Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For the US it was perceived as an unprovoked attack, which broke the domestic political logjam and brought the US into WW II. From the Japanese perspective it was a response to the economic warfare that the US had been waging on Japan since 1939. This included the US embargo on oil going to Japan.
From 1939 through 1941 the US and Japan were locked into a security dilemma (insecurity spiral) as the result of strategic miscommunication – the miscommunication of policy choices and strategic decisions on both sides. As the Japanese attempted to increase their influence throughout Asia, through the use of both economic and military power, the US sought to check them through the use of economic power. A significant portion of the Roosevelt Administration’s response, which was the result of the preferences of President Roosevelt and Secretaries Stimson, Morgenthau, and Ickes, was to adopt the Open Door Policy for China and impose economic sanctions and actions to limit Japan’s activities in Asia. The US policy was to bankrupt the Japanese and therefore stop their expansionism within Asia. The Japanese response was to utilize military power to get out from under the US’s actions – the attack at Pearl Harbor.
So while we take a moment and consider the events of that day, and those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, there is an important lesson to be relearned as 2016 gives way to 2017. Strategic preferences for policy decisions and the actions taken on them have consequences. For every problem solved or resolved as the result of a successful policy and strategy, new problems arise and are created. And context matters. How one’s allies, partners, and competitors understand what you are doing is as important as how you understand it. Failure to account for this is the difference between policy success and strategic failure.
Here is the link for a full roll call of the casualties and fallen at Pearl Harbor.
And here is the link to eyewitness accounts of the attack.
Here is the sole (surviving?) news report of the attack on Pearl Harbor:
Here is President Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy speech to the Nation where he declares war on Japan:
And finally, here is the live feed of today’s 75th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony.
Rest well Ladies and Gentlemen.
the Conster, la Citoyenne
Props to commenter Cacti for sharing an important point a few days ago – as the Greatest Generation (TM) disappears, the Allies have become hotbeds of neofascist movements, while Germany holds a tenuous grip on liberal democracy. Japan is just waiting for the last person to turn off the lights.
A sad day for sure then again what did the Amerikan govt. of the time to do to Japan at this time to allow the Empire of Japan lose his control of the govt.? Think?
Adam L Silverman
@jo6pac: I’m not sure I understand your question.
My father was on the Nevada during the attack and although it was hit, it was able to escape from the harbor. He shared a story with be about a cook, who carried up the wounded from areas that were on fire. He said he was the bravest person on the ship. At the time, cooks and chefs were black, and my dad taught me a valuable lesson.
My wife and I (who are also celebrating an anniversary today, our 42nd) visited Pearl Harbor last year at this time. It is hard to visit the Arizona Memorial and not have an emotional response. What we didn’t know is that survivors of the Arizona can, and many have requested, be cremated and have their remains interred in the Arizona so they can join their shipmates. The divers who handle the process say they also have a strong emotional response to their mission.
Now to the other aspect pf the post. This insecurity spiral is something that concerns me a lot, particularly in regards to China. Or North Korea. Or Iran. Or, in fact, just about every other country on the globe, whether they are allies of ours or not.
My mom told a story that she didn’t receive the post card that my dad was alive until Xmas eve.
My dad died in 1971, but my mom went to one of the celebrations in the eighties.
There is a story from Corregidor of a group of ships cooks charging an entire company of Japanese Marines and driving them off the beach & into the sea. They were all black men fighting when they had been told they were not fit to fight for the country that enslaved their ancestors.
Adam, sorry my cousin hasn’t got back to me yet about his father’s experiences at Pearl. I had hoped for more detail than I posted last night, and maybe a photo of my Uncle Doug in uniform. If Dave still gets back to me this evening, I’ll forward stuff along to you.
Doug died in 2000 at age 85 or thereabouts; I wish I had thought to visit him and hear some of his stories. That’s maybe my biggest regret, that I didn’t capture oral histories from all branches of my family when I had the chance.
@Schlemazel: My dad taught me that we need to be a color blind society. That was decades ago, but it still rings true.
