tv Pearl Harbor Roundtable Discussion CSPAN December 31, 2021 6:36pm-8:02pm EST
times" article on many of these same subjects. you've got the new and the not as new. but still young. still young. >> old, old, just give it -- >> robert touches on a lot of things that we wanted to bring to your attention. many of you are loyal followers. we've had our memory wars conference planned for some time, and we are still planning it, and we are still hosting it. it will be all virtual march 24, 25, 26, like the march of this year conference, it will be all online, and all free. so memory wars world war ii at '75 will touch on many of the issues that robert touched on, but also looking globally. so i'd like to thank robert, john, and, of course, dr. steph -- for a wonderful panel. please join me with a round of applause. [ applause ]
up next, today's final discussion from the international conference on world war ii, hosted by the national world war ii museum in new orleans. it's a discussion with military historians about the impact of bombing pearl harbor. so you would never detect from this that -- used to be my boss. so the likelihood he's ever going to listen to me is pretty small. so, you know, this is the pearl harbor what ifs discussion we promised you was going to come later. we're -- should be superinteresting and provocative based on what we've heard. of course every panel we've had has been super interesting and provocative so far. now prior to coming to the museum i spent years, decades, literally, in the world of military planners developing plans, branches and sequels for
a range of potential contingency scenarios. if you think about that, this is kind of the hypothetical piece in that. in the spirit of scenario planning, consideration of alternate futures, you know, and then the branches and attendant sequels, our round table discussion will really consider the counterfactuals pertaining to the attack on pearl harbor, and looking at the period from november 1941 through august 1942. of course we've got the best people around to participate in this conversation. the ring master for the stars, and it's really an amazing group here today, and so dr. allan millett is a member of the museum's presidential counselors visery board and an ambrose professor of history at the university of new orleans and we have historians john parshall we saw earlier today, thanks, john. ian toll. ian, nice to meet you.
and, you know, as you know they're all experts on this topic so we'll have a lively discussion with questions, of course, posed by dr. concrane. another presidential counselor, air power historian, chief of the historical services for the army heritage and education center, and then my boss, 28 years ago now, i think, so a little while back. but certainly an acknowledged expert on the department of defense, on contemporary conflict, on doctrine and strategic policy. as rob mentioned earlier he's been awarded the prestigious society elliott morrison prize for his lifetime contribution to the field. so we really are -- he may be ring master for the stars but he's also one of the stars in the firment as well. it's my honor to turn it over to
conn, and say thanks to our team here, and over to you, sir. >> thanks. you know that he had a distinguished career because he survived an evaluation from me in his younger days and still made colonel. i tried to ruin him, but i couldn't do it. this is truly, i told mike that this -- those of you who have seen me over the years know my general role with these conferences has been to handle these panels of experts, that like i said, ring master to the stars. this is a great group. you've got ian toll who is finishing up his distinguished trilogy on the pacific war. john parshall, you've heard him this morning with his exemplary probably unmatched knowledge of naval warfare in the pacific. and al millett, i thought the description of a strange monk-like figure we had from one of the panels might fit al.
he also has a lot of long titles that it would be hard to -- >> he's still mad at me because i helped his softball team lose a game at west .30 years ago. >> played third base with the wrong glasses on. i thought i was going to get him killed. but this is -- the trend this whole session has been, all these questions about, about what ifs. and we're going to -- i'm going to try to tap into these experts and throw some questions out and then we'll go over to the audience and you can bring your counterfactuals to us. it's a lot of fun. one of the great things about counterfactual history, you can never be proven wrong. so we can go all kinds of directions on this. i want to start out with one that actually dr. cal morrow previewed this one this morning, she talked about this -- there's an historian named irvine anderson that in the '70s
started writing about the oil embargo and has a convincing argument that -- pushed into war and didn't want to go that far but when the sanctions got put into effect, including the freezing of japanese assets, that the state department bureaucracy went out of control, and basically even secretary hull kind of lost control of where it was going and by the time it was done, the oil embargo was in place, fdr couldn't stop it and we have this role. the first question i want to throw out for this panel of experts is, so what happens if anderson is right, and richard frank and i have had a discussion, and hard to believe, but there's actually conflicting evidence out there from fdr. but richard frank is not convinced that this is true. but the bottom line is if anderson is right, and fdr did have the sense that the oil embargo would push japan to war and didn't want that, what
