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COMMENTARY: HISTORY FROM ANCIENT TO MODERN

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Japan, Roosevelt and Pearl Harbor

It is alleged that Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor was pre-emptive, that the attack was a response to President Roosevelt having provoked Japan into war. This is proposed by the historian Robert Smith Thompson, and it's a stretch. In July 1940, Japan's leaders met at one of their Imperial Conferences and reaffirmed their dedication to the new offensive they had started in China earlier that year. That offensive was putting Japan on a collision course with the Dutch, British and the United States, Japan needing the oil of South East Asia to pursue that war. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor not to defend itself but to continue its aggression against China. It is true that in May 1940 the US Navy moved the base of its Pacific Fleet from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, but no evidence exists that this or other Roosevelt moves were motivated by Roosevelt's desire to provoke the Japanese into war.

Whatever Roosevelt's motives, it was not a perversion to want to help the Chinese against Japanese aggression or to help the British against the Germans. Those complaining about Roosevelt motives regarding military matters in 1940 and 41 appear to be siding with the isolationists of that period.   

Copyright © 2005-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.