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The Pearl Harbor Conspiracy
self | December 7, 2021 | Self

Posted on 12/07/2021 9:16:17 AM PST by Retain Mike

One enduring conspiracy theory is that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George Marshall and Cordell Hull had foreknowledge of a potentially devastating Pearl Harbor attack and used the event to precipitate U.S. participation in WW II. In general revisionists start with the determination that the Japanese had to fire the first shot in order for the Administration to get the backing of the American people. Next looking backwards, they piece together specific data points to prove these men must have known the attack was coming.

However, they have had to ignore the fact that these men were living into history. The information the U.S. received from traffic analysis, informants, investigations, and code braking swam in a sea of 10,000’s of data points each month. Remember a few years ago you could buy pictures that seemed a mass of random color pixels, but a single picture emerged if you stared at it in the right way? In this case a host of pictures emerged each week with each put forward by professionals who asserted this could be their true intention. To direct our limited resources for the coming war these possibilities had to be reduced to the most probable alternatives.

The Pearl Harbor attack was one of the least likely options for a host of reasons among the few now noted. First U.S. War Plan Orange and the corresponding Japanese plan, which was generally known to us, both envisioned the supreme naval battle would be fought in the Western Pacific. Both navies were disciples of Alfred Thayer Mahan who wrote the outcome of war at sea would always be decided by the “decisive naval battle”. History had borne that out at Trafalgar, Tsushima, and Jutland. For Jutland Churchill said, “Jellicoe was the one man who could have lost the war in an afternoon”. For the Japanese enticing the U.S. Navy into a sea battle in the Western Pacific was the best option. Their ships of short operational range would not be at a disadvantage. Japan could use land-based reconnaissance and attack aircraft in battles as we attempted to counter their attacks against Guam, the Philippines, etc. Ships lost at sea could not be recovered as they could if they were hit in harbor.

A counter argument was developed through the large-scale U.S. Navy exercises between 1923 and 1940. These proved the feasibility of an increasing role for aircraft carriers in attacking bases like the Philippines, Panama Canal, and Hawaii. For example in 1932 Admiral Harry Ervin Yarnell during Fleet Problem 13 commanded the carriers Lexington and Saratoga in an effort to demonstrate that Hawaii was vulnerable to naval air power. Yarnell’s planes attacked the harbor from the northeast, just as the Japanese would ten years later. The Navy’s war-game umpires declared the attack a total success, prompting Yarnell to strenuously warn of the Japanese threat.

However, the umpire's final report did not even mention his success. Instead, they wrote, "It is doubtful if air attacks can be launched against Oahu in the face of strong defensive aviation without subjecting the attacking carriers to the danger of material damage and consequent great losses in the attack air force." The battleship admirals again launched a successful campaigned against reassessment of naval tactics being able to point to other exercises in which the vulnerability of aircraft carriers was demonstrated. Therefore, in this country War Plan Orange continued to determine the most probable interpretation to place on intelligence. In that regard they were able to point to the intelligence that had been gathered through years of monitoring Japanese naval exercises which pointed to an intension to draw the U.S. into a fleet action in the Western. Hence, there were many opportunities for self-deception, but not conspiracy.

When Yamamoto proposed a radical departure from Japanese strategic principles his firm commitment to resign at a meeting in October 1941 forced the Naval General Staff to accept his new plan. Yamamoto’s plan was improbable and radical because never before had any country planned and/or coordinated an attack of such a size on a naval or land target. No inkling existed in any allied naval operational and intelligence community of a proven capability beyond the 21 Fairey Swordfish bi-plane torpedo bombers a single British carrier sent to attack the Italian Navy at Taranto. Even Admiral Yarnell used only two carriers and left no fighters for task force defense to launch 152 planes for the raid. Yet, for Pearl Harbor the Japanese forged a strategic weapon of six carriers with escorts and tankers for a coordinated mass attack by 360 planes with 55 retained to defend the task forces.

The attack deserved a low probability for consideration because it was not only unprecedented, but also unexpected. Preparations were conducted without recourse to the diplomatic Purple Code that U.S. codebreakers were reading in substantial portions. The U.S. had no agents in Japan and the Imperial Japanese Navy excluded their diplomats from all knowledge of the Pearl Harbor plan. To solve problems regarding bombing, torpedoes, and underway refueling the attack plan relied on oral doctrines and technical innovations developed during the last ninety days prior to deployment.

