World War II in the Pacific
We received an email chastising our page of belligerent acts leading towards WW2 as incomplete. The writer quotes Stinner’s Day of Deceit as a statement that FDR engineered Pearl Harbor. However, as much as I disapprove of FDR, I do not fault him for a specific design to cause an attack on Pearl Harbor. The subject has been around for 65 years. Here is my logic.
FDR's PEARL HARBOR CONSPIRACY ?
The impression of Japan changed from that of a spunky little nation, the size of Montana, that went from feudalism to the world stage in mere decades, to become an international pariah for her murderous behavior at Nanking (know to American’s only for the sinking of the river gunboat Panay, but actually entailed the murder of 300,000 people, many as living targets for Japanese training and enjoyment.) Japan signed a military pact with German and Italy, who were at the time attempting the conquest of Europe. This meant that any US trade in strategic materials with Japan would be aiding the people we were fighting against in an undeclared war in the Atlantic. To say that FDR revocation of oil shipments and of scrap metal with Japan was a design to entice Japan to war with the US is missing the point of military logistics. The US called for Japan to withdraw from her attack on China. FDR, after a decade of miserly military spending during the Great Depression –- the domestic scene was his overwhelming aim in politics, at the expense of international affairs -– was finally forced to face the fact that the US was weak while war raged in Europe and he signed a Two-Ocean Navy spending bill, (also good for creating jobs). FDR had to move 1/3 of the Pacific fleet from Pearl Harbor to the Atlantic just to establish our presence in that war theater. That this building program scared Japan was good, not bad. That Japan chose to attack the US before these ships were put into commission is an act of military arrogance, national stupidity, and unpredictable – it lead to the downfall of Imperial Japan and was their greatest mistake in a long history. I don’t think FDR could have counted on that.
The US expected Japan to attack British SE Asia and the Dutch East Indies while their colonial leadership was occupied in European war. The Philippines stood in their way. An attack on the Territory of the Philippines was as good as an attack on the Territory of Hawaii. Remember, Hawaii was not a state then. It was only after millions of service men passed through there that Alaska, then Hawaii were admitted to statehood. There was no need to make the Pearl Harbor Fleet a target to get American attention; war on the US Asiatic Fleet would suffice equally as well.
To say that military and commercial actions were intertwined in the progression to war in the Pacific is true, but not proof of intent, tho possibly showing a lack of concern (to FDR haters) or of chivalrous virtue of taking the risk to do what is right (to FDR lovers).
To have them fire the first shot, FDR was small potatoes – he sent an armed yacht Isabel, to sail in the way of the Japanese SE Asia invasion force so that Japan could open fire to prevent a radio report of their movements (which we were tracking by air.) This little known, petty, late date, subterfuge by FDR shows he was unable to think in grand terms and was not waiting for the attack on Pearl.
That the US suffered a terrible defeat does not mean a design – we were perfectly able to lose the Battle of Savo without a treasonous plan to accomplish that task. We lost twin towers without blaming a Presidenal conspiracy.
But, lastly, there is not need to force destruction of Americans forces to get the public ready for war, in fact, it would be more war inspiring to have Americans fight back strongly, rather than be destroyed. After the fact, we can see that even with six hours unambiguous warning of an attack upon American forces, MacArthur was still defeated by superior (at the time) Japanese forces. And he had known for several days of a Japanese invasion fleet headed towards British territories. Adm Hart had even sent U.S. Asian Fleet ships to screen the defending British battleships, though the Americans only arrived in time to help rescue survivors.
Carefully selected Freedom of Information act releases can lead to preconceived conclusions about activities in 1941 in the same way as nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were extracted from intelligence reports sixty-some years later.
Because a compilation of facts is written in a book does not mean the conclusion is true.
This is written between Thanksgiving and Christmas so the reader is forewarned about the following analogy. After years of dedicated effort, T’was the Night Before Christmas has been substantiated. Photo documentaries have been uncovered that clearly prove there are such things as reindeer ; indepth research tells us that snow is probable in winter; further,
statistics analysis confirms that men that are fat and also have a white beard is statistically likely; A priori observation shows that there is a sprite of Christmas ; and, the proof positive, archives uncovered from the files deep at the NY Sun said in a September 21 edition, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” And more, why was there no fire in the fireplace that particular night?
The Pacific war was started by Japan. FDR may be over-rated, but this website cannot accuse him of murder of over 2,000 sailors and others at Pearl Harbor.
A summary that agrees with my understanding of the chain of errors that led to the surprise of Pearl Harbor is :
"War in the Pacific" Vol 2, Chapter 6, "Did Roosevelt Know?" by Jerome T. Hagen. 2003
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Written on December 7, 2006.
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