happens if we do sanctions in december of 1941 without an oil embargo. do we still end up with japan going to war the way they do? >> no one wants to take that one. i'm not going to. >> no? >> no, actually, i will. i think i would go back to rob satino's statement at the beginning that i think all you're really going to get out of that is you may get a little more time out of the process. and it's clear that it was a good time for us to be stalling for all the time that we could get. given the state of our own war preparations but i think, again, just sort of given the larger trajectories of the u.s. and japan and their entanglements in china, that there's no way at some point that those two are not going to come into a collision course and you're going to end up with a war. i just don't know when. that's my take. >> so you would say that maybe a little later, but war would
still be happening. >> that's what i'd say, yeah. >> okay. >> i like that reasoning. you know, it was clear that the total oil embargo really did start a clock ticking because the japanese were immediately required to tap into their stockpile, which was finite, and they didn't have any realistic solution to that problem. other than essentially giving our government what we wanted, including a full pullout of china. or going south as they did to go take it. netherlands, east indes. in that clock didn't start ticking or it was ticking more slowly because it wasn't a total embargo. you can see a plausible counterfactual where the decision to go to war is delayed and if it's delayed by even as much as a month, two months,
that point the japanese would have, looking at the war in russia would have had a better idea that hitler wasn't going to score a total victory, at least not that winter. and that maybe starts to weigh a little bit in their decision making. beyond that, i think it's sort of fruitless to speculate but it is useful to realize that this element of time, even if the decision had been pushed back by a matter of weeks, that could have had significant consequences. >> i'd say, too, with respect to the larger question, you know, we've already passed the two ocean navy bill. regardless of what you do, you know, having to do with an oil embargo, in 1941, the japanese are still aware that, again, the clock is ticking, and that sometime in late 1943 we're going to be given an absolutely insoup rabble writ -- and
maritime options are nil. if you are going to go to war, the sooner the better. >> okay. let me pursue another angle on this, let's talk about the role the philippines plays in japanese decision making also and one of the things we talked about, the war college, we talked about deterrents and one of the problems with deterrents is that the message you're trying to send is not only the one that gets received and talked about the fact that marshall makes this show about the philippines because he thinks that will deter the japanese when attacking when it's more of a spur. that looks like we're increasing the threat. because there's some way that maybe -- some way to make the philippines less a threat. how do the philippines factor into the decision making, some way to change that factor in what goes on? >> i don't think the japanese were about to leave any potential enemy behind them. if you talk about their access
to oil, the united states had 60% of the world's reserves, i think, at the time, the next big pump is indonesia. the japanese are looking for some way to replace oil for military or economic purposes. they really have to take the dutch east in indees as the other alternative. what's impressed me over the years getting to know japanese military historians and military culture is how deeply affected they were by the german experience. there's a huge club in japan, even today. >> rob satino was in -- >> and it still -- i think we overlook the fact that the european military influence upon japan is german and british, certainly not american, and it's
certainly would have run counter to either british or german strategy as it existed to leave a potential force at your rear, which had some naval and air capability to interrupt your movement. i think we sometimes forget how few japanese divisions, i think it's like six, you know, were involved in the move south. certainly the japanese were concerned about any losses at all to their naval forces. one of the things that i think struck me, in trying to do, you know, the history of the pacific war from something other than american perspective is to -- how anxious, neurotic and almost hysterical most of the japanese decision-makers were in thinking about all the bad things that might happen to them if they
didn't plan to eliminate any possible threat. >> i was going to add to that, too, that, you know, the classic answer around the question always does come down to the sea lines of communication, the japanese can't leave an unreduced enemy sitting beside the sloks. there was an article in a book talking about the role of the japanese navy leading up into the war, and a friend of mine just recently pointed this out to me. he said, you know, if you look, there's a series of war games that were conducted by the navy just prior to the outbreak of the war. and in those war games the imperial navy tried out various scenarios. let's just attack the dutch or let's just attack the british and see if we can get away with that, and yet in every one of those scenarios, what inevitably ended up happening, was that they ended up in a war with all three powers. and so having come to that
conclusion in those pre-war war games, they then decided, you know, if we are going to go to war, we have to go to war with all three of them simultaneously, and therefore pearl harbor. >> let's move -- okay, so that's war gaming, which obviously is not a reality. did the -- two-part question, and you and i talked about this, we'll get into the fact about no pearl harbor with this. but start out, could the japanese have -- do they have other options besides? we already talked about -- one of the implications of your panel was, the navy, pearl harbor didn't really affect the navy's readiness. the navy probably couldn't respond a whole lot quicker with or without pearl harbor. could the japanese have accomplished their same objectives without pearl harbor? >> and everybody's looking at me. >> i think the answer is yes. >> yeah. >> but totally improbable given the strategic culture that existed at the time.
