The following is something I wrote for my blog a few years back. Some of the information has already been provided, but others is relevant to the topic. I just thought I would share it for shits and giggles…
It’s mostly about the “Cuban Missile Crisis” but there is alot of other historical information that is not common knowledge. What I try to do is provide more information about our policies that strip away the monumental notion that we were heroes in the crisis we provoked…
Doug, please share with me anything more you might have to contribute that disproves any of the above.
The claim that the US expected Japan to attack Pearl Harbor is conspiracy mongering. The US was in no way prepared for that attack. At the time, battleships were considered the strongest offensive force in the navy; most of them were destroyed. Thousands killed. This sort of view is as foolish as the claim that there was a conspiracy about 9/11, or that the Chinese government got us to invade Iraq.
And none of the quotes you mention are at all convincing in that regard. Of course, were Japan to attack the US that would be convenient for allowing us to support England against the Nazis, but that is quite a different thing than to say we provoked Japan into an attack. And much less than saying that FDR expected an attack on US soil.
The McCollum memo was one memorandum written by one person. To lay the entirety of such a conspiracy at the feet of one memo written by an unknown is simply bad scholarship, and not accepted by virtually any professional historians of the war. I’d check out some of the FLAWS in the “Day of Deceit” wikipedia entry.
The “flaws” you just mentioned [I cant access straight dope from work so I am assuming they too deal strictly with JN-25B] were in reference to the interception messages about the Pearl Harbor attack/JN-25B. Look back above and take careful note that I did not mention those (for that very reason). The only interception messages I mentioned on this thread had to do with the surrender attempts (and those were not coded and we were aware of them months in advance, which is why Eisenhower, Leahy and others were aware of Japan’s surrender attempts).
The “flaws” in no way counter the McCollum Memo, the fact that the eight points were implemented, that Japan took note of those actions and our militarizing of the Hawaiian islands, that FDR racistly dismissed their requests to demilitarize and that following the implementation of the memo that FDR was saying publicly we would only enter WW2 if were attacked.
Furthermore, I think you make a serious error in trying to equate this with the 9/11 conspiracies because there is no internal memo or actions of the calliber that the McCollum Memo provides in reference to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Again, considering that the eight points in McCollums memo were implemented and that it explicitly said the purpose of those points were to “provoke Japan into an over act of war” I don’t see where this is “conspiracy mongering.”
Actually, truthaddict, the flaws included an attack on the McCollum memo as well, and Straight Dope takes issue with it indirectly, noting that the US was indeed quite likely to have declared war on the Axis powers within a relatively short period of time as it was.
FDR was quite right to deplore Japanese agression in China, and to attempt to stop their fascist government from making incursions there, intended to secure raw materials for their war machine.
As for this McCollum memo, I will repeat that anyone laying this sort of massive conspiracy at the feet of one sentence in a long memo written by an unknown bureaucrat is simply guilty of incompetent scholarship. Read the memo. It’s about many, many things going on in Japan, and does not suggest we get them to attack us. Instead, it suggests a number of different—well justified—containment options, and then says as an aside that if they attack us, that would also be good. Even the comment by the commanding officer at the bottom doesn’t mention goading Japan into war.
Saying what was “likely” to happen anway does not disprove the authenticity of the memo or the facts that the eight points were implemented, that Japan requested we end the militarization of the Hawaiin islands (which they were well aware of that US papers were saying the planes being manufactured at Pearl Harbor could burn their wooden cities), etc.
You are correct, the memo didnt say to get them to attack us. They weren’t trying to predict a precise attack on a precise location on a precise date. You are creating a straw man argument here. It laid out eight points - which ALL were later implemented after the memo was written up and before the attack on Pearl Harbor - to “provoke Japan into an overt act of war.” What that particular act would be - if at all - was unknown. The point was that there was “more ado” to get ourselves involved.
Let’s go back to the “indirect” item you said that straight dope mentioned: the US was seeking to get into the war anyway. What about the audio tapes of FDR saying we would not join the fight unless attacked? What about the White House conversations about Japans request to demilitarize Hawaii?
The fact(s) of the matter remains: the American public didnt want to join WW2; FDR said we would not enter unless attacked; prior to making those public statements a series of points were implemented into provoking Japan; Japan recognized those provocations and requested that we cease; FDR racistly dismissed their request and a little more than a year later Pearl Harbor was attacked.
