NOTICE: Citizendium is still being set up on its newer server, treat as a beta for now; please see here for more.
Citizendium - a community developing a quality comprehensive compendium of knowledge, online and free. Click here to join and contribute—free
CZ thanks our previous donors. Donate here. Treasurer's Financial Report -- Thanks to our content contributors. --

Talk:Battle of Pearl Harbor

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
To learn how to fill out this checklist, please see CZ:The Article Checklist. To update this checklist edit the metadata template.
 Definition Imperial Japanese Navy raid on United States' naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which took place on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941. [d] [e]


I'm not going to argue about it one way or another, but I wonder if the article shouldn't be called Attack on Pearl Harbor instead? I would suggest that most people think of it specifically in terms of an attack, rather than a battle, which definitely has other connotations, although I will readily admit that a "battle" can most certainly follow an "attack". Just a suggestion.... Hayford Peirce 12:16, 23 June 2008 (CDT)

I also prefer "attack". Sandy Harris 15:45, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
Well, well, thanks for the support, Sandy! I see that only *two years* have gone by since I made my comment. Shall one of us Move it? That might elicit some other reaction? Hayford Peirce 16:42, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
Let's do some Googling. "Battle of Pearl Harbor" gets 98,700 hits, including a high one for the CZ article. "Attack on Pearl Harbor" gets 900,000 hits, including the #1 citation from WP. My feeling, therefore, based on all the previous arguments we've had over similar subjects, on which Larry always came down on our side of the question, is that it definitely should be moved. Unless I see *strong* reasons to contrary in the next couple of days, I shall do so. Hayford Peirce 16:46, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
As a Military Editor, I would object strongly to "Attack on Pearl Harbor". Was there no defense, even if ineffective? There was intelligence and contingency planning, albeit flawed.
Offhand, I can't think of many other examples of "Attacks". In some cases, there's a legitimate distinction between "campaign" and "battle". "Raid" is more common than "attack"; I can think of a number of "Raids". I suppose Pearl Harbor meets the definition of "Raid", but that is not commonly used. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:22, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
Howard, you're not at all responding to what I said about the most common usage. I understand your point of view on this, and since you're a Military Editor you probably can't be argued with. A History Editor, however, could support my own (and Sandy's) point of view. To me this is like Professor Jensen's Gettysbury, Campaign of -- if Google shows a 9-1 predominance of "Attack" to "Battle", don't you think there's a strong case to be made for it? Hayford Peirce 18:09, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
Google and Lady Gaga have the same first letter when it comes to authority. Now, I am also a History Editor. I'm willing to use "Attack" in situations where there was no significant response: "Attack on the Royal Oak". "Raid" is actually the more common military history usage than "attack", and if you argued the Battle on Taranto should have been called the "Taranto Raid" as a relevant precedent (i.e., an airstrike, admittedly with one rather than multiple attacks, on ships in a harbor), you'd make a better case than saying Google supports it. If you want a redirect to "Attack on Pearl Harbor", feel free. It's the Doolittle Raid, not the Doolittle Attack (again, multiple targets and multiple attacks).
Responding to your edit note, I'd prefer Siege of Leningrad, or, perhaps, Leningrad Campaign to Battle of Leningrad. Battles do not last for years.
I don't consider this equivalent to the late comma format, which, with other History Editors such as Russell and Roger, we are trying to rename. A battle is not an attack. An attack may be a part of a battle. Pickett's Charge was an attack in (cough) Gettysburg, Battle of, as was the action of the 15th Alabama at Little Round Top.
"Attack", to me, tends to imply a specific tactical part of a larger operation. For example, in the Six Days War, Israel launched numerous preemptive attacks against Egyptian and Syrian airfields. In discussing Pearl Harbor, it's common enough to speak of the first and second attack waves. At the Battle of Surigao Strait, the PT boats and then the destroyers made separate attacks (actually, multiple PT and multiple destroyer attacks).
Indeed, in the Pearl Harbor operation, there were two distinct air attacks, and much controversy if Nagumo should have launched a third. There were attacks by midget submarines. Halsey tried to find the Mobile Force and counterattack; it's well, given the Japanese superiority of the time, that he didn't.Howard C. Berkowitz 19:15, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

