The American and British Governments Knew – Down to the Day – of the Coming Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor … And Let It Happen

George Washington's picture

Preface: We don’t contest that World War II was – in many ways – a “good war”.

The Nazis, imperial Japanese and fascist Italians were nasty folks trying to take over the world, who brutalized millions within their own borders and in the nations they occupied.

But a full an honest account of World War II shows that some big American banks funded the Nazis. And America dropped nuclear bombs on Japan when top U.S. military officials said it wasn’t needed.

And – as shown below – we probably knew about the coming Pearl Harbor attack, but let it happen to justify America’s entry into World War II.

The White House apparently had – a year before Pearl Harbor – launched an 8-point plan to provoke Japan into war against the U.S. (including, for example, an oil embargo). The rationale for this provocation is that the U.S. wanted to aid its allies in fighting the Nazis and other axis powers, and decided that an attack by Japan would be the most advantageous justification for the U.S. to enter WWII.

Moreover, Honolulu newspapers warned of a possible attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor:

SMALL pearlharborwarning The American and British Government Knew   Down to the Day   of the Coming Japanese  Attack on Pearl Harbor ... And Let It Happen to Justify American Entry Into WWII

Indeed, as the following must-watch BBC documentary – with interviews with many of the main players, including military officers and code-breakers – shows, the American and British knew of the Japanese plan to attack Pearl Harbor — down to the exact date of the attack — and allowed it to happen to justify America’s entry into World War II:

And see this short essay by a highly-praised historian summarizing some of the key points. (The historian, Robert B. Stinnett, a World War II veteran, actually agreed with this strategy for getting America into the war, and so does not have any axe to grind).

Active Interference with Military’s Ability to Defend

It has also recently been discovered that the FDR administration took numerous affirmative steps to ensure that the Japanese attack would be successful.  These steps included taking extraordinary measures to hide information from the commanders in Hawaii about the location of Japanese war ships (information of which they would normally be informed), denying their requests to allow them to scout for Japanese ships, and other actions to blind the commanders in Hawaii so that the attacks would succeed. See, for example, this book (page 186).

Key Military Players Incommunicado

In addition, the heads of the Army and Navy suddenly disappeared and remained unreachable on the night before Pearl Harbor. And they would later testify over and over that they “couldn’t remember” where they were (pages 320 and 335).

Gagging Whistleblowers

Two weeks after Pearl Harbor, the Navy classified all documents top secret, and the Navy Director of Communications sent a memo ordering all commanders to “destroy all notes or anything in writing” related to the attacks. More importantly, all radio operators and cryptographers were gagged on threat of imprisonment and loss of all benefits. (page 256).

Scapegoating and Labels of “Conspiracy Theory”

The commanders in Hawaii, General Short and Admiral Kimmel, were scapegoated as being the cause for the “surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor (they were recently cleared by Congress).

And, according to a statement made to me privately by a leading Pearl Harbor scholar, the government repeatedly denied foreknowledge and labeled anyone who discussed the military’s prior knowledge of the attacks as a nutty conspiracy theorist.

Media Complicity

Amazingly, the Army’s Chief of Staff informed the Washington bureau chiefs of the major newspapers and magazines of the impending attacks before they occurred, and swore them to an oath of secrecy, which the media honored (page 361); and listen to interview here (we personally spent an hour speaking with Stinnett, and find him to be a highly credible and patriotic American.)

Postscript: Coincidentally, Philip Zelikow, the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, the administration insider whose area of expertise is the creation and maintenance of “public myths” thought to be true, even if not actually true, who controlled what the 9/11 Commission did and did not analyze, then limited the scope of the Commission’s inquiry so that the overwhelming majority of questions about 9/11 remained unasked, also happened to be the main guy defending the alleged unforeseeablity of the Pearl Harbor attack, who wrote a hit piece on Pearl Harbor historians like Stinnett.

It has been proven that 9/11 was entirely foreseeable and yet – unexplainably – all of the key military players just happen to have been unavailable and out of the loop when they were needed (and see this).

But that’s just an interesting coincidence, because countries never use false pretenses to launch wars. Well, almost never, especially when it involves the innocent killing of our own people.

