from Victor Davis Hanson for Fox News:
After coronavirus — will America be a roaring giant or crying baby?
Marshal Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto commanded the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II until he was killed in April 1943. Despite the dialogue from the 1970 WWII film “Tora! Tora! Tora!” Yamamoto probably did not say in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
But Yamamoto likely either wrote or said something similar: “I can run wild for six months … after that, I have no expectation of success.”
Yamamoto summed up a general feeling among the Japanese admirals that the huge industrial capacity of the U.S. — which had been asleep during the Great Depression — along with the righteous anger and frenzy of an aroused American democracy would ensure the destruction of the Japanese Empire in short order.
They were right.
In 1940, there were fewer than 500,000 service members in the U.S. military. At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, that number had grown to nearly 2.2 million. By 1945, more than 12 million Americans were in the armed services. It was an astonishing mobilization for a nation of fewer than 140 million people.
The U.S. started the war with seven fleet aircraft carriers and one escort carrier. By war’s end, it was deploying 27 fleet and 72 escort carriers.
The U.S. Navy ended the war with a fleet eight times larger than it was at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The American armada would become larger in total tonnage than all the world’s fleets in 1945 combined.
More incredible, by the end of 1944, the American gross domestic product exceeded the economic output of all the major belligerents on both sides of World War II put together: the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy and Germany.
As we struggle to defeat the coronavirus, an aroused America is talking grandly of restructuring the U.S. economy.
Politicians promise that major industries — pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, rare earths, military technologies — will return home to create millions of new jobs and better protect the population in times of crisis.