I'd prefer Attack on Pearl Harbor. It wasn't much of a battle. And it wasn't a raid in the sense of the Raid on Taranto or the Doolittle Raid. But it is similar in that the Japanese, like the British and the Americans, didn't expect a fight. It was, in this sense too, much like 9/11; we don't call it the "battle of 9/11". Jones 20:10, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

I can't remember how to access the LOC list of books, but Howard surely can if he wants to. But he will, of course, find evidence there to back Russell's and my point of view. Right now, at Amazon Book, there are 298 hits for "Attack on Pearl Harbor" and 5 for "Battle of Pearl Harbor," only *one* of which actually uses that phrase. Hayford Peirce 20:27, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
Doolittle Raid, agreed -- but the Japanese had made very careful study of the Taranto raid. Let's see...
  • Goal: Take out a battleship force in a harbor. Check.
  • Take out a battleship force with carrier aircraft. Check.
  • Take out a battleship force in a harbor "too shallow" to use torpedoes. Check.
Taranto and Pearl Harbor were extremely similar operations, although Pearl Harbor was larger.
Pearl Harbor is arguably Son of Taranto. Both crippled the battleship forces of the target side; the Italians didn't have air and submarine to counter. There are more Japanese documents coming online and I think this can better be documented. Maybe I'm sentimental about warriors, but when I was at Yasukuni Shrine, I did privately bow to Yamamoto's relics. Seemed the thing to do. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:59, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
Is this really worth argument? Can't we just set up redirects? Believe me, simple reading help on other WWII material would be most appreciated. I'm having to rewrite some previous Pacific articles in part because they had outright errors, but I'm still evolving the right flow relationship among the main World War II in the Pacific operational level such as Battle of Leyte Gulf (which really was more of a campaign than a battle), and the subordinate battles and decision making such as the Action off Samar and the Battle of Surigao Strait. It would help me, for example, to get opinions if, and which, material on the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea (now in Leyte Gulf) should move to its own article.
I really don't have any interest in looking at the LOC list or continuing the name argument. A redirect will handle the search issue, and I'd rather be working on new content. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:30, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
JSTOR has 6 hits to "Battle of Pearl Harbor" and 2217 for "Attack on Pearl Harbor." Three of the top six hits were in the Journal of Military History while none of the "battle" hits were in a military journal; so I'm persuaded that professional military historians prefer the term "Attack on Pearl Harbor." But I also hear Howard's point that we should have consistent names for military events of a given nature. Jones 00:56, 24 June 2010 (UTC)
I've thought about usage in the military professional literature, as distinct from professional military history; I don't have JSTOR access. The most common usage in military doctrinal documents, the huge volume of analysis of the C3I failures, etc., is simply "Pearl Harbor". Not "Battle", not "Attack", not "Game", not "Party", not "Existential Conflict", etc. It's very common to see disambiguation of "Pearl Harbor, Hawaii" to refer to the place. Unfortunately, it's not easy to search on "Pearl Harbor" without a prefix, and, without database proximity search, "attack" and "battle" are likely to come up in a general search. As an example, perhaps the most authoritative analysis, by Roberta Wohlstetter, is simply titled Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision.
I did discover there is an "Attack on Pearl Harbor" video game.
Russell, to make the point on consistency, how many military engagements are routinely called "Attack"? It's common enough within a Battle, but I honestly can't think of many examples. "Sinking of the Royal Oak", I would guess, is most common. "Raid" and "Siege" do apply, and Pearl Harbor does meet the definition of raid. Reversing the sides, it would be fair to speak of Raids on Rabaul or Truk (although the reduction of Rabaul was formally a campaign, Operation Cartwheel). We have Doolittle Raid.
What are the semantics of "attack" in a title? Battle (often misused), raid, siege -- all mean something. Howard C. Berkowitz 01:19, 24 June 2010 (UTC)
Oh, I agree, that in nearly any book or article on World War Two, it's called simply "Pearl Harbor." In the context of writing about the war, everyone knows what "Pearl Harbor" means. But CZ is not composing a book on World War Two; we're composing a universal compendium of knowledge (right? I think, that's what we're doing, no?). So we have to disambiguate "Pearl Harbor, Attack on" from "Pearl Harbor, body of water" from "Pearl Harbor, 1940s bordello singer" (boy, did she shipwreck many a sailor...)
Also, Encyclopedia Britannica, U.S. Military History Companion, and the U.S. History Companion all call it the "Attack on Pearl Harbor." (Actually, they call it "Pearl Harbor, Attack on").
Howard, the naming of battles is not scientific. There is no hard and fast metric about what battles are called. For instance, we are not going to attempt to completely re-educated the world about the Battle of Bunker Hill (as you know, there was no Battle of Bunker Hill as it was fought on Breed's Hill), or that TR conquered San Juan's Hill (well he did, but not first). Once it becomes common and accepted in the public mind, even though it is technically incorrect or leads us into inconsistent thinking, shouldn't we (at CZ) accept it as a starting point and then educate? Jones 03:04, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
If you'll lift your eyes to the top of this particular section you will see that this is what I was trying to say in my own inadequate way two years ago, on June 23, 2008. Hayford Peirce 03:57, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
No, it's not scientific. Up in New England, it was the War to Free the Slaves. In New Jersey, the Civil War. At the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, the docents refer to the Late Unpleasantness Between the States, and, in Alabama, it's the War of Yankee Aggression. To get away from the silly, there's the true issue that the Union and the Confederacy had different systematic conventions about naming battles (nearest town vs. nearest body of water). I would hesitate to say First and Second Manassas are really more or less accurate than First and Second Bull Run. (Mind you, after living many years in Arlington, Virginia, the "Army of Northern Virginia" brings up a mental image of massed minivans populated with soccer moms in road rage.)
We will, I hope, use some reasonable sense, "Foo, Battle of", being outside it. I do note that there seem to be different patterns in the more academic military history journals and in the military professional journals and research (e.g., Staff and War College, think tanks).
It is my proposal to use what we feel is most accurate as the actual article title, and redirect extensively to pick up the less informed. To answer your point about "accept as starting point", I disagree. I am perfectly agreeable to redirecting the whims of the public mind.
Frankly, I am puzzled why this is becoming such an issue, when there's so much content missing from the article. I have noticed this as a CZ pattern in military: people (not you) get very insistent about a name, but it's hard even to get a copy edit of a well-developed article. Unless we start to use Arabic titles, I'm tempted to dismiss the Hizbollah v. Hezbollah v. Hezb'allah and just say Party of God. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:55, 26 June 2010 (UTC)


