Forum: Washington DC/Tokyo
Topic: Did FDR really know?
started by: sameer420

Posted by sameer420 on Apr. 13 2001,11:23
I have been researching this issue for a while now and have gotten many different opinions.  

Did President Roosevelt really know of the Japanese attack before it actully took place at Pearl Harbor?
I am asking this because historians know the most about Pearl Harbor and I would like their opinion on this matter.

Posted by Masahiro Washio on Apr. 13 2001,11:49
Only the said person (President Roosevelt) knows it.
President Roosevelt died before the end of a war.
The truth is darkness.

There is a means only to guess it from the left fact as for us.

I think that he knew.
But, the most people in here don't think that he knew.

Posted by Ken Hackler on Apr. 14 2001,1:15
You've touched on a subject that will get a lot of responses from many people on both sides of the argument.  For myself, based on the facts and not on the evidence twisted by the revisionists, no - he did not know.
Posted by Larry Jewell on Apr. 14 2001,6:44
If he knew, why did he do nothing?  Many, many things could have been done to reduce the damage done in the attack, none of which would have "scared off" the Japanese.  If he'd been able to say, "Our expert intelligence staff discovered the nefarious plan and our mighty military met and defeated the agressor!" why would he "just let it happen"?  Japan decided Sept. 6th to go to war with us, a failed attack at Pearl Harbor wouldn't have changed that.  Japan's BEST scenario during war games was 1/3 of their carriers sunk.  

Yoshikawa Takeo sent no messages after noon on Saturday.  The scout planes were only to advise how much resistance the attackers would meet, not to call off the attack.  They would not have noted that all the AAA was manned and ready.  They might have noticed the fighters circling at max altitude to get that first blazing dive at the enemy.  They might have noticed that destroyers were anchored 100 yards east of BB Row in a tight line that made torpedo attacks agains the big boys impossible.  They would not have known that the ships were buttoned up tight, manned and ready for damage control, battle casualties, and gunnery.

I once asked a person how many people would have to know that FDR knew, unless an angel whispered the news in his ear.  He said, "everybody knew, and now they're lying about knowing."  Amazing.

Posted by Masahiro Washio on Apr. 15 2001,10:18
I thinkCFDR wanted war participation.
Militaristic countries was invading other countries in Europe and Asia.
It was American justice to stop them.
But, most American people didn't hope for the war.
FDR operated public opinion skillfully for the participation in a war.
Even diplomacy provoked Japan very much.
"Hull note" is virtually declaration of war from America.

Washington was negligent,didn't warn to Pearl Harbor.
Probably, FDR underestimated Japanese military strength.
"Even if Japan attacks,we can be repulsed easily."
It was the miscalculation of FDR.

Posted by Larry Jewell on Apr. 15 2001,11:11
Yes, FDR wanted to go to war.  We were needed to stop fascism.  He stated publicly many times that the US was the last chance freedom and democracy had in the world.  He would have been one of the world's greatest fools if he hadn't wanted to destroy the political systems that were threatening the peace of the world.  Luckily we've only Quisling, Laval and the like to show what happens when you cave in to a bully.

Most Americans didn't want a war.  Soldiers and sailors especially hate war, we're the first to die.  But, like a visit to the dentist, sooner or later it's going to have to be done.  When the pain is too great, the tooth comes out.  The  polls so often quoted are notable for one thing, you never hear all the question, nor all the questions for that matter.  You can ask "Do you think we should get involved in the European War"? and get a very strong negative count.  However, during the same poll, ask "Do you think we'll eventually have to do something about Hitler"? and you'll get a high positive.  Selectively quoting polls is like doing that to anything else, it's a matter of giving some information and withholding some.  The bias of the sender gets in the way when things are left out of the original.

"Even diplomacy provoked Japan very much."

It's hard to do diplomacy when the other side is flat-out lying.  One message I've seen said, in essence, "Okay, tell them we'll get our troops out of Indo-China, but don't tell them it will take 20 years."  (I'll have to dig it out of the "Magic Background to Pearl Harbor".)

"Hull note" is virtually declaration of war from America. "

Hull's note said "stop your militaristic expansionism."  There  was no declaration, no ultimatum.  The Japanese chose to select this as a cause celebre', but it was actually a request to a theoretically rational government to give the whole region a break and stop invading people.