i think when people make really big mistakes, they're almost invariably at the political strategic level, not at the operational or tactical level, and i think japanese first mistake was to assume the war with the united states was inevitable. an opportunity that presented itself in 1941, which would not be there in '43 or '44 when the united states fleet would probably be expanded by a factor of two or three. they knew what the building program was. and they could tell that they were falling behind. and if you assume that war is inevitable. you better go soon rather than later, which certainly seems to have been the consensus among the leadership of the japanese navy at the time. >> if the japanese had been successful at pearl harbor and had sunk every single american warship in the harbor and then had lost no warships between
that time and, i can't remember the date, actually -- that the americans in that span of 36 months would have assembled a fleet that would have outnumbered the entire japanese navy even as it stood. the americans brought more destroyers to the battle of gulf than the japanese brought aircraft. so, you know, those sort of statistics make it pretty plain. >> two classes of battleships that were authorized before the naval act of 1940. you know, we fought most of the pacific war with ships that were funded and laid down before 1940. >> yeah. >> most of the u.s. navy disappeared. >> right. >> in 1943. we won the war with the navy in some ways didn't even exist with pearl harbor occurred. >> back to your original question, would the japanese
have been able to accomplish their mission without pearl harbor. i think absolutely. one of the most prominent aspects of the initial opening, japanese offensive, is they really are sort of punching into air in a lot of ways, that our preparations for war were terrible as were the british, as were the dutch. and we were in no position to defend ourselves and given the logistical difficulties of fighting in that neck of the woods, in any case, were not going to be able to project power. >> they still would have had to go to the philippines, they'd be left hawaii alone. >> philippines still two. they don't attack hawaii. really makes no difference to at least the first six months of the war, probably the first year of the war. and it becomes clear when you just look at what it took for us to actually push a fleet across the pacific. when we eventually did that. you had to establish advanced bays with the ability to service hundreds of ships. that capability did not exist in
1941. did not exist in 1942. did not exist in 1943. it really wasn't until early 1944 with the establishment and the very rapid growth of these service quadrants that we had the ability to set up in these remote mid-pacific -- places like -- eventually in the south and manis coastal roads, these huge floating naval bases essentially where they were able to supply the fleets as they came in with everything that they needed, fuel, ammunition, provisions. and even conduct repairs, including some pretty major repairs and floating dry docks. none of that capability existed at all at the beginning of the war, and really not until the second half of the war. and so our ability to actually project naval power into the
western pacific absolutely did not exist. and so destroying battleships in pearl harbor really had no impact at all for the way the war would unfold in the first half of the war. >> oh, wow, so we've got a scenario here where pearl harbor was not necessary, the japanese could have accomplished what they wanted without pearl harbor. >> yeah. >> so what's the world like without pearl harbor? let ian start. he talked about that. what happens if there was a japanese, they attacked south but they don't attack pearl harbor. >> we come to this issue of the military and the political. in japan the military is essentially running the country. when we talk about the careers of these admirals and generals, these japanese admirals and generals, we use americans, true of the british as well. our instinct is to evaluate their decisions and careers in the same way we would evaluate the careers of american military leaders. but they were more than that. really in japan.
they were the politicians, the statesmen who were making the major decisions, the foreign policy decisions. they were even making decisions about domestic policy. you had generals and admirals running the education system in japan, just as an example. so, you know, these people were politicians. they were the circle of rulers of japan that were making all of the decisions. so the decision to attack pearl harbor was a military decision founded principally on this idea that we have to clear our left flank so we can go south, we have to score this victory in order to essentially blunt the american response to what we're about to do. there was the secondary, and this was discussed in the earlier panels, the secondary idea that you might be able to destroy american morale at the beginning of the war and that our government would then come hat in hand asking the japanese for a truce. it was that second assumption, which was really just so badly
flawed because, of course, the result was -- as every school child knows, was exactly the opposite, the attack on pearl harbor enraged and united the american people, and it was really all over at that point. the rest was simply had to be played out over a long and bloody war in which the outcome was not in doubt. fdr, prior to the attack on pearl harbor, was very, very concerned about the scenario. where the japanese would go south, would scrupulously avoid touching the philippines, guam, any other american territory, avoid any sort of hostilities at all with any american forces, not attack any american territory, but attack the british and the dutch. and with the goal of going and taking the oil fields in borneo and sumatra. and that's the counterfactual, i think, that would have caused the most severe problems for the
united states and, in fact, for the allies. because it is very hard looking at the political situation in the united states in 19 -- fall of 1941 to see how the country could have entered the war united and determined. fdr perhaps could have asked for a vote, a declaration of war. that would have been a divisive issue. the isolationists in congress who were very strong, strong in both parties, would have opposed the declaration of war. he might have gotten a declaration through congress. it would have been on a close vote and at that point the american people would have been divided and that is not the way that we could have entered the war effectively. i think we still would have won but it might have taken longer and so by attacking pearl harbor, a surprise attack with no declaration of war, the japanese essentially solved this dilemma for fdr. they solved his greatest
political problem. it was one of the most extraordinary blunders really in all of history when you think about it. >> i was going to trot out the counter-counterfactual, what happens if the japanese drive south. don't attack the u.s., but then in desperation hitler decides to declare on the u.s. in hopes the japanese will follow him in, that's another possibility. who knows? >> yeah, that would be another one. go ahead. >> what we've overlooked, however, is the influence of the chinese nationalists and their peril, and the enormous amount of support that the chinese nationalists caused in the united states. i'm old enough to remember pearl buck and the flying boy of china, and loose. it's hard to recapture the amount of influence, particularly through the protestant churches that the chinese nationalists had.
and it had been tough to get aid to them, both politically, but mostly logistically. you just couldn't find a way to supply the chinese. but we forget that the china lobby was a real deal, and many of the leaders of american business and journalism were dying to do something to help the chinese nationalists. consin looking for the popular support that might have existed even without pearl harbor for doing more to help the chinese to figure out a way to do it. harbor, for doing more to help the chinese, and wanting to figure out a way to do it. >> of course, another spin off of that counterfactual is, what happens if hitler does not declare war in the united states after pearl harbor? >> that is a huge problem for fdr as well, obviously. a new book just came out on hitler's decision to declare
war, from cambridge. it is a wonderful book is that anyone is interested in that. the problem for hitler, is he is going under bad information at this point. he does not really understand that he is formulating this decision to go to war with the u.s., and how badly things are unraveling on the eastern front, and other factors as well. it would have been a terrible problem for fdr. >> that goes back to ian's point. if this clock gets delayed a month or two, how does that influence everybody? it is not just american decision-making, or determine decision-making. >> another point. if the japanese decided against the pearl harbor operation, which of course many in the navy, and the regime were opposed to, and they had gone south, and they had attacked us, and guam, and they have attacked the philippines, there is little doubt that they have would have knocked out mcarthur's air force, as they did.