U.S. naval traffic analysis in Hawaii detected the same message flurry followed by radio silence as they had observed for tactical operations in February and July when major units had remained in port. Even though the Japanese had changed their fleet unit call signs December 1, Lieutenant Commander Layton says Commander Rochefort was still able to identify a large movement of fleet units south. However, they had no idea of the whereabouts of four carriers and could only assume they were still in home waters.

In briefing Admiral Kimmel, Layton could say the ships were probably in home waters but confirmed Kimmel’s assertion they could possibly be steaming around Diamond Head without prior knowledge. Layton points to what he calls moral stupidity in the way the Washington intelligence community handled limited decrypts of the naval code (JN25) and the “bomb plot” message from a Purple Code decrypt. Once again, the picture of a probable Pearl Harbor attack could have emerged for a few intelligence people only to be overcome by what many people expected to see.

This limited discussion of Pearl Harbor conspiracy theorists covered only the likelihood the attack would be considered probable and/or of such a scale. Gordon W. Prange in writing At Dawn We Slept presented arguably the most scholarly, well researched volume on the attack from both the Japanese and American perspectives. The book ends with an eleven-page summary refuting a host of revisionist imaginings including internal political collusion, secret treaties, and international intrigues. The Broken Seal by Ladislas Farago also focuses on refuting the claim that FDR knew.

And I Was There by Rear Admiral Edwin T. Layton

At Dawn We Slept by Gordon W. Prange

The Broken Seal by Ladislas Farago

War Plan Orange

Naval History: Pearl Harbor’s Overlooked Answer

Admiral Harry Ervin Yarnell

Lexington-class aircraft carrier (78 aircraft)

USS Saratoga (CV-3) (78 aircraft)

Yarnell used 152 airplanes for his simulated attack leaving nothing to defend the task forces. However, nobody asked two telling questions that should have been answered, “Admiral, provide an explanation of how you traveled undetected to position north of the Hawaiian Islands to launch the attack beginning from the Japanese Home Islands or Mandates to the south and east. Also, why would you launch an attack from a position where it was impossible to retreat under the protection of land-based aircraft?”

"Reflections on Pearl Harbor " by Admiral Chester Nimitz

Fleet problem

Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi (66 +25 reserve)

Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryū (64 +reserve)

Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga (72 +18 reserve)

Japanese aircraft carrier Shōkaku (72 +12 reserve)

Japanese aircraft carrier Sōryū (63 +9 reserve)

Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku (72 + 12 reserve)

The total task force had 409 aircraft available at Pearl Harbor with reserves of 85. Attack made by 350-354 aircraft leaving 55 aircraft available for defense of task forces. The others were inoperative or spares in kit form.

U.S.S. Arizona

TOPICS: History; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: harbor; hawaii; japan; navy; pearl; pearlharbor; worldwareleven
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1 posted on 12/07/2021 9:16:17 AM PST by Retain Mike
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To: Retain Mike

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace

2 posted on 12/07/2021 9:28:03 AM PST by Dalberg-Acton
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To: Retain Mike

From what I have read FDR etal did not have the actionable intelligence—but it is likely Winston Churchill did—and refused to share since he needed the US in the war.

The British had impressive code-breaking capability (far better than the US)—but it is hard to prove they broke the relevant Japanese codes at that time.

This is not a part of their history the Brits want us to know about...

3 posted on 12/07/2021 9:35:07 AM PST by cgbg (A kleptocracy--if they can keep it. Think of it as the Cantillon Effect in action.)
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To: Retain Mike

There is nothing new on the conspiracy front and they existed then just as they do today.

I am a bit of a history buff and WWII is a fascinating topic beginning many years prior to actual combat. It is clear that our leaders in the West knew that Japan was going to expand and that had already begun. Britain knew this even better than we did and when the war in Europe broke out it was clear that the British could not capably defend their far East holdings.

It is easy to see in hindsight that war was going to break out in the region. What was NOT easy to see based on what I have read was that Japan would launch a sneak attack on the US Navy at Pearl Harbor. How could we have known? Sure, there were War College studies of “what if?” but nobody knew that Warplan Orange would happen or if it did it would involve a sneak Japanese attack on our main naval base.

