Did We Know They Were Coming?
FDR, elected to an unprecedented third term as President in 1940, had his own reasons for wishing to aid Churchill and get into the war. Roosevelt’s aggressive policies supported this notion, as he provoked German U-boats and ships to attack American naval vessels. American ships actually did attack U-boats.
U.S. naval vessels also attacked Japanese craft, and Roosevelt unleashed a crushing economic embargo against the Asian power, while ordering America’s Pacific naval fleet into a vulnerable position at its Pearl Harbor, Hawaii base.
Many historians, some of them supporters of the President’s actions, believe that he intended to provoke the response which occurred on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the fleet and inflicted 3,500 American casualties. Also, that he knew it was coming, though not the scale of carnage.
Why? Possibly in order to incite a non-interventionist public into a war they still demonstrated no desire to enter, but which he foresaw as good for both the world and the still-Depression-plagued American economy. The FDR Administration’s apparent withholding of crucial intelligence from U.S. military commanders at Pearl that might have alerted them to the imminent attack supports this theory.
Other historians concede that Roosevelt knew a Japanese attack was coming, but not that they had the technological capability to reach Hawaii. They believe FDR thought the Japanese would attack other American installations such as the Philippines, which they did, or perhaps the Panama Canal.
Much circumstantial evidence, including both British and American cryptographers’ acute knowledge of Japan’s secret diplomatic and military codes, supports this theory. So does Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s diary entry 11 days prior to the Pearl Harbor attack:
“The question was how we should maneuver them (the Japanese) into firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.”
After the attack, Stimson admitted that “my first feeling was of relief…that a crisis had come in a way which would unite all our people.”
Once at war, Roosevelt employed many of the same command economy principles to fight it that animated his New Deal.
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Oklahomans Vol 2 :
Statehood - 2020s
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