Former Breitbart News executive chairman and Breitbart News Daily founding host Stephen K. Bannon, who departed to work for the Trump campaign and now the Trump White House, was a special guest of the show on Wednesday to talk about the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
“Pearl Harbor, particularly for veterans, is a big day because it’s a day that, despite a lot of warnings, we were caught by surprise,” said Bannon, himself a Navy veteran. “If you think about it, in World War II, they’d been fighting in Asia from 1935. I think it was in 1935 that the Japanese Imperial Army really started its invasion of China. And then there had been a lot of aggression in the years leading up to that. Of course, the war in Europe, a shooting war, started in 1939.”
“America saw what was happening globally, but was very hesitant to get into the fight, until the fight got brought to their front door, on a sneak attack at Pearl Harbor that really devastated the Pacific Fleet, which had been kind of forward advanced, given Japanese aggression,” he recalled.
“I think that the lesson of Pearl Harbor is one of resilience. It’s that the grit and determination of the American people really turned things around. And I think if you look back at who was serving in the Pacific, in the Navy, and the Marine Corps, the Army Air Corps, in the Army out at Schofield barracks, it’s really the grandfathers and sometimes the fathers of the ‘deplorables.’ It’s that group of people that turned it around,” he said.
“I think it was six months later, in June of 1942, we had Midway, the battle of Midway, which was really one of the earlier turning points in the war. So there’s a lot of lessons to be learned at Pearl Harbor. This will be the kickoff of the 75th year celebrations. We’re going to have the Battle of Coral Sea and Midway and everything, Wake Island, all of that next year. So I think it’s really important that shows like the Breitbart News Daily show continue to commemorate these, and make sure that the American people, particularly younger generations of Americans, really understand the lessons of it and the sacrifice of it,” Bannon said.
SiriusXM host Matt Boyle noted that the “date which will live in infamy” was a single day that changed the course of world history.
“If you talk to your parents or your grandparents, you’ll see that they all knew where they were on Pearl Harbor Day, and all their lives changed immediately afterwards,” Bannon agreed. “You know, there was a huge rush to enlist in the armed forces. The country completely mobilized. President Roosevelt went a couple of days later. I think it was two days later. He might have gone Monday – I think it was a day or two later – to Congress and declared war on Japan. It might have been the next day. And then Germany actually declared war on us, I think, the day after that. So it changed everything. I think if you have a chance to talk to people of that generation, their lives were one thing on the morning of December 7, 1941, and their lives were very different in the evening. It shows you how history moves.”
“But if you look back at it, it’s almost surprising – I’m not saying the inevitability of it, but that the war was being fought in both Asia and Europe for up to four or five years, intensely in Asia, and it was already being fought for a couple of years in Europe before Pearl Harbor,” he reflected. “But no, it’s one of those inflection points of history. It’s a little bit like 9/11 was for the United States, in that the country was one thing on one side of it, and clearly something very dramatic happened on the other side of it. You have those inflection points in history, and for people that lived through it, if you talk to them, they’ll tell you how radically different their lives were on one side of it or the other.”
Boyle noted the enduring sense of unity Americans felt after Pearl Harbor, prompting Bannon to observe that World War II is sometimes described as “the last good war.”
“Since we’d been attacked, and, in fact, Germany actually declared war on us a couple of days later, people woke up to the fact of what this rising threat of fascism and authoritarian dictatorships, really a threat they posed to the United States between the Nazis in Germany and the fascists in Italy and, of course, the imperial war machine in Japan,” Bannon said. “So yeah, I think it was a very unifying moment. Plus, there was, I think, a simpler form of patriotism taught in the country at that time, so people came together very quickly. There was relatively little questioning of the war effort and the aims. The country came together.”
“It’s pretty amazing when you look at how quickly we mobilized not just for manpower, but really for materiel,” he said. “I mean, the industrial strength of the United States really came together, and really produced. We ended up producing so many goods, really even as quickly as by late 1942 and 1943, we were essentially able to arm Russia, who was our ally against the Nazis, and ourselves and the British pretty spectacularly. A lot of people argue it was the industrial might and the ability to pull together all the production very, very quickly, and focus on war aims that really, ultimately, was one of the big things that led to the end of the war.”
Bannon described victory in World War II after four-and-a-half years as “relatively quick, when you look at where we started from.”
“Particularly compared to today, that 9/11 was, what, 15 years ago. It seems like you look at Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the world, how well we’ve done on that, vis-a-vis how well we did in World War II, where we had intense focus on a certain objective, which was victory,” he contended.
Bannon mourned the sad but inevitable loss of so many veterans from the “Greatest Generation,” as journalist and author Tom Brokaw named them, with the passing of time.
“I think Vice President-elect Pence is down with Senator Bob Dole and others from the Obama administration at the World War II Memorial today, having a memorial celebration,” he said. “You just see with every passing year, we have fewer and fewer of those honored vets from World War II. But it’s a day for all veterans, and really all Americans, to take some time and contemplate what Pearl Harbor was about – both how it happened, why we were caught unprepared, but particularly, the resilience and heroism of that day.”
“You know, there was a lot done that day on those Navy ships, particularly with some of the aircraft, that was some of the most heroic stuff in American history,” Bannon pointed out. “And really, the ability to save some of the ships and save some of the aircraft, by people who were incredibly brave, really set the stage for our turnaround. As I said, Midway Island took place, I think, in the first week of June 1942, so it was only six months later, we really had a major, major victory in the Pacific.”
“I think there’s a lot of lessons there, and I hope everybody takes a few minutes today to pray for everybody that died, and for the grace of God that let us turn it around,” he concluded.
Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
Listen to the complete audio of the interview above.