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Walt D.'s picture

"big American banks funded the Nazis". Who do you think funded Obama? (Goes along with the conspiracy theory that banks fund socialism because socialism leads to economic failure and economic failure leads to war, which banks finance).

"we probably knew about the coming Pearl Harbor attack, but let it happen". Sounds like Libya.

According to Keynesians, we needed WWII to stimulate the economy and end the depression - the ultimate "Broken Window" fallacy.

Mark Noonan's picture

I've been hearing that for years - that American banks funded the Nazis.  Utter rot.  The funders of the Nazis were not American businesses but German business - Krupp, Thyssen, I. G. Farben and many others.  This was in the nature of German big business which has always viewed complete free enterprise as a bad thing and which yearned for a strong, government hand to protect it from competition.  Alfred Krupp started angling for government subsidies from the Prussian government as early as the 1840s, for instance.  German business subsidized Hitler and shouted "we hired Hitler" after they got him in to office - and they had hired him to break the unions, break the socialists and keep Germany free from foreign competition while using German muscle to open markets to German products over seas. 

American banks are run by idiots and have done untold economic harm to the United States - but they weren't supporters of Nazis.

poldark's picture

So things have not changed much. We had Iraq's WMD which Bush sold to the US people and Blair sold it to the British people.

All a load of lies.

poldark's picture

The British had just developed radar. I believe the Japanese fleet was picked up on radar and the US was adviced.

SmackDaddy's picture

It's these George Washington articles that make it hard to recommend this sitto people who need it.  If they just faded away it would be one thing, but why is this article still at the top of the page?

SubjectivObject's picture

Comming as they may with all the psychological and perceptual and historical conditioning that the main stream media can get into them, I see your point.

I'll up vote you for being first.

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

which is harder to accept: our leaders are all snakes, or our leaders are all fools? they have pulled so many unlikely events to push USA to war remember gulf of tonkin?? I know it is hard for patriotic americans to think we were all lied to over and over but apply occam's razor..and you know the answers. gov run in secret is a fact.

proving it in court is another matter..close your eyes and keep thinking history is never faked and FDR was really above such plots..but Bush and Obuma now they may be suspect..history is a lie rings true.

as any combat vet knows: the truth is very rarely reported why would they tell us the big truth behind the actions or leaders plots.

trust no one older then 30, now should read; trust no one in power no one.

f16hoser's picture

The war in Europe was more important than the Pacific. The US declared war on Germany before Japan. FDR actually had a Fruedian Slip referring to Germany (Japan) during his "Day of Infamy" speech before Congress.

poldark's picture

Watch the video again. Germany and Italy declared war on the US after the US delcared war on Japan.

Mad Mad Woman's picture

The "official" line about Pearl Harbor has been that our codebreakers broke the Japanese code and found out the attack was coming but didn't warn anyone lest the Japanese find out that we broke their code. Interesting article George.

If you want to learn about rich Americans and corporations aiding the Nazis there is a good book that I bought years ago called "Trading With The Enemy" by Charles Higham. It is a VERY interesting book. Papa Bush, Joseph Kennedy, OUR tire companies, Ford Motor Co, and others were all aiding the Nazi Regime. They saw a way to profit big time during the war. And boy did they make the money during the war! I consider them all traitors, including Papa Bush and Joe Kennedy. They both made a HUGE amount of money during the war.

Benjamin Glutton's picture



The first two American battleships sunk during WW2 were in fact sent to their end by German Stuka-JU87 in April 1941.

Name: Kilkis Namesake: Battle of Kilkis-Lahanas Laid down: 12 May 1904 Launched: 30 September 1905 Commissioned: 22 July 1914 Fate: Sunk on 23 April 1941 near Salamis. Status: Salvaged in the 1950s Notes: previously USS Mississippi (BB-23)

This sinking may yeild interesting info with closer examination.

Joe A's picture

If this is all true (and why not), then the question is: can we envision something like this in the making nowadays?

Peter Pan's picture

War is no longer about war.  It is about organised theft and propaganda. Both of these things take a lot of planning and very little conscience.

Vlad Tepid's picture

Here's the things about the battleships at Pearl.  THEY WEREN'T OLD.  They'd been in service only about 30 years which is less than much of the mainstay of the current US fleet.  This is the problem with history.  People look at it through the lens of "today."  Yes those battleships are old TODAY, but back then they were practically the newest thing.  People call them "antiquated" as well but only in relation to ships that came later in the war.  The ships on Battleship Row were as up to date as the mainstays of the rest of the battleship weilding navies of the world.