even though mcarthur had nine hours notice. with no notice, that fiasco in the philippines would have been even worse. at that point, of all the various things that would flow from that, when you could be certain of was that douglas mcarthur would have been relieved of command. the anger of the american people, of congress, of our government, would have fastened itself on him, rather than having been diverted to the commanders in hawaii, who were scapegoated. that alone ended the career of douglas macarthur so that no one would remember him except for a few historians. think about the long term implications of that. not only in the second world war, but in the aftermath of the second world war and korea. >> we may talk about some of the things that happened in the philippines. let's focus on some tactical
things. if you look in the dictionary, with a picture under the phrase screw up, and move up, louis burton's. there he was their commander. he screws up in philippines, and then africa, and then continues to move up somehow. there are some things that came out of the pearl harbor panel about both the japanese and american conduct in that attack. i want to try and get into it before we turn over to the audience. i was doing some digging on timeline, and i found one note that said at 3:42 am, on the 7th of december, the minesweeper reported a periscope. the ward responded to it, but could not find anything. if that warning is taken seriously, and the forces at pearl harbor have about four hours warning, how does that change things that happened on december 7th? >> potentially drastically.
the first time i was never on tv was for the discovery chain panel, and we got to figure that out. it gave us time to play on that tv show. i had a great role, and my reaction to that was, i am so delighted that they are in deep water. we now get to go after those american warships, and if i sink them, i think them permanently. i am here to tell you, the american fleet was and no way prepared to defend itself against a combined strike by all of those planes being torpedoed an armed. it would have been terrific. horrific, that is how it came out one on tv when i played. it we think five or six american battleships. it was devastating. >> i think one of the things
that you cannot appreciate unless you have been to honolulu, it's how narrow the eggs that channel is out of pearl harbor. it is incredibly narrow. if you get one battleship underway, and it gets jammed, there is no movement. >> it would have to be sideways. >> boy, it is a wonder that anybody ever thought that they could get in and out of there with some ease. >> so, if there is one hour notice, catalina seize the first one, the one the ward eventually goes after. that gives them a little bit over an hour. notices that make any difference? >> i think it makes an incredible difference. potentially, if you have to extend it a little bit further, do we have some sort of
coordination between the army, and the navy, in terms of how their assets will be deployed? the thing that we need at this point, is to get the army interceptors up in the air as rapidly as possible. if we have some sort of leasing system in place, where we can actually alert those basis, and get those fighters in the air, that potentially takes a really big bite out of the japanese forces coming and. the other factor, of course, is any aircraft guns are fully manned. the picture i showed in my presentation of the second wave, that is what the first wave would have seen as well. the japanese were extremely impressed with how quickly we were able to mend our guns. the volume of aircraft fire we put up was tremendous. nothing that they anticipated. >> that reinforces frank's point about the condemnation for not setting up better coordination. even if they had the warning, from what he said, they probably would not have the
impact because the coordination was not set up. >> i think you can make some interesting arguments. who had the best flock in the war? was it the germans, or the u.s. navy? i come down on the side of the u.s. navy. i think it was one of the heaviest aircraft guns in the war. not all of the ships had that. even so, maybe an aircraft was very potent. >> let's move to the second straight. you took your spots. this morning, if the japanese do have a successful time, they come back for a second wave. what do they accomplish in the second wave? >> if it were me, i am going after those cruisers. i am also going after things like destroyers, and submarines. there are plenty of warships to shoot out there. a 250 kilogram bomb would be very effective. >> there are six cruisers, and
30 destroyers untouched. >> not a single submarine. >> they really like battleships. >> yes they did. >> but also, carriers of course to. >> that is the other kind of factual. what happens of any of her carriers in the harbor -- and 81 bombs will burn the water line. we would have lost any carrier that was in their. it was absolutely going to be destroyed. >> so, let's play the counterfactual on that. if the carriers get destroyed, the in prize, they get some, how does that influence the first six months of the war? >> i think you she steps like the walls kept moving in from the atlantic a lot sooner than july of 1942, among other things. i think that limits our options
tremendously, in the first year of the war. i think it is very difficult to anticipate that you would see a campaign like this, for instance. i do not think that it really has a long term impact on the war. >> you do not see there any earlier carrier rates that were conducted, you probably don't see them. and then, you do not see midway. then you get into the interesting question of, wouldn't actually have helped the japanese? if you had a situation where they had hit two carriers, destroyed two carriers in the attack on pearl harbor, the war would have unfolded differently. hamilton would not have insisted on that midway operation, and then the japanese would not have lost the majority of their carrier striking force, just six months after pearl harbor, as they did. again, this is why counterfactual are so
controversial among historians. i think you can paint a scenario where, if those carriers were imported, as they could been, and destroyed, it would have work to the japanese benefit. over at least the first year of the war. >> actually, i will push back on midway. i am just to get a belt to get a article published in the naval review which is coming up in spring. i did not realize this, until i was having some conversations a few years ago. they were prepared to fight the japanese at midway, and so it is conceivable to me that we still have saratoga on the west coast. we get the hornet in their. you still could have had potentially a midway scenario, sometime, five or six months down the road. >> of course, then you have last. >> my port is the threat was so close to the reigns, occurring up and down the periphery of