As far as the lengendary "underestimation" of the IJN goes, here's what we knew about the enemy fleet:

No military man can look at that without wondering how the devil we're going to cope with that armada.

Here's a listing of _all_ naval forces:

Here's the USN at Pearl Harbor:

and here's the rest of the USN in the Pacific:

Bluster was common, and something of a morale builder, but the people that were going to have to deal with the IJN and IJA were not stupid and knew there would be a long road ahead of them.

Larry J

Posted by Larry Jewell on Apr. 15 2001,1:12
Just to make sure we're on the same page, here's the "Hull note" I think you're referring to:

Document Handed by the Secretary of State to the Japanese Ambassador (Nomura)

[WASHINGTON], November 26, 1941.



Draft Mutual Declaration of Policy

The Government of the United States and the Government of Japan both being solicitous for the peace of the Pacific affirm that their national policies are directed toward lasting and extensive peace throughout the Pacific area, that they have no territorial designs in that area, that they have no intention of threatening other countries or of using military force aggressively against any neighboring na­tion, and that, accordingly, in their national policies they will actively support and give practical application to the following fun­damental principles upon which their relations with each other and with all other, governments are based

(1) The principle of inviolability of territorial integrity and sovereignty of each and all nations.

(2) The principle of non‑interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

(3) The principle of equality, including equality of commercial opportunity and treatment.

4) The principle of reliance upon international cooperation and conciliation for the prevention and pacific settlement of con­troversies and for improvement of international conditions by peaceful methods and processes.

The Government of Japan and the Government of the United States have agreed that toward eliminating chronic political instability, preventing recurrent economic collapse, and providing a basis for peace, they will actively support and practically apply the following principles in their economic relations with each other and with other nations and peoples

(1) The principle of non‑discrimination in international com­mercial relations.

(2) The principle of international economic cooperation and abolition of extreme nationalism as expressed ram excessive trade restrictions.

(3) The principle of non‑discriminatory access by all nations to raw material supplies.

(4) The principle of full protection of the interests of con­suming countries and populations as regards the operation of international commodity agreements.

(5) The principle of establishment of such institutions and arrangements of international finance as may lend aid to the es­sential enterprises and the continuous development of all coun­tries and may permit payments through processes of trade consonant with the welfare of all countries.


Steps To Be Taken by the Government o f the United States and by the Government of Japan

The Government of the United States and the Government of Japan' propose to take steps as follows

1. The Government of the United States and the Government of Japan will endeavor to conclude a multilateral non‑aggression pact among the British Empire, China, Japan, the Netherlands, the Soviet Union, Thailand and the United States.

2. Both Governments will endeavor to conclude among the Ameri­can, British, Chinese, Japanese, the Netherland and Thai Governments an agreement whereunder each of the Governments would pledge itself to respect the territorial integrity of French Indochina and, in the event that there should develop a threat to the territorial integrity of Indochina, to enter into immediate consultation with a view to taking such measures as may be deemed necessary and advisable to meet the threat in question. Such agreement would provide also that each of the Governments party to the agreement would not seek or accept prefer­ential treatment in its trade or economic relations with Indochina and would use its influence to obtain for each of the signatories equality of treatment in trade and commerce with French Indochina.

3. The Government of Japan will withdraw all military, naval, air and police forces from China and from Indochina.

4. The Government of the United States and the Government of Japan will not support—militarily, politically, economically—any government or regime in China other than the National Government of the Republic of China with capital temporarily at Chungking.

5. Both Governments will give up all extraterritorial rights in China, including rights and interests in and with regard to interna­tional settlements and concessions, and rights under the Boxer Protocol of 1901.

Both Governments will endeavor to obtain the agreement of the British and other governments to give up extraterritorial rights in China, including rights in international settlements and in concessions and under the Boxer Protocol of 1901.

6. The Government of the United States and the Government of Japan will enter into negotiations for the conclusion between the United States and Japan of a trade agreement, based upon reciprocal most‑favored‑nation treatment and reduction of trade barriers by both countries, including an undertaking by the United States to bind raw silk on the free list.

