|One topic that is sure
to get historians arguing is who was responsible for
Pearl Harbor? Was it Admiral Kimmel and General Short
or was it Franklin Delano Roosevelt duped by Winston
Churchill? How about the role of Harold Stark (chief
of the Navy) and George Marshall (chief of staff)?
The problem with Pearl Harbor research is wartime
investigations were more concerned with protecting
code secrets that finding the truth. Yes, Kimmel and
Short were blamed early on, but most now believe they
were pawns in a larger scenario concerning our
entrance into the war.
FDR knew that the Japanese and Germans were lying to
us -- the secret codes told him they were negotiating
with us while plotting our demise. Our
government was looking for a way into the was that
didn't anger the large "America first"
crowd. It was believed a "back-door"
entrance to the fight against the Nazi's could be
achieved if war with the Japanese could be instigated.
Don't get me wrong, the Japanese government wasn't an
innocent bystander here. But most were focused on
Europe at the time.
Did Roosevelt allow Pearl Harbor to get
"pasted" in order to get us in a war he knew
was inevitable? Maybe. But remember, the navy was a
favorite of FDR. He might sacrifice the Army, but
never the Navy (he was under secretary of the Navy in
World War I). If he knew an attack was coming he may
have believed his beloved battleships were immune to
bombing. No one knew that in Japan, Mr. Yosioka
Adakats had designed a workable shallow-water torpedo.
On the other hand, many did know of the British raid
on Toranto, so in hindsight, officials should have
been more wary. The Japanese knew conventional bombs
would bounce off the battleships, so they used
armor-piercing 12 and 14 inch Naval shells with crude
wooden fins attached. They weren't very effective,
compared to the torpedoes, but one lucky hit set off
the explosion that doomed the Arizona.
Since the British and Australians knew of the attack
before it happened, the big question has always been
"What did FDR know and when did he know it?"
The short answer is we will never know for sure. Few
wrote their thoughts down and 60 years worth of
"cleansing" has followed. The Navy is
a "club" that doesn't like outsiders
wandering around their hallowed halls. They covered up
many aspects of the real story to protect their
status. A read of the USS Iowa's turret explosion
leaves one with the impression that the Navy hasn't
changed much when it comes to a "circle the
wagons" mentality. With many years of hindsight
here is what we know for sure:
-Roosevelt knew the Japanese were about to attack
-Naval experts had torpedo nets at Pearl Harbor, but
few were concerned with a torpedo attack in the
shallow, confined spaces and they were not up that
-Research into old testimony is difficult. Clear
examples of deception abound, but were people
protecting the code secret, themselves or either
superiors? Were they hiding a dark conspiracy or
covering for their own sloppy work?
-Kimmel and short were "scape-goats," but in
the service (especially the Navy) if you are in
command, it's your fault. Period. The only answer a
commander can give is "No excuse-sir!"
-There were "stories" of an impending
attack, but they were hard to sort our from the sea of
information they were contained within.
-The story of the "code war" is only
recently being revealed and it doesn't look good for
George Marshall and Harld Stark.
Who was responsible for Pearl Harbor? Isoruku
Yamamoto, Minoru Genda and Mitsuo Fuchida, along with
Yosioka Adakats, inventor of the shallow-water
torpedo. Many Americans can be faulted for their
hubris and complacency, but none I'm aware of rubbed
their hands together and said, "I'll allow 2,500
men to die so we can get in the war."
Few events galvanized American resolve like the Pearl
Harbor attack. The true question arising from that day
is a philosophical one: Should FDR let democracy take
its slow course and loose all or should he risk
impeachment by sneaking us into a war that gained us a
world free of Tojo and Hitler? As with most
philosophical arguments, the answer is elusive.
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