Pearl Harbor: Why and How Japan Attacked the U.S.
Why did Japan risk attacking the U.S. knowing that the U.S. will be drawn into World War II?
Japan’s operations against say the British and Dutch in the Pacific would certainly not have drawn the U.S. into an all-out war with Japan. Perhaps the U.S. would not even have partaken in World War II. The Japanese definitely won at Pearl Harbor. They humiliated the U.S. In retrospect, what did this win do to them in the long run?
The Japanese certainly committed huge tactical and strategic mistakes. First, the Japanese failed to take notice of the oil depots and storage facilities during their 2-hour onslaught of the harbor. Had Japan bombed those areas, the U.S. Pacific fleet would have struggled to bounce back in the coming years.
Second, the Pearl Harbor attack shifted the public’s opinion about America’s involvement in the war in Europe. The Americans had never been more united than they were, post-Pearl Harbor attack. They had one sole aim: hit Japan and her allies with the entire might of the United States. It was undoubtedly a huge miscalculation on the part of the Japanese military commanders.
The aftermath of the attack- Investigations, and Questions
The two military men that jointly commanded Pearl Harbor were relieved of their duties. There was also a commission set up by President Roosevelt. It was headed by Justice Owen J. Roberts. The commission, headed by Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts was tasked to investigate the events before, during and after the attack. The report from Justice Roberts placed the majority of the blame squarely on the two-joint commanders at Pearl Harbor: Short and Kimmel.
However, the army had a different view of that of the commission. They believed that the buck should stop at War and Navy departments. They stated that the chief of naval operations, Adm. Harold Stark, could have dispatched the message he received on Sunday quickly to Short and Kimmel at Pearl Harbor. But surprisingly, he failed to do so because he feared that his phone call will be spied on. So he used a telegram. The telegram got there late and interpreting it took a bit of time.
Some say that Washington’s war warnings given Kimmel and Short came with sufficient intelligence to act on. Some also criticized the President for failing to alert the War and Navy department. If Washington was definitely certain that war was about to break out with Japan, why didn’t she communicate properly with Pearl Harbor commanders on the eve of the attack?
The planes were also too exposed at Pearl Harbor some say. The radar training program was not scaled up in due time. In Short’s defense, he claims he had insufficient intelligence from Washington to act on. He also said that he had very little resources to operate with.
There were lots of accusations and counter-accusations that floated to and from Washington, Kimmel, Short, the War and Navy Departments, Congressional committee, and the Roberts Commission.