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Pearl Harbor: A Successful War Lie

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message David Swanson       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   21 comments

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An excerpt from "War Is A Lie"

One type of "defensive"  war is one that follows a successful provocation of aggression from the desired enemy. This method was used to begin, and repeatedly to escalate, the Vietnam War, as recorded in the Pentagon Papers.  Setting aside the question of whether the United States should have entered World War II, in either Europe or the Pacific or both, the fact is that our country was unlikely to enter unless attacked. In 1928 the U.S. Senate had voted 85 to 1 to ratify the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a treaty  that bound -- and still binds -- our nation and many others never again to  engage in war.

 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's fervent hope for years was that Japan would attack the United States. This would permit the United States  (not legally, but politically) to fully enter the war in Europe, as its president wanted to do, as opposed to merely providing weaponry, as it had been doing.  On April 28, 1941, Churchill wrote a secret directive to his war cabinet:

 "It may be taken as almost certain that the entry of Japan into the war would be followed by the immediate entry of the United States on our side."

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 On May 11, 1941, Robert Menzies, the prime minister of Australia, met  with Roosevelt and found him " a little jealous"  of Churchill's place in the  center of the war. While Roosevelt's cabinet all wanted the United States to enter the war, Menzies found that Roosevelt,

 " . . . trained under Woodrow Wilson in the last war, waits for an  incident, which would in one blow get the USA into war and get R.  out of his foolish election pledges that 'I will keep you out of war.'"

On August 18, 1941, Churchill met with his cabinet at 10 Downing  Street. The meeting had some similarity to the July 23, 2002, meeting at the same address, the minutes of which became known as the Downing Street Minutes. Both meetings revealed secret U.S. intentions to go to war.  In the 1941 meeting, Churchill told his cabinet, according to the minutes:  " The President had said he would wage war but not declare it."  In addition,  "Everything was to be done to force an incident." 

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 Japan was certainly not averse to attacking others and had been busy  creating an Asian empire. And the United States and Japan were certainly  not living in harmonious friendship. But what could bring the Japanese to  attack?

 When President Franklin Roosevelt visited Pearl Harbor on July 28, 1934,  seven years before the Japanese attack, the Japanese military expressed  apprehension. General Kunishiga Tanaka wrote in the Japan Advertiser,  objecting to the build-up of the American fleet and the creation of additional bases in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands:

 "Such insolent behavior makes us most suspicious. It makes us think  a major disturbance is purposely being encouraged in the Pacific. This  is greatly regretted."

 Whether it was actually regretted or not is a separate question from whether this was a typical and predictable response to military expansionism, even when done in the name of "defense."  The great unembedded (as we would  today call him) journalist George Seldes was suspicious as well. In October 1934 he wrote in Harper's Magazine: " It is an axiom that nations do not arm for war but for a war."  Seldes asked an official at the Navy League:

 "Do you accept the naval axiom that you prepare to fight a specific  navy?" 
 The man replied "Yes." 
 "Do you contemplate a fight with the British navy?" 
 "Absolutely, no." 
 "Do you contemplate war with Japan?" 

 In 1935 the most decorated U.S. Marine in history at the time, Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler, published to enormous success a short book called "War Is a Racket."  He saw perfectly well what was coming and warned the nation:

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 "At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals"don't shout that 'We need lots of battleships to war on this nation or that nation.'  Oh, no. First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced by  a great naval power. Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the  great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and annihilate  our 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy. For what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For  defense purposes only. Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers  in the Pacific. For defense.  Uh, huh.

  "The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous coastline in the Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The maneuvers will be two thousand, yes,  perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off  the coast.

  "The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased beyond  expression to see the United States fleet so close to Nippon's shores.  Even as pleased as would be the residents of California were they to dimly discern, through the morning mist, the Japanese fleet playing at  war games off  Los Angeles."

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)

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