“A Six Months’ War”

by Anita on December 4, 2013

Posted by Anita Folsom

On a cold Thursday evening in Washington, DC, in 1941, leaders in the nation’s capital met for dinner and discussion of the problems facing them.

One attendee was Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy.  Knox told his dinner companions, ” I feel that I can speak very frankly, within these four walls. . . .We are very close to war. War may begin in the Pacific at any moment. . . .But I want you to know that no matter what happens, the United States Navy is ready!”

Knox added, “We’ve had our plans worked out for twenty years.  Once it starts, our submarines will go in to blockade them, and sooner or later our battle fleet will be able to force an action.  It won’t take too long.  Say about a six months’ war.”

What was the date?  December 4, 1941.  Three days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Needless to say, the United States was not ready for the coming war, one which would last for three years and eight months and take the lives of more than 400,000 Americans. (Chapter 4, FDR Goes to War)

Fast forward to today.  When our leaders tell us that a national healthcare program is going to work well and benefit all Americans, we should remember the track record of the government on past projects.  If the nation’s defense can be as vulnerable and unprepared as was the case in 1941, what does this say about a government-run healthcare system?

(1)  Past history tells us that government officials always talk about the positive aspects of any program.

(2)  Leaders tend to follow old habits and ways of doing things, such as Knox’s statement:  “We’ve had our plans worked out for twenty years.”

(3)  Bureaucracy, whether in Washington or in Hawaii or any other state, tends to be slow and cumbersome when it comes to providing a final product.  The quality of the product or the service is not important; in bureaucracy, only following procedures is the common mindset.  This tendency does not auger well for government-run healthcare.

History is a great teacher.  And if we study history, we can more accurately analyze current events and our current leadership. As we remember the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, let’s learn from it and be more prepared for the challenges which face us now as a nation.



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