What Was the Primary Cause of the U.S. Disaster at the Pearl Harbor?

Published: 2022-03-03
What Was the Primary Cause of the U.S. Disaster at the Pearl Harbor?
Type of paper:  Thesis
Categories:  World War 2 Pearl Harbor
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1248 words
11 min read

The Pearl Harbor attack took place in December 1941, at around 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time. The attack was conducted by the Japanese Torpedo, an issue that was unexpected considering that the United States of America was believed to be in peace with Japan. Until now, the question still arises on what could have happened before the attack or who was responsible for the event. The uncertainty around the whole event leads us to a major thesis that will seek to answer all the concerns inquired previously. The thesis questions the primary cause of the U.S. disaster at Pearl Harbor. Some of the issues that will be considered in addressing the thesis include the diplomatic relationship between Japan and the United States before the war; the role played by able Navy and Army commanders, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and one General Walter Short (Darman, 4). Another important concern on the report given by special commission formed by Roosevelt to investigate the attack. Justice Owen J. Roberts chaired the commission. We will also lay focus at the First Revisionist Critiques and the role of Winston Churchill.

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Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt made a speech to the United Stated States being at peace with Japan and was ongoing with diplomatic talks. He went further to inform the public about the Japanese ambassador's to the United States delivery of a reply message to one of their recent talk. According to Roosevelt, the reply stated that it seemed useless for the two nation to continue with diplomatic negotiations. The message contained no hint of an impending threat or war, but the question which has been asked by many historians and editors who are in quest of the truth is on the kind of diplomatic talks and negotiations that the American government was having with Japan. Little information is availed to the public on the kind of talks that the two nations were having, but from the attack, it is clear that the Japanese were not happy with the presence of the Pacific Fleet's three carriers and nine heavy cruisers. The absence of these war machines made the attack incomplete, however, successful it appeared. Intelligent information from Washington D.C. also indicated that President Roosevelt had a pressing problem on how to overcome the public's opposition about their nation taking part in the war that had been in course in Europe (Darman, 10). The war, therefore, solved the problem and made the public to see the sense of their military base taking part in the Europe war. According to the Pearl Harbor Polls, at least 80 percent of the people resented the idea of the United States taking part in the war while the Congress overwhelming supported Roosevelt move of going into war with Japan. All these indications had some proofs about the unhealthy and deteriorating diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan. It is, therefore, arguably that the main cause of the U.S. disaster at Pearl Harbor was on the deteriorating diplomatic relations between the two nations with the consideration of Roosevelt Administration launching the economic war against Japan in the summer and the subsequent fall of 1941.

The positions of Admiral Kimmel and General Short also appeared as very critical in ensuring that the disaster would have been avoided. According to the report presented by Justice Owen's commission, a commission that was formed out of haste immediately the attack took place, the blame was leveled on the two military officers (Kimmel and Short). The report also blamed Admiral Harold R. Stark, the person who was in charge of Naval of Operations for failing to give critical information to Admiral Kimmel about Washington's position in the war. The situation denied the Hawaii command a complete picture of the circumstances that surrounded the impending attack, even though the generals who were at the base than (Kimmel and Short) were also blamed for negligence. Justice Owen's commission argued that Kimmel conducted very long range aerial reconnaissance which was perfect in giving intelligence on the number of aircrafts given and those that were available at the base. Further to that, they failed to use their intelligence in detecting the Japanese invasion of the Pearl Harbor with an argument of the morning weather being unfavorable and many army officers were on leave. As the investigation progressed, it became clearer that the laxity noted on both General Kimmel and Short was due to their senior commanders based at Washington (Zimm, 5). For example, the Army Poll Board chaired by Lt. George Grunert collected evidence from at least 144 witnesses and realized that General George Marshall and the War Department based at Washington failed in giving directions to the Generals concerning the impending attack. Lt. George Grunert argued that the information would have made the generals at Hawaii scatter the planes in sheltered revetments and guard them against the bomb blasts. The blame for the attack moved closer to Washington and slowly went back to the President's office. The president seemed to have been the big man who gave instructions to the commanders not to forward the necessary information to the Generals based in Hawaii.

Frank Roosevelt was, therefore, blamed for mismanaging the diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Japanese administration. The critiques of the First Revisionist supported the blame through John T. Flynn who launched the revisionism after making publication of a forty-six paged booklet with the title of, "The Truth about Pearl Harbor." He argued that Roosevelt lost the management of his administration and the Japanese relationship and began to plot the war with his cronies since 1941. His administration, therefore, continued to provoke the Japanese government throughout the year and delivered a diplomatic ultimatum that no government in the world could accept. The next question that arises is on who the cronies of Roosevelt were. A key figure was one Winston Churchill who in the end got blamed for misleading Roosevelt from Washington to get into the war. It was realized in the end that Roosevelt and Churchill had been long friends even before the latter became Prime Minister. Churchill is also believed to have been informed about the Pearl Harbor attack but denied Roosevelt of the information. Therefore, all the decisions made by Roosevelt are believed to have been somewhat influenced by Churchill hence America unpreparedness at the time of Japanese invasion (Zimm, 12).

In conclusion, the thesis statement on the primary cause of the U.S. disaster at Pearl Harbor has been answered based on various fronts. The fronts include the diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan, the role played by General Kimmel and Short, the report tabled by Justice Owen's commission, the first revisionist and the influence of Winston Churchill. It became clearer that the cause of the disaster was attributed by the deteriorating relationship between the United States of America and Japan with the consideration of the former issuing an economic war against the latter in the summer and the fall of 1941.


Darman, Peter. The attack on Pearl Harbor: America Enters World War II. New York: Rosen Central, 2013. Print.

Page 1- 14 of the book is based on the Chronicles of the Japanese war effort and America's involvement in World War II through the Pearl Harbor Disaster.

Zimm, Alan D. Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions. Philadelphia [Pa.: Casemate, 2011. Print.

Page 1- 12 of the book is based on the Strategy, combat, myths and the deception that surrounded the war. It begins with the events of December 7th 1941.

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What Was the Primary Cause of the U.S. Disaster at the Pearl Harbor?. (2022, Mar 03). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/what-was-the-primary-cause-of-the-us-disaster-at-the-pearl-harbor

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