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Was FDR to blame for Pearl Harbor?

Discussion in 'Pearl Harbor' started by DogFather, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. OpanaPointer

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

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    Rebel, quote mining footnotes doesn't demonstrate a knowledge of the material or an understanding of the events in the context of the times. You have to have more than one book to be believable, at a minimum.
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    You did but as I said your sources were at best brought to question and in many cases refuted. The vast bulk of the evidence does not support your postion and most of what seems to at first glance is questionable or wrong.
     
  3. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Using Stinnett’s work to "verify" Stinnett’s work is a flawed approach. But so was Stinnett’s research and his method of citing documents. This was contributed to a debate on Stinnett over on the THC forum a few years back when Philip Jacobsen was still among the living. So that makes it before 2005 or so. I am including both Craig Burke’s and P.H. Jacobsen’s input in this post. Starting here:

    McCollum's 8-Action proposals of 7 October, 1940

    Lieutenant Arthur H. McCollum, head of the Far East desk of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) wrote a memorandum late in 1940 on the "Estimate of the situation in the Pacific and recommendations for action by the United States". In Robert Stinnett's book Day of Deceit, this memorandum is given exalted status as THE plan for the United States to goad Japan into war and was, according to Stinnett, fully enacted.

    When reading the memorandum in its entirety, I find that the tone of the memo is geared more toward CONTAINMENT of Japan's aggressive desires. The "famous" 8-point action recommendation (actually referred to by letter designations) that Stinnett touts as the blueprint for precipitating war was NOT carried out; only a few of the eight were completely implemented. Stinnett would have you believe that all eight were implemented, with phrasing like, "The eight provocative actions that he advocated had now fallen into place." Not only did the eight actions NOT take place, but there is no evidence presented in this or any other book that this memo was ever official policy (I have written a LOT of memos to my boss that never got implemented or became official policy-how about you?).

    First, Let's look at those actions that WERE taken (whether prompted by McCollum's memo or not):

    Action "H" said, "Completely embargo all US trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire". This finally happened. Stinnett would have you believe that it was McCollum's memo that prompted the British to impose an embargo, rather than an inherent mutual understanding among the Western powers that it was foreign goods that were fuelling Japan's Asian conquests. It was in Britain's interest to restrict her own trade with Japan. Also, this memo was written prior to the Japanese "takeover" of French Indochina. It was this expansionist takeover which alarmed the Allies sufficiently to induce the US to further hamper economic relations with Japan.

    Action "E" was to "Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient". I am uncertain of the exact number (Stinnett says twenty-four), but additional submarines were indeed sent to Admiral Hart in Manila. Submarines were seen as a defensive weapon, and at best an intruder, though certainly Germany's usage of U-boats to interdict supplies was noted in US Navy doctrine. Submarines are literally and figuratively low-profile naval assets, however.

    Action "G", which was to "Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil", was even admitted by Stinnnett to have been accomplished PRIOR to McCollum's memo, but blithely states that it was HIS (McCollum's) provocations that the Dutch were acting upon (!).

    Action "F" said, "Keep the main strength of the US fleet now in the Pacific in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands". This was done, and then partially un-done! In mid-1940, prior to the writing of McCollum's memo, the battlefleet was indeed moved from the West Coast of the United States to Hawaii to underscore US determination to back up its diplomatic policies and to present a credible though still long-distance deterrent to further Japanese expansion. However, in mid-1941, as the crisis vis-a-vis the Japanese was deepening, not only were three battleships (New Mexico, Mississippi, and Idaho) removed from the Pacific Fleet and transferred to the Atlantic Fleet for possible dealings with German warships, but the aircraft carrier Yorktown and her three escorting heavy cruisers were transferred as well! The battleship Colorado was on the US West Coast undergoing refit, as was the carrier Saratoga; both were earlier based in Pearl. So in early 1941 there were TWELVE battleships and FOUR carriers based out of Pearl Harbor. By December of 1941 there were only EIGHT battleships and TWO carriers at Pearl.

    It would seem the "provocation" value of having the "main strength of the US Fleet in [Hawaiian waters]" would be mightily emasculated by having more than ONE-THIRD of the Pacific Fleet sent BACK to the States by order of FDR. So this "provocation" has to be degraded from "full implementation" to "partial implementation". One can still argue that the remaining forces left behind at Pearl could be considered the "main strength" of the 1940 Pacific Fleet, but a HUGE chunk of it was deliberately assigned elsewhere, FAR AWAY from any possible threat to Japanese territories, at a critical juncture in US-Japanese relations. If anything, such a move should ease tensions and LESSEN the amount of "provocation" involved.

