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How would you have avoided the attack on Pearl Harbor?

Discussion in 'Pearl Harbor' started by OpanaPointer, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    He spoketh thusly:
     
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  2. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Originally Posted by Carronade [​IMG] Read the Congressional Record. About 7,000 pages on the period in question. We'll wait.

    Perhaps you could cite for us a few instances - or just one to start - of congressmen or senators saying we should enter the war. Frankly I'd be surprised if out of 531 there wasn't one, but we'll wait.
    I had the pertinent passages xeroxed and in binders, eleven of them, before I died back in '07. They were lost when my belongings were moved here from Indiana.

    Yes, I've managed to lose track of things even without moving! Let me rephrase the question - do you recall from your reading any congressman or senator advocating that the US enter the war? On the floor of Congress, in speeches, in conversation, whatever.

    Or for that matter editorials, letters, advocacy groups, etc. There were plenty of them saying we should stay out of the war; were there any saying we should get in? As I said earlier, it would be surprising if no one in American public life said "This war really is our war, we should declare it", but you sure don't see it in the history books.
     
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  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    According to the wiki article I (think) linked below there is no formal required wording of a declaration of war. Thus a Congressional act acknowledgeing that a state of war exists would meet the requirement. There is some speculation/arguments that any act of Congress that acknowledges or supports military action would qualify.
     
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I have said repeatedly that no sane person wants to get into a war, but that the American public made it quite clear that they knew we would to fight the Axis sooner or later. Check here for arguments on both sides. 1941 Documents relating to World War II
     
  5. CTBurke

    CTBurke Member

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    re: American Readiness to go to War??

    [Carronnade]>Let me rephrase the question - do you recall from your reading any congressman or senator advocating that the US enter the war? On the floor of Congress, in speeches, in conversation, whatever. Or for that matter editorials, letters, advocacy groups, etc. There were plenty of them saying we should stay out of the war; were there any saying we should get in? As I said earlier, it would be surprising if no one in American public life said "This war really is our war, we should declare it", but you sure don't see it in the history books.<

    Those who brashly CLAIM that Americans were READY, philosophically and psychologically, to go to war at the slightest pretext seem to be skirting this important issue. Sure there were "debates" (merely an exercise in "free speech"), but seemingly NOTHING more substantive. One would think that *IF* such Congressional actions were commonplace (or even rare), that "normal" WW II researchers would have recalled something, and that rabid advocates would have delved deeper and found supporting documentation (NOT just "polls" that are, again merely hot-air exercizes in free speech) of proposed legislation, etc.

    FDR had a "golden opportunity" to base BATTLESHIPS (that is, IMPORTANT ships, not just a couple destroyers) in Singapore in late 1941, at Churchill's personal request, but FDR himself thought it too provocative. Again, FDR was "ahead of the curve" in realizing the "importance" of bringing America's forces to bear in the war against aggressive dictators (with considerable military might), "the curve" being American public opinion and Congressional legislative activity. The *LACK* of readily-acknowledged anecdotes of Congressional action pertaining to entering the war bear this out.
     
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  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    It's interesting then that Marshall and King both wrote FDR in November of 1941, asking that he delay war as along as possible, 90 days if he could manage it.
     
  7. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    In that long list of documents and speeches, I actually did manage to find a couple advocating the the US enter the war:

    Retired Rear Admiral Yates Stirling, Jr., concluded his address to the Kiwanis Club of New York, April 30, 1941 on the topic of "Aid to England", with:

    I believe the country is becoming every day more conscious of the unmoral implication of the lend lease bill. Do we realize that this bill actually hires England . . . As mercenaries . . . to fight our war for us? We disapprove of everything that Hitlerism stands for . . . we are in deadly fear that Hitler will win the battle against the British fleet leaving our one ocean navy exposed to the attacks of the Axis naval powers. Then instead of passing such a bill . . . would it not have been more in keeping with our American honor and sense of justness and fitness if we entered the war on the side of England . . . and pooled our resources with hers to defeat the dictators.

    In order to make it legal and regular . . . it would be more honorable to declare war . . . to show Hitler we are all out to encompass his defeat and when defeated make terms with a vanquished foe.

    ....... are in the original and may signify only pauses in the admiral's speech. He was particularly upset with the idea of "hiring" the English to do our fighting for us.

    By JAMES B. CONANT, President of Harvard University
    on a nation-wide Columbia hook-up from WEEI in Boston, May 4, 1941

    concluded his talk with:

    In my opinion, strategy demands we fight tomorrow, honor and self interest that we fight before the British Isles are lost.
     
