WASHINGTON, D.C. -- This week, Americans commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which killed 2,403 Americans. It was the worst attack on American territory until the terrorist strike on Sept. 11, 2001.
Both surprise attacks signaled the beginning of a bitterly fought war for survival against a brutal, fanatical foe. And both the Pacific War and the present Global War on Terror pitted the United States, virtually alone, against adversaries on a "holy mission" to drive Westerners from "their" territory. The parallels don't stop there.
To the extent that today's schoolchildren are taught anything about the origins of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the unprovoked assault is explained away as the consequence of "Japanese expansionism," or worse yet, the result of America denying Japan "essential raw materials and oil."
Such historical contortions from the Blame America First crowd ignore the ideological conviction of Tokyo's leadership, from Emperor Hirohito on down, that the Japanese had a "divine duty" to cleanse Asia of Westerners and "inferior Western influences and institutions."
In short, the Imperial Army, Navy and Air Force became the instruments of a race war, waged with religious zeal. Today's radical Jihadists have precisely the same goal -- evicting the infidels, meaning "Westerners" -- and all their institutional influence from "Islamic lands."
The Japanese military never contemplated "invading" the continental United States. Nor do the extremist Imams, Sheikhs and Mullahs inciting today's jihad envision seizing U.S. territory. But then and now, our adversaries were -- and are -- willing to employ any tactic, violate any rule of "civilized war" and commit any atrocity to accomplish the "holy goal" of driving "Westerners" from "their region" of the world.
Thus the horrific images found in Fallujah's slaughterhouses -- even the broadcast TV facility uncovered this week -- have an eerie precedent in the films and photographs of Japanese soldiers proudly holding the severed heads of brutally murdered American, British, Dutch and Australian prisoners of war. Then, as now, those images were shown widely to the "home audience" as proof of oriental superiority over Western interlopers.
But in this kind of "holy struggle," being a "local" won't guarantee safety. During the Pacific War, Japanese troops were merciless with indigenous populations that failed to appreciate their "liberation." Filipinos, Koreans, Chinese, Indonesians, Indo-Chinese and Pacific Islanders who were believed to have cooperated with the hated Westerners were raped, tortured and violently murdered.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.