Japan, like Germany, went whole hog in one decisive action while most of our intel types believed they would focus on one or two objectives at once. In hindsight, Japan was convinced we would declare war on them so they went for broke. In reality, they likely could have taken many of their goals piecemeal and lessened the chance of provoking us into war.

Pearl Harbor was a military victory but a strategic blunder of massive consequence. It guaranteed that we would enter the conflict on a massive scale.

4 posted on 12/07/2021 9:37:23 AM PST by volunbeer (Find the truth and accept it - anything else is delusional)
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To: volunbeer

I feel like Japan could have actually invaded and captured hawaii and that would have been big. They thought big but not big enough

5 posted on 12/07/2021 10:25:53 AM PST by pangaea6
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To: Retain Mike
Japan sank the USS Panay in 1937, four years before Pearl Harbor. Our response? We formally complained through diplomatic channels.

That alone is enough to point out how much FDR was trying to avoid going to war.

6 posted on 12/07/2021 10:26:19 AM PST by Tell It Right (1st Thessalonians 5:21 -- Put everything to the test, hold fast to that which is true.)
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To: volunbeer

Still, it seems incredible that both the army and navy commands at Pearl hadn’t taken more serious actions to prepare the bases for war. It was absolutely clear that the Japanese were going to continue aggressive action in the Pacific and we would be in their way.

Pearl Harbor was a recent move closer to Japan and with most of our naval eggs in one basket, it would be an attractive target.

Nobody thought about putting the bases on 50% readiness, leaves canceled, steam up, ready ammunition boxes filled and firing crews on watch, increased air patrols?

7 posted on 12/07/2021 10:36:35 AM PST by Chainmail (Frater magnus te spectat)
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To: pangaea6

Without the base at Pearl it would have been far harder for us to persecute the war. However, given that our strategic plan was to end the war in Europe and then turn to the Pacific the end result would have been the same although it would have taken longer. Hawaii gave Japan nothing strategically other than it deprived us of our most important base in the Pacific. It was beyond most of the Japanese conquests.

By the end of the war we were producing a dozen or more carriers for every one that Japan could make and they were equipped with better planes and pilots than the Japanese. Japan simply did not have the resources to defeat us and given the juggernaut of the Red Army they would have certainly lost all of China and beyond.

8 posted on 12/07/2021 10:38:05 AM PST by volunbeer (Find the truth and accept it - anything else is delusional)
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To: Chainmail

What Japan did made no sense to our Admirals or political leaders. It was unthinkable in many ways.

Complacency is the mother of disaster, but our intel into what Japan was doing was extraordinarily weak in 1941. In hindsight there were many things we could have done to minimize the damage on December 7th and put up a better fight, but in the end it was really irrelevant. We replaced and repaired the bases and the losses in ships and planes were replaced within the years. Japan missed the most vital targets of all since the carriers were out to sea and that was their big failure.

However, too many forget that most of our navy and leaders still believed the battleship was supreme on Dec 7th.

The attack was viewed as a cowardly act by a brutal enemy and it steeled the resolve of a nation and power that few could predict.

9 posted on 12/07/2021 10:44:30 AM PST by volunbeer (Find the truth and accept it - anything else is delusional)
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To: volunbeer

Imagine if there had been a climate change conspiracy and we had cut back on the use of those nasty fossil fuels to feed our B-17’s in Europe and carriers in the Pacific and our heavy industry that ultimately defeated Japan and Germany. We would still be fighting for our survival. The reason we were victorious was not because of our courage but because of our plentiful supplies of our natural resources among which were those beautiful fossil fuels.

Anyone think we DO NOT need fossil fuels in the future to fight China and keep NATO and the UN alive? Dream on.

10 posted on 12/07/2021 10:58:21 AM PST by 353FMG
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To: volunbeer

So, in other words, losing over 2,000 of our young men worked out great for us? Glad you were never in command of anything.

11 posted on 12/07/2021 11:02:42 AM PST by Chainmail (Frater magnus te spectat)
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To: pangaea6
I feel like Japan could have actually invaded and captured hawaii and that would have been big.

The Japanese didn't have the heavy lift to move the required number of troops needed to take Oahu, the amphibious know-how needed to attack a defended beach, or the cargo capacity necessary to supply their invasion force plus the civilian population they took. And the Japanese knew that. They never seriously considered invading Hawaii.

