The Truth About Pearl Harbor

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This article is very interesting; the book Pat discusses even more so:

Did FDR Provoke Pearl Harbor?
By Patrick J. Buchanan

On December 8, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt took the rostrum before a joint session of Congress to ask for a declaration of war on Japan.

A day earlier, at dawn, carrier-based Japanese aircraft had launched a sneak attack devastating the U.S. battle fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Said ex-President Herbert Hoover, Republican statesman of the day, “We have only one job to do now, and that is to defeat Japan.”

But to friends, “the Chief” sent another message: “You and I know that this continuous putting pins in rattlesnakes finally got this country bitten.”

Today, 70 years after Pearl Harbor, a remarkable secret history, written from 1943 to 1963, has come to light. It is Hoover’s explanation of what happened before, during and after the world war that may prove yet the death knell of the West.

Edited by historian George Nash, “Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath” is a searing indictment of FDR and the men around him as politicians who lied prodigiously about their desire to keep America out of war, even as they took one deliberate step after another to take us into war.

Yet the book is no polemic. The 50-page run-up to the war in the Pacific uses memoirs and documents from all sides to prove Hoover’s indictment. And perhaps the best way to show the power of this book is the way Hoover does it—chronologically, painstakingly, week by week.

Consider Japan’s situation in the summer of 1941. Bogged down in a four year war in China she could neither win nor end, having moved into French Indochina, Japan saw herself as near the end of her tether.

Inside the government was a powerful faction led by Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoye that desperately did not want a war with the United States.

The “pro-Anglo-Saxon” camp included the navy, whose officers had fought alongside the U.S. and Royal navies in World War I, while the war party was centered on the army, Gen. Hideki Tojo and Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka, a bitter anti-American.

On July 18, 1941, Konoye ousted Matsuoka, replacing him with the “pro-Anglo-Saxon” Adm. Teijiro Toyoda.

The U.S. response: On July 25, we froze all Japanese assets in the United States, ending all exports and imports, and denying Japan the oil upon which the nation and empire depended.

Stunned, Konoye still pursued his peace policy by winning secret support from the navy and army to meet FDR on the U.S. side of the Pacific to hear and respond to U.S. demands.

U.S. Ambassador Joseph Grew implored Washington not to ignore Konoye’s offer, that the prince had convinced him an agreement could be reached on Japanese withdrawal from Indochina and South and Central China. Out of fear of Mao’s armies and Stalin’s Russia, Tokyo wanted to hold a buffer in North China.

On Aug. 28, Japan’s ambassador in Washington presented FDR a personal letter from Konoye imploring him to meet.

Tokyo begged us to keep Konoye’s offer secret, as the revelation of a Japanese prime minister’s offering to cross the Pacific to talk to an American president could imperil his government.

On Sept. 3, the Konoye letter was leaked to the Herald-Tribune.

On Sept. 6, Konoye met again at a three-hour dinner with Grew to tell him Japan now agreed with the four principles the Americans were demanding as the basis for peace. No response.

On Sept. 29, Grew sent what Hoover describes as a “prayer” to the president not to let this chance for peace pass by.

On Sept. 30, Grew wrote Washington, “Konoye’s warship is ready waiting to take him to Honolulu, Alaska or anyplace designated by the president.”

No response. On Oct. 16, Konoye’s cabinet fell.

In November, the U.S. intercepted two new offers from Tokyo: a Plan A for an end to the China war and occupation of Indochina and, if that were rejected, a Plan B, a modus vivendi where neither side would make any new move. When presented, these, too, were rejected out of hand.

At a Nov. 25 meeting of FDR’s war council, Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s notes speak of the prevailing consensus: “The question was how we should maneuver them (the Japanese) into … firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.”

“We can wipe the Japanese off the map in three months,” wrote Navy Secretary Frank Knox.

As Grew had predicted, Japan, a “hara-kiri nation,” proved more likely to fling herself into national suicide for honor than to allow herself to be humiliated

Out of the war that arose from the refusal to meet Prince Konoye came scores of thousands of U.S. dead, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the fall of China to Mao Zedong, U.S. wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the rise of a new arrogant China that shows little respect for the great superpower of yesterday.

If you would know the history that made our world, spend a week with Mr. Hoover’s book.

Full text here:


  1. Sneak attack?

    The Friday December 5, 1941 newspaper I looked up on the microfiche at the library on Oahu said, “Japan Expected To Attack Islands This Weekend.”

    Wasn’t exactly a surprise if you read the newspaper.

  2. Eric,

    There’s NO QUESTION that FDR and his cronies deliberately provoked Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor in order to get us in to WWII. Two books that you might find interesting are: 1) Day of Deceit: the Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor, by Robert Stinnett; and 2) Infamy, by John Toland. Those aren’t the only two books about Pearl Harbor; they’re the only two with which I’m familiar, i.e. I’ve read. In any case, there’s no question that FDR and his advisors knew of the attack and wanted it to happen. Given the overwhelming desire of the American people to stay out of another European war (80% or more), FDR wanted and needed Japan to ‘commit the first overt act’.