the japanese empire in that early part of the war. if those raids were not happening, or if they were not happening and as big away, it really gets into the realm of speculation, but the midway operation have seemed as important to the japanese, in a way that would have allowed yemen motto to force the naval general staff to improve the operation? >> i would argue that it would. another one of the goals he's had would to capture. having someone as a chip was incredibly important. there was even discussion before pearl harbor, within the navy, if it was feasible to invade. fortunately, for the japanese, there's sea lift capability is a zero sum game. if you are going to attack in the south, which was the absolute priority, then i do not have the sea left necessary to bring what they assumed
would need to be three divisions to capture the place. >> that gives me another avenue to go down. sitting in the middle of the army archive, we have all kinds of meat stuff. this is the telephone logs for the 25th division for 1941. the first reports of japanese paratroopers landing at the airfield comes in at about 10:00. by noon, they are getting reports that there are japanese landing on the beaches. a lot of these are coming from 11:40. paris rooms troops have landed in coverages. a lot of these are coming from civilian police, better sending in the resorts. there are a lot of these reports. all of a sudden, if you read through it, you have this blue cover all in red discs showing up all over the place. these guys seem to be coming
from mars, and landing on the beaches. there was a sense that they were coming ashore. at the end of the day, you have everyone out there with their spring fields on the beaches, waiting to repel the invasion. understanding it is a zero sum, what if they did decide to actually land on oahu, and follow up with some kind of take. could they have taken it? they have held it? if they decided to do that. obviously, it is a major change in the whole operation. could they have actually done something like that? >> i am going to try to my opinion, and then i will let allan millett give his. he knows more about the japanese amphibious capabilities than i do. i have a very healthy respect for the japanese military in the first six months of this war, when it comes to ground combat. a lot who is a very defensible place. the terrain is great for defense. i think that at this point in the war we are probably not prepared to play up against
their sort of uptempo smash mouth, football that they used. they used against people like the british. i do not think that we would have defended ourselves terribly well, given the shock factor, and surprise, and all of that stuff. where are you at? >> that is a hard call. the japanese amphibious capability was real, but very small. they certainly could have put a regiment ashore. some places on the north shore. a bit of an interesting test. most of the hawaiian national guard was made up of -- it was a japanese american organization. i think that they would have mustered a sufficient ground for forces to repel, simply because of artillery and tanks that were in the tanks of american forces.
you do have a very strange and volatile civilian home front environment. it would certainly have made any kind of defense difficult. i do not think my recollection of the japanese, was really thought seriously about. >> now, they did realize it was a zero sum game. they did not have a sea left. one thing i would say about tanks, if you look at the defense in the gulf, the americans had two battalions of stewards there. that is 100 armored vehicles. in terms of pacific armored content, that is a crap ton of armor. and yet, we could not utilize it at all. because douglas macarthur had no idea how to do combined arms. i, gas my push back to that is we have tanks and oahu, but i do not think we know how to use them in against the japanese. >> i'm looking at these reports.
15 35, the report comes and. parties are landing off of oahu point. three japanese transports were landing by sand pan. >> it was a bad day. >> obviously they had some intel problems on the ground. >> i have news for you, it was pretty tough on the north shore. i would not want to be out there on some degree, trying to get up on shore. >> but, let's talk about the population of hawaii. that is an interesting question. of course, we will eventually intern the japanese on the west coast, but we don't do it in hawaii. there is a very large population there as well. >> i put 1000 of them away. the fbi, and the local police. they scoured the island of oahu. >> what could they have done if there were pockets. how could they have affected
the operation if there was this strong group that were disloyal that they were working with? >> i do not think much. most of these folks were first generation. they were born in japan. they were elderly, or certainly middle aged. most of the people ended up in the 100th battalion. those people were young, born in the united states, and american citizens. many of them attended the university of hawaii. it in fact has a dorm dedicated to one of the officers of the four four two. i think they had a group of rotc students who were disarmed, and continued to actually serve, and secure the functions. i think they made the transition. they were americans, and they would have thought to hold the island. then you have a large filipino
population, a mexican population, puerto ricans, portuguese, korean, chinese, and many of them ended up on the american armed forces during world war ii. they do not get anything like the recognition they should receive as four four two veterans. >> there was a lot of concern about spies and sabotage, prior to the attack. in fact, that became a major issue in the pulse pearl harbor reviews. the military commanders in part, said that one failures there were to prepare for the attack, or partly because they were focused on this issue of sabotage. the potential threat of this large japanese american population, in hawaii, it is a fact that other than one incident, when a pilot crash landed his plane on the island,
he was able to essentially convince, or force, at gunpoint, some japanese americans there too essentially support him. other than that one incident, i do not think there was a single documented incident of a japanese american resident of the islands, working for the japanese. the japanese spy, who came up in one of the earlier panels, >> yes, that guys how we referred to him. >> the japanese naval officer under diplomatic cover, he and his communications with his government, said, these japanese americans here, they are not going to be even a used to us at all. do not depend on them. of course, again, in california, you could try to find at least a few examples of japanese
americans working for the japanese, to justify retrospectively, this disgraceful policy that we had, no, you cannot. that tells you a little bit about, i think, what's the nature of the threat was, or was not. >> i was going to say, the fbi, and both naval, and military intelligence were all over people. potential spies, and then fact they contributed all kinds of terrible motives to people, who were utterly innocent of any kind of military information gathering. >> i have other questions like a throw out there. i think it is time to open it to the audience. i know there has been a lot of stuff building out there. i will open you to fire from this direction. >> thank you to our panelists for an insightful discussion of whatever. we will start in the back to your bright.
