The Japanese Attack On Pearl Harbor
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The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was the most devastating assault on a military target in American history. The fact that the attack happened may not be so surprising, but the fact that American forces were so unprepared and completely surprised is. How could the American forces be so unsuspecting? An examination of the pre-attack situation shows that the main reason that attacking Pearl Harbor was so easy for the Japanese is that almost everyone believed that it could not happen. In short, American lack of preparation was due to incompetence at several levels.
The Morning of the Pearl Harbor Attack
On the very morning of the attack, 7 December 1941, newspapers published a statement by the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, that the United States Navy was one of the best navies in the world. At the same time, tension between the US and Japan was growing because of Japanese aggression in the Far East. Negotiations were underway to ease tension between the two countries, but the Japanese had concluded that no satisfactory agreement could be reached and that the US had to be eliminated as a threat. They decided to attack the Pacific Fleet at it base in Hawaii.
Who is to Blame for the Attack?
The attack on Pearl Harbor is still a controversial due to the following:
- People are still trying to determine whom to blame
- There is still a debate as to who knew what and when
- But it all comes down to a matter of judgment. Who was in the best position to anticipate the attack and defend against it?
The answer is clearly the local commanders, Kimmel and Short, followed by their superiors in Washington. The fact that all of the blame may have unfairly fallen on Kimmel and Short does not mean that they did not deserve the lion's share of that blame.
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