Pearl Harbor: learning from history

Stephen Hewitt 18 May 2002

The similarities between the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 and the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC on 11 September 2001 are clear, and indeed many newspapers on September 12 contained the words “Pearl Harbor”.

In both cases a surprise attack on the USA was used to justify war. But the similarities do not end there. Both events involved an apparent mysterious failure of American intelligence and a failure to take any preventative action.

In his painstakingly-researched book Day of Deceit (2000, Constable), Robert Stinnett has demonstrated that the disaster at Pearl Harbor in which 2,476 Americans died, was not the result of an intelligence failure, but the fruition of a successful plan carried out by people at the highest levels of the US government. The purpose of the plan was to bring the United States into a war that the overwhelming majority of Americans did not want.

Another book with similar conclusions to Stinnett's is The final secret of Pearl Harbor, The Washington contribution to the Japanese attack, Robert A Theobald, The Devin-Adair Company, New York, 1954 This book is written by a retired rear admiral of the US navy.

For a contemporary review of it, see below.