There’s a serious question if the escalation spiral was really a strategic failure on Roosevelt’s part. He was itching to get the US into WWII but needed to get the isolationists on board. The attack on Pearl Harbor certainly served his broader strategic purpose perfectly. I don’t believe the conspiracy theory that he knew about the attack and chose to do nothing because he wanted an atrocity to inflame the public, but I do think he was at least unworried about provoking Japan because he wanted to get us into the war.
@Roger Moore: Adam could probably answer your question.. My dad always voted democratic, because the republicans at the time, didn’t provide guns. They wanted the pretense that every thing was perfect. He felt they were only about show.
my g-paw was at Clark field that day and saw some of the first bombs of our involvement in WW2, after surviving several war crimes including the oryoku maru and brazil maru, he saw strange atmospheric disturbances from his pow camp in muckden manchuria that were the atom bombs, the last bombs in ww2
Enhanced Voting Techniques
@jo6pac: The Japanese government was a Right Wing Nut house at the time were anyone who said anything in public like “Say, attacking a country ten times our size would be national suicide” was brutally murdered as a commie. The Emperor is only the spiritual leader of Japan, sort of a mixture of the Pope and the English Monarchy.
In fact the most shocking thing about Japan at the time was how weak it’s leadership was. We Westerners picture Asians as despotic authoritarian nightmares, but in 30-40s Japan senior military officers were frequently physically assaulted by their subordinates.
If anything the Wingnuts resemble the Japanse militarists far more than the Nazis.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
@Roger Moore: Roosevelt want a war with Germany. He actually was ordering US warships to attack German u-boats to force them to shoot back. Keep in mind Germany only was under no obligation to declare war on the US under Axis Pact because Japan was the aggressor.
@SiubhanDuinne: Same here. I have a few pages my old man wrote and the memories of what he told me. I have the deck logs and war diary of the USS Crosby DD214/APD17 and it is fascinating to read the official accounts of stories you heard all your life. For those with an interest Fold3 is free this month. All the documents that I copied at the National Archives are now digitized and OCR’d so searching is easy.
In addition, Witness to War has many interviews with vets including this one with Ed Callahan who was landed on the beach at Corregidor on one of the Higgins Boats that was in my dad’s group.
@raven: I had no idea that my dad was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked, until I was in high school. It was not something he could talk about, since it was such a traumatic experience for my mom. I know that after that he was a commanding officer for landing ships. I have a list of the ships that he was on, and should find it at some point find it.
What great resources!
Earlier today on NPR (I know) I heard an interview with a 103-year-old survivor of the PH attack.
I might have mentioned last night, but when I was a kid, as far back into my childhood as I can remember, December 7th was always noted, solemnly, in my home and at school (as was November 11th). Several years ago I met someone whose birthday was December 7th and I made a remark about Pearl Harbor Day, and he just looked at me kind of quizzically and “Oh, yeah, right.” Below a certain age, these dates have little if any resonance today.
/Old lady yells at clouds.
@SiubhanDuinne: My dad was on a ship headed into Pearl when it was attacked, they headed back to sea and returned the next day. When they headed back in there were still fires burning and bodies in the water. My dad had many opportunities to go back on business, but always sent one of his subordinates, to my mom’s great displeasure; but she understood.
a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q)
My old man was at Pearl, he told me one Dec. 7 in about 1975 when “where were you on Dec. 7, 1941 was always in the newspaper. I mentioned that and he said “I sure as hell remember where I was, at Pearl Harbor.” I was too young to think to gather his stories then, and regret to this day that I did not do so before he died.
My aunt, his SIL (known somewhat affectionately as “my evil aunt” in this household for many reasons) always told me he was a big fat liar – about everything – and was no more there that day than she was. I didn’t bother arguing with her, but why would he lie? I’ll be forever indebted to raven, who said something to the effect when I asked if it was plausible “that he was at Pearl, sure.” Our dads were both in the Pacific in WWII on different ships, he was able to inform me. Sadly, I could not get military records for mine because I did not provide dates of service were specific enough. I really would like to see them.
