The Empire in Twilight

Sailors stand amid wrecked planes at the Ford Island seaplane base as the destroyer USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941. (U.S. Navy/National Archives/Handout via Reuters )
Eighty years ago today, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, drawing the U.S. into the war that would make it a global superpower. But no superpower lasts forever.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE W e all know how this story ends: After years of intense conflict and convulsion, the empire surrenders.

Eighty years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt made a speech to Congress: “Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” The war that followed would transform the United States, the British Empire, Europe, Japan, and most of the rest of the world.

In the end, the Empire of Japan surrendered. But so did the British Empire, as a practical matter. The

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