>> if the uss maine does not blow up in havana harbor, to the japanese attack franco's fascist pacific fleet in manila? >> gold star. [laughs] >> the timeframe was strictly november 41, to august 42. that's a great question. >> i will take that one. i have always wanted to talk about the specific fleet. i will interpret this is the subtext of the question. is this all just a big joke, this considering of counterfactual's? it is controversial, as i mentioned earlier. among many scholars, they say do not do that.
the keynote address would be given by neil ferguson tonight. he ended a very good book, and it is called one of some history. it is a collection of essays by different historians, considering counterfactual from different periods of history. different areas, different places, different subjects. the best part of that book i thought was his introduction. it was very long. it gets into the philosophy of histories. it is kind of dazzling. he develops an argument, which i thought was convincing. it was, you have to deal with counterfactual as a historian. they are linked to the issue. if you believe there is causality in history, if one event can cause another, then you must also except that it could have happened differently. if you do not accept that it could have happened differently, you're saying there is no causality. and then why are you doing this? we are really just writing down what happened. i think there is some role for
counterfactual. so the problem of course, is a can quickly move into flights of speculation. those are not useful. >> we will go to your left, about halfway back. >> do you think that nevada would have done anything if it managed to get out of pearl harbor, seeing as it is one of the only ships to really get underway, as in one of the only capital steps? do you think it would have had any effect on the japanese carrier force at all? >> i can't anticipate that it would have. what would it do? it is not fast enough to catch up. it will never get within gun range. frankly, it was also in a semi sinking condition, because of the torpedo hit during the first wave. i think that nevada was, again, lucky to have beach herself where she did. she could have been in bigger trouble if she had actually exited the harbor. who knows, what if she runs into one of the japanese submarines that is lurking around out there?
she could have been the recipient of sadness. >> to your right, halfway back. >> is there any chance at watch they get japan first movement would have won? >> i have been talking a lot here. >> no. >> i am not being smug. i am really telling you what a great number of japanese strategists concluded. if there had been any chance for a military victory, it had to come then. it had to come in 1940, 1:42. time was working against their use of force. it was necessary to get what they wanted from the united states.
it is hard to imagine what kind of events would have turned the war around. i think what we are interested in is why did it last as long as it did? why did it not get resolved sooner or later? there are plenty of contingencies in there that can be dealt with. i think they might affect the casualties. they might affect the losses to the various forces. i think in terms of outcome, it is really hard to imagine. it could have been very different, but i think it is hard for us, at least us who are remembering the wartime period, to generate tremendous hatred for tom to hand, and the subsequent events caused. some of it was simply anti asian racism.
you did not have to work up much of a sweat to be very unhappy with the japanese. there were a couple of times in my life or have slipped and talked about things, being dated as a world war ii can. it was a fair representation of how we felt about the japanese. >> i was actually just going to ask, are you referring more to what we have pivoted to going after japan first, in lieu of germany? >> yes sir, if pearl harbor had not occurred, do you think that would have been the outcome? or, would it have been worse? >> that is a really interesting question. i think you can make an argument. we gave lip service to germany for strategy, during world war ii. but, it is pretty clear to me that king never really paid any attention to, that really. in king's mind, japan never
receded to the status of the power that we are going to go after second. in fact, if you look at movements of troops, from the u.s., during the first half of 1942, the majority of those troops were actually designated for points in the pacific, rather than points elsewhere. in king's mind, he was fighting a parallel war. japan was always going to be on the top of the list. if for no other reason than the pacific being the navy's war to fight. i think you can actually say that what you got kind of was japan, as a coequal in the eyes of the u.s. military. in terms of the amount of effort that got put into it, at least in the first year. >> that is certainly true. the pacific was not step, or from our point of view, in the first year. the japanese were taking territory very rapidly. i think you can say there was a
greater emergency to be dealt with. in europe, a principal ally, great britain, has the english channel. it has it as its safe mode, at least for the time being. germany is tied down, and russia. i think that dictated a lot of the choices that were made in the first year of the war. quite a bit of our effort was going to trying to stabilize the situation. in particular, to secure hawaii, and to secure our c communications to new zealand, and australia. it would be the base for the actual counter offensive. >> to try and sum this contemporary issue, about two years ago i was invited over to do a conference with the japanese about current strategy in the pacific. i felt like i was stepping back into 1944. the japanese are now turning their focus to china.