@Roger Moore: What EVT said. Roosevelt wanted to avoid war with Japan if possible; his focus was on Germany. Many advocates of war with Japan were still neutral wrt Europe, and the isolationists were quite vocal up until Hitler’s declaration of war on 11 December. FDR’s focus on the ETO was obvious during the war as well; we pursued a Germany First policy, with a stated allocation of 70% of our war-fighting resources to that theatre, despite our having been attacked by the Japanese. Had Hitler not declared war on us, it would have been difficult for Roosevelt to muster support for that kind of concentration.
@SiubhanDuinne: On what date was Fort Sumter attacked?
It’s fascinating to me that some veterans are very eager to share their combat experiences, while others hardly ever mention them. My cousin (the one whose father was at Pearl the day of the attack) served in Vietnam, but until about three years ago he never ever mentioned it. And even so, I strongly suspect there are a lot of things he simply won’t talk about. No PTSD, but a lot of potential triggers, I’m guessing — for the vets themselves, as well as for their loved ones like your mother.
Don’t know the exact date, but April 1861. I should know, probably did once upon a time.
@Omnes Omnibus: Which time?
@SiubhanDuinne: April 12.
@Comrade Scrutinizer: First. The time that kicked off the Civil War.
@Omnes Omnibus: In addition to the 12-14 April 1861 action: 7 April 1863 – the largest ironclad fleet assembled unsuccessfully assaulted the fort.
8 September 1863 – an attempted amphibious assault failed.
@Comrade Scrutinizer: I wasn’t really trying to start a discussion about Fort Sumter; I was just trying to make a point about how the importance of some dates seems to fade over time.
I think I’ve recommended this book before, but if anyone is looking for a good read, check out We Band of Angels by Elizabeth Norman. It’s about the army and navy nurses who served on Bataan and Corregidor and were captured by the Japanese. This is a gripping, fascinating story that should be better known.
Adam L Silverman
@SiubhanDuinne: No worries.
Adam L Silverman
@Roger Moore: FDR did need something to break the logjam. I also do not follow the conspiracy theory about the USS Dolphin. Whether he was ratcheting things up in order to get a casus belli or not, there were enough mistakes made as the intelligence filtered its way up the Navy chain of command in DC so that the Navy commander in Hawaii wasn’t notified that signals intercepts indicated an imminent attack until 8 hours after the attack was over.
@Omnes Omnibus: Remember the Alamo?
@efgoldman: My parents’ anniv. too, ‘though they did it in ’47, days after my father finished seven yrs. in the Navy.
Remember the Maine.
Keep in mind that the Japanese did not “attack America”, as so many intellectually lazy people say. Hawaii did not become a state until 1959 or almost 18 years after Pearl Harbor. It was a United States protectorate and served as a refueling and supply stop for the U.S. Pacific fleet, which was why it was bombed. One imperialist country with dreams of world conquest attacked another imperialist country – nothing more.
Thanks, sounds right.
U.S. territory, not protectorate. Two very different statuses.
@Zinsky: Wow. History at its finest.
@Zinsky: Wrong. it was a territory so people born there were US citizens at birth.
My grandfather’s birthday was December 7. His story was that he was in a bar celebrating with his first legal drink (21st b-day) when the radio announced that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. They all cheered because they had no idea where or what Pearl Harbor was. The announcement was soon followed by another telling all draft age men to report to their local selective service office.
It was likely a BS story…or at least greatly enhanced. But, still, it was a good story….one that he told – Every. December. 7th.
Both grandfathers served in the Big One….maternal in the European theater (Army Air Force), paternal in the Pacific (Navy). Both were lucky to not sustain any injuries. Neither really talked about it at all – maternal grandfather told a few non-combat stories (including the one about him being in France and pronouncing hors d’oeuvres “whores dee vores” – another one his favorites and often told) but that’s about it.
