Skip to comments.The Truth About Pearl Harbor: A Debate [Did FDR know about Japan's plans in advance?]
Posted on 12/07/2009 7:25:33 AM PST by oblomov
On December 7, 1941, U.S. military installations at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii were attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Could this tragic event that resulted in over 3,000 Americans killed and injured in a single two-hour attack have been averted?
After 16 years of uncovering documents through the Freedom of Information Act, journalist and historian Robert Stinnett charges in his book, Day of Deceit, that U.S. government leaders at the highest level not only knew that a Japanese attack was imminent, but that they had deliberately engaged in policies intended to provoke the attack, in order to draw a reluctant, peace-loving American public into a war in Europe for good or ill. In contrast, historian and author Stephen Budiansky (see his book, Battle of Wits) believes that such charges are entirely unfounded and are based on misinterpretations of the historical record.
Its been often said that Truth is the first casualty of war. Historians and policy experts now know that the official government claims, including those made by U.S. Presidents, that led to the Spanish-American War, World War I, Vietnam War, Gulf War, and other conflicts were deliberate misrepresentations of the facts in order to rally support for wars that the general public would otherwise not support. Was this also the case regarding the tragedy at Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War IIor are such charges false? We are very pleased to provide a debate between these two distinguished experts.
(Excerpt) Read more at independent.org ...
As I posted on another thread, "Wendell Willkie had evidence that FDR knew about the Japanese prepartions for the attack, and that he should thus be impeached. Willkie was persuaded not to present this evidence in his 1944 Presidential campaign by the Army (the war was still on), since it would reveal that the Japanese code system had been cracked, and so he did not."
FDR wanted to enter the European war. Perhaps he earnestly believed that it was the right thing for the U.S. to do. He also knew that Americans had no interest at the time in engaging in a war overseas. Wilsonianism had been discredited on the left, and the right at the time was fiercely isolationist. An egregious hostile act by Japan precipitated the US entry into war against the Axis Powers.
Yes and Bush brought down the two towers, LBJ and the CIA killed Kennedy, and Hitler went to Argentina. Oh and the British Royal family had Diana killed.
Continuation of our Pearl Harbor/”FDR Knew” discussion. I found an article by Stinnett (thanks, panaxanax) that can serve as a discussion piece.
Thanks for posting. Was it Willkie or Dewey in 1944? Willkie dropped out very early in that campaingn after he lost an early primary.
I am also in the camp of those who hold that FDR knew ahead of time, and acted to scapegoat Admiral Kimmel and General Short, the commanders in Hawaii — after he had left them even more blind than they would have been on their own.
Yet I think FDR did not anticipate how hard the Japanese would be able to hit, how much we would lose, and we all lucked out in the Battle of Midway.
In most events like this, it is easy to look back on it and find puzzle pieces you can put together and come to this conclusion. It is much harder, however, to do this in real time without the blessing of hindsight. Just like those who say we should have known 9/11 was going to happen, at the time it was unimaginable, but after the fact we can see what evidence points to it going to take place.
It is like trying to put together a puzzle without having the picture of what it should look like.
Yours is the correct answer.
You do know that Rudy Giuliani blew up Bldg. 7 at the WTC
I just can’t buy that “FDR knew”. FDR was a navy man. He knew the importance of the Navy.
Why in the world would anyone, who understood the importance of the Navy—especially in the Pacific, jeopardize the entire fleet—knowing how important (and long it would take to rebuild)?
The fact the Carriers weren’t at Pearl—so? The majority of the thinking of the day basically was carriers were “toys” and battleships were king.
Forget Stinnett IMO.
Many different things could have been done, but history is, well, History.
And if anyone should have been CM it was that idiot MacArthur.
If no one knew, it does seem awfully strange that our entire fleet was in port at Pearl Harbor. They were actually called back in.
Put me in the believer column until someone offers definitive proof that it was not used as the only way to get the US people to agree to another war, thereby ending the painful depression.