Compiling these facts together - and many more - and noticing the obvious (that Pearl Harbor did not come without warning and that we provoked it for the purpose of entering WW2) does not make one “guilty of incompetent scholarship.”
And why would it matter if the “commanding officer at the bottom doesn’t mention goading Japan into war”? Does every officer need to blatantly say it as well to make it true?
Anyway, on this particular topic (pearl harbor) I am done. I have said all I could possibly say without sounding like a broken record. Switch to the “cuban missile crisis” if you want to keep arguing for arguments sake…
Just to be clear: this memo was not written ” to ‘provoke Japan into an overt act of war’”. That is an ideologically loaded misreading. It was written to suggest methods of containing Japanese aggression in the Pacific theater. These were not intended as “provocations” but as containment. I am sure there were dozens if not hundreds of similar memos written by other faceless bureaucrats during the months around that time. I am sure that most of them were read by a handful of people and filed away in large drawers as are most bureaucratic documents.
As for Pearl Harbor, there was no warning given, no warning received, and no credible evidence that the US government had any suspicion that Pearl Harbor was going to be attacked. This is, I repeat, incompetent scholarship, and precisely the same sort of conspiracy mongering one gets with Area 51 and the absurd 9/11 threads.
Opps, you are right in that it does not say “provoke.” It says “led,” which in its context is synonymous. If I lead you to do something by a pre-determined set of actions that I first carry out, that would be for the effort to provoke you…
9. It is not believed that in the present state of political opinion the United States government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado; and it is barely possible that vigorous action on our part might lead the Japanese to modify their attitude. Therefore, the following course of action is suggested:
A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore.
B. Make an arrangement with Holland for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies.
C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang-Kai-Shek.
D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore.
E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient.
F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands.
G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil.
H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire.
10. If by these means Japan could be led to commit an overt act of war, so much the better.
Doug, you can make procolomations of what you think it is or is not abd you can throw around petty names like “incompetent scholarship” but it does not change the facts.
What does point #9 say?
It is not believed that in the present state of political opinion the United States government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado… Therefore, the following course of action is suggested.
From here we get a series of provocations. Excuse me for putting the words provoke in quotations when the author said “if by these means Japan could be led.” That is my error but a slight one since it does not take it out of context at all.
Area 51 and 9/11 have no declassified documents like the McCollum Memo so comparing them to this is pretty weak. And you can try to downplay the severity of it with ad hominem attacks about McCollum being a “faceless bureaucrat” but none of that changes that the memo was signed off on, all points implemented and Japan later attacked us. Who did he submit the memos to and were they just “faceless bureaucrats”? Rather than provide counter evidence you have done nothing but say the claim was lousy scholarship and that McCollum was a nobody. Come on, you are better than this.
I think this memo, for what it’s worth (and I agree with Doug that alone it’s not worth enough to blame the enitre Pacific War on Machiavellian designs by the U.S.), can be read in several different ways. In addition to your reading, which is “Since we can’t declare war in the current political climate, let’s do the following and if we’re lucky this will provoke Japan into committing an act of war so that we can,” I could read it as, “The best way to stop Japan from what it is doing would be by force, but since we can’t do that in the current political climate, let’s do the following to try and limit Japan’s strength and signal our intentions to oppose the regime’s actions, and if Japan reacts by commiting an act of war that allows us to respond militarily, ‘so much the better.’”
The former implies an unreasoning aim for war and a campaign to deliberately bring one about, a la what Bush did in Iraq. The latter interpretation suggests a concern, legitimate in my opinion, with limiting the influence and actions of a military regime, actively commiting atrocities, by whatever indirect means possible, and a hope that maybe that regime will go far enough to justify more direct action. I understand you won’t agree with the second interpretation, but my point is that this piece of evidence does not provide the smaoking gun/slam dunk case for your interpretation of the Pacific War as an aritficial and deliberate conflict provoked by the U.S. for purely racist and political reasons. Sure, there was plenty of anti-Japanese racism, both in theater and here in the US. And sure, FDR did want to find a way to get public opinion in favor of getting into the war on the Allied side. But you act as if the Japanese government was an innocent victim of US aggression and that there was nothing legitimate about opposing that regime militarily, and that I don’t think you’ve demonstrated by a long shot.
