“Day of Deceit: The truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor”, by Robert B. Stinnett, ISBN 0-684-85339-6, 386 pages, (2000).
Stinnett’s heavily-documented account is the result of about 17 long years of research into government archives. Those archives show that FDR in 1940/41 was intent on getting the US into the ongoing European war, despite the then very strong public opposition to getting involved in yet another European war – and despite FDR explicitly campaigning on keeping the US out of that conflict. FDR’s avenue to manipulating the US into the European war was through conflict with Japan, given the treaties between Japan & Germany.
The archives show that the US had broken Japanese codes long before World War II, and had direct information about what Japan was planning. In October 1940, FDR’s Administration had formulated a plan of eight actions which would likely force Japan to declare war on the US. FDR’s explicitly stated aim was that Japan should fire the first shot. FDR hoped that a Japanese attack would result in a dramatic swing in public sentiment in favor of war – and, given that aim, Pearl Harbor was a great success for FDR, albeit at the cost of the lives of 2,273 US military personnel.
The US commanders at Pearl Harbor – Admiral Kimmel and Lieutenant General Short – were blamed for the disaster, demoted, and reassigned. Stinnett’s researches present a convincing case that they were patsies, set up for failure. Critical information from decoded Japanese transmissions was withheld from them. They were not given access to radio direction finding reports which tracked the Japanese fleet approaching across the Pacific. They were ordered not to take any actions which might raise concerns among the public on Oahu, such as putting the military bases on alert. When Admiral Kimmel organized a naval exercise which would have put the US fleet directly in the path of the approaching Japanese fleet, he was ordered to abandon the exercise and return the fleet to Pearl Harbor. The North Pacific was declared a “Vacant Sea” and commercial ships were ordered out of the area to ensure that there would be no premature discovery of the approaching Japanese fleet – all to ensure FDR’s plan to have Japan strike the first blow.
Interestingly, Stinnett does not take a position on “[the] wisdom and moral justification for the decision [by FDR] to provoke Japan into a bloody and terrible war that ultimately took millions of lives …”, despite the malfeasance, dishonesty, and manipulation revealed in the archives. His view is that “… Roosevelt must be viewed in the total context of his administration, not just Pearl Harbor”.
Today, most of us have no confidence in elected politicians and government bureaucrats, despite the US nominally being a democratic republic. But it is a little shocking to learn that the system was equally rotten before what became known as the “Good War”. The issue this raises is whether today’s less competent Ruling Clique is trying the same Pearl Harbor playbook in the Ukraine. If they succeed in provoking Russia sufficiently that it quite reasonably responds by destroying the US Ramstein Base in Germany through which much of the war materiel passes on its way into the Ukraine, would that fire up a desire for revenge and all-out war in a US public which (for the most part) currently has little interest in the US/NATO proxy war?