You’re right, it was Dewey in ‘44. However, early in the primaries Willkie raised the issue of FDR’s foreknowledge early in his campaign among GOP leaders. He planned to make the issue a major thrust of his primary campaign. In the interest of national security, he abandoned the issue.
Bush most certainly knew that 9/11 was going to happen.
Clinton most certainly knew, as well, via Opplan Bojinka.
I suppose he could have ordered the fleet to sortie.
But then the Arizona and our other captial ships would have been sunk in waters too deep to salvage.
It was thought that none of the torpedo technology at the time would have been capable due to the shallowness of Pearl. Yet the Japanese used a little engineering to make that successful.
The oil embargo, instituted by the US, led directly to the conflict. But as with all instigations, the US thought it would end quickly.
Had Adm. Kimmel known of an approaching attack, he would have had the fleet at sea, instead of anchored at Pearl, and the loss of life might have been greater. He was that aggressive and a dis-service was paid to him by being made the scapegoat.
Needless to say Pearl was the ONLY time, the Japanese planned and practiced so much for one mission, and they thought that the US forces would detect them and a great sea battle would ensue. They were prepared to throw the dice on the one decisive battle, but not on a campaign, which they were ill-prepared and equipped.
See post 18.
[Errata: “captial” should be “capital”.]
Wilkie ran against Roosevelt in 1940. By the time the 1944 election rolled around he was dead. So unless he was clairvoyant I don't see how he could have used Pearl Harbor against Roosevelt.
Allegedly, Manilla was made ready to appear to be an invasion staging area four months prior to Pearl Harbor. They were attacked within days after Pearl Harbor
read, “Bataan Uncensored” by Col. E.B.Miller
He was the commander of a tank battalion from Minnesota. They became the first POW’s captured and the last released in what many of them called “Being bait”
Old WW1 tanks with no ammo and other useless things that could not be used otherwise were also part of the bait,
A sad and bitter story but very good read.
I heard it was an inside job. Those planes were fakes, painted to look like Japanese planes. And the pilots were the grandfathers of those 11 fake hijackers from 9-11-2001.
Sorry, I’m gonna treat this one like I treat the 9/11 Troofers. I’m no fan of FDR’s, but I just can’t buy this.
I’ve read variations of this for years, and have an open mind on anything. Sorry, but it smacks of trutherism.
I’m not sure why FDR would want to enter the war at all unless he somehow thought it would forward his agenda. In fact he specifically promised that we’d stay out of war. Of course after the war started FDR was rewarded with even more control of Gov.
It was in 1943 that he raised the issue among GOP leadership. He was preparing to run in the primaries.
Don’t forget that Reagan was the Anti-Christ.
If he knew they were going to attack Pearl Harbor he would have boosted defense at the base and prayed the Japanese were not successful. Just releasing the intell to the public would have gotten us into the war if FDR wanted. An actual successful attack would have knocked us out of the war before we ever got started.
The original attack plan was to knock out the Oil Depot, the sub pens, the navy repair yard and of course the carriers. The Japanese briefly debated having an invasion force land after the initial attack and holding onto Hawaii. Ultimately they decided against that aspect of the attack. However, anyone considering what would happen with a Japanese attack on Pearl would have to consider this possibility: the complete loss of Hawaii as a base of operation. You are then trying to run a Pacific campaign from California. The Japanese failed to blow up the massive oil depot even though they had designed and armed many of their aircraftr with weapons designed to do just that. The repair yard and sub pens were for the most part untouched.
I agree w/ you completely. IMO, FDR was itchin’ to get the US involved in WWII so he could help his good friend Uncle Joe fight the Nazis. The Germans might have been able to defeat the Russians had it not been for the US.
Well, I have often read these charges, and I’m not sure if it’s true or not. There is certainly some evidence that it might be.