7. The Government of the United States and the Government of Japan will, respectively, remove the freezing restrictions on Japanese funds in the United States and on American funds in Japan.

8. Both Governments will agree upon a plan for the stabilization of the dollar‑yen rate, with the allocation of funds adequate for this purpose, half to be supplied by Japan and half by the United States.

9. Both Governments will agree that no agreement which either has concluded with any third power or powers shall be interpreted by it in such a way as to conflict with the fundamental purpose of this agreement, the establishment and preservation of peace throughout the Pacific area.

10. Both Governments will use their influence to cause other govern­ments to adhere to and to give practical application to the basic politi­cal and economic principles set forth in this agreement.


Posted by Ken Hackler on Apr. 16 2001,9:38
"I thinkCFDR wanted war participation.
Militaristic countries was invading other countries in Europe and Asia.
It was American justice to stop them.
But, most American people didn't hope for the war.
FDR operated public opinion skillfully for the participation in a war.
Even diplomacy provoked Japan very much.
"Hull note" is virtually declaration of war from America.

Washington was negligent,didn't warn to Pearl Harbor.
Probably, FDR underestimated Japanese military strength.
"Even if Japan attacks,we can be repulsed easily."
It was the miscalculation of FDR. "

Mr. Washio,

Yes, FDR was smart enough to see that the U.S. would be involved, and there was no way to stay isolated in a world at war. The insanity in Germany, Italy, and Japan was such that everyone would sooner or later be involved.

I take offense at your comment that "even diplomacy provoked Japan." Would you care to explain the duplicity with which the Japanese government was conducting negotiations, all the while knowing that a decision for war had already been taken?

Japanese attrocities in China caused the embargo. The embargo caused the Japanese government to search madly for a new source of fuel for its war machine. (The choice to quit killing people in China doesn't seem to have been considered)

Diplomacy by the U.S. did not provoke Japan. The facts are very clear.

Posted by Masahiro Washio on Apr. 17 2001,10:12
Mr. Ken Hackler.

Please don't take offense.
I am glad at the conversation with you.

Japan in those days was insanity certainly.
Because Japan was insanity, Japan got angry at the American diplomacy.

I think that FDR is very smart, too.
But,Japanese attack was very convenient for FDR.
Public opinion of America became one.
If war begins by halves,then a war counter movement may have happened.
The acquisition of the budget may have been difficult, too.
FDR becomes pledge violation.
FDR may have yielded to both the next election and the war.

It was too convenient for FDR.
I doubted it,Yamamoto danced in the written story by FDR.

At that time, China was civil war .
Chinese were doing war, too.
The war is still on now, too.
The relations of China and Taiwan are bad.
Japan waged war against China certainly.
But Chinese killed Chinese ,too.
It is strange to make all responsibility Japan.

Posted by Larry Jewell on Apr. 17 2001,10:45
"But,Japanese attack was very convenient for FDR. "

It was a disaster for the Allies.  We now had to fight a global war with limited resources.  The _last_ thing we needed was a war in the Pacific.

"Public opinion of America became one. "

Irrelevant to the discussion as to FDR baiting Japan into war.  Japan had decided on Sept. 6th to go to war if the Allies didn't do exactly what they said.

Posted by ben e fox on Apr. 30 2001,7:08
Mr. Masahiro Washio:

Who is it that you believe should share the responsibility with Japan for Pearl Harbor and other events in the war in the Pacific and East?