The reason the carriers weren't in port wasn't because they were so cool and they wanted them out of harms way.  They were curios - oddities and were essentially considered auxiliary ships by the Navy brass.  Battleships were the arbiter of Navy power in the minds of those who purchased them, designed strategy, and managed the navy.

The Japanese had ADAPTED to the use of carrier due to the restrictions put on them by Washington Treaty system and a lack of funds and resources to procure the battleships they needed.  The Japanese Navy still looked to battleships as their primary weapon and theirs were just as "old" as the US ships.  As far as the IJN was concerned, the Combined Fleet was the battleships - carriers, sub, etc were just there to wear down the enemy.

Same with the British.  The carrier strike on Taranto was siggular in it's UNIQUENESS.  The British never sought to replicate that feat and even when hunting the Bismarck (a battleship that terrified them far beyond it's actual capability), they sent other surface ships after it.  Simply because Swordfish put the killing blows to the Bismarck doesn't mean that that's what the plan of the Admiralty was.

Benjamin Glutton's picture


"Here's the things about the battleships at Pearl.  THEY WEREN'T OLD.  They'd been in service only about 30 years"


they were old because they were paid or nearly paid off.....very old in banker years nay obsolete I dare say.


What good are ships that generate NO income?

Amagnonx's picture

Good work again George - I also commented on your prior piece on the use of the A bomb on the Japanese mainland.


This information is critical in my view - stuff that people need to understand - that the invasions of Iraq (based on lies), and the war in Vietnam (based on a false flag operation in the Gulf of Tonkin) are not isolated instances.


The US was drawn into WWI largely based on the sinking of the Lusitania - this ship was intentionally loaded with munitions (which has been proved by physical evidence) - the location was then publicly displayed in newspapers, and it was sailed right into the middle of German U boat territory.  It doesn't take much imagination to see a scenario where this was known and planned at the highest levels of govt to ensure the US was drawn into WWI.


A very similar method is used in WWII - provoke the Japanese into a frenzy - then offer them a juicy target.  The Japanese thought they were at risk of an imminemtn attack, and the fleets in Pearl Harbor were massing to attack them.


People might not like it, people don't want to hear this kind of information - it undermines their nationalism - it undermines their ego and sense of themsleves as they identify with their nation - this is EXACTLY what is neccessary for people to WAKE THE FUCK UP!


911 was not some isolated incident - it was simply another event in a long chain of events that have been used to create wars.  It is not particularly important, but it is contemporary.


If and when there is news that Iran has 'struck out' with a murderous and sensless attack on the proud US navy - perhaps, just perhaps - some people will ask the question - why the hell would Iran do something so insane.

Vlad Tepid's picture

Yes!  The fleet had always been based in San Diego.  Moving them to Pearl was akin to breaking open your sword from the scabbard in front of a samurai.  The US thought it would intimidate them to back down.  IJN took it as an invitiation to duel.

Trenchf00t's picture

Yep. We let 'em sink the entire pacific fleet so we could enter the war in earnest. It wouldn't be a proper week without some fertilizer from GW. Thanks, buddy! <dupe, apologies>

Roger Knights's picture

Most of the sunk battleships were refloated, repaired, and in action throughout the war, including the nighttime battle of the Philippines where many Jap cruisers and battleships were sunk.

Arthur Borges's picture

Nope. A coherent set of carriers and other fleet vessels were out of town and they were enough to go on the win the Battle of Midway.

Trenchf00t's picture

Yep. We let 'em sink the entire pacific fleet so we could enter the war in earnest. It wouldn't be a proper week without some fertilizer from GW. Thanks, buddy!

Audacity17's picture

The propagandist is back at it, I see.  For those that are really interested in what we knew and this:

George Washington's picture

BTW, you might wish to remember that the Founding Fathers said that dissent is the higest form of patriotism, and they were against "foreign entanglements" and standing armies, and were opposed to any wars that were not needed for national defense.

Iraq was obviously an "elective war", wars throughout the Middle East and North Africa have been planned for over 20 years, economist Nouriel Roubini says that a war against Iran will drive the global economy into another recession, and top national security experts say one more false flag and America will become an outright dictatorship.

