Monday, December 8, 2014

FDR's Day of Infamy

December 7 marks the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that led the U.S. into WWII.  In the U.S. this day is greatly memorialized for its tragedy and celebrated for the heroic response of the American military in what was the first battle of "the good war" against Japan and Nazi Germany.
My grandparents were very much your model Americans of the early-mid 20th century with a strong sense of service to country.  My grandmother's brother was killed in the war in the Pacific, something she was never able to forgive the Japanese people as a whole for.  However, I remember a couple conversations with my grandparents that always stuck in my mind and one statement in particular:  "No sir, I never believed that (the Japanese surprised us)."  Long before the internet or independent newspapers or radio, it seems that skepticism over the Roosevelt Administration's account of what happened that day in 1941 abounded in the taverns and coffee show shops of mainstream America.
The preceding video is a brief discussion of the questions surrounding the Pearl Harbor attack and tends to be aimed at debunking the argument that FDR allowed it to happen, but it's a cursory primer and largely based on Robert Stinnett's book Day of Deceipt.  The most explosive evidence in Stinnett's book is the recently declassified (1994) McCollum Memo which listed steps to provoke a Japanese attack, but there are many more facts exposed in the book that are largely ignored by critics.  If you've got the time, I highly recommend the book, because it sure convinced me.  The author is respectful of Roosevelt's probable motives, like the need to stop Hitler, but the justifications for baiting an attack should not preempt a historical analysis of the facts.
The most catastrophic loss on Pearl Harbor Day was to the U.S.S. Arizona, which lost 1,177 men when it was struck by dive bombers--nearly half the men killed that day.  Ironically, the christening of the Arizona in 1914 was presided over by then Asst. Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt--the very man who may have sent the ship its grave.  Even now after 73 years, many of the official government records concerning what was actually known about the movements of the Japanese fleet in the weeks approaching that fateful day remain inexplicably classified.  More secrecy exists around the events at Pearl Harbor than does the development of the atomic bomb.  Since the technology that existed in 1941 is now so completely obsolete, the only rational conclusion to draw is that the contents of those records remain politically explosive and that can only mean that they do not support the official explanation of what happened.  The casualties of World War II and their families deserve the truth.