There are some fatal flaws in your logic and the hackneyed and factually unsupportable arguments that FDR "wanted war" or that Pearl Harbor was "convenient" and just what he wanted.  The usual revisionist argument maintains that FDR wanted war so that he could lead the U.S. to "save" England or because he felt it was strategeically in the U.S. interests to enter the war against Germany, and he needed the Japanese attack to do it, for all of the reasons you list.  Unfortunately, they are not parsimonious and cannot be supported with any facts, but they are (and have been) rebutted by so many facts that they can't be listed here.  FDR had more than enough bases, if given the proper spin, to get a declaration of war against Germany, and for that matter, Japan.  The U.S. entered WWI on far less.  Gallup polls were and still are very frail, and do not reflect the action that Congress will take.  Contra your argument, the U.S. had little reason to want a war with Japan and was unprepared. If it was convenient for FDR so he could enter the war against Germany, his "Date of Infamy" speech before Congress on Dec. 8 (U.S.) is hard to understand.  He asked Congress for a declaration of war on Japan, not Germany or the Axis as some encouraged him to do.  As you know, Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S., not the U.S. on them.  As far as the "budget" or the economy, or your other points, you must be aware that there were demands in Congress for a much larger defense budget than FDR wanted, and the U.S. was clearly coming out of the depression.  There was no need for a war for either.  As far as his "pledge" or the next election, it seems unlikely that a majority of Americans would expect the pledge to be kept in the face of the attrocities being perpetrated by Japan in the East (not just China) and the Nazis in Europe, and both Japan's and Germany's open claims that it was their destiny and rightful purpose to rule the world.  Japan should be thankful that it made the error of attacking the U.S. when it did, because you can predict that within ten more years, Japan would have been defeated by Germany and the U.S.S.R., and the "Post-war occupation" by the U.S.S.R. would have been very different from the U.S. occupation.  Maybe you've never noticed that Germany was heading toward Iran after Africa while Japan was heading for India, and the two planned to meet.  That would have been an interesting meeting.  You must also be aware that Japan and the U.S.S.R. had been involved in a major, bloody war in 1939-41, which Japan lost, and Japan fully intended to try to end the "Russian Issue."  The 500,000 Japanese soldiers the Emperor gave the U.S.S.R. as slave laborers as a war reparation should give you some idea of what would have happened.  The U.S.S.R. would have imposed the same kind of occupation on Japan that Japan imposed on the nations and peoples it conquered, and I don't think Japan would have enjoyed being on the receiving end of their own tactics.  Rape as a strategy, as employed by the U.S.S.R. and Japan impacts "racial purity" and the "divine" nature of a people as described recently by former PM Mori and others.  It would have been very unpleasant, as the various peoples of Asia continue to try to tell Japan that it was.
   As for China, as you point out, there was a civil war.  Chinese were killing each other.  You will note that the Chinese were killing each other, not Japanese.  Rereading your comment, you will note that China did not invade Japan, Japan invaded China.  The Chinese killing each other is tragic, but not as tragic as (or a basis for) Japan murdering 30 million of them.  Or 10 million of them.  Or one of them.  Just as Hiroshima and Nagasaki do not justify Japan's much earlier intentional indiscriminate terror bombings of civilians at Chunking, Manila, Java and elsewhere.  Just as nothing at the time or subsequently relates to or justifies the murder and enslavement of millions of people from the peaceful Chamarros to the gentle Burmese to the Vietnamese, and others, by Japan.  Your logic fails.
  Before using the "they did it too" or "two wrongs make a right" argument to try to spread "responsibility" for Japan's actions, you should consider the relevence of your argument, the validity of your facts, and how or whether what you say would or could justify what you seek to justify.  If not relevent and not valid, there is no justification.  That is a logical imperative.  Using the "if not for" defense requires relevence.

Edit:  There is nothing personal in this, I hope you will not take offense.  These discussions are good.  Your contributions are very helpful.  There are things to think about if it is to never happen again, and it can never be allowed to happen again.

(Edited by ben e fox at 4:53 am on May 1, 2001)

Posted by macandrew on May 20 2004,3:32
I think it's agreed that we'll never know for certain - at least, not in this life - but my fifty cents-worth is that I believe FDR KNEW an attack was coming. WHERE and exactly WHEN is another story.

One opinion I've heard is that he may have known and chose to or had to let it happen, in order that the country would be rallied to and willing to go to war. This is, of course, a possibility. But, I find it difficult to completely accept that he would be so motivated as to allow the resultant two-thousand-plus deaths plus other casualties to become reality. Also, would/could he, one who was so much a Navy-oriented person, allow the damage to the U.S. Pacific Fleet? One can only wonder. I would prefer to think that he would not.

One thing I do wonder about is - how might the outcome have been affected if the reports from the Opana radar station had been taken seriously and acted upon? And, had the flight of B-17's been armed and ready for combat. Again, I can only wonder.