So my motivation for writing, sir, is to protect America from annhilation from chickenhawk warmongers.

Sir, No Sir!

Mad Mad Woman's picture

Kudos to you GW!!  You should get the book "Trading with the Enemy" by Charles Higham. VERY interesting reading. I mentioned it in a post here a moment ago. Papa Bush & Joseph Kennedy and most of the big corporations of that time were trading with the Nazis BIG TIME!!  Traitors all!!  And it was all for the almighty buck!! Greedy bastards!!

DanDaley's picture

One does have to consider the source, the BBC; they are a bunch of America-hating leftists.  As Emerson said: What you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you say.

Spitzer's picture

So another propaganda piece that proports that the US had to attack itself and  lose vital military assets in order to drum up support for war.

Doesn't even come close to passing the Occams razor test.

Pathetic waste of time this guy is. Starve him out..

Gully Foyle's picture


Dude read Human Smoke. Pretty obvious the US pushed Japan very hard.

Human Smoke delivers a closely textured, deeply moving indictment of the treasured myths that have romanticized much of the 1930s and '40s. Incorporating meticulous research and well-documented sources -- including newspaper and magazine articles, radio speeches, memoirs, and diaries -- the book juxtaposes hundreds of interrelated moments of decision, brutality, suffering, and mercy. Vivid glimpses of political leaders and their dissenters illuminate and examine the gradual, horrifying advance toward overt global war and Holocaust.

Bay of Pigs's picture

So Spitzer, you cannot connect the dots on this topic either?

I'm beginning to think you are deeply asleep. 

George Washington's picture

I love it!  I admiringly quote the Founding Fathers and so you brand me an enemy.

Shows where yout loyalties lie, sir ...

Spitzer's picture

So the US has to stage fake attacks and create fake enemies to start fake wars because the world loves the good ol US of A so much ?

Really ?

These fake attacks  didn't convince you....

George Washington's picture

Are you calling BBC a propagandist?

Audacity17's picture

No, I'm calling you a propagandist, you cunt.  Stop slandering this country.

So, a new memo has surfaced regarding US military intelligence prior to Pearl Harbor.

In the newly revealed 20-page memo from FDR’s declassified FBI file, the Office of Naval Intelligence on December 4 warned, “In anticipation of open conflict with this country, Japan is vigorously utilizing every available agency to secure military, naval and commercial information, paying particular attention to the West Coast, the Panama Canal and the Territory of Hawaii.”

That’s supposed to be a significant revelations? What, previous memos only warned about Japan’s keen interest in Minnesota? I hate to tell people who are all a twitter about this memo and other similar “revelations” but nobody in the American military or government was really surprised there was an attack on Pearl Harbor or any other major US pacific military asset. The entire Pacific was under a war warning and the entire US military was prepping for a possible Japanese attack somewhere. The US carriers were not caught at Pearl Harbor because they had been deployed to ferry aircraft to points in the western Pacific where an attack was anticipated, e.g., Wake Island.

Pearl Harbor wasn’t a surprise of intent, it was a surprise of capability.

No one in the US Navy thought the Japanese had the physical capability to strike Pearl Harbor with carrier aircraft. That was the surprise.

Yamamoto surprised the US Navy, and everyone else, because he was a “black swan”, i.e., a rare and unpredictable outlier.  


Yamamoto was arguably the greatest naval mind of the 20th Century. He saw possibilities that no one else did. In a culture that prized conformity and respect for the past, he was a maverick rule breaker. American planners did not and probably couldn’t have anticipated how radically and quickly Yamamoto would change Japanese doctrine, tactics and technology.

Yamamoto surprised the US Navy in two ways: Firstly, he completely inverted the controlling doctrine of the entire Japanese Navy. Secondly, he developed technology to enact that doctrine before anyone else thought to do so.

Japanese navel doctrine in the post-WW1 era was dictated by their belief that any future navel conflict would repeat the battle of Tsurigami, i.e., a US fleet would arrive in or near Japanese home waters, where a single decisive battle would take place in which one fleet or the either would be annihilated and the war would then come to a negotiated end. In such a conflict, long-range vessels would be unnecessary.  This doctrine arose in part because prior to the 1930s Japan would have been hard-pressed to get enough oil to fight a long-range conflict.