@JPL: Actually the Nevada did not get out of the harbor. It tried to, but was attacked so heavily that it was beached rather than risk sinking in the channel. There is a good scene from Tora Tora Tora showing its run for the sea…
If we’re sharing parental Pearl Harbor stories, my father was a gunner’s mate on what is claimed to be the first ship to shoot at Japanese aircraft during the dastardly attack.
@Zinsky: It wasn’t just a refueling and supply stop, it was a major fleet base for the US Pacific Fleet. The Japanese didn’t attack Pearl Harbor to interdict supplies; they attacked to destroy a significant portion of the Fleet. In fact, they purposefully (and wrongly) chose not to continue their attacks to destroy the refueling farms.
Learn some history before you pop off again, k?
@JPL: Go to fold3 and enter the names in their search.
History Professor Newt at it again:
What a horrible person, among horrible people. I like the comparison with the Japanese warmongers, rather than the Germans.
Ms. Norman’s book is much more recent–1999 I think.
2016 – a year that will live in infamy.
Tenar Arha (same Tenar, more Nameless Ones)
Knock wood, I’m going to NYC this weekend Friday-Monday! Why? Because I had to get out of this place…
Anyone recommending any plays I should check out other than trying to for the Hamilton lottery? (Which I may try for again this year ;-)
Second, any mind blowing beautiful exhibitions?
Last, I’m visiting family & they currently only have non-specific plans, but I’ve thinking it might be nice to meet up? Any of you City-dwelling folks interested in trying?
My dad fought in the Army of the Pacific; he was based on New Caledonia in WW2. He enlisted, as did many, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He came home in December 1945. He never spoke about the war to me or to my younger brother. But he taught me the service songs — The Caissons Go Rolling Along, The Marines’ Hymn, The Army Air Corps, and Anchors Aweigh. I can still sing them.
He died in 1996, just short of his 80th birthday. He was a staunch Democrat and a proud liberal; he would be horrified by T.
If it is still running, Something Rotten is a lot of fun.
@Lizzy L: My grandfather was one of five brothers (three girls as well): the oldest was in the army and spent the war in the Old Guard (burial details and guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington, my grandfather was next – he was in the army in Europe, the next one was also in the army in Europe, the second youngest was a marine in the Pacific, and the youngest missed WWII but served in Korea. My grandfather was a lifelong union Dem who had no issue with his eldest child (my dad) being an anti-war activist during Vietnam. Grampa had other issues and ways of being an ass, but politics wasn’t one of them.
The attack on Pearl Harbour was obviously intended to protect the Japanese flank as they moved south to take the Malayan rubber plantations and the Dutch East Indies oil fields, but was there really a US threat to Japan from that quarter?
Surely any of their people with US experience could have told them that isolationists had a stranglehold on Congress and they were in no danger, so long as did not attack any American assets and bypassed the Philippines. Roosevelt’s interests were in Europe, not East Asia.
Had the Japanese not attacked Pearl Harbour and the Philippines, Germany would not have declared war on the US and WWII would have essentially consisted of the British Empire and a rump Soviet Union desperately holding off the Axis on two fronts.
I’m sure Harry Turtledove has a novel based on this. He seems to have one on every other permutation of WWII.
Adam L Silverman
@Tenar Arha (same Tenar, more Nameless Ones): I think my dojo is having their free aikido class this Saturday morning.
@Omnes Omnibus: My dad had three brothers: one older, two younger. All four boys fought, and amazingly, all four came home, though the oldest, my uncle Henry, had a “bad war,” as they said, and I think it never left him.
@Omnes Omnibus: Neither of my grandfathers fought in WWII. They were both married with children, as well as being senior engineers at factories that made important stuff for the war effort. However, my grandmother’s little brother was in the Army in Europe and came home safely in one piece, only to be killed by a drunk driver three days later. Very depressing.
@Lizzy L: The marine drank and was mean. OTOH, stories are that he always was mean. My grandfather didn’t talk to his kids about the war. He did tell me stories after I had joined the army. Most I haven’t shared with my dad. I feel a bit bad about it, but the fact that the old man shared the stories with a “fellow soldier” and no one else meant he didn’t want others to know.