Truthaddict, none of that quote has anything to do with the claim you’re making except #10. And #10 isn’t the conclusion of the argument, it’s a corollary. Read what you quoted: he’s suggesting A through H as the course of action.
After suggesting A through H, McCollum does the obvious thing that anyone would do in his circumstance. He asks himself, what’s the worst case scenario here. And he believes that even in the worst case, we get something we want—namely, to be able to declare war on the Axis. I mean, we don’t need McCollum to tell us this, anyone could have made the same conclusion at the time, and it is not the same as “intentionally provoking” Japan.
Really, I can’t believe how shoddy this sort of research is. It puts an entire massive conspiracy to attack the US on one offhand phrase, without any care for the context of that phrase. If this is the best sort of argument you can find, it’s a non-starter.
... and BTW, if you think that in the massive files of the CIA/NSA/Pentagon pre-9/11 there isn’t a single phrase suggesting that an attack on the US could be used as the pretext for attacking Iraq, you’re crazy. But it’s one thing to find a phrase in some page in an enormous bureaucracy and quite another thing to demonstrate that that phrase was read and acted upon for that reason.
even the wording of #10 shows it was in response to #9 because the “means” point #10 was referring to were precisely the eight recommendations cited in point #9. making this a semantical argument is ridiculous. Its obvious how the thing reads and the context of it.
and hypotheticals on 9/11 is not even an argument. its making up things to justify a predisposed argument.
To disagree with your interpretation is not to make the argument about semantics, it’s to disagree with what you see as the obvious and only interpretation of the facts. Shocking cheek on our part, I know, but there it is.
I really like you guys but I got to say: this is absurd. To twist something by “interpretation” is most certainly to make the argument one of semantics. Actually, I see some tinge of postmodernism in the argument that there is more than one “interpretation.” If the language was short and vague then the possibility of multiple interpretations would increase but the wording of the memo is pretty cuty and dry. I see what you guys are writing and I think to myself, “they dont like the conclusion so they are rewriting the story/interpretation to make the ending fit what is more palatable for them.”
It is a real stretch of the imagination to read that memo and “interpret” it as anything other than expressing very clear: we want war but we need more to do, if we do these things and it leads “Japan into an overt act of war, so much the better.”
I really dont understand how the alternative “interpretation” makes any sense outside of it being anything but an attempt to argue for arguments sake.
Jesus Christ, I get it. You guys dislike my views and are having knee-jerk reactions to them. At first it was “thats wrong.” When I pressed for more than that then it changed to there are “flaws.” When I pointed out the flaws dont even relate to the information I am citing then I get accusations of misinterpretations and poor scholarship.
Well, I don’t see any way around the issue of interpretation. You cannot imagine that your own understanding of what the memo means, much less what it “proves” about the arrangement of the whole of WWII in the Pacific could be influenced by your biases or your understanding of the U.S. as a poltiical entity, and then you assume that even suggesting the memo doesn’t mean what it “obviously” means to you must be the act of either personal enmity or our own biases or “knee-jerk” reaction. You’ve built yourself an ideological castle with no cracks in the defenses. How you ever learn anything new or change your mind about anything in there I find hard to understand.
FWIW, I don’t generally disagree with your overall view in most things, but your impregnable arrogance drives me crazy. In this particular case, I’m not convinced by your evidence, and I think the motives for wanting to use military force against Japan may not all have been as malign as you assume. I think you’re seeing the wording of the memo through just as thick an ideological lens as anybody here. But I also understand we’re not going to get anywhere with this, so I’m happy to drop it and move on also. We’ll just have to keep banging heads until we find something we agree on! At least you admitted working for Libby! (but you’ve got to come up with something better than “deep throat,” already been done) :-)
In case you guys are interested in reading up more you should look up vincent ferraro’s homepage and browse through his historical documents, particualrly the cable from Ambassador Grew in January 1941. But the website as a whole - which relies heavily on government documents, speeches, etc - and those of places like the GWU National Security Archive have been detrimental at showing how governmental policy is shaped. You guys would do good to become more familiar with them.
As far as how I am able to learn new things in my “castle” all I will say is that all the things I have learned - which is alot more than just the McCollum Memo - have played a vital role in setting the foundation and building of this perverbial castle. To dismiss it as conspriacy-mongering or poor scholarship is just hilarious. Sad, but hilarious.