we talked this morning about japanese over extension. they have the same dilemma. they are talking about defending a different scent of island chains, from a different direction. they have the same problems. how do you reinforce them? what do you put on the islands? how do you tornado partitions? how do you avoid getting bypassed? their problem set, like i said, it was déjà vu all over again walking into that, and trying to deal with them. the americans were dealing with the same thing. some of them talked about defending guam. you have the same in the pacific, it is a theater of distance. it has the power, and air power. the dynamics of war in the pacific today, are the same as they were back in the 1940s. >> i think we do not appreciate the vastness of that part of the world. as someone who went to europe fairly often, early in my career, i did a flip-flop, and
ended up going to asia a lot. my body will tell you, it is a lot longer. it takes longer to get to china, korea, and japan, then it is to great britain. if i go to europe now, it is like oh, i guess i will stop and atlanta momentarily. i do not even think about it. i can sure tell you that it takes a long time to get to tokyo, or beijing, or seoul. my solution was to stop in hawaii for rest and relaxation, and then go on. the less you really do it, you will appreciate the distances, you cannot understand the pacific war. >> the next question is to your right. halfway back with honey. >> this may be a slightly modified version of the that, and british first. a few the fleet stays in san diego. they are not move to pearl harbor.
the japanese bypassed the philippines and gone, and make no attack on the u.s.. they declared the greater east asia, coal sphere is done. they guarantee the future security of australia and new zealand. do we attack them? >> so, i am assuming they do attack great britain. they take malaysia, and singapore. >> give her the microphone please. >> the panel looks at each other. >> they get their southern initiative completed. it does not include australia and new zealand. they get the oil that they want, and declare that they are done. thank you very much, and we are peaceful now. >> do we attack them? >> i think fdr has to try for a
declaration at that point. he has to look at that and say, we are on a slippery slope at this point. we have to stop. >> i mean, it's a political question. what does fdr do, what does the u.s. congress to? how do the american people react? what does the press do? it is one of those burdens of being in a democracy. you have to have some consensus to go to war. i think it is an immensely difficult problem for fdr, and for the allies. for americans, who at that point, foresaw that inevitably we would have to get into this global conflict, and settle it, in a way that was satisfactory for democracy. i think it is very hard to speculate what happens in that case. i think it takes longer for the united states to both declare war, and actually fully mobilize.
i think it is a longer war. i think we won it. you could easily see it going to 1948, perhaps. again, that is just guesswork. i think informed speculation is the polite thing to call it. it is a political problem. it is a very good book called those angry days, which is about the great debate between the isolationist, and the interventionists. leading up to the second world war, it really does remind you that as polarized as our poll latex are today, they were better, and more polarized in that era as well. after years opponents hated him with a well, and a passion. all of that fed into this debate over what to do before pearl harbor. >> i think the japanese are cooked anyway. look at it, largely because of
opposition to war in the united states. it was largely among traditional isolationist, which would include scandinavian,'s german americans, irish americans. unfortunately, i think racial bias and lots of other factors made the japanese perfect targets. you cannot find anybody from aclu jumping up and down saying, oh, we cannot do this to the japanese. the truth is, most americans could have carried less. they thought that they could do anything to the japanese. and it was okay. i think that the japanese totally misread the depth of american racial distaste for them. ironically, the japanese officers would come to the united states to be students, including yamamoto, because they had a better feel for that. you could not assume that the
americans were really going to puke out or would somehow be deterred from the war of nasty racial revenge. it was certainly part of the deal. >> there is a pull after pearl harbor. i think 11% of the american public that the japanese should be eliminated as a race. 11% i think it was. >> if you want people one occupation policy, who knows what it would be like. >> gentlemen to the far right in the front row. >> mr. ian toll, your previous answer is a segue into what i was going to say. i always assumed that fdr was relieved with the attack at pearl harbor. i know that churchill was certainly thrilled, because he said he went to bed and slapped. what if there had not been the attack? how would fdr, if you could expand on what you are saying, get us into the war.
how long would britain be able to hang on? >> i think we have addressed that question a little bit in some of the previous answers. certainly, it would have been an immensely difficult political problem for fdr to convince congress to declare war on the american people. they essentially get behind an effort that required, not just going to war, but transforming the entire economy. this was in order to win it. i just think it would have taken longer. the anger, and the will of the american people, to go and fight and win this war, would have taken longer to build. i know that is not a satisfactory answer, but i think it is a question that counterfactual's become difficult at this point. since you asked, i will read
this quickly. this is from robert wood, who is an american playwright. he was brought in as a speech writer. he wrote a very good book about fdr. after discussing this dilemma, leading up to december 7th, 1941, he wrote this. there was just one thing that they could do. they the japanese could do. to get roosevelt completely off the horns of this dilemma. that is precisely what they did. at one stroke, in a manner so challenging, so insulting, and enraging, that the divided and confused american people were instantly rendered to name the mess and certain. it really is remarkable that the japanese acted in a way for primarily military strategic reasons, that essentially, at one stroke, solved this political problem. literally overnight. of course, fdr died in office.