FDR’s quote is not “the day that will live in infamy,” but rather “December 7 a date which will live infamy.
I think November 8, 2016 may come to be known as another date which will live in infamy.
@Original Lee: My other grandfather was nearly 40 when the war started and in a reserved occupation. I have seen his correspondence saying, “Can I join?” and War Department letters saying, “You are too old and too valuable where you are. Stop writing us, seriously.”
Adam L Silverman
@Omnes Omnibus: My grandfather was, apparently according to my Dad’s recounting, put to work for one of FDR’s cousins moving supplies around the US to get to the troops. According to my Dad my grandfather would disappear for weeks at a time then just show back up at home. My grandfather had worked in both the railroad and cattle business. According to one of the military historians I worked with at USAWC who I asked about this there was an official, but largely undiscussed program to do this, using civilians, in civilian capacity, that had been pulled into temporary Federal service. And that’s the family history.
@Adam L Silverman: Mine was the night supervisor of metalworking company that did Fed work. Honestly, he probably did more in that job than his accurate eye behind a rifle could have done. But those letters were important to him. He tried to join up.
Adam L Silverman
@Omnes Omnibus: I’m sure. Two of my grandfather’s closest friends fought island to island in the Pacific. They never talked about it.
During Vietnam my Dad got a draft notice several months before he completed his doctorate in psychology. He contacted the draft board and stated they’d be better off waiting several months until he was Dr. Silverman the psychologist – that he could be of more use treating Soldiers than shooting a rifle. They told him to contact them within a set amount of time of graduation. He did so and they told him they no longer needed him.
Bureaucracy is strange!
@Adam L Silverman: By the time the VN draft got serious, my dad was married, had a son (me), and was in school. The married status is the thing that pushed him far enough down the draft ladder that I didn’t even matter.
Adam L Silverman
@Omnes Omnibus: My Dad was engaged and the marriage was scheduled for shortly after graduation. I was not on the planning calendar at that point in time.
@Adam L Silverman: Our dads were both lucky. Have you read My War Gone By, I Miss It So” by Anthony Loyd? Loyd was a British ex-army officer who became a war correspondent in Bosnia. Worth the read.
My mom was a nurse on a hospital ship in the Pacific. All she ever said about it was that she was shocked – had to get a bra in the service shop and it was olive drab, not white (and not a bit of lace anywhere). Also, she explained the small carved box of all-services insigniae as being the then-currently accepted way to show you were “going steady” with someone … considering the number of wings, crossed rifles, captain’s bars, and et cetera in that box, she might have been teetering on the edge of getting nicknamed “Short-time Sal”.
So what? It was WWII. People were going someplace where they might die. A little friendliness isn’t a bad thing. And it makes her more interesting. Yes?
Tenar Arha (same Tenar, more Nameless Ones)
@Adam L Silverman: Ooh, interested.
But, what does that involve? Asking because I have lots of arthritic joints, & I’ve been “low impact” since my 20’s.
Also, is it Manhattan or another borough? (Public transit etc)
Tenar Arha (same Tenar, more Nameless Ones)
Adam L Silverman
@Tenar Arha (same Tenar, more Nameless Ones): Its about three and a 1/2 blocks from Penn Station. But its not low impact. They do offer a free intro class one Saturday a month – as in a class dedicated to being an intro to aikido with no mat fee. I haven’t seen this month’s announcement on it, and since November’s was the 19th, my guess is its about two weeks away. I was largely being a smartass in my reply as I’ve not lived in NY since 2007, so the only thing I know that is definitely going on is the dojo’s class schedule.
Tenar Arha (same Tenar, more Nameless Ones)
@Adam L Silverman: Still sounds cool. But, I’m thinking that even subtracting a few decades I’ve always been a better candidate for tai chi. ?