The home-water doctrine controlled absolutely everything in the Japanese Navy, from technology to training to indoctrination. Every ship was designed from the keel upward for an intense, short-ranged and short-duration conflict. Japanese ships usually had only half the fuel capacity of US or British vessels. All training focused on fighting that one climactic battle. Such a battle was portrayed as not only the only practical solution but the only moral one as well. This concept so dominated Japanese naval thinking that, after Yamamoto’s death, the Japanese navy instantly reverted to it. Making the conceptual leap to a radically different strategy was no trivial feat, and neither was convincing everyone else to go along. American naval planners were well aware of all this and they filed any possible long-range Japanese attacks by capital ships in the highly unlikely file.

After Yamamoto broke the pattern for the controlling doctrine of the Japanese navy, he next had to overcome the technological limitations. He had three major problems: (1) Fueling long-range operations, (2) developing air-dropped torpedoes that wouldn’t bottom out in the relatively shallow water of Pearl Harbor and (3) developing air-dropped bombs that could reliably penetrate the armor of capital ships.

As late as January 1941, none of that technology existed. American planners in December of 1941 assumed it still didn’t exist.

Yamamoto couldn’t just put a bunch of oilers (tankers) with the carrier fleet and set sail. The oilers were just large merchant vessels that couldn’t keep up with the fleet. The normal pattern was for tankers to stay around some island and for the warships to sally out and come back to tranquil waters to refuel. Nobody planned to bring tankers along on a sneak attack. Yamamoto solved the problem by constructing some oilers on some old cruiser keels which made an oiler that could reasonably pace a fleet.

The other problem was that refueling in even moderately heavy seas was tricky. Ships getting bounced around a tug at the wrong time could send flammable fuel everywhere. Yamamato solved that problem with a new kind of coupling system that could safely disengage.

This coupling technology gave the Japanese capital fleets unlimited striking range at good speed. Unknown to anyone outside the upper levels of the Japanese naval command, the Japanese carriers could strike West-East from Madagascar to the Panama canal and North-South from Alaska to Australia. The surprising series of naval air strikes that controlled the first few months of the war depended on the Japanese navy’s ability to refuel on the fly.

Yamamoto solved the other two problems with typical Japanese elegance and simplicity. Attaching wooden fins to the torpedoes allowed them to enter the water at a much shallower angle so they wouldn’t plow into the bottom of the harbor but would run true. Attaching fins to existing armor piercing cannon shells turned them into armor penetrating air delivered bombs.

American planners also took into consideration that even with the technical ability to strike plus the element of surprise, a carrier attack on Hawaii was very dangerous for the Japanese.

The Japanese had no more idea of the location of the US carriers than the US did about the location of the Japanese carriers. The Japanese fleet could have been counter ambushed and overwhelmed by the combined force of the US carriers, battleships and land-based planes from Hawaii. Admiral Nagumo failed to launch follow up attacks on the oil storage and dry docks of Pearl Harbor in part because of this realistic fear of a devastating counterattack.

American planners didn’t believe the Japanese would risk so many capital ships and aircraft in such a risky attack.

The combination of all these factors meant that even though Admiral Kimmel, General Short and others understood the theoretical dangers of a carrier attack on Pearl Harbor, they didn’t think it a likely enough scenario to take counter measures against, especially if that meant exposing Pearl Harbor to more likely forms of attack.

When they began actively preparing for war with Japan in early November 1941, they did not irresponsibly plan for an almost “impossible” carrier strike but instead responsibly planned for likely modes of attacks that the America navy thought the Japanese could carry out: Submarine attacks on ships, submarine shelling of the shore, submarine-landed commandos, aerial bombing from lumbering seaplanes and sabotage attacks by covert agents.

Kimmel seriously ramped up anti-submarine defenses around the harbor. Short put the coastal artillery on high alert. Both configured air defenses to repel a high-altitude attack from large seaplanes. Both guarded all land assets from commando or saboteur attacks. Most famously, both the Navy and the Army tightly clustered all their aircraft together on the airfields so they could be easily protected from a ground attack by light infantry or saboteurs.

Like competent baseball coaches, Kimmel and Short had covered all their bases. Unfortunately, the Japanese were playing football.

