for the best.

Thank you. Say you read it in The News, next to the ad for "The Million Dollar Baby", near the ghost of Belle Starr and Jezebel the nun who silently knits... (Incidentally, on that point, we would be remiss were we not to point this out. Thank you.)

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