Even in 1941, communications were far slower, even if there was radio and telegraph links that were dramatically better than only a few decades before. Still, amid some confusion and missed signals, the United States Navy was taken by complete surprise on a December Sunday, as the Japanese fleet's aircraft killed more than 2,000 sailors, airmen and soldiers.
It is perhaps difficult to imagine how such a dramatic event would play out in today's era of Snapchat and iPhones. In 1941, although the news was very bad, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and other leaders could play down the immediate impact, in part to avoid giving valuable intelligence to the enemy about the damaged ships.
What would not change, we think, is that the American people would take such an outrage the same way: With a rage and determination to strike back. That will led the "greatest generation" of Americans from Pearl Harbor to ultimate victory over Japan and its totalitarian allies.
Today, communications may be more instantaneous than we would like. The good news about our new circumstances is that the people of Japan are our friends and allies.
We don't know enough about the decision-making processes in North Korea, where today's rogue regime is a threat to peace and stability in Asia. But if the Comrade Leader would crack a book, he would find a valuable lesson from Dec. 7, 1941, about the profound unwisdom of provoking the American people to anger.