Most historical works conflate the surprise of the general public at Pearl Harbor with the surprise of the military. The Roosevelt administration worked tirelessly to downplay the risk of attack from Japan because FDR didn’t want attention distracted from Europe. Negotiations were still underway, and Americans of that era assumed that no one would attack during negotiations. The military, however, was actively preparing for war with Japan and was not particularly surprised that it broke out. They were only surprised by a radical change in Japanese doctrine and capabilities.

All the conspiracy theories about Pearl Harbor hinge on the idea that all the warnings about Japanese attacks should have made it obvious that a carrier strike on Pearl Harbor was imminent. Such theories ignore that the best intelligence estimates of the time said that Japan could not carry out such an attack, and even if they could would not as a matter of doctrine. Nothing in the bits and pieces of intelligence that in hindsight indicated a possible carrier attack on Pearl were interpreted as such, because a carrier attack was thought (as a practical matter) operationally impossible.

The specter of technological surprise has haunted US planners ever since Pearl Harbor. The US military did learn to never underestimate the technical ability of an enemy to strike. Some would argue the US has systematically over estimated such abilities.

We learned a lot from Pearl Harbor but we really didn’t learn not to attempt to read the minds of people from other cultures and ideologies We haven’t learned to plan for the appearance of exceptional individuals changing the rule of the game.

Most importantly, we haven’t learned to plan for things we can’t possibly plan for or to admit that such scenarios even exist. Instead, we assume that all eventualities can be and should be planned for.

No doubt future historians will write “books” about how everything we will blunder into was in retrospect so obvious that the only reasonable explanation was some grand incompetence or conspiracy. In the end, we just really don’t understand most of what is going on and never did or will. Life is about surprises good and bad.

pussum207's picture

"Stop slandering this country"

He's not slandering the "country".  To the extent that he's slandering anyone or anything, it's the state.  The government is not the people.

Vlad Tepid's picture

A fascinating read.  But surely you mean the Battle of Tsushima.  Not Tsurugami.

Re Yamamoto, it was a stroke of luck for the Japanese that he was "demoted" to Combined Fleet commander when he was supposed to be appointed Navy Minister.  Because of fear that his appointment to political office would end in his assassination, beause he would use his forceful personality to counter the Army's drive to war, he was put in charge of the fleet, where, ironically, he was duty bound to make sure that the war he sought to prevent politically, would begin in Japan's favor.  Truly a great man, Yamamoto.  His genius is attested to by the fact that he was one of very few (only?) enemy military commanders specifically targeted by the US for assassination.

Spitzer's picture


Passes Occams Razor test

Clashfan's picture

This is a good piece, GW. So is the one about the atomic bomb. I read that one on Infowars tonight. Glad to see that Infowars is hosting your work.

Thanks for this. It's important. The connections you draw at the close of the piece make it clear that this is nothing new, just business as usual, probably has always been this way. And that's especially important for folks to know. Glad to see you're fighting the fight for truth. There are not nearly enough folks doing this.

Spitzer's picture

You retards woudln't know the truth if it hit you in the face.

So the US has to stage fake attacks and create fake enemies to start fake wars because the world loves the good ol US of A so much ?

Really ?

These fake attacks  didn't convince you....


Mark Noonan's picture

There is really nothing new here - the story about the Army Chief of Staff briefing reporters about the imminence of war is such old news that it appears in William Manchester's excellent biography of Douglas MacArthur.  It is also wise not to read too much in to things.  MacArthur was probably the finest soldier to ever wear our nation's uniform and he was caught flat-footed, with his aircraft on the ground, hours after the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor.  When you are poised at the precipice, things can get murky.  At such times only those who have a well considered plan know what to do - even though President Roosevelt wanted to fight (felt, correctly, that it was necessary for the United States to fight) the mere recognition of this brutal fact doesn't do much for you unless you want to strike the first blow.  All US commanders in the Pacific were advised by late November that war was imminent but all of them were also instructed that US policy was that Japan must strike first...and without any clarification from Washington as to what constituted an attack (MacArthur wasn't even informed if a Japanese attack on the Phillippines would constitute an attack on US soil - the PI was formerly a US colony, was at that time a Commonwealth and was slated for independence). 

