Pearl Harbor Controversy Essay

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His secretary would then transcribe the material, but Stimson apparently did not edit the typescript.

9 Anyone who uses this rich source will soon become aware of the problems it presents: awkward phrasing here and there, irreconcilable changes in tense, pronouns with ambiguous antecedents, and—most serious of all—elliptical passages that raise questions of interpretation.

People could scarcely believe the reports pouring out of their radios. There were no easy answers, no quickly forged consensus.

In these circumstances, perhaps it was inevitable that certain critics of the President would emerge as "Pearl Harbor revisionists," eager to accuse Franklin D.

They ignored the historical background that is needed for an understanding of what happened in 1941.

Instead of carefully mapping their way through the records of the period, they hacked out a trail of Machiavellian conspiracy that twisted and turned and switched back on itself until it eventually led to the White House.5 FDR had by now learned that a policy of forbearance toward the government in Tokyo, instead of having a salutary effect, simply resulted in ever-more aggressive behavior on the part of the Imperial Japanese Army.Only after this fact had been driven home with galling emphasis did the President move decisively.There is nothing wrong with updating earlier interpretations or with correcting erroneous judgments. As new material comes to light, previously accepted explanations must be revised.Normally this is done only when incontrovertible evidence is at hand—evidence so unassailable that the historical community can embrace the reinterpretation with confidence.Honestly held differences of opinion can easily arise out of conflicting interpretations of what happened in the past, even when everyone accepts the same set of facts.This form of debate is one of the most important mechanisms by which historians eventually arrive at tenable conclusions.Archival research does not support these contentions.The problem in 1941 was not that Roosevelt was relentlessly pushing Japan's leaders toward the brink; the problem was that he could not find a viable way to stop them from taking the plunge of their own accord.I simply have not got enough Navy to go round—and every little episode in the Pacific means fewer ships in the Atlantic." 2 Once Japanese troops began moving into southern Indochina, however, a new situation was created.3 The President consequently changed his mind about the way to react.


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