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John T. Flynn blames Pearl Harbor catastrophe on FDR

Discussion in 'Pearl Harbor' started by DogFather, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. OpanaPointer

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

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    Sounds like it will be heavy on quoted text. We'll see how much is in context. And, of course, the full text is online for comparison. I hope they didn't try changing anything.
     
  2. DogFather

    DogFather Member

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    I have seen this Pearl Harbor Attack made no strategic sense, argument before. I'm not sure that is accurate. If the
    Japanese were able to catch our carriers, in port and also destory them. Then it made a lot of sence. It would eliminate
    our major strike force. A force that could stop the Japanese move toward the raw materials in the SW Pacific.
     
  3. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    It is very accurate to the Western/American way of thinking.

    1. Does it make strategic sense to start a war you can't possible win. The American thought if it is a short war, they'd win, and if it was a protracted war, they KNEW they'd win.
    2. Does it make strategic sense to sink a fleet in it's harbor, where there is the greatest chance that the ships will be refloated & repaired, and the least chance of heavy casualties, or does it make sense to attack and sink the fleet at sea, where the ships will be lost forever, and there is a much greater chance of heavy casualties.
    3. Does it make strategic sense to conduct an overwhelming attack, when you are not sure if your priority targets will be there. The battleships maintained a fairly routine schedule, while the carriers did not.
    4. Does it make strategic sense to risk your most important warships, knowing that if they are sunk, they will not be replaced.

    What are you talking about?????

    The Japanese did not sink any American carriers at Pearl Harbor! Yet, where was this "major strike force" early in the war, that according to you "could stop the Japanese move toward the raw materials in the SW Pacific." The answer is, that they were not a "major strike force" at all(at the time the Americans did not operate that way) and spent the early war months operating, more or less individually, hitting small, relatively undefended, outlying Japanese holdings. The carriers did this because they lacked the experience and supplies to do anything else.

    Even the US battleships, had the Japanese not sunk or severely damaged them at Pearl, could not have done much to the Japanese invasion plans until the Pacific Fleet had been greatly reinforced. The fleet train and supplies were not there for the Pacific Fleet to conduct extended operations against the Japanese, nor could Cavite have been used as a major base without a lot of work put into it.
     
  4. OpanaPointer

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

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    Translating for Dogfather: If the Japanese could have caught the USN CVs in Pearl the attack would have made sense.

    Of course, that's wrong, because the Japanese thinking was wrong. They believed one good hard blow would destroy US will-to-win. They didn't reckon on the fact that we would have as much fight in us after a sneak attack as before. They underestimated the fighting will of the Chinese, then did it again with the British and Americans.
     
  5. DogFather

    DogFather Member

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    OP, thx for translating. I guess what I was trying to say, is that it made sence to Isoroku Yamamoto. After Japan had
    decided they were going to go to war with the United States. But no, overall it did not make sence. Japan had a different
    culture and a different why of looking at things.
     
  6. OpanaPointer

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

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    And that was the rails that took both countries to war. Japan tried to tell the US that they had no choice but to continue to fight in China, and that they'd fight for the resources to do that if necessary. However, despite sending the "traditional signals" to the US, they didn't make their point clear. At least that's what they thought. They didn't count on the US refusing to allow them a free hand in east Asia. The US, reading Japan's instructions their ambassadors, didn't really have that "do what we must" context, I think. They certainly considered the Japanese as negotiating in bad faith. The "background" to those instructions didn't come through because it wasn't necessary for the ambassadors to have it, they understood the implications of a certain phrase or expression without any roadmap needed. It was probably the messiest negotiation in US history, because neither side realized they were talking in different rooms.
     
  7. DogFather

    DogFather Member

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    There is nothing incorrect about calling the American carriers based at Pearl Harbor, a major strike force. They stopped
    the Japanese advance toward Australia, at the Battle of the Coral Sea. I think it is clear, it took a major force to do that.

    There were problems of supply, to the Pearl Harbor base. Along with other problems, with the fleet being based at Pearl.
    But the fleet was at PH for a restraining influence on the actions of Japan. If it was really doing that, is a different question.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

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

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    So, how would you have stopped Japanese expansion?
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    DogFather, the Battle of the Coral Sea is irrelevant to your previous statement.
    Your mention of "A force that could stop the Japanese move toward the raw materials in the SW Pacific.", implies that the American carriers should have stopped the Japanese move into the Dutch East Indies, Malaya, etc. The Battle of the Coral Sea took place 6 MONTHS after Pearl Harbor, by this time Japan had already captured those "raw materials" a few months earlier - With no interference from American carriers what so ever.
     
  10. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    Thanks! It is an interesting bit of historical revisionism that get´s almost everything wrong. It starts by attributing FDR´s actions to a sinister plan, gives misleading info about PH´s defences, ignores Japanese strategy and worst of all tries to acquit the responsible parties(Kimmel and Short) in order to blame the president. I´m wondering if the author was a political opponent of FDR.
     
