Today is the 75th anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor.
"The Navy is not going to be caught napping," the secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, had promised a mere three days earlier. The Japanese attack—boldly conceived, assiduously plotted and rehearsed, shamelessly perfidious—torpedoed not only battleships, but American complacency.
Japan’s great victory, however, was a catastrophic miscalculation. Never since have Americans been so collectively aroused, ignited and determined. The empire’s doom was assured even before the attacking aircraft had returned to their carriers 200 miles north of Oahu. Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander in chief of the Japanese fleet and architect of the attack, feared as much. If ordered to go to war with America, he had warned, "I can guarantee to put up a tough fight for the first six months, but I have absolutely no confidence as to what would happen if it went on for two or three years."
UPDATE -- Someone else pointed out this interesting fact:
"In an ironic twist of history, the Japanese employed the exact same surprise tactic [in an earlier war]. They launched a raid on the Russian fleet moored outside Port Arthur in Manchuria in 1904, kicking off the bloody Russo-Japanese War."