I used to know a friend of my grandmother on my mom’s side. He flew a P-39 Aircobra in the Pacific Theatre. Nasty little ground attack fighter. He told me he got close enough to see the “meatball” on the opposing Japanese fighters but he never engaged them from what I gathered, since he was always flying bombing missions. He got a bad scare one day when one of his bombs refused to release. He told me he adjusted trim and flew back home and kind of forgot about it until he touched down and the bomb promptly fell off the mount and started bouncing along merrily with his airplane…the little arming propeller on the front spinning away…
i knew this guy:
Frank Tremaine, a retired senior vice president at United Press International who as a young reporter filed what is believed to have been the first eyewitness account of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, died in Savannah, Ga., on Dec. 7, the 65th anniversary of the attack. He was 92.
At the time of the attack, Mr. Tremaine was based in Honolulu as the Pacific bureau manager of United Press, a forerunner of UPI. On the morning of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, he was awakened by explosions and anti-aircraft fire. From the window of his bungalow, he saw black smoke rising from Pearl Harbor, 7 or 8 miles away.
Mr. Tremaine made several hurried phone calls to military officials before sending a cable to UP offices in San Francisco and Manila: “Flash–Pearl Harbor under aerial attack. Tremaine.” Only then did he get dressed. While he was out reporting, his wife, Kay, relayed his notes, along with her own eyewitness account, by phone to the San Francisco office.
United Press would describe Mr. Tremaine’s dispatch as the first account of the attack by a correspondent.
Frank Benjamin Tremaine was born in Detroit on May 30, 1914, and raised in Pasadena, Calif. In 1936, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, where he was the UP campus correspondent, and shortly afterward joined the news agency’s Salt Lake City bureau.
After the U.S. entered the war, Mr. Tremaine oversaw UP’s coverage of the Pacific theater. In 1945, he reported on the Japanese surrender aboard the battleship Missouri and afterward was the agency’s first postwar Tokyo bureau manager. From Tokyo, he later directed the agency’s early coverage of the Korean War. His other postings included Mexico, Central America and Los Angeles.
In 1952, Mr. Tremaine returned to New York. Named a senior vice president of UP in 1972, he retired in 1980.
@NotMax: Pedant. My point stands.
@Comrade Scrutinizer: Eat shit and die, Einstein!
@Roger Moore: I have read (sorry, don’t remember where) that after Roosevelt and SoS Cordell Hull got the legislation through that allowed them to impose a blockade (what we now call “sanctions”) on the Japanese Empire, a desk officer in the State Department drew up the detailed regulations that determined what we would allow the Japanese to import. This bureaucrat took it on himself to draft regulations that were much more draconian than FDR and Hull supposedly intended. In addition to refined aviation fuel he included all forms of petroleum as banned. If FDR learned about the difference from his original intent he never did anything about it. The blockade was actually an act of war itself, and the hardships that would have been inflicted on the Japanese people would have been very arduous, but even more important to the zealots then in charge of the Japanese government was the slur on their honor. The bureaucrat’s name was Dean Acheson.
@Roger Moore: Very late to this thread, and it’s probably dead and cold, but I don’t tend toward the conspiracy theory. The only evidence I can offer is purely personal. My grandfather was the Marine barracks commander at Pearl Harbor, and at the time of the attack he was miles and miles away, out on maneuvers at sea. It’s not entirely logical and rational, I know, but somehow I have a feeling that if the higher-ups had known about and been anticipating an attack, he wouldn’t have been out on exercises, but stationed on the ground for the real thing.
That Roosevelt may have been saying, either internally or to his circle of advisors, “bring it on” to the Japanese is another matter. That I can believe without too much trouble.
@Comrade Scrutinizer: Not necessarily wrongly. The second guessing about calling off the third wave is badly misguided. The Japanese had no ideas where the Amefican carriers were and could not be sure as to how much land based aircraft were available for a counterattack. They had revealed their position and their carrier force was now highly vulnerable. The Japanese navy thoughout the war was highly cautious, and opted at Pearl Harbor to avoid risk rather than launch additional attacks on Pearl Harbor. They had defined the mission in advance as destruction of the US surface fleet, and that had been highly successful. The fleet commanders at sea did not have the flexibility to expand the mission on the fly based on success. And they had to be cautious since they had far less ability to replace their capital ships.
