One of several enduring myths about World War II is that dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved the lives of thousands of American servicemen by making a ground invasion of Japan unnecessary. The truth is that the US Air Force had virtually leveled sixty-seven Japanese cities, destroying that country's ability to carry on the war, and Japanese diplomats were already seeking to arrange an armistice through neutral countries.
This myth about how the war ended is a companion piece to the one about how it began. With the seventieth anniversary coming up, it is a good time to review the events that led to the attack.
Robert B. Stinnett dedicated his book, Day of Deceit, to John Ross, a Democratic member of Congress from California, who wrote the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that was signed into law by President Johnson on July 4, 1965. This Act made Stinnett's work possible as well as the work of many other truth tellers.
Published in 2000, Stinnett's book documents President Franklin D. Roosevelt's maneuvers to provoke Japan to attack us as well as demonstrating that FDR knew the attack was on its way. It was a surprise to millions here and abroad, but not to our president, several of his aides, and various military personnel. Even Winston Churchill knew.
Roosevelt had been re-elected for a third term in November 1940 by a huge landslide in spite of his preparations for war and false assurances that he would "never send our boys to war." In a meeting with the president a month before the election, Admiral James O. Richardson had not only strenuously objected to using Oahu as the base for the Pacific Fleet rather than San Diego, but had also disapproved of Roosevelt's willingness "to lose a cruiser or two" if Japan decided to retaliate against our harassing their shipping and naval operations. Consequently, he was relieved of his command on February 1, 1941, and replaced by Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel.
The information that Stinnett obtained through FOIA showed that the last straw for the Japanese had been Roosevelt's placing an embargo on shipments of petroleum products, iron, steel and metal products to Japan. Through first time interviews with radio intercept operators that he backs up with copies of the actual messages that military cryptographers decoded, translated, and analyzed, Stinnett shows incontrovertibly that FDR knew the Japanese fleet was headed to Honolulu.
Many military figures as well as historians believe that US cryptographers did not crack Japanese codes until some months after Pearl Harbor. Stinnett's research shows that all the Japanese codes of which there were many had been broken before the war. Another belief that still circulates here is that the Japanese maintained a radio silence. Contrary to their orders, however, the fleet's commanders began communicating with one another almost immediately after getting underway.
From February through December 6th of 1941, Admiral Kimmel was kept out of the loop. He did not know that the Japanese planned to attack the US fleet that was clustered at Honolulu and he certainly was unaware of the date.