David Frum

12.07.12

Destroying Enemies with Friendship

On this Pearl Harbor anniversary, Joshua Trevino reminds us on Twitter of the story of Nobuo Fujita, pilot of the only aircraft ever to bomb the American mainland.

From Fujita's New York Times obituary:

Mr. Fujita, whose incendiary bombs set off forest fires in Oregon's coastal range, played the key role in a quixotic plan by Japanese military commanders to put pressure on America's home turf in World War II. The idea was that the United States Navy would then be obliged to retreat from the Pacific to protect the West Coast.

A quiet, humble man who in his later years was deeply ashamed of his air raids on the United States, Mr. Fujita eventually forged a remarkable bond of friendship with the people of Brookings, the small logging town whose surrounding forests he had bombed. Last week, as he lay dying, the town council of Brookings hailed Mr. Fujita an ''ambassador of good will'' and proclaimed him an ''honorary citizen'' of the town.

The story summons to mind the (attributed) words of Abraham Lincoln:

"There is no better way to destroy an enemy than to make him a friend."