he did not leave a diary. it is very often hard to determine what he is thinking. many of his aides did comments, immediately after december 7th. they said he seemed to be relieved in a sense. >> i was just going to add a point there to. we are talking a lot about what happens if we do not get into a war against the japanese. we are not talking about what happens vis-à-vis germany. i think almost certainly, we are going to be in asserting war with the germans. because of some sort of escalating attack in the north atlantic, we have already lost a destroyer. we are involved already in a de facto shooting war against the marines at this point in time. i do not see how we get out of a war against germany at some point, in the next few years. >> a spinoff question on that, if i can jump in, is what happens if germany and japan have a real alliance, and really work together? you have americans going right
by the northern tip of japan, and the japanese do not touch any of it. what happens if they have the germans, and the japanese actually working together? >> the problem for the germans on the japanese, in terms of coordinating their strategies, is the timing of their respective windows of opportunity that do not line up very well in 1942. also, the assets they had available to them, japan is primarily a maritime power. the germans, are of course, completely focused on what is going on in russia. it is really difficult to see how they were going to effectively coordinate those assets. the only reasonable theater seems to be somewhere in the middle east, some kind of a link up. meza pertain, media or something like that. it is really difficult to see how the germans are going to be able to drive through the caucuses. they tried that, and it did not work out really well. the coordination issues i think
are a real hindrance. even if they had a better intent to do it. >> the follow-up to that was on great britain, and how long they hold out. if the united states is not involved? >> i feel like great britain isn't a very stable position. they were already beginning to win the war against the eu boats. i do not see them as being a candidate for any sort of affective invasion by the germans. >> that is especially true. the war on the eastern front is continuing, so, the real test for britain was in 1940. they had already passed it. >> the next question in the center here towards the front. >> good afternoon. i have attended every conference that we have had here at the museum. i have to tell you, this is the best panel we have ever had. we have always wanted to ask
the one if question, and we have consistently been told, that is counterfactual. here you all are up there asking yourselves questions, like what if, it is really heartening to the historian geek and me. >> jeremy, take this down. >> i am going to suggest to jeremy and stephen, that we have an entire conference on what ifs. we should just line up every historian up here. we will let you go out up in the morning and weekend. >> i will be watching my hair that day. >> you could just show the man and a high castle up on the big screen. >> anyway, i have wanted to ask this question four years. max hastings, the distinguished historian, he is very big on the idea that in europe, and i will make this about pearl harbor in the second, but about europe, and the russians,
really winning the majority of that war. i always think, well, we have landed in normandy on the six, and saipan on the 16th, with fleets that were able to land troops. we did this halfway around the world. so, i have always thought, if we were not fighting the japanese, and we would have applied all of our resources to europe, how quickly would that outcome have happened? if you can answer this question in the genre, here is how i will ask it. what happens of the germans attack curl harbor? >> [laughs] >> we have officially jumped the shark. >> one of the things you have to do when you do kilter
factual analysis, is figure out what counts, and what does not. you have to think about the relative likely influence of events, and they're connected miss. the hastings argument is quite common by people who want to denigrate the american contribution to world war ii. the united states is the only belligerent that plays a major role in defeating all three axes powers, period. it is the body cam school that argues that it is really the russians who won the war. the russians killed a lot of germans. no doubt about it. no question. a lot of russians died. the question then is, was it really worth it? figuring out why the war turned out the way it did is more than doing a body count. you have to take a look at the home front, and industrial productions. you have to take a look at food. you have to take a look at morale. there are all kinds of factors
that begin to explain why one side in the long run, did better than the others. does max consider the fact that societies have made the greatest use of women, in service, and war work, tended to win? those who were gender insensitive did not do so well? i do not think so. the process of being a historian is to be as conclusive as possible. you have to figure out what counts and what does not, in a relative sense. anybody who grabs hold of one factor, and pizza to death, is i think, whether they realized or not, intellectually dishonest. they should not be taken seriously. >> max is a good historian. he still suffers from angst after being kicked out of the parachute regimen when he was a kid. we all have little stories.
people do develop biases, and everything else. i know that the army participated in the war against japan, but of course, six marine divisions won the war. minor help from the navy. you have to figure out what is moving people to take certain kinds of positions. you have to judge the evidence. >> an event we sometimes miss, that happened, was the day before pearl harbor. it is when fdr directs the building of an atomic bomb. i think the 6th of december is when the directive goes out for that program. >> i was just going to say, if we end up in a conflict where we are only fighting the germans, we have made some bad decisions. at that point, you can look back at the two ocean navy bill and say that is always. i do not need aircraft carriers to fight the germans. what am i going to do with that
scale of a navy? they are now oriented primarily beside ground power. i would look at my armory for structure. i would say 100 divisions, i mean more like 250. if you are going to play with the big boys, they are deploying hundreds of divisions on the eastern front. we certainly have the capability of helping to get the war over much more quickly, but it will require us to retool our approach to strategy, and to force structure to better configure our forces to fight the new war that we would end up fighting. it would be much less reliant on naval power, in my opinion. >> the victory program, which was a war department exercise, exposed, released, and summarized in 1941, had a poor structure with over 200 divisions. 60 of which were to be motorized. how were we going to motorized 60 divisions? where were they going to fight? texas? arizona? >> gentlemen to your right.
>> what if fdr had not run for a third term? how do you think that would have changed things? >> that is an interesting question. >> it is a great question. >> who wouldn't have been? >> a great question i cannot answer. >> i guess the next question is, who does when? who is the president? >> wilkie. >> is it wilkie? well key seem to have the soul of an internationalist. he ran on largely and isolationist platform in 1940. i think this is one of those questions where, all of the critics of counterfactual speculation seem to have a point. i think it is hard to speculate in that situation.
if you had a real die hard isolationist elected, in 1940, then yes, i do think that the attack on pearl harbor, that isolationist president will change the stripes very quickly. we are going to declare war. but are we going to mobilize with the same kind of energy? maybe not. and so, a longer war would be the scenario. a longer war in which we have more of a halfhearted kind of start to it. it limits our ability to kind of mobilize as energetically as we could with a sense of united purpose that we had. maