Essay Sample on Pearl Harbor Attack: Churchill and Roosevelt's Foreknowledge?

Published: 2023-08-14
Essay Sample on Pearl Harbor Attack: Churchill and Roosevelt's Foreknowledge?
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  World War 2 War
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 2000 words
17 min read


There are a lot of issues that surrounds the attack of the Pearl Harbor. Some historians have claimed that there is likelihood that Winston and President Roosevelt could have had some intelligence information about the attack. However, there are other people who refute this claim arguing that it is not possible that there was clear information pertaining to when and where the attack would happen. The paper explores the foreknowledge that Churchill and President Roosevelt could be having on the attack.

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Churchill Knowledge on the Impending Japanese Attack

Winston Churchill was the British prime minister when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in the United States. There have been theories that claim Britain had some warnings on the Japanese attack but chose to hold the information to ensure that the United States entered the war. The claim is not valid, as research has disapproved the theory. A British naval intelligence that was prepared in 1945 but took time before it was released shows that although there were some warning signs of the Japanese intention, it was unclear as to when and where the attack was to happen.

A document found by Dr. Best at the Public Records Office showed that the Britain government held no intelligence information. Britain keeps records for longer than even the United States and releases it decades later. According to British intelligence, the report that was available as of first December 1941 showed that all the 10 Japanese aircraft carriers were not anywhere near the Harbor. Four of them were near Formosa, which is in the south of China. Another four was in Japanese water bodies while the rest two were somewhere near Saipan and is quite a distance from Pearl Harbor around 3, 000 miles in the west. On date 4 December, according to Dr. Best, two carriers which were thought to be in South China and four in Japanese waters were heading to the Pearl Harbor but were under radio silence. Britain had pretty information about Japan, but it was not that clear to conclude the attack was being planned on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese admit that a high level of secrecy was maintained. Their fleet did not send any message. No signal reached Hawaii.

Betrayal at Pearl Harbor is a television documentary that shows Churchill had prior information about the attack, but he did not communicate with the United States government. The film should not be taken seriously as there are a lot of questions surrounding the research done. The interview of Robert Ogg is one reason why it should not be trusted. There is a lot of dishonesty in it. The story of “Seaman Z” has been changing almost in every interview. His claims that there were “queer signals” of the missing Japanese aircraft signals are unfounded. It was only possible to hear the signals if the careers were broadcasting.

For the mission to be established, secrecy was highly maintained. Radio silence is the main reason which shows that Churchill was not possible that he intercepted any communication. One question that arises is how the Seaman Z can pick signals, and he was in Francisco while it could not be found from Hawaii, which was much closer to the fleet. The producer shows that Nave left Singapore in February 1940. Since he left, he was not involved in any other way with JN-25. Therefore, he was not in a position to know when Japan changed to JN-25B code in December 1940. From that time, no one else could read the system.

Some scenes show that Pacific Fleet cryptologist Joe Rochefort read some intercepts of JN-25B. The producer fails to make it clear that he could read only 5 to 20% of any message. The "winds code" surfaces in the History Channel Presentation. It is said to be an attack signal which was in a weather report. However, there is no explanation of how the "Winds Code" gave any information on the Pearl Harbor attack.

After the attack, Churchill's reaction is enough evidence that he did not withhold critical information about the attack. He addressed the United States Congress on December 26, 1941. In his two page speech, he condemned the attack highly. In his remarks, he asked, “What kind of people do they think we are?” It shows how the Japanese attack angered him. He went further to explain how much he was linked to the United States in his family history. Churchill won over his audience in his explanations. He also warned that there could be some other surprise attacks thereafter.

President Roosevelt Knowledge on the Impending Japanese Attack

Several myths suggest President Roosevelt had some intelligence information on the impending Pearl Harbor attack but decided to withheld the details so that he could get the support of Americans and more so the Congress to enter into war. The truth is that Roosevelt and his team foresaw Japanese warfare, but it was not clear about when and where it would occur. The same thing has happened in many attacks. There is usually some intelligence information, but it is unclear to determine when the attack will occur.

Roosevelt had worked in the navy as an assistant secretary. He couldn't oversee the destruction of the U.S fleet at the harbor. If the only intention were to ensure that the country is involved directly in the Second World War, he would have used other means. The President could have achieved his objectives with just a few destroyers. Roosevelt was also surprised by the target. The U.S military intelligence had underestimated the Japanese's capability to mount a successful attack on the American harbor.