    Action "C" was, "Give all possible aid to the Chinese Government of Chaing-Kai-Shek." Now I'm not certain if the US posture on China fits this description or not. Certainly we weren't giving them anywhere NEAR the quantity or variety of military goods that we were giving Britain, so this one can only rate (for me anyway) as a partial implementation.

    Action "D" said, "Send a division of long-range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore." This was NOT implemented by any stretch of the imagination. For the last ten years or so prior to McCollum's memo, the Treaty of London's provisions defined what a "heavy cruiser" was for all the signatory nations, and all Naval personnel using the phrase knew precisely what it meant. Only ONE "heavy cruiser" was anywhere near the Orient, the USS Houston in Manila. There were a few obsolescent or obsolete light cruisers in Adm. Hart's Asian squadron, but light cruisers are scouts, and have only light guns that could not be expected to win naval battles. "Heavy cruisers" are supposed to be the starting category of combatant ships that can command a sea area (a main reason the London Treaty was enacted was due to the successful definition and restriction of battleships with the previous Washington Treaty). We had merely the token heavy cruiser USS Houston as flagship.

    What is meant by "the Orient" is also unclear, though I suspect it meant China, or at least a non-British, non-Dutch, or non-American area. Perhaps, though, "Philippines or Singapore" was simply clarifying the preceding word "Orient" and no other meaning was implied. At any rate, "a division of long-range heavy cruisers to the Orient" was NOT sent.

    Action "B" was, "Make an arrangement with Holland for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies." The US Asiatic squadron never based anywhere but the Philippines. ABDA, the loose organization seeking to coalesce Allied forces in the Far East, had made preliminary plans regarding how the coalition's forces might operate in case of war, but US forces were NOT used from foreign bases prior to the war.

    Action "A", the first on the list, said, "Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore." Once again, US forces did NOT base fleet units in, or use, British bases, especially Singapore, prior to the war. I can see that if half of the Pacific Fleet's battleline moved to base in Singapore, the Japanese might take offense. Churchill wanted to base a large force of British battleships there, but had few or none to spare. In an excellent book on Roosevelt and Churchill, author Thomas Lash confirms the 1941 request of Churchill to FDR to base a portion of the US battlefleet in Singapore, to which Roosevelt refused as being too provocative. One would think that if FDR really wanted to "goad" the Japanese into a war by placing the US fleet in an advance (read "threatening") position, this would be a grand opportunity. INSTEAD, the President TOOK AWAY fleet assets from the Pacific.

    Stinnett also claims that "Australia and the United States secretly set up Pacific base F at Rabaul, New Britain on October 25, 1941." Stinnett does not go into any further detail as to just what constituted this "base". By saying that "Australia and the US...set up", Stinnett implies official involvement in a mutual plan and implies completion with the use of the past tense instead of using a phrase implying an ongoing effort, like "setting up". So just WHAT was built, or what was the PLAN, and what was the US involvement in this "base"? Was it an engineering crew? Advisors? A labor crew? A deckhand on a tugboat? How far along did they get? Was ground broken for facilities? Ports? Fuel storage? A communications listening post? Stinnett tries to paint a "vision" in your head of a completed "base" with cranes, docks, barracks, maybe an airfield, etc., but of course never goes into ANY detail or explanation of what was actually there, or any of the process that brought it about. From my reading on the matter, though I have not yet located a source to quote, I got the impression that when the Japanese took over New Britain from the Aussies, they had to start THEIR base at Rabaul (recognized by both sides as the best place in the locality for a base) pretty much from "scratch". Stinnett just leaves the reader to conclude that it was an operational "base" with no fundamental details.

    Stinnett develops a bad habit of making proclamations that support his case of Roosevelt's foreknowledge without substantiating the proclamations themselves. He also seems to discount the deterrent value of positioning naval assets near potential "hot spots" or the reality that such positioning underscores mere talk of disapproval of Japan's actions. The weakness of the claim of "full implementation" of the 8-action proposals is hopefully exposed here.

    (contributed by) Craig T. Burke

    This next is from Lieutenant Commander Philip Jacobsen, again not myself, and directed at another whose website was been used to defend Robert Stinnett, and sell his book. Stinnett appears to infer that the release of the Crane (Indiana) Naval Security Group Depository records was due to his FOIA requests. In fact, the declassification of these files was only awaiting the completion of Archives II at College Park, Maryland as there was insufficient space in the Washington, D.C. or Suitland NA facilities. Stinnett fails to mention that these files were "opened up" to a select number of other researchers besides himself including for one, Stephen Budiansky.