  11. DogFather

    DogFather Member

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    I'm not sure we had a good way to stop Japanese expansion. But wouldn't have been better, to move the US Battleships
    around? They would be at PH, for a while, then back on the US West Coast, then down to the Panama Canel. Keep the Japanese guessing, as to their location. That would also reduce, Japanese ability to gather intel, about our fleet. Since
    we knew from Magic, that there was a lot of spying taking place at Pearl Harbor.
     
  12. OpanaPointer

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

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    You admit there was no way the US could have halted Japanese expansion, and with good reason. Nobody outside Japan could have done that. But you criticize FDR for trying. I don't see how that is fair.

    We knew there was spying going in Seattle, San Diego, etc. The fact that they were keeping tabs on the US Fleet in Hawaii was not surprising. But it didn't indicate an attack.

    As for moving the fleet around, retreating over 1,000 miles from the Japanese would be a good way of telling them "The USN is out of position, now's the time to attack!" wouldn't it?

    Additionally, sending the whole fleet to the Canal Zone would have over taxed the facilities there beyond their limit to cope. So a triangular route from T.H. to C.Z. to San Diego would be nearly 5,000 miles of travel and the only facilities the fleet would hit of any size would be at each end, rather leaving the middle hanging.
     
  13. OpanaPointer

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

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    If you're talking Flynn, he was an America Firster, an staunch isolationist who hated FDR for being popular. He was also a newspaperman, IIRC, and thus a practiced spin-meister.
     
  14. DogFather

    DogFather Member

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    I'm not sure moving the fleet, from base to base, would be considered "retreating" by the Japanese. My understanding is
    that, keeping a battlefleet on the move, to prevent predictablity, of its location, at any given time. Is a part of defence
    strategy in naval doctrine. Also, intel gathering was easier at PH, for the Japanese, than it was on the west coast. They
    had much more manpower, in Hawaii, than they did on the US Mainland.

    At any given time, those US BBs, might be only a short distance from PH. No way for the Japanese to know. The hills
    around PH, also made observation, of approaching enemy aircraft more difficult. Those hills around PH, also made
    observation by Japanese spys easier. That was not the case in San Diego.
     
  15. OpanaPointer

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

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    If you move to them to a place with people, people will notice. C.Z. had German spies. San Diego had "observers". (I once stood in the exact spot a spy stood in to make notes on the fleet in San Diego, based on his memoirs.) As for retreating, moving from the middle of the Pacific to the far eastern side is a retrograde motion when the enemy is on the west side. Maps are useful for sorting this kind of thing out.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    A couple of quibbles:
    The battleships were viewed as the priority targets.
    The Japanese viewed, at least for the most part, battleships as their most important warships at this time.
     
  17. OpanaPointer

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

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    The plan called for an optimum attack to be on four carriers and four battleships.

    http://metalab.unc.edu/pha/myths/jm-097.html
    True, but the fact that they were using carriers to eliminate battleships was not lost on the IJN.
     
  18. DogFather

    DogFather Member

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    I would say they were bitter politic enemies. But other newsapapers, in the Fall of 1944, were also getting wind, of some
    of the mistakes made by FDR and his admin and how the Roberts Commission, differed from the Naval Court of Inquiry and
    the Army Pearl Harbor Board.

    Journalist Arthur Krock of the New York Times, also wrote:

    "a fundamental conflict offinding between the reports on Pearl
    Harbor of the commission headed by Justice Roberts and of
    those composed of admirals and generals as reviewed by their
    departmental superiors. If Admiral Kimmel and General Short
    . . . were guilty of “dereliction of duty,” as the Roberts commission
    concluded, then it cannot equally be true, as the Secretaries
    of Navy and War appraised their officers’ inquiries, that on the
    basis of available evidence no grounds exist for the courts-martial
    of the area commanders or any others in the service".

    Also, newspaperman Drew Pearson wrote “an unpleasant account” of the discrepancies, which appeared on the front page of the Miami Herald.

    It was starting to leak out, the Roberts Commission had been a cover-up and the Navy and Army investigations, had
    come to very different conclusions.

    WarSec Stimson, warned FDR that "that the thing was sure to leak and here Drew Pearson had gotten hold of so many facts that it looked as if all of the rest would probably come out.

    (source, Stimson Diary,vol 49,pp 68–69,December 1–10-1944)
     
  19. OpanaPointer

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

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    The blame game. Not interested in playing that one. It's been done to death.
     
  20. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    Of course I do. I did not mean to give the impression I was refering to DogFather for posting this.

    As far as stopping the Japanese expansion goes, how about a mix of an earlier built-up and a delay of further embargos until that built-up has been completed? IOTL reinforcements were rushed to the PI after the Japanese occupied the south of Indochina. Doing so after they occupied the north makes you gain more than six months.

    Considering what would have been on the PI by mid-42, this could have made the difference. Emphasis on could.
     

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