It seems likely that, if he did it, Roosevelt miscalculated how badly Japan could damage our fleet in the attack and in the early part of the war.
Why would he do it? 1. Power. For the next five years the government said “Don’t you know there’s a war on,” and pretty much treated people like pawns. 2. Economic recovery. There was a theory that a war would pull us out of the depression. 3. Uncle Joe Stalin. Roosevelt was VERY biased in favor of Stalin and Communism, and Stalin said he needed some help against Hitler. 4. The usual reasons: defend France and England, defeat Hitler, and so on.
It is generally agreed that Roosevelt did provoke Japan. The last straw was when he acted to cut off their supplies of oil, when Japan was trying to industrialize and modernize.
To say that Roosevelt could have done this doesn’t meant that it wasn’t necessarily the right thing. Defeating Hitler was good. Helping the Soviet Union was bad. So you can argue about that.
Woodrow Wilson also ran on a promise to keep out of the war, and then after being elected went right in. Roosevelt did the same thing.
I agree that FDR wanted to enter the war, and needed a reason that would independently bring along the American public, but I don’t think that included allowing Pearl Harbor.
Like 9-11, there were rumblings about attacks but that is standard before major military engagements.
For example, during that very time, there was sufficient information of an impending German attack on (1) France and (2) Russia. Both times the Germans succeeded brilliantly? Did Chamberlain and Stalin deliberately allow these to happen?
No. What is does validate is that “warnings” and “alerts” are part of standard chatter, and possibly part of standard disinformation, prior to invasion or attack.
About the best we can do is grieve that no one in intelligence put 2 and 2 together more quickly, to avert Pearl Harbor, or 9-11.
That’s another reason why FDR didn’t know. If he had, then he would have let the attack take place but would have had the military at least on alert. FDR was not an American-hating treasonous b-stard like so many American leftists today.
Also, if he wanted to enter the European war, why would he encourage an attack by Japan? If he was trying to create a Gulf of Tonkin incident it might better have been to send an American troopship to England with “observers” and let a German U-boat sink it. Losing a few hundred lives and a single ship is something a nefarious President might do; losing an entire fleet, having a harbor destroyed, and losing 3,000 lives is NOT something any rational person would do.
[Except perhaps Stalin, who sacrificed his entire professional officers corp in the name of the revolution. This is long considered the reason why he was so unable to stop Hitler.]
Why? America would be just as outraged it the report noted how “lucky” we were that our fleet was out on exercise to the EAST of Hawaii at the time, and then we wouldn’t have had so many dead military.
SO even if I could believe that the highest levels of government would deliberately sacrifice soldiers to get us into war, I don’t believe they would do so when it wasn’t necessary.
Just as a side thought, why do we seem to remember the attack at Pearl Harbor( a true act of terrorism) and yet the true terrorist attack on our mainland is just a passing thought and some words in passing( I’m speaking in reference to the media’s attention).
What was the "deliberate misrepresentation" that got us into the Gulf war? Did Saddam not really invade Kuwait after all?
And what was the "deliberate misrepresentation" that got us into the Vietnam war?
And what other wars did we get into because of "deliberate misrepresentation"? The War of 1812? The civil war? The revolutionary war? Grenada? Bosnia? Kosovo? (Well, yes, Kosovo -- there was no significant genocide taking place).
Think you’re overreaching here. FDR was a neo-socialist but wasn’t a Commie red. Both he and Churchill would’ve loved to see the only outcome of the Nazi menace be an invasion of the USSR ... there is zero evidence that Roosevelt was more friendly with Stalin. At that time, Stalin had no friends. He’d just murdered 30 million of his own people during the 1930s and this was widely known. FDR was just another enlightened Westerner who believed in high taxes and good paternalistic Government — exactly what Western Europe is today and became immediately after WWII.
It was called the Tripartite pact. Perhaps the only time Hitler abided by a treaty
Numerous German generals were baffled by Hitler's declaration of war on the US. One wrote that they figured his grandchildren’s generation would be the ones that took out the United States.
I agree. It’s a matter of “Duh, what do you think they were up to.” But back then, America hadn’t been attacked for a really, really long time. Plus, whodathunk Japan would want to fight us when they could go on conquering little nothings.
As for provoking them, that’s what nations do. We throw their weight around, and when other nations don’t respond as they thought they would, we throw up our arms and say, “Who me? But what did I do? Oh yeah, but I didn’t mean it. Jeez, you’re a jerk.”
I am sure FDR new, and wanted the attack. But Admiral Kimmel and General Short certainly made it worse by bonehead moves on their part.
If Admiral Kimmel and General Short had cooperated together and set up a system to USE the information that was provided by a fully functioning radar system, the loss would have been much, much less.
Nothing FDR did would be surprising.
“Put me in the believer column until someone offers definitive proof that it was not used as the only way to get the US people to agree to another war”
What a mindset. Our leaders, corrupt and rapacious as they are, are presumed to be capable of conspiring to effectively attack their own country in order to make a policy decision more possible until proven innocent? That’s not exactly the way our criminal justice system or Science work, but hey, if you like it.
If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.- Winston Churchill
“The oil embargo, instituted by the US, led directly to the conflict. But as with all instigations, the US thought it would end quickly.”
Instigation/provocation, maybe. But not in the sense that war was what we wanted, methinks. More like how it is with Iran nowadays, only vastly harsher. We knew Japan was bad news and wanted to intimidate and neutralize them. If it came to war, we probably thought we could take ‘em. As for desiring war, I doubt it. Just like almost no one wants to go to war with Iran. Just like no hardly ever wants to go to war. But we all play these gaes, and kinda sometimes do want it, but don’t, but do, but don’t, but do...
“Truth is the first casualty of war.
War may still hold that distinction but history is gaining fast.
The militarists in Japan controlled the Diet and the throne, and instead of looking into the future, decided on the 'one-big-battle' to put the US in it's place.
Obviously, they didn't believe what happens when you piss off the big dog in the neighborhood.
“An actual successful attack would have knocked us out of the war before we ever got started.”
It reminds me of a line of dialogue from the greatest Out of Control Bus movie of all time, “Speed,” when Reeves punches a screwdriver through the gas tank or something, and somebody says (paraphrasing), “What, you thought you needed more of a challenge?”
If FDR was Machiavellian, why would he make his path to more power so difficult? Forget how much power he had already, let’s say he wants to be King of America and all he needs is a war to put him over the top. Why allow so much damage at Pearl? It’s like stabbing yourself in the testicles before the 100-yard dash. Isn’t winning part of the evil scheme?
Additionally, the ostensible trigger for the U.S actions was the Japanese occupation of French Indochina. Yet Roosevelt was demanding Japanese withdrawal from CHINA as a condition for lifting the embargo. Considering the Japanese had been at war with China since 1937 [1931 if you count Manchuria], and had spent blood and treasure on that war, that condition was a major sticking point in negotiations.
One must also consider the overall context of the U.S moves, on a broader scale. Roosevelt had just spent almost two years trying to get the Germans to declare war on the U.S [Hitler didn't bite]. The Lend lease deals made the U.S a co-belligerent with Britain. Dividing the Atlantic into two defense zones, escorting British convoys, helping to defend Iceland, radioing U-boat positions to British Naval units [and occasionally attacking them], furnishing aircrew for British reconnaissance flights [e.g the co-pilot on the PBY that spotted the BISMARCK]. By the time Doenitz got
Hitler's permission for U-boats to engage U.S destroyers late in 1941, the resultant sinkings did not arouse a demand for war in the U.S, since most people realized what had led to them.
Where Roosevelt may have miscalculated, I believe, was in assuming that, with a minimum of intelligence info, the command team at Pearl, would have displayed greater competence pre-hostility in positioning and using their assets