It is highly doubtful that the US authorities knew in advance precisely where the Japanese would strike.  The reason to doubt foreknowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack is the fact that it caught the troops on the ground entirely by surprise.  Any attack, even a completely failed attack, would have been sufficient cause for war - had we known the Japanese when coming we would have fully alerted our forces and had the fleet out to sea.  US intelligence was all over the map - considering Japanese thrusts here, there and everywhere - no one put much thought in to a possible attack on Pearl Harbor because the difficulties in carrying it out were formidable (which is, of course, precisely why an excellent strategist like Yamamoto would try it); it would be akin to us planning a surprise attack on December 7th on the Japanese fleet in the Inland Sea. 

This does not in any way change the fact that FDR was clearly trying to get us in the war - he had tried for a year to provoke Hilter by increasingly aggressive US anti-submarine efforts in the Atlantic to no avail.  Japan was actually easier because the economic embargo forced Japan to choose:  retreat from China and southeast Asia, or fight.  As the Japanese could not stomach a retreat, war became inevitible.  It was the rarest luck that Hitler, being insane, acted in an insane manner and declared war on us a few days after Pearl Harbor.  The problem was neatly solved.

A better field of study for all of us is not how we got in to the war but how we managed to botch it so badly - 350,000 lives and untold treasure expended only to wind up with Stalin in charge of most of Hitler's empire and communists ruling in China!  The courage of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines was magnificent.  In MacArthur, Patton, Nimitz and Spruance we had proven commanders of unmatched gifts.  All of it was thrown away by an executive who knew next to nothing of the world and who was surrounded by advisors who were downright stupid when not fellow travellors of the Stalinists. 

pussum207's picture

"A better field of study for all of us is not how we got in to the war but how we managed to botch it so badly - 350,000 lives and untold treasure expended only to wind up with Stalin in charge of most of Hitler's empire and communists ruling in China!  The courage of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines was magnificent.  In MacArthur, Patton, Nimitz and Spruance we had proven commanders of unmatched gifts.  All of it was thrown away by an executive who knew next to nothing of the world and who was surrounded by advisors who were downright stupid when not fellow travellors of the Stalinists. "

No mystery there.  It's the unavoidable consequence of "foreign entanglements".  The politicians and the military leaders all think that they understand the situation beforehand, whether culture, politics, religion, etc., and can foretell the future, there will be no unforeseen consequences (we'll be smarter this time!  We've learned the lessons of the past!).  The politicians, especially of the messianic variety (Wilson, FDR, Bush, etc., etc.), need no particular convincing because of course, "war is the health of the state".   Somehow people who generally oppose state intervention at home think that they are smart enough and know enough to intervene in something far more complex and unknowable to outsiders than the economy - foreign conflict.

collon88's picture

If precise foreknowledge was not true, maybe you can explain why the most important ships in the Pacific Fleet, the 4 aircraft carriers, all just happened to be safely out of port at the time of the attack. 

Mark Noonan's picture

I believe that only three carriers were based out of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 - I could be wrong about that, but I don't think so.   They were Enterprise, which was delivering planes to Wake Island; Lexington, which was delivering planes to Midway Island; Saratoga which was on its way to the west coast for routine maintenance.  Admiral Kimmel's usual actions held that the fleet was to be in harbor on the weekends - this still being a peacetime military force and the troops not accustomed to long, gruelling sea deployments (today that sort of thing just doesn't happen - instructed by Pearl Harbor, our ships - except when undergoing major upkeep - keep to sea all the time; the joke among sailors - I was one, many ages ago - is that "USS" stands for "underway Saturdays and Sundays"); remember, on December 7th, 1941 it was nearly 43 years since the US Navy had seen a major fleet action - and that was the Spanish-American War.  It wasn't, back then, the "always ready" force it is today.

War was coming; everyone in a responsible position in the US government and military knew it.  But it was thought that the Japanese would attack in the Spring of 1942 - all our defense build-up plans were predicated upon that time frame.  Had the Japanese conveniently waited until then, we would have confronted them everywhere with a massively stronger force - but the Japanese decided not to wait.

George Washington's picture

Please watch the BBC documentary ...

Mark Noonan's picture

I'm presuming you hit upon the most startling revelations, but all of them have been familiar to me for years. 