    One thing that angered me is that FDR’s administration kept Adm. Kimmel and Gen. Short out of the intelligence loop; even though Washington was reading all the Jap intercepts (both diplomatic and military) and knew about the attack, they did NOT tell Kimmel and Short. As the on-scene commanders, wouldn’t they have needed to know about the attack, so they could prepare accordingly? Then, to top it off, FDR and his cronies BLAMED Kimmel and Short! That was a travesty!

    Another travesty was allowing over 2,000 of our boys to be needlessly killed. When I was based in Pearl Harbor, I visited the Arizona memorial. Before you go out to the memorial, they show you a short film about the ship, the attack, and how many of our boys died. Then, to see all those names on the walls of the memorial, guys who are forever young because their lives were cut short. My visit to the memorial choked me up. To think that that was DELIBERATELY PERMITTED just makes me angry.

    FDR apologists will say that we needed to fight Hitler; we needed to fight for freedom; therefore we should cut FDR slack, because he was in a tough spot, given Americans’ desire to stay OUT of the war. Well Eric, I agree with you. I don’t think Germany would have attacked us at all; even if they’d attacked Canada (as some in FDR’s administration thought), I don’t think they’d have attacked us. The last thing Germany wanted was to fight the US. Exhibit A is that, even though FDR had our destroyers escorting British convoys in 1940-41, the Germans didn’t attack our ships because Hitler wanted to avoid war with us. Adm. Karl Doenitz, the German U-Boat chief, wanted to fight back but Hitler forbade him from doing so. Japan didn’t want war with us, either. If we’d stayed out of WWII, I think we would have been fine.

    But yeah, the fact that FDR knew of Pearl Harbor and allowed it to happen (indeed, he provoked the Japanese) is not open to question anymore. Robert Stinnett presents so much evidence in his book that a 2 year old could prosecute the case and win it slam dunk fashion…

    • Hi Mark,

      Yup, amen.

      Also: The Japanese were stomped for attempting to apply the Monroe Doctrine to their part of the world. Uncle could no abide the competition – and so cut off the oil which Japan required for its economic survival. This effectively forced the Japanese to attack.

      In retrospect, I sometimes think it’s a shame that Admiral Nagumo – who commanded the task force that attacked Pearl Harbor – wasn’t bold like the plan’s architect, Admiral Yamamoto. He – Yamamoto – would have exploited the crashing success of the initial attacks and returned to blow up the fuel depots and then search for the at-sea carriers and sink them, too.

      A really ballsy commander would have invaded Pearl with ground troops and occupied the joint.

      Had they done this – especially eliminated the carriers – there is a good chance Japan could have secured either a peace deal with the U.S. or bought the time it needed to complete a few Shinano class carriers (based on the Yamatos) and then Uncle would have been in real trouble…

      • FDR goaded for the attack in many ways. Did so intentionally. They also knew the attack was coming and what its scope was. The empire of Japan was spread fairly thin already and even if they could have made a ground attack uncle would have had something in place as a backstop. Uncle wanted a bloodbath at Pearl but not too big. Just enough to get the people to back entry into the war in europe.

        The only way out for the empire of Japan was to understand they were being goaded into the attack and then not doing so. Fedgov always tries to cloak its aggression by goading the other party. The only government that seems to have figured this out is that of Iran and maybe Putin.

      • Adm. Nagumo absolutely made a mistake by not coming back to destroy the fuel dumps and the submarine base. Adm. Nimitz said that had the fuel dump been destroyed, it would have set back the war effort two years. Our subs went on to sink millions of tons of Japanese shipping, which crippled them.

        As for finding our carriers, that would have been a tougher nut to crack. The Saratoga was on the west coast for refit, so she was thousands of miles away. The Enterprise and Lexington had gone out to Midway and Wake Islands to deliver aircraft; both islands are well west of Oahu, while the Japanese strike force was 240 miles northwest of Oahu. Those distances are greater than the ranges of any carrier borne patrol planes Nagumo could have put up. For those distances, you’d need a long range flying boat like a PBY Catalina; you’d also need enough of them to provide adequate coverage. Finding the American carriers would have been a huge challenge for the Japanese.

        As for ground troops, I don’t know if the Japanese had any. I don’t believe it was Yamamoto’s intention to invade; that wasn’t part of his plan. He only wanted to smash the Pacific Fleet so it couldn’t fight.

        I was watching a documentary about the Japanese view of Pearl Harbor, and it was pretty interesting. If Yamamoto could have had his way, he would NOT have chosen Nagumo to command the Pearl Harbor strike force; he would have chosen someone else. Unfortunately, the IJN was hamstrung by tradition, so it was verboten to pick a more junior admiral over Nagumo.