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  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    And did they go on to recommend, if nothing happens by February, that we declare war on someone? We probably won't get to see the actual text, but I expect it was more along the lines of in 90 days we'll be more ready to deal with whatever the Germans or Japanese might do.
     
  9. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    It's in the Hearing Exhibits. Have fun.
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Actually I think it was along the lines of: "The US will be ready for war by summer of 42 and ready for offensive action by the end of 42." It really wasn't their call as to when or on whom the US declared war so I doubt they would have suggested it especially in the form you stated.
     
  11. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    "As long as possible" meant just that. We were gearing up, but a long way from being ready for war. I may have to spelunk into the Hearing for this eventually.
     
  12. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I doubt it too......pointing out the absurdity of citing the Marshall/Stark (King did not become CNO until March 1942) correspondence as "proof" that the US would inevitably enter the war. Around that same time FDR cited the need to have Japan commit the first overt act.
     
  13. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Not at all absurd, Marshall certaainly would have been aware of the intercepts of Japanese communications, and knew that war was coming. (though not exactly how)
    By Nov 1941 the US basically has it's foot on Japan's throat with the oil embargo, FDR, Marshall (& probably Stark) knew one of three things would soon happen:

    1.) The Allies relent and lift the oil embago (not happening)
    2.) Japan backs down and the Emperor suffers embarrassment. (also not happening)
    or
    3.) There's going to be a war.

    It should have been that clear to everyone involved.
     
  14. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Well, if anyone wish to peruse the Congressional record for the 77th Congress - Session 1, it can be found here: Internet Archive Search: publisher:"Washington, The Congress"
    The 5 parts are towards the bottom third of the page and run to some 6,300 pages and the total download will be about 4 gigs, with the largest part being a 1.8 gig download.

    WRT to
    Your "golden opportunity" is "fool's gold", although it likely would have been more an opportunity for Churchill, since he would not need to maintain a sizable naval presence in Singapore with an already thinly stretched RN, but much less so for FDR and the USN.

    Really, the idea is a non-starter for the US, much the same as Churchill's attempt to trade the HMS Duke of York for eight US heavy cruisers. First off, it would not just be battleships, but their attendant escorts, fleet train, and the necessary supplies. Second, by dividing their forces, this would allow the US Pacific Fleet to easily be "defeated in detail." Third, the extreme distance from the US would greatly lengthen the time needed to bring up even the most basic of material, let alone parts needed to perform overhauls or repairs. Fourth, permanently basing would more than likely have an effect on the turnover of trained US sailors(which was one of the reasons given against basing the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, and which proved true).
    EDIT: I would also add that while Singapore did have drydocks, it had no repair facilities to repair damage. Hardly the ideal base for a portion of the US battle fleet.

    So, it seems that FDR was "ahead of the curve", but "the curve" was the exercise of common sense.
     
  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    For those interested in the the Stark-Marshall memos to the President, Both can be found in the 14th volume of the PHA, the November 5th, 1941 memo can be found on pg 1061-1062, the November 27th memo is on pg 1083.

    The November 5th memo is the only one that gives time frames for the build-up of forces:
    Stark and Marshall state that "unlimited" offensive operations of the Pacific Fleet would require the stripping of the Atlantic Fleet of the majority of it's forces and the majority of the US merchant fleet as well. And, that such removal of forces "might well cause the United Kingdom to lose the Battle of the Atlantic in the near future."

    Further, Germany was considered the main enemy and any military operations against Japan would weaken the effort against Germany. And, that military operations against Japan should be undertaken only if Japan 1.)committed a direct act of war against the territory or mandated territory of the United States, British Commonwealth, or the Netherlands East Indies. 2.)moved Japanese forces into Thailand to the west of 100 degrees East or South of 10 degrees North, or into Portugese Timor, New Caledonia, or the Loyalty Islands. Stark and Marshal wrap up the memo by stating that if war cannot be avoided, military operations should be defensive in nature and based primarily on holding territory and weakening the Japanese economic position, and that close coordination between the US, UK, and Dutch forces is vital.


    The November 27th memo mostly restates what was contained in the November 5th memo.
     
  16. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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  17. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Takao likes this.
  18. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Amazing how many US citizens/politicians with leftest/communist leanings quickly changed their tune about the war when the Soviet Union was invaded in June, 1941.
     
  19. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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  20. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I seen I haven't mentioned "The Role of the United States Congress and Political Parties" by Wayne Cole and "The Role of Private Groups in the United States" by Warren I. Cohen, both essays in Pearl Harbor as History: Japanese-American Relationsw, 1931-1941, Edited by Dorothy Borg and Shumpei Okamoto (1973, Columbia University Press).

    I recommend this book highly, btw. Nobody's felt the need to re-do this topic.
     

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