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counterpunch, 27 décembre 2013

Histoire : The Good War, Revisited

par Alexander COCKBURN and Jeffrey ST. CLAIR

Japanese naval aircraft prepare to take off from an aircraft carrier (reportedly Shokaku) to attack Pearl Harbor during the morning of 7 December 1941. Plane in the foreground is a "Zero" Fighter. This is probably the launch of the second attack wave

Each Pearl Harbor day offers a fresh opportunity for those who correctly believe 
that Franklin Roosevelt knew of an impending attack by the Japanese and welcomed it as
 a way of snookering the isolationists and getting America into the war. And year by year the evidence continues to mount. The Naval
 Institute’s website featured a detailed article by Daryl Borgquist to
 the effect that high Red Cross officials with close contacts to Roosevelt quietly 
ordered large quantities of medical supplies and experienced medical personnel
 shipped to Hawaii well before Dec. 7, 1941.

A Japanese Navy "Zero" fighter (tail code A1-108) takes off from the aircraft carrier Akagi, on its way to attack Pearl Harbor during the morning of 7 December 1941

In 1995, Helen Hamman, the daughter 
of one of these officials, wrote to Bill Clinton a letter disclosing that her 
father had told her in the 1970s that shortly before the Pearl Harbor attack Roosevelt
 had told her father of the impending raid and told him to send Red Cross workers
and supplies to the West Coast to be deployed in Hawaii. Roosevelt, Ms. Hamman 
wrote, told her father “the American people would never agree to enter the 
war in Europe unless they were attack [sic] within their own borders”. Borgquist’s
 research, now published in Naval History magazine, shows 
that the Red Cross was indeed staffed up and on a war footing in Hawaii by November

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 by FDR of the “surprise attack” on Pearl Harbor has been demonstrated
 about every five years, ever since the Republicans made a huge issue of it after
 World War II. Each time there’s a brief furor, and then we slide back into
vaguer language about “unproven assertions” and “rumors”
. It’s one of the unsayables of 20th-century history, as Charles Beard discovered
in 1948 when he published his great book President Roosevelt and the Coming
of the War 1941, subtitled “A Study in Appearances and Realities”. 
Beard effectively disposed of the “surprise attack” proposition after
 researching official government documents and public hearings. For example, the
 State Dept.’s own record showed that FDR’s Secretary of State Cordell
 Hull conferred with the British ambassador on Nov. 29, 1941, and imparted the 
news that “the diplomatic part of our relations with Japan was virtually
 over and the matter will now go to the officials of the Army and Navy”. As
 Beard and others pointed out, the U.S. had already not only undertaken the blockade
 and embargoes that forced Japan into the war, but also knew that Japan was about 
to attack and waited for it to do so, so the isolationists could be outmaneuvered 
and the U.S. could enter the war on a tide of popular feeling. At 
dawn on Dec. 7, 1941, the first wave of Japanese planes flew in from the east 
over the Waianae Mountains, leaving about 4000 American casualties with 2400 dead. 
Beard’s scholarly but passionate investigation into secret presidential diplomacy
 incurred venomous abuse, as did his judgment that the ends (getting the U.S. into 
the war) did not justify the deceptive means.

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island. View looks about east, with the supply depot, submarine base and fuel tank farm in the right center distance. A torpedo has just hit USS West Virginia on the far side of Ford Island (center)

in the early 1980s John Toland published his excellent book Infamy, which
 mustered all the evidence extant at that time about U.S. foreknowledge. He advanced
 the thesis that though FDR and his closest associates, including Gen. Marshall,
knew the Japanese naval force was deployed with carriers in the North Pacific, 
they were so convinced of the impregnability of the base that they didn’t
 believe the attack would have much serious effect. They thought a surprise Japanese
 raid would do little damage, leave a few casualties but supply the essential trigger 
for entering the war. Toland quoted from Labor Secretary Frances Perkins’
 diary an eerie description of Roosevelt’s ravaged appearance at a White House 
meeting the night of Dec. 7. He looked, Perkins wrote with extraordinary perception,
 ”not only as though a tragedy had occurred but as though he felt some more 
intimate, secret sense of responsibility”. The
 U.S. military commanders on Honolulu, Husband Kimmel and Walter Short, were pilloried,
 destroyed, set up to bear the major responsibility. For many years they fought
 to vindicate themselves, only to face hidden or destroyed evidence and outright 
perjury from their superiors.

