The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, remains a pivotal moment in American history. The Japanese assault on the United States Navy base in Hawaii resulted in over 2,400 deaths and led to the United States’ entrance into World War II. The attack has also inspired many conspiracy theories, with some people believing that there was more to the story than what was presented in the history books.
Viewpoints of the Pearl Harbor Conspiracy Theorists
The Pearl Harbor conspiracy theorists argue that the United States had prior knowledge of the attack and allowed it to happen to provide a reason for the United States to enter World War II. They point to various pieces of evidence to support their claims, including intercepted Japanese communications and the fact that some U.S. officials were aware of Japan’s plans.
One popular theory is that President Franklin D. Roosevelt intentionally provoked the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor to generate public support for entering the war. Some conspiracy theorists point to the fact that Roosevelt had been pushing for U.S. involvement in the war and that he had previously stated that the United States would only enter if it was attacked.
Others believe that the attack was allowed to happen by the U.S. military, who were aware of the Japanese’s plans but failed to take any action to prevent the attack. Some conspiracy theorists point to Army and Navy officials who were aware of the Japanese’s movements and expressed concern about a potential attack, but their warnings were ignored.
Scientific Arguments Against the Conspiracy Theories
While the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories have gained some traction over the years, the evidence does not support their claims. In fact, numerous investigations have been conducted by both the United States government and independent researchers, and they have all concluded that there is no evidence to support the conspiracy theories.
For example, the 9/11 Commission Report, which examined U.S. intelligence failures leading up to the September 11th attacks, also briefly addressed the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories. The report concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that the U.S. government had prior knowledge of the attack or that they intentionally allowed it to happen.
The intercepted Japanese communications that conspiracy theorists often cite have also been thoroughly examined by historians and intelligence experts. While some of the messages were ambiguous and difficult to decipher at the time, they do not provide conclusive evidence that the U.S. government had prior knowledge of the attack.
Additionally, the idea that Roosevelt intentionally provoked the attack is implausible given the risks involved. If the United States had been aware of the Japanese’s plans, it would have been incredibly dangerous to intentionally provoke an attack that could have resulted in significant losses of American lives.
The Dangers of Believing in Conspiracies
While the idea of a grand conspiracy may be intriguing, it is dangerous to believe in such ideas without sufficient evidence. Conspiracy theories can lead people to dismiss the expertise of professionals and undermine trust in institutions and authorities. This can be especially dangerous in times of crisis or emergency, where trust in government and public health officials is crucial.
Conspiracy theories also perpetuate misconceptions and misinformation, which can have real-world consequences. For example, the widely circulated conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism has led some people to avoid vaccinating their children, which puts both their own children and others at risk of contracting preventable diseases.
If you are interested in learning more about the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories and why they are unfounded, there are many reputable sources available.
One source is the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, which has a comprehensive exhibit on the attack on Pearl Harbor and the events leading up to it. The museum’s website also includes resources for educators and researchers.
Another source is historian John Earl Haynes’ book, “Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America.” While the book primarily focuses on Soviet espionage during World War II, it includes a section on the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories and discusses why they are not supported by the evidence.
Bullock, C. (2016). Conspiracy Theories in the United States and the Middle East: A Comparative Approach. Routledge.