Posted by Curtis Croulet on May 31 2004,5:57
Quote (macandrew @ May 20 2004,12:32)
but my fifty cents-worth is that I believe FDR KNEW an attack was coming.

but my fifty cents-worth is that I believe FDR KNEW an attack was coming.

And your evidence is?
Posted by Jason Tyler on Dec. 09 2004,3:00
My take on this is split...

Did Roosevelt want the US to enter the war? Absolutely, IIRC, his personal documents and comments seem to support his desire to enter into the war. I also think he knew that we would eventually be drawn in, one way or another. But, FDR's focus, I believe, was more directed at the threat of Nazi Germany.

That being said, I think the White House knew we would end up fighting Japan, but that the war would begin in late '42 or early 1943. (If we had to pick) Evidence of this would be the number of capital ships ordered from 1937 to 1940, (see below) this would be a sizeable upgrade to the fleet. (And all of these ships entered service in 1942 or later...

Also of note, if you want to be in a war with Japan, why would you sacrifice the bulk of your fighting fleet? It was no secret that the IJN had 6 fleet carriers, and was constructing the Yamato class, plus an array of older BB's. It would be fool-hardy to allow 8 of your battleships to be sunk, and if FDR wanted the IJN to attack, why wait till after Dec. 7 to transfer Yorktown, Hornet, and #### to PACFLT?

U.S. Navy
Capitol Ship Building Orders:
(Fiscal Year 1937-1941)

A Capital Ship is denoted as a battle cruiser,
or larger, warship, including aircraft carriers.

North Carolina class:
North Carolina (BB 55)
Washington (BB 56)
South Dakota class:
South Dakota (BB 57)
Indiana (BB 58)
Massachusetts (BB 59)
Alabama (BB 60)
Iowa class:
Iowa (BB 61)
New Jersey (BB 62)
Missouri (BB 63)
Wisconsin (BB 64)
Illinois (BB 65)
Kentucky (BB 66)
Montana class:
Montana (BB 67)
Ohio (BB 68)
Maine (BB 69)
New Hampshire (BB 70)
Louisiana (BB 71)

Aircraft Carriers:
Yorktown Class:
Hornet (CV 8)
Essex Class:
Essex (CV 9)
Yorktown (CV 10)
Intrepid (CV 11)
Hornet (CV 12)
Franklin (CV 13)
Lexington (CV 16)
Bunker Hill (CV 17)
#### (CV 18)
Bennington (CV 20)
Bon Homme Richard (CV 31)

Battle Cruisers:
Alaska Class:
Alaska (CB-1)
Guam (CB-2)
Hawaii (CB-3)
Philippines (CB-4)
Puerto Rico (CB-5)
Samoa (CB-6)

Posted by fightnjoe on Dec. 11 2004,1:29
please accept my apologies if this comment seems to repeat others.

after reading much on this and trying to be as fully behind the idea that fdr did know.  i have come to the opinion that fdr did not know about this attack.  he had no knowledge of impending doom and reacted accordingly.  there are indicators that he may have known but these things show me otherwise....

-fdr was navy to the core.  there was no possible way he would have risked his navy to any attack.  if he would have had any knowledge of an impending attack he would have made sure the fleet was prepared.

-fdr may have wanted to go to war but everything he did indicated he thought this war would be with germany.  hence the lend-lease agreement with england.

-the navy wanted to pull many ships from the pacific to the atlantic.  this in itself would say yes but if you knew an attack was coming what would you pull the capital ships or the smaller ships.

again i apologize if this repeats any earlier comment.  i just glanced over the thread before adding my opinion.  but now if you were to make the comment that churchill knew i would tend to agree with it.

Posted by Tracy White on Dec. 11 2004,5:40
but now if you were to make the comment that churchill knew i would tend to agree with it.

I thought about it a bit and I don't believe this to be true. If you postulate that there's no way that Roosevelt would want his fleet's ability to fight degraded then the same would go for Churchill. Churchill too wanted the U.S. in the war.... in the atlantic. Any Japanese attack that focused the U.S. on the pacific theatre would be detrimental to England. IF he knew in advance it would have been to his advantage to warn FDR so that in the case of war we had more to spread out. As it is the Atlantic lost the Yorktown to the Pacific theatre on 16 December, 1941, not welcome news for Churchill.
Posted by fightnjoe on Dec. 11 2004,7:31
that is a good point.  hadnt thought about that angle.  