12 posted on 12/07/2021 11:04:39 AM PST by Lower Deck
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To: pangaea6

They could have conquered the islands if they had more nasty fossil fuels. In fact, Japan struck Pearl Harbor so that they could strike the Dutch East Indies with impunity in order to obtain those precious fossil fuels without which they could not have waged war in the first place.

13 posted on 12/07/2021 11:06:25 AM PST by 353FMG
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To: volunbeer

>>By the end of the war we were producing a dozen or more carriers for every one that Japan could make.....<<

Our windmills were whirring 24/7 and our solar panels were eating up photons by the mouthful in order to produce the energy required for supporting our heavy industry. And everyone wore a face mask because of the disastrous air pollution. Poor, helpless America.

14 posted on 12/07/2021 11:19:00 AM PST by 353FMG
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To: volunbeer
America was a different country in 1940. Isolationist, still in the throes of a devastating economic depression and happily ignorant or unwilling to see the danger of Leftist regimes on the march and adamantly wanting no part of another European war.

Whether conspiracy or not we were caught flat footed on December 7, 1941.

It doesn't surprise me at all about the superiority of British intelligence. These are the people after all who invented radar. Seeing the enemy before he even knows you're there. The Brits have had to be resourceful as an island nation. The British have a long history of organizing guerrilla bands and skillfully attacking their enemies. So naturally any information gained has to be weighed as to who should know, even an ally. Churchill wanted the US in the war to save the empire and he knew we were the cash box and the industrial power house. That was his driving reason.

15 posted on 12/07/2021 11:28:40 AM PST by jmacusa (America.Founded by geniuses. Now governed by idiots. )
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To: jmacusa

The Brits also had the Poles who were crack code breakers.
I was born December 7, 1951. Made it to the 60th and 70th but not this year.
Never bought into the “somebody knew” theories. As for being on alert and flying searches, they did not have the planes to do that for every report.
I maintain if the Japanese had NOT attacked Pearl Harbor and the Phillipines, we would not have gotten involved defending “colonial empires”.

16 posted on 12/07/2021 11:40:05 AM PST by bravo whiskey (Count Rostov "The tyranny of indistinguishable days.")
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To: pangaea6

The US Army establishment on Oahu would have been a tough nut for the Japanese. It would have required moving an entire Japanese Field Army (about a corps-size unit in US terms) and keeping it supplied for weeks of heavy fighting. The fighting on Oahu probably would have rivaled that on Bataan-Corregidor and being as it was much more distant the outcome would likely have been different from that battle.

17 posted on 12/07/2021 11:48:21 AM PST by Tallguy
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To: Chainmail

No, it sucked. But in a “world war” where casualties were weighed in millions the attack on Pearl Harbor was pretty meaningless. It gave Japan time and space to conquer their objectives but in the end they could not win the war and all it did was mobilize a nation that had little idea about how powerful it could or would be.

It was a “battle won” that ultimately proved rather meaningless 4 years later outside of the clear resolve it gave America to persecute the war to unconditional surrender. Japan did what we could not do ourselves.... we ended the depression and committed to total war against fascism and Japanese imperialism.

My taking a strategic view of an event does not mean I do not lament the lives lost. As a veteran I know the cost of war better than most. Pearl Harbor was a temporary win and a long-term loss for Japan. Period.

We killed about 100,000 Japanese in the firebombings of Tokyo alone. Women and children mostly. It was a total war (a lost concept in America) that Japan started and we finished in the Pacific.

America was incredibly fortunate in WWII that our civilian population was largely left alone. The rest of the world was not blessed with our geography.

18 posted on 12/07/2021 11:48:55 AM PST by volunbeer (Find the truth and accept it - anything else is delusional)
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To: volunbeer
The rest of the world was not blessed with our geography.

Which in modern times no longer affords any real security.

19 posted on 12/07/2021 11:51:47 AM PST by 1Old Pro (Let's make crime illegal again!)
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To: bravo whiskey
Indeed. The disaster that that was Pearl Harbor was a result of FDR's gutting of the military to fund social welfare programs in The New Deal. The same party is in power 80 years later and fixing to get us in a war somewhere. They never learn.
20 posted on 12/07/2021 11:53:44 AM PST by jmacusa (America.Founded by geniuses. Now governed by idiots. )
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