Torpedo planes attack "Battleship Row" at about 0800 on 7 December, seen from a Japanese aircraft

 May of 1983 an officer from the Naval Security Group interviewed one of Toland’s
 sources who had previously insisted on remaining anonymous. The person in question 
was Robert Ogg, who had been an enlisted man in naval Intelligence during the 
war, and was one of those who detected the presence, through radio intercepts,
 of a Japanese task force working its way toward Pearl Harbor in the first week
 of December 1941. This force had been under radio silence, but the “silence”
 had been broken on a number of occasions. Both 
Ogg and his immediate superior, Lt. Hosner, reported their intercepts and conclusion
 to the chief of intelligence of the 12th Naval District in San Francisco, Capt. 
Richard T. McCullough. McCullough was not only a personal friend of Roosevelt’s
 but enjoyed assured access to him through Harry Hopkins’ phone at the White
 House. Ogg confirmed in 1983 that McCullough had said at the time that the information
 about the Japanese task force had been passed to the White House. British code-breakers
 at Bletchley had also passed the news to Winston Churchill that Pearl Harbor was 
to be attacked.

Robert Ogg

lesson here is that there is no construction too “bad” or too “outrageous”
 but that it cannot be placed upon the actions of powers great or small, though
 usually great. When Toland’s book was published there were many who scoffed 
at the “inherently implausible argument”, the “fine-spun conspiracy
 theory”. Gazing up the newly emerging national security state and the dawn 
of the Cold War, Beard argued that the ends did not justify the means, and concluded
 thus : “In short, with the Government of the United States committed under 
a so-called bipartisan foreign policy to supporting by money and other forms of 
power for an indefinite time an indefinite number of other governments around
 the globe, the domestic affairs of the American people became appendages to an
 aleatory expedition in the management of the world… At this point in its history 
the American Republic has arrived under the theory that the President of the United
 States possesses limitless authority publicly to misrepresent and secretly to
 control foreign policy, foreign affairs and the war power”. Truer words were
 never written.

Vertical aerial view of "Battleship Row", beside Ford Island, during the early part of the horizontal bombing attack on the ships moored there

Just as FDR’s foreknowledge of the attack is rediscovered every few years, so, too, is the fact that the Pacific war was a very nasty affair. Every so often new accounts and photographs emerge documenting the cruelties of that war. In 2001, the BBC aired 
combat film of American soldiers shooting wounded Japanese and using bayonets 
to hack at Japanese corpses while looting them. “Former servicemen interviewed 
by researchers spoke of the widespread practice of looting gold teeth from the
 dead –and sometimes from the living”. The 
archival film is fresh evidence of the atrocities, but the war crimes themselves 
are an old story, best told by John Dower in his 1986 book War Without Mercy.
 Back in the February 1946 issue of The Atlantic the war correspondent Edgar 
L. Jones wrote, “We shot prisoners in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed 
lifeboats, killed or mistreated enemy civilians, finished off the enemy wounded, 
tossed the dying in a hole with the dead, and in the Pacific boiled the flesh
 off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved their bones 
into letter openers”.

Liens liés a l'article.Pearl Harbor et les accusations portées contre Franklin Delano Roosevelt


  • Alexander COCKBURN and Jeffrey ST. CLAIR

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    éditeur : Frank Brunner | ouverture : 11 novembre 2000 | reproduction autorisée en citant la source