Roosevelt admitted that it was not easy to get public support to declare the war. He said that the Japanese attack went a long way in gaining public support. However, many historians argue that he tried in whichever means he could to avoid conflict with Japan in the whole year of 1941. He feared doing this would lessen Britain's help and lead to a long fight against Germany. In a cabinet meeting that was held on the 7th of November 1941, he emphasized the need to strike a deal with the Japanese negotiators. He said, “strain every nerve to satisfy and keep on good relations.” He told the secretary of state Cordell Hull not to let the talks "deteriorate and break up if you can help it. Let us make no move of ill will. Let us do nothing to precipitate a crisis." With the effort he committed to ensuring even his cabinet stopped any attack from Japanese, it is immaterial to conclude that the President was for the idea of war.

Roosevelt could have been able to declare the war without the Japanese attacking the harbor. He had enough congress support at that time. There were enough votes to help him pass the bills that he would have wanted. Roosevelt never wanted to enter into any war without the firm approval from Americans. The argument that he longed for public support is what makes historians think that he would have wanted the attack to happen. However, several options were available to get public confidence without affecting the country economically.

Various researchers argue that there was a “back door “to Second World War. Their main argument is that the U.S citizens were strongly opposed to the country involving itself directly in the fight. The President wanted to save Britain from the Nazi victory in Europe. He, therefore, did some things to provoke the Japanese to attack the United States. The naval base, having been attacked on December 7, was enough reason for the U.S to enter the war on Britain's side.

One source of information that President Roosevelt could have used is the intelligence information from Churchill, the prime minister of Britain at the time. Britain did not have any accurate intelligence that would have led to knowing where and when the attack was to be done. Therefore, it is a myth to think that Churchill had prior information and shared it with Roosevelt.

The Known Facts Refute Both Questions

The known facts about the Pearl Harbor episode refute both questions. There is no way that the prime minister of Britain would have known about the attack and fail to inform President Roosevelt of the United States. The two had a cordial relationship before the attack. The prime minister could have used more options to convince America to enter into war other than through the Japanese invasion. One of the strategies which he could have used is using the diplomatic core.

The popular myths have not been supported by facts to show that Churchill had important information which he did not share with the United States. Some historians claim that there was an interception of communication, but no details of what was recorded are found. Although there were high chances that America would be attacked, it was not clear as to when and where the attack would happen. Records which were found by Dr. Best decades later are enough facts to show that no information was held by Britain to aid the attack.

The facts available also show that President Roosevelt could not hold any information regarding the attack. Being the President of the United States, there were many options which he could have used to enter into war. The President is supposed to protect the resources of the country. There is no way that he could be at the forefront to destroy the Pearl harbor.

The military intelligence of the United States did not have prior information about when and where the attack was to occur. It is not possible that the President could have the intelligence alone. In one way or the other, there could have been some facts which would have been found even if it is years later. Apart from the television documentary, there is no other proof that the President could have known about the attack but decided to keep quiet in order the country would get into the Second World War. What is held in the film is the opinion of the producer.

It is known that President Roosevelt had significant support in Congress before the attack. The President's power is based on the percentage of his control in the house. If he wanted to get into the war, he would have asked the senate to support him in declaring the war and officially entering the Second World War. He could not have waited up to the point that they were surprisingly attacked. If the only option was to wait for the Japanese attack, he would have prepared the military so that the enemy would be neutralized within the short time possible.

The prime minister and the President shared some forums, but that is not enough reason to conclude that they knew about the attack but decided to hold the information. It possible to have some intelligence information about an impending invasion but fail to know when it will happen or the area to be attacked. The Japanese maintained a high level of secrecy. There were no signals which were obtained. The ship went under radio silence. They knew that their target would prepare if there were sharing of information. The known facts, therefore, show that neither the prime minister nor the President held critical information about the pearl harbor attack to ensure that the United States enter the II World War.


The paper has shown a clear analysis that there was no accurate intelligence information about the Pearl Harbor attack. Churchill did not hide any details regarding the invasion. The Japanese maintained a high level of secrecy to ensure that the mission was successful. President Roosevelt could have used other means to enter into Second World War instead of allowing the country to be attacked. There is enough evidence to refute the claim that the British Prime minister and the United States President held some intelligence information so that the country could be attacked.

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