Today is the day that the Japanese attacked the Naval facility at Pearl Harbor. The US claimed that it was a sneak attack, but was it really? Some claim that the attack came as a surprise because of Japanese treachery, while others claim that the US government (to include its military) were simply myopic.
Me? I believe that the attack was a part of ongoing hostilities between the two countries, and the Japanese were simply responding in kind. That’s right: the US started the war with Japan by attacking her first. Not only that, the US government put the Japanese government in a position where the only logical choice that they had was either go to war, or allow the US to rule them.
In 1940, Roosevelt even stated that war with Japan was inevitable.
Roosevelt had wanted the US in the wars in Europe and in the Far East
for years. Standing in Roosevelt’s way was the fact that many US
citizens felt that the wars were not their problem.
First, the United States, continuing in its tradition of using treaties to keep other countries weak, refused to allow the Japanese Navy to maintain itself at the same level as the US Navy. This caused the Japanese to withdraw from the Naval Disarmament Conference in 1936.Then the US began imposing trade restrictions and sanctions against Japan in 1938.
The sanctions were expanded, and the Japanese were being denied the access to materials that they needed: things like steel and copper. The US closed the Panama Canal to all Japanese shipping. This particularly hit Japan’s economy hard because 74.1% of Japan’s scrap iron and 93% of her copper came from the United States. Then, in July of 1941, the US froze all Japanese assets and established an embargo of all gasoline and oil sales to Japan. At the time, more than 80% of all Japanese fuel came from the United States. The US claimed that the sanctions and embargoes would continue until the war with China came to an end.
The problem with this, is that the Japanese tried to engage in a mutually agreeable treaty with Chine to end the war, but China, seeing Japan on the ropes economically, wanted far more in concessions than the Japanese were willing to offer. Japan had two choices: go to war with an aggressive US, or surrender.
Then there was the First American Volunteer Group, AKA the Flying Tigers. Of course, there were machinations that took place to make the process technically deniable: The US loaned money to China, and China then used the money to purchase US war materiel and pay the aircrews. Roosevelt then signed a “secret executive order” in April of 1941, authorizing servicemen on active duty to resign in order to join the AVG.
In July of 1941, the emperor of Japan was told that his nation had two years of oil remaining. The course was set: Japan had no choice but to fight.
All of this should have been no surprise to Roosevelt, and I would argue that this was a deliberate attempt to enter the war on the President’s part.