Posted by pjacobsen on Dec. 20 2004,9:31
For those who "believe" President Roosevelt "knew" that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor, pray tell me exactly with documented proof how FDR get that intelligence information and no one else in naval or military intelligence "knew." Please don't give me that garbabe about Grogan, Ogg or the McCollum memo.

Posted by Matthew_J on Dec. 22 2004,8:52
Hi, I'm new here and will have a couple Pearl Harbor questions of my own, but I wanted to add my perspective on this topic as well.

It may well have been in the United States' best interests if FDR had known of an attack and allowed it to be made. However, I believe any attack, regardless of magnitude, would have been sufficient. Therefore, I highly doubt that he knew about the Pearl Harbor attack. It was risking too much.  From what I know of the attack, yes, it was bad, but not nearly as bad as it could well have been.
Posted by Dobbins on Jan. 17 2005,12:53
Quote (Ken Hackler @ April 14 2001,1:15)
You've touched on a subject that will get a lot of responses from many people on both sides of the argument.  For myself, based on the facts and not on the evidence twisted by the revisionists, no - he did not know.

Roosevelt knew that war with Japan could start at any moment, and that based on past Japanese actions it would most likely be a sneak attack.

That does NOT mean that he knew it would happen at Pearl Harbor.

An attack was expected on either the Philippines or on the British colonies, or on the Dutch East Indies.

The wide spread attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Midway, Wake, and Malaya was stunning, the most wide spread attack in a single day the world had ever seen. Nobody was expecting anything like that.
Posted by oscarwildecat on May 21 2005,11:12
I can see no evidence that points out that FDR knew that Pearl Harbor would be attacked. I agree that FDR wanted war participation, but to be involved in the European theatre.
      I heard rumours that Churchill knew of the attack before it happened. I have no idea how true said rumours are, does anyone here have an insight on Churchill?
Posted by David Aiken on May 21 2005,12:27
Aloha Oscar,
You may use your real name here...promotes harmony.
As you read the board...check out "Churchill" under may then find out how many of your questions have answers already.
Posted by sweetalkbaby23 on May 25 2005,7:55
Hey! I'm researching the same topic, and still I am absolutely clueless as what to think: whether he knew or not. As I search for more info. about it, there's a lot more I find about FDR knowing about the attack on pearl harbor and that he had the knowledge to prevent such an attack, but didnt because he wanted so desperately to enter WWII. Then again, there are counterarguments that say why didnt he do anythign if he knew? why would he let american people die? I'm wondering the same thing. So if anyone has anymore info. on this whole "conspiracy theory" and whether its true or not..or if anyone knows any websites of books that I could use to investigate the matter for my report, I'd be ohhh sooo grateful! I already have Day of Deciet...but i need more. Lemme kno. Thankxx byee

Posted by David Aiken on May 25 2005,10:30
Use your real name here for harmony...
Please sell Stinnett's book to someone who can not they will find a better use for it...
THEN ask "who told FDR...that Pearl Harbor was the target"???
What fly on the wall in Japan told what fly on the wall in the White House? There is a LOT of space between Tokyo and there will be a HOST of folk that would know...and in 60 years plus there would be a LOT of folk who must be silenced...without anyone knowing why they are silenceing them...and more people to silence those who did the silenceing...ka peesh?
Nada knew the target was "Pearl Harbor" blame it on "Nada".
Posted by Tracy White on May 27 2005,12:11
there's a lot more I find about FDR knowing about the attack on pearl harbor and that he had the knowledge to prevent such an attack, but didnt because he wanted so desperately to enter WWII.

What you have run into is an agenda; there are people who passionately hate FDR and want history to reflect their view of history. They have done extensive research to try and support these views, and quote many sources, but when those sources are viewed as a whole or in context it becomes clear that they are really stretching and have no firm facts. They can point to weakly links circumstance but have no proof.

I keep my mind open; when I read new allegations I study them and try and read the original documents the quote and make up my own mind. I haven't run into anything yet that withstands examinination.
Powered by Ikonboard 3.1.3 © 2006 Ikonboard