One of the most memorable tragedies of the 20th century for the USA, the Pearl Harbor attack still remains an event much talked about. That day is strongly associated with humiliation, unexpected aggression, and shocking violence in the minds of millions of Americans, and it served as a major stimulus for the US entry into active military actions during World war II (Conroy and Wray 1). To a major degree, the attack at Pearl Harbor fleet determined the US-Japanese war opposition and even led to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, with the US assuming the role of Japan’s rival (Slackman 25). However, there is still much ambiguity and guesswork about how this could happen and why the US naval base was so dramatically unprepared for the attack.
As it was described by Wohlstetter (1), the attack was not as abrupt and unexpected as it used to be presented in mass media, since there were numerous signals hinting at its preparation. Numerous signals of the attack were collected by the US intelligence, so one of the primary reasons for which the Japanese surprise attack indeed succeeded was military negligence and impudence. There were numerous inconsistencies in the work of organized army inshore air patrol and the aircraft warning service (AWS), the base experienced shortage of equipment in many aspects, so the early warning systems were operating in the training mode at the moment of attack, causing such deadly delays in response (Wohlstetter 9).
Another important side of the issue was political plotting organized by the then-Japanese leader Hideki Tojo. He organized secret training for the Pearl harbor attack simultaneously with official peace talks, and upon the December 1, 1941 decision of Japanese leaders about the inability to accept peace terms of the USA, the planned attack was reserved as a tactical step to weaken the USA. This however was done without officially declaring war on the USA, so on the day of the attack, American leaders were still resting assured that the Japanese-US negotiations were not over (Fitzgerald 30).
Some critics even go farther to assume that the US President Roosevelt knew about the attack but preferred not to take any action, since he wanted to achieve the US entry into World War II. These allegations nevertheless have no factual evidence, leaving the American nation and the rest of the world wondering about the true reasons leading to the disastrous consequences for Pearl Harbor (Benford 44). Nevertheless, one thing is known for sure – that milestone was indeed decisive in the role the USA played in the Second World War, and the violence and aggression with which the Japanese soldiers devastated the Hawaiian naval base pushed millions of Americans to active participation in the struggle against fascist forces.
Benford, B. Timothy. Pearl Harbor Amazing Facts! Hoboken, NJ: American Book Publishers, 2001. Print.
Conroy, Hilary and Harry Wray. Pearl Harbor Reexamined: Prologue to the Pacific War. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 1990. Print.
Fitzgerald, Stephanie. Pearl Harbor: Day of Infamy. Minneapolis, MN: Capstone, 2006. Print.
Slackman, Michael. Target: Pearl Harbor. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 1990. Print.
Wohlstetter, Roberta. Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1962. Print.
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