Yesterday in History: Declaration of War and the Representative Who Refused

This should have been a “Today in History” post, but I am a day late.

On December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan in retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor. The resolution passed unanimously in the Senate, but a single representative refused to approve it. Rep. Jeannette Rankin, R-Montana, was a pacifist even in the face of aggression. According to Wikipedia:

“As a woman I can’t go to war,” she said, “and I refuse to send anyone else.” After the vote an angry mob followed her, and she was forced to hide in a telephone booth and call congressional police to rescue her.

I get the sentiment. I really do. There is nobility in not wanting to force others to do what you cannot.

However, war isn’t just about sending someone else. No one sent our people to die at Pearl Harbor, and yet it happened. Moreover, it would continue to happen.  Did she think we could just politely ask the Japanese to stop? And even if they did, should we have been OK with that?

One of my great dislikes in the world are those who feel they are only responsible for the consequences of their actions, not their in-actions.

UK Declares War on Japan

Also yesterday in 1941, the UK declared war on Japan several hours before the US did. This began as a response to Pearl Harbor, and so the UK planned to wait until the US had put the resolution through Congress. However, as Japan started attacking UK territories in the Pacific and their High Command issued a declaration of war against both the UK and US, the UK carried out their declaration nine hours before the US.

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Churchill had already pledged to enter war with Japan within an hour if the US and Japan went to war. That’s a hell of a promise from a country that was getting the crap bombed out of its capital while the US refused to send anything more than material supplies.

Source: Churchill’s Broadcast on War with Japan

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