    Stinnett claims that David Kahn, Edward Drea and Stephen Budiansky have ties with NSA that taint their views, but provides no proof of such bias. I know for a fact that Kahn refused a position with NSA's Center for Cryptologic History so he would be free to write anything he wished in his book, The Codebreakers. I can assure everyone that neither Budiansky nor Drea have any ties to NSA that would affect their writings. Yes, I was assigned to NSA from 1957-1960 as a new Ensign (LDO) but even I am not beholding to NSA for any reason either.

    As to the withholding of certain Crane (RG38) documents, my experience from many NA visits including the last one in September this year shows that relatively few such withdrawal requests are in evidence and I saw no indication that these few withdrawals were for any significant historical documents in the Pearl Harbor arena. Furthermore, Stinnett admitted he freely had a year's access to these documents and made thousands of copies of the documents he thought were significant to his revisionist conspiracy theory. I note he does not identify any specific document that has been "withdrawn." Therefore, I see little for him to complain of except to pound on his unsupported claims of continuing coverup. It has been reported that some of the withdrawals are temporary by NSA's Center for Cryptologic History and other DOD historical studies and that they will be returned when those studies are completed.

    It is Stinnett and not Kahn who "rewrote" a U.S. Naval Communications (sic) [Intelligence] Summary prepared by Commander Rochefort ... (I had better put in those extra two periods that Kahn neglected to add undoubtedly for space reasons or I will be also be accused again of violating journalistic ethics.)

    Mr. Stinnett has responded to me as Lieutenant Commander Jacobsen. If he, as my antagonist, accepts that fact, why don't you? The more important part is that I was alive during that time in our history and was involved in the interception, analysis and reporting of Japanese naval communications. I know Japanese naval communications of the times and the analysis procedures we used to obtain information. Stinnett does not. The people he interviewed, by and large, told him he was wrong but he went ahead and published his book anyway. There is a large segment of the public that are conspiracy buffs and they will buy anything that smack of a government conspiracy. Just take a look at your local booksellers shelves.

    You took the trouble to "shill" Day of Deceit by placing a picture of the book on your website and providing a link where it could be ordered. That, in of itself, is enough to tell me where you are coming from despite your original post and your subsequent protestations of objectivity.

    You put my name prominently on your website and took the trouble to disagree with one of my statements. It follows that such actions was related to your post. I appreciate the fact that you have removed my name and the approbation from your website now.

    Your Note 2 supporting your statement about the McCollum Memo states, "Stinnett cites overwhelming but circumstantial evidence that FDR did read the memo, or a derivative." Apparently, you didn't do much research before making that improper statement. Also, that hardly sounds like an objective evaluation.

    Please provide that circumstantial evidence in the light of the responses you have received from your original post. If you still feel your website comment is valid, perhaps you would like to debate C.T. Burke and myself on the McCollum eight points, one point at a time. Most of them were never implements when you look closely at the actual facts that Stinnett basis his arguments on.

    I don't understand your query as to whether Nimitz or Turner ever saw the McCollum memo. What does Admiral Nimitz have to do with this pre-Pearl Harbor discussion, besides being the subject of another of your website coincidences. You don't seem to understand that NO ONE except Captain Kirk and McCollum himself ever saw the memo. As I explained as clearly as I could, two different factors in that memo ON ITS FACE show positively that it was sent to Captain Know and he sent it right back to McCollum with his comments. It went nowhere else -- Not to Captain Anderson, not to Admiral Stark, not to President Roosevelt. I don't believe Turner was yet installed as Chief, War Plans when the memo was written, but it didn't go to him or his predecessor. Even Stinnett with all his effort could not find a copy anywhere except for McCollum and Knox. Stinnett's claim that it went to Anderson is false and unsupported. What does that tell you about his research?

    It seems if you had any doubts about what Stinnett said about the McCollum memo, you would want to read the rest of the book and evaluate his research, analysis and conclusions to give you a better idea of whether his allegations as to McCollum are likely to be true or false.

    I don't know who you are referring to about not discussing the McCollum memo, but you obviously put far too much emphasis on that medium level document in a non-policy naval office that went nowhere. The meat of "Day of Deceit" is in the radio intelligence allegations and its misstatements of fact, misrepresentations, misquotations, misleading allegations, poor research, terrible analysis and horrible conclusions.

    In essence, McCollum's memo went nowhere. Most of the points made were never implemented. Those that were due to specific Japanese actions like the invasion of South Indo-China or for other reasons. Some were even implemented before the memo was written.

    Really, you are making a mountain out of a mole hill with your insistence that the McCollum memo was part of U.S. policy. You would do well to look elsewhere for indications of such adminstration policy.

    (myself again) The fellow whose website was selling and defending Robert Stinnett’s book never replied to P.H. Jacobsen’s post.

