Pearl Harbor Term Paper

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Pearl Harbor

Immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the initial reaction by the President and his cabinet was to develop a plausible association for blame. In so doing they targeted the top two commanders in Hawaii, Admiral H.E. Kimmel and Lt. general W.C. Short. Several researchers even intoned that Kimmel and Short, were the official scapegoats of the President. () In retrospect most government investigations have demonstrated that this was not the case, and in fact the actions of these two men, actually rendered the Japanese attack, much less effective. Especially in retrospective as Kimmel stressed the fact that the Japanese attack strategy did not cripple the fleet, as they did not destroy the massive fuel supplies, which were at the time in the open, or target the machine shops which would be needed to keep the port active at a later time or the two large air craft carries, which were deployed at the time of the attack. ()

Vice-Adm W.W. Smith, chief of staff to Kimmel, said that the attack upon the fleet was Japan's "greatest mistake." The Japs, he said, knocked out only battleships, which were of less value than the two carriers which were at sea and escaped damage. Adm. Smith said that the Japs could have crippled the Pacific fleet for months if they had destroyed the oil supplies and machine shops at Hawaii instead of the battleships. By doing so, he said, the base would have been rendered untenable. ()

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Furthermore, the response by Kimmel at least demonstrates a demonstrative attempt to put light on the event by reducing the strategic effects of the event, playing up what didn't happen as a result of Japan's aggression, rather than what did happen, a planned strategic act of war that killed many, wounded even more and demonstrated an utter lack of defensive action on the part of the two lead commanders.

This work will show that the ultimate responsibility of the attack lies squarely in the hands of these two men, as they had the most direct association with the events that immediately led up to the attack. The initial manner in which this work will argue this point is to analyze the actions and responses of the other categorical definitions of blame and then making a case for the responsibility of Kimmel and Short.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Pearl Harbor Assignment

The commission, although charged with seeking derelictions of duty and errors of judgment only among Army and Navy officers, was at pains to state that Gen. Marshall, Adm. Stark, and Secretaries Hull, Stimson, and Knox had discharged their responsibilities. In Conclusion 17, however, it implied that these officials did bear some responsibility, after all. It said that the dereliction of Kimmel and Short consisted of failing to "consult and confer... respecting the meaning and intent of the warnings" dispatched from Washington. ()

The foundation of the intelligence associated with the event is often the point which people use, to demonstrate the responsibility of Kimmel and Short, as the strategic position of these two commanders as well as the President and the cabinet was to discuss the importance of the emphasis of Japanese direct aggression as one of the only ways the American people and therefore the Congress would agree to an entrance into the war.

The discussion, has been linked to the idea that the government, e.g. Marshall and Stark had detailed intelligence that the Japanese were planning an attack on U.S. soil, some even going as far as stating that they knew that the attack would be on the base at Pearl Harbor but withheld such information because they knew that the American people would not support a strike on the part of the U.S. unless it was a counterstrike, in response to direct aggression to the U.S. territories, rather than the secondary aggressions previously taken by the Japanese, such as the isolation of the U.S. from strategic resources. ()

The meeting that most call into question when making this assertion is one that occurred on November 25 just a few days before the attack. It calls to mind the nature of a serious pending situation, on the part of the U.S. And the Japanese, but is judged by way of after thought, rather than someone viewing the communication before the attack took place, as it truly would have been interpreted.

On Tuesday, November 25, Secretary Knox and I met in Mr. Hull's office for our usual Tuesday morning meeting. Mr. Hull showed us a proposal that he had prepared, which he was considering laying before Nomura and Kurusu for a 3 months' truce. At 12 o'clock on the same day, we three went to the White House, where we met with the President and also General Marshall and Admiral Stark. The President at once brought up the relations with the Japanese. Mr. Hull said the Japanese were poised for attack -- that they might attack at any time. The President said the Japanese were notorious for making an attack without warning and stated that we might even be attacked, say next Monday, for example. ()

The conversation may seem to foretell the actual attacks but it is also clear the intelligence was not specific, with regard to the nature of the proposed attack by Japan as the sources state the Japan had been fundamentally successful in their bid to make sure that surprise was on their side. Though there were clearly whispers of the Japanese desire to make a strategic preemptive strike on the United States there were no concrete clues as to where and when such an attack would take place and what it would entail. Communications between the involved parties reflect the idea that though intelligence was not conclusive, Japanese attack is eminent in one of the Pacific strongholds and barring cause of serious concern among the public the commanders of the Pacific strongholds were to take all evasive actions that they could to reduce the effects of such an attack, not sit and wait as many have rightly accused Kimmel and Short of doing.

Japanese future action unpredictable but hostile action possible at any moment period If hostilities cannot comma repeat cannot comma be avoided the United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act period This policy should not comma not repeat not comma be construed as restricting you to a course of action that might jeopardize your defense period Prior to hostile Japanese action you are directed to undertake such reconnaissance and other measures as you deem necessary but these measures should be carried out so as not comma repeat not comma to alarm civil population or disclose intent period Report measures taken period Should hostilities occur you will carry out the tasks assigned in Rainbow Five so far as they pertain to Japan period Limit dissemination this highly secret information to minimum essential officers. ()

Even in Kimmel's statement of the mistakes of Japan, with regard to the strategic resources that Japan did not hit is a clear sense that the resources were not safeguarded, and this is especially true with the extensive fuel stores out in the open at Pearl Harbor, as there were no overt or even planned attempts to remove the strategically necessary fuel stores to a safer place.

Kimmel and Short's collective statements were to the effect that they were doing the best they could with the resources they had and that the failing was not with them but with the failure of Washington to give them the information that a direct hit on Pearl Harbor was imminent and when.

In summary, the Pacific Fleet in 1941 established and maintained the highest degree of security measures at sea and in port consistent with our assigned mission of intensive preparation for war....We needed only one thing which our own resources could not make available to us. That vital need was the information available in Washington from the intercepted dispatches which told when and where Japan would probably strike. I did not get this information. ()

Even Kimmel's opening statements in his defense, including his Naval resume, seriously demonstrates the Kimmel was clearly on the hot seat, but there is also a great deal of evidence that this was essentially appropriate, as it was inaction on the part of Kimmel and Short was the source of the massively successful attack, by Japan on the Harbor. () The basic sentiment being that clear indications of a possible attack were given to the two commanders and if they were not specific it was a source of the nature of the intelligence at the time, not as a desire to keep the commanders out of the crucial link in the information web. "This dispatch is to be considered a war warning. Negotiations with Japan looking toward stabilization of conditions in the Pacific have ceased and an aggressive move by Japan is expected within the next few days." () The communication sent to the Pacific fleet commanders was clear in that is stressed… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Pearl Harbor" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Pearl Harbor.  (2006, December 24).  Retrieved September 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Pearl Harbor."  24 December 2006.  Web.  26 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Pearl Harbor."  December 24, 2006.  Accessed September 26, 2021.