I've heard the claim that the original Japanese plan, after grabbing Korea and Manchuria, was to expand North-East into resource-rich Mongolia and Siberia. It was only after getting trounced at Khalkin Gol that they switched to a Southern strategy, targeting the Philipines and Indonesia. Is there anything to this theory? If so, should it be part of the background section here? Sandy Harris 15:45, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

That belongs in a different article. Within (primarily) Army headquarters, there were Strike-North and Strike-South factions. You are describing the Strike-North argument, and it's more complex than battle success or failure -- there were issues of who backed it. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:24, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

Does it bother anyone that while we fiddle on the name, there's virtually no content other than backstory?

I haven't really worked on this article, but would point out that it's one of the fundamental case studies in command and control (e.g., Roberta Wohlstetter's Pearl Harbor: Analysis and Decision).

There is a huge amount of material on communications intelligence and the battle -- David Kahn's opening chapter of The Codebreakers is "One Day of Magic".

I can work on it, although I'd prefer to get the Leyte article group in approvable form. Nevertheless, if there's no real content, why worry about the title? Do we need an article on ostrich first to deal with the tactical warnings from USS Ward and the radar? Look at Layton for the machinations of Turner and the Redmond brothers in preventing readiness?

There is much interesting tactically, including the Japanese use and refinement of Taranto torpedo operations, and their development of a high-level armor-piercing bomb. The rescue efforts were striking. There's always speculation on exactly what caused USS Arizona to explode so violently. There are slight aftermaths, such as the Japanese pilot, on the ground, probably having his last thought "Do not shoot a native Hawaiian with your machine gun. You will make him angry, and he will take it and use it as a club to beat you to death." (No, I'm not making this up). Howard C. Berkowitz 20:40, 23 June 2010 (UTC)