Miscommunication? This is like saying Hitler attacking Poland was a result of miscommunication, resulting in WWII.
The Empire of Japan was the Nazi Germany of Asia. A militaristic and barbaric culture committed to violent expansion and a belief in cultural and racial superiority. This was understood in the US, and the economic embargo strategy culminating in the oil embargo was a clear message to curtail that activity or suffer crippling economic consequences. The US side recognized that it might provoke war, and went forward anyway.
At that time, the Japanese had clearly demonstrated their intentions in Asia. The rape of Nanking was in Dec 1937. And the destruction of European powers by Germany by 1940 had hugely destabilized Asia. Japan invaded French Indochina in Sep 1940. The Dutch East Indies (Indonesia today) was also defenseless and loaded with natural resources. There was every reason to expect in 1941 that Japan would continue its violent expansion, particularly since so many new opportunities now existed based on events in Europe.
So there was no miscommunication in 1941. The US was sending a clear signal that go no further or we will use economic means to ruin you, and are willing to risk war by doing so. The Japanese read the message correctly, and opted for war with the US. The greatest failure in foresight at that time was the arrogance of US military leadership in not taking the risk seriously, particularly by the Navy. The Japanese clearly had the best naval air capability in the world at fhat time, and the British had demonstrated at Taranto in Nov 1940 what a far less capable carrier force could do to ships at harbor. Pearl Harbor was predictable, and the Japanese success was as much attributable to US lack of military preparation as to Japanese skill and daring.
Adam L Silverman
Thank you for making my argument for me. What you’ve described in the quote above is a classic example of strategic miscommunication. Specifically the failure to understand the responses you’re getting from the messages you’re sending.
I mean no disrespect, but Nevada did not escape the harbor and did not attempt to escape. The captain knew that if he attempted to exit, his (very big) ship might have been sunk in the harbor entrance, thus blocking it. Other ships then could not have entered or exited, so sinking in the entrance would have been a really bad move. Instead, he deliberately beached the ship.
Nevada was repaired and went on to fight again, for example off Normandy in 1944.
@Zinsky: Oh horsefeathers.
Hawaii was US territory, no more or less than Caifornia if you want to argue imperialism.
Japan invaded China in 1937. The US responded by putting economic sanctions on Japan. Japan then chose to go to war with us.
This is “both sides do it” territory in your post and the OP. It seems to me there is a useful distinction between economic sanctions and dropping bombs on people.
The Pearl Harbor attack was not intended to ‘protect the flank’ of anything. Japan thought (wrongly, I think, but that’s just my opinion) that they could not continue their warmaking in China and Malaya because the US would intervene. Therefore, they thought their first move should be to cripple the US navy so that we’d go away quietly. Didn’t quite work out that way.
I don’t think FDR could have mustered support for a war to save Malaya any more than he could to ‘save’ China.
No. A blockade is indeed considered an actof war, but sanctions are not. A blockade involves physically preventing the flow of trade into harbors or across borders. I.e, having Navy ships patrolling outside the enemy harbors.
We did nothing like that to Japan prior to Dec 7 1941.
@Dmbeaster: Thanks for posting that here.
@Adam L Silverman: I do not think it can be attributed to a failure to communicate leading to a failure to understand. Both sides knew where they were headed as of late 1941. The lack of military preparation in response to the high likelihoid of war had more to do with arrogance. It was one part military inertia by the Navy in refusing to recognize the danger of carrier based naval air power (despite ample evidence), and another part cultural prejudice that the Japanese could be so skillful and audacious to mount such an attack.
Sorry if my comment had too biting of a tone. But the situation really cannot be attributed to miscommunication. If anything, the Japanese were intentionally deceptive about their decision to go to war in order to preserve surprise for the Pearl Harbor raid.