    LCDR Philip H. Jacobsen’s bona fides can be checked out here:

    The United States Navy in the Pacific War 1941 -- 1945 -- Main Index page

    Genuine and respected historians who have reviewed Mr. Stinnett’s book have been rightly critical of his work on several grounds. David Kahn, whose classic book The Codebreakers is widely acknowledged as the definitive work on cryptologic history, reviewed Mr. Stinnett’s book in the New York Review of Books and called it the "most irrational" of the many Pearl Harbor conspiracy books yet written.

    Mr. Kahn pointed out in devastating detail how Mr. Stinnett undermines his own case again and again by making elementary mistakes on fundamental points upon which his conspiracy theory depends: Mr. Stinnett gets crucial dates wrong; he gets basic cryptologic facts wrong; he mis-cites and misquotes archival documents and takes them out of their plain and obvious context.

    Archivists at the National Archives and Records Administration who have tried to locate documents Mr. Stinnett cites in his book have been unable to do so. His method of citing archival records is indeed so obscure that it is unlikely anyone who sought to verify Mr. Stinnett’s claims as to these documents’ content and context would be able to do so in most instances. The documents he does cite in supposed support of his confused, uninformed, and illogical arguments he provides such poor and unorthodox references to in his footnotes that those who have tried to find some of them at NARA archives have found it literally impossible to do so. There is at least one instance in which a NARA file Stinnett cited did not contain anything like the document he claimed existed in that location. In other cases Stinnett has misquoted or grossly misrepresented the context of small quotations he has taken from archival documents.

    Thus true historians are distinctly unimpressed by the conspiratorial claim that "his" documents are being classified or reclassified as part of the grand "cover up." The crucial documents, cited in Cryptologia and Naval Institute Proceedings, are still available at NARA for any and all to see, and have been since before 1999.

    However, much of Stinnett's work was done at the San Bruno section of the NARA, San Francisco, not at College Park Maryland and from a study of those records in the California branch, Stinnett simply does not know how to properly cite the documents at the NARA because of his way of making copies. He photographs them with his own camera and does not routinely ask for the stamped citations that reference activist routinely stamp on the back of a group of documents. In trying to find documents which he cited as being in files at NARA in San Bruno one fails to find them except one or two times where they were located in other files or in totally different series or in other creating offices from the those cited by Stinnett. These last comments are compiled from the works of Kahn, Jacobsen, Burke, and others. Just collated by myself.
     
  4. Tristan Scott

    Tristan Scott Member

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    I read Stinnett's book and found that he had a tendency to jump to concusions. I think that rebel has provided us with an excellent example of this in the McCollum memo. The memo along with all of Stinnett's documentation is provided in appendices of the book, the reader should look very careful at all of these documents before accepting Stinnett's conclusions.

    The McCollum document was a memo written to two Captains who were from time to time advisors to the president on Naval affairs. 1) There is absolutely no evidence presented by Stinnett or anyone else that the President ever saw this memo. 2) On reading the memo we discover that the purpose of the 8 recommendations is to discourage Japan to go to war. There is a statement in the memo referring to the fact that it wasn't politically feasable to just declare war on Japan, and that if Japan attcked us it would make it easier to get support from the American people. But this statement was by no means central to the memo at all, as Stinnett falsely portrays it.

    This book has been panned by most military historians, not because Stinnett did not supply accurate material, but because his conclusions were faulty, and in some cases downright misleading.
     
  5. OpanaPointer

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

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    The problem won't go away soon. P.T. Barnum called it.
     
  6. Tristan Scott

    Tristan Scott Member

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    Roger that.
     
  7. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Notice that "rebel1222" hasn't been around for a month.
     
  8. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    Who?
     
  9. OpanaPointer

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

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    You mean since I posted 35 volumes of the Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings? Maybe the stack fell on him? Somebody call the Jolly Greens, we have a SAR mission on the hook. Red Crown will vector.
     
  10. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Gosh, you don't suppose that is the reason do you? Facts instead of supposition and wishfull thinking? Dang, he was such an easy target!
     
  11. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    What, he's gone? Oh that's great. He said he was buying the beer, and I left my wallet in my other suit....
     
  12. DAVEB47

    DAVEB47 Member

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    Everyone knows FDR didn't know about the attack because Churchill didn't tell him. :D Just kidding although I've heard that red herring flown a time or two as well. Usually with the same proof as the FDR theory does, none that is credible.
     
  13. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    Facts and Historical context win the day again.........hey look something shiny
     
  14. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Shiney where?
     
  15. OpanaPointer

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

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    That's the problem with the easy ones, no endurance. Give me a hard-headed "true believer" any time. I had a long debate with a guy who claimed to be Japanese and said that the Americans had done the deed to make Japan look bad. He had everybody from Yamamoto to the Gaimudaijin involved. That one was really fun.
     

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