      • I might be better able to comment on IJN Operations, Eric. From Nagumo’s standpoint, their intelligence had failed, since from the time the “Kido Butai” (their name for the task force of six carriers with aircraft and support vessels) departed their staging point in the Kuril Islands on 26 Nov 1941, by their very strict radio silence (which explains in part the inability of USN Intelligence, even though IJN Code JN-25 had been deciphered, to detect the attack), they were unable to get situational updates. Even if their spies (including an intrepid young IJN ensign detailed to the Japanese consulate in Honolulu) had duly noted the sailing of the three Pacific Fleet carriers (two of them, Enterprise and Lexington, had been delivering fighter aircraft to Midway and Wake Islands, the Saratoga was heading back to the Bremerton, WA Naval Yard for a scheduled refit, the Enterprise experienced boiler trouble on Dec 5 and was delayed until the early morning of Dec 7th, even that was postponed by a storm), but Nagumo had no way to know where the carriers were. Also, the first wave under LCDR Fuchida was unable to spot any of the four submarines based at Pearl. It would have been quite reasonable for Nagumo to believe that he was risking all six of the carriers, more than half of what they had, by remaining on station 200 miles north of Oahu. Also, having lost the element of surprise, the second wave met much stiffer resistance, though the loss of 29 aircraft and 64 aircrew was below what CDR Genda had projected (74 other planes were damaged as well).

        As for invasion of Hawaii following the attack, utter fantasy. The bigger objective for the Japanese Army was the Philippines, the entire point of the Pearl Harbor attack was to blood the USN so that Japan could have a free hand in the Western Pacific, which did happen. They simply lacked the resources to take Hawaii in late 1941. Instead, their objective was to secure their “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”, grabbing the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), kicking the British out of Hong Kong and Singapore, and present the USA with such a daunting prospect in striking back that instead we’d sue for peace. Roosevelt et. al may have connived to push the Japanese with the hardball diplomacy wherein they were desperate, yes, he was doing whatever he could to get American into the fight with Nazi Germany, with starting an undeclared naval war in the North Atlantic, yet the Germans, preoccupied with Operation Barbarossa, weren’t taking the bait. I’d say that though there’s no “smoking gun” that would point to specific foreknowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack by US Army or Naval Intelligence, or FDR himself, certainly the circumstances were manipulated into getting the Japanese to do something that would enrage the American public into turning away from the then strong isolationist sentiment.

        Four years later, at Nuremberg, Ol’ “Fasto” Hermann Goering (who had actually slimmed down by over 100 lbs. from when he’d been captured in May 1945) said it well as to how an otherwise peace-loving public is goaded into war:

        “Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY.”

        I’m sure Goering was a dead man once he was captured and he knew it, but you have to give him credit for his candor.

        • Excellent, Doug – thank you for the detailed insight on the Pearl Harbor attack!

          In re the Reichsmarschall: The only non-poltroon in the dock. He went out like a man – and I respect him for that. The rest were a collection of cringing, writhing worms. Goring – perhaps the ultimate cynic – knew he was a dead man, that “judgment” was a forgone conclusion – but that he had an opportunity to mock the court and its hypocrisy. Which he did, superlatively.

          Most Americans have no idea that among other things, one of the “judges” was Vyshinsky – of Soviet show trail infamy, the Roland Freisler of Russia – and himself as guilty of “crimes against humanity” as several of the men who were hanged and arguably more so than some of them, such as Streicher, for instance. Who may have been a cretin but – as far as I have been able to determine – never actually killed anyone. He published a race-baiting newspaper, nothing more.

          • Speaking of crimes against humanity, what about the firebombing of Tokyo? What about the firebombing of Dreseden? If you ever read accounts of either, they’re GHASTLY. Seems like those are crimes against humanity too.

            • Hi Mark,

              Of course.

              Patton or Eisenhower supposedly said something along the lines of: If we’d lot the war, we’d be in the dock for “war crimes.”


              Victors always write the history – and mete out “justice.”

        • Doug,

          The IJN didn’t practice total radio silence. The liner Lurline, which made trips between the west coast and Honolulu, copied numerous transmissions between Japan and the Kido Butai. The radiomen on board logged these transmissions. When the Lurline returned to San Francisco on December 10, 1941, officers from the US Navy promptly confiscated the logs of IJN transmissions.

          The Japanese fleet ran into bad weather along the way. At times, visibility was so bad that signal flags and blinker lights couldn’t be used, so what’s left? Radio, which the IJN used when they had to do so.

          Also, the US Navy was picking up these transmissions. Captain Ranneft, the Dutch Navy attache in Washington during the war, recorded in his diary seeing maps over at the Navy Department showing the Japanese fleet’s position as it crossed the North Pacific on the way to Hawaii.

          You are correct that the Japanese were more concerned about getting land over there. Not only did they want the Philippines; they wanted and needed the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) for their oil.


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