Here's something for you, though - in that book Japan's Imperial Conspiracy I reference elsewhere in the comments, there is this passage:

...The Sugiyama Memoranda revealed that Hirohito had participated in the Pearl Harbor planning a full six months before any of his official military advisors were informed of it.  Evidence taken before the allied judges of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East verified by witnesses under oath and cross-examination, demonstrated conclusively that none of the "militarists" who were supposed to have dragged Hirohito to war knew of the Pearl Harbor plan until August 1941.  General Tojo, the arch "militarist" who headed Japan's wartime Cabinet, was not told of the plan until November 1941.

This, then, was a major historical revelation.  Its hypothetical equivalent in U.S. terms would be a newly discovered note in the handwriting of Secretar of War Henry L. Stimson asserting in the summer of 1941 President Roosevelt had secretly ordered a study to be made of the possibility of keeping obsolescent battleships at conspicuously ill-protected moorings in Pearl Harbor in order to lure Japan into making an attack and providing an excuse for American entry in to World War II...

Interesting, huh?  Curiously enough my father, who originally owned the book, underlined that passage and handwrote the word "yep!!!" in the margin.  I never did get a satisfactory explanation from him as to why he did that.  But, then again, I never did get a satisfactory explanation for what he was doing from 1948 until 1958, either.  So he's a former Marine working on a college degree in math at UC Santa Barbara and all of a sudden the Army, of all things, calls him up to be a "statistician".  Really?  Then things get hazy until he's suddenly married to Mom and working at Mitre Corporation - and that'll get ya thinking, if you know what Mitre does. Dad could keep a secret, that's for sure - we never suspected he was working on the F-117A until the plane's existence was fully declassified and dad comes home with a picture of himself and others at the Skunk Works next to a model of the aircraft.  He passed on in 2009 so none of us can properly cross-examine him.

But here's how WWII started for us - the Japanese wanted to build a large enough empire to keep the West permanently at bay.  The United States, as well as others, felt this would have a negative aspect for overall global affairs and determined to prevent it.  Japan decided to try military conclusions with us on the mistaken assumption that we lacked the grit for a long war - they figured if they conquered enough and made re-conquest costly enough that we'd eventually sit down and negotiate.  Perhaps we should have - but the determination was made to fight to the finish and once that was decided upon, Japan never had a chance.

Fred Hayek's picture

It's also interesting to note that there was nothing about the attack on Pearl Harbor that necessitated american entry into the european theater of war but Hitler stupidly backed up his axis ally.

By one account, Hitler was delighted upon hearing the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor because he said that the japanese had not lost a war in 3,000 years. So, he felt comfortable declaring war.

This is what happens when your nation is led by a psychopathic, failed artist.

Blizzard_Esq's picture

According his doctor's diary Hitler took a hit of drugs, which included meth and spent 72 hours awake debating himself whether to declare war on America. Afterwards he came out of his bunker and said we will ally with the samurai, they have not lost a war in, I thought the line was 2000 years... I could be wrong...

Fred Hayek's picture

Related but not connected to this was the story of Dusan Popov, a spy for the allies in WWII who was believed to have been part of Ian Fleming's inspiration for James Bond.

Popov first worked in England as a double agent pretending to be in the employ of the germans but actually completely working for the allies.

At one point, the germans passed along to Popov a request to get all the information he could for the Japanese about the tremendously successful British aircraft carrier attack on the Italian naval base at Taranto. Around the same time as this request was passed along, Popov was being reassigned by the germans (or so they thought) to the U.S. and he was requested to find out, for the japanese, everything he could about the american naval base at Pearl Harbor.

Popov put two and two together and gave this information to idiot J. Edgar Hoover who out of bizarre personal animosity toward Popov did nothing with it. He didn't send it anywhere. It stopped with him. This is probably not part of FDR's duplicity but shows that this information was coming from more than one angle.

Roger Knights's picture

A good account of Hoover's nuttiness on this Popov information is given in Anthony Summers' biography of him, Official and Confidential.

(Unless Hoover was being deliberately obtuse--it's hard to tell.)

Clashfan's picture

Most accounts demonstrate that Hoover, while many things, was any but an idiot. I'd go w/deliberation there.

Andy Lewis's picture

Whadda crocka chickenshit bullshit.