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6. DIDN’T WASHINGTON SEND WARNINGS TO THE COMMANDERS AT PEARL HARBOR?
 

During 1941 U.S. Army and Navy commanders in Washington periodically advised commanders in Hawaii, the Philippines, Alaska, and the Panama Canal Zone of indications that the Japanese would soon attack U.S. interests in the Pacific.

Political intelligence and indications of Japanese military preparations led the heads of the U.S. Army and Navy to issue a message that began “Consider this dispatch a war warning” to their field and fleet commanders on November 27, 1941. That was the first time such a term was used. The commanders in the Philippines placed their forces on a war footing and dispersed aircraft and ships.

In Hawaii the U.S. naval commander, Admiral Kimmel, took minimal steps to increase readiness, sending aircraft carriers to deliver Marine planes to Wake Island and the Midway Islands. The Army commander, General Short, also did little, except to line up his planes in tight groups to protect them against possible sabotage.

During the war U.S. national security interests prevented a thorough investigation of the issue. After the war was over, a new complication had arisen: President Roosevelt had died. Because of this, the question of responsibility for Pearl Harbor became intricately intermeshed with Roosevelt’s posthumous reputation.

Many people came to feel that attempts to suggest that Roosevelt was in part responsible for the debacle at Pearl Harbor were slanders on his reputation rather than the sort of legitimate criticism to which all leaders should be subject.

 

 
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