Pearl Harbor Controversy Essay

Archival research does not support these contentions.The problem in 1941 was not that Roosevelt was relentlessly pushing Japan's leaders toward the brink; the problem was that he could not find a viable way to stop them from taking the plunge of their own accord.I simply have not got enough Navy to go round—and every little episode in the Pacific means fewer ships in the Atlantic." 2 Once Japanese troops began moving into southern Indochina, however, a new situation was created.

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People could scarcely believe the reports pouring out of their radios. There were no easy answers, no quickly forged consensus.

In these circumstances, perhaps it was inevitable that certain critics of the President would emerge as "Pearl Harbor revisionists," eager to accuse Franklin D.

The revisionists have always been drawn to items that appear to cast Roosevelt in an unfavorable light—for example, a few lines in Secretary of War Henry L. 6 The President is not quoted directly, but Stimson says that FDR "brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked perhaps next Monday [December 1], for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning, and the question was what we should do.

The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves." 7 To understand this passage we need to know how the secretary of war managed to find time to keep a diary not only during a very busy period in his life but also in the proximity of a President who generally did not want cabinet officers, or anyone else for that matter, taking notes during their discussions with him.

5 FDR had by now learned that a policy of forbearance toward the government in Tokyo, instead of having a salutary effect, simply resulted in ever-more aggressive behavior on the part of the Imperial Japanese Army.

Only after this fact had been driven home with galling emphasis did the President move decisively.

Honestly held differences of opinion can easily arise out of conflicting interpretations of what happened in the past, even when everyone accepts the same set of facts.

This form of debate is one of the most important mechanisms by which historians eventually arrive at tenable conclusions.

The Supreme Command in Tokyo had various goals in mind, not the least of which was a preemptive strike designed to capture the resources that abounded in Southeast Asia—resources and territory that might fall into the hands of Japan's competitive ally, Germany, if Hitler succeeded in conquering his enemies in Europe.

Roosevelt was forceful enough in the Atlantic to cause some observers to think that Hitler might take up the challenge in circumstances favorable to his own malevolent designs.


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