While some conspiracy theories possess real merit…. the persistent thesis that high-ranking government officials had prior knowledge of the Japanese intention to attack Pearl Harbor warrant little consideration. Here are some of the worst offenders:
- The causes of the attack have never been fully investigated… To the contrary, there have been ten separate government inquiries into the events; the earliest in 1941 and the last coming in 1995. All the findings indicate poor strategic planning, lack of proper intelligence channels, inconsistent code-breaking, and a failure of the Army and Navy to coordinate strategic troop disbursements. Sadly, no conspiracies were discovered.
- Many people heard Japanese radio traffic discussing the attack… As American as apple pie, this yarn never seems to get old. Trouble is, only Americans will swear to it. Japanese military records indicate strict radio silence was a general order during the journey to Hawaiian waters. The speculation predictably returns to the discovery that Japanese forces were moving. American intelligence located strategic Japanese movements throughout 1941.
- American code-breakers cracked the Japanese codes and knew the attack was coming… What a confusing mess of hearsay, half-truths, and misinformation this theory holds. Some codes were broken, including the diplomatic code and some minor military codes. No decoded messages were linked to an attack on Hawaii. The true controversy can be found in American intelligence channels.
Winston Churchill knew about the attack, but wanted it to happen…. Pure poppycock. Churchill wanted America to enter the war sooner rather than later. He was frustrated with Roosevelt’s hedging, but the Lend-Lease Act provided more than enough incentive for patience. Roosevelt did not change his belief that Germany posed the greater threat after Pearl Harbor. Revisionists drive most of this debate and sadly, Nazi-sympathizer and Holocaust denier David Irving is the most prominent. Irving and his cohorts are so desperate to redeem Hitler’s image, they have forged documentary evidence.
December 7, 1941 lives in infamy… Historical study provides the necessary remembrance as well as an opportunity to learn the lessons of our past. Conspiracy theories are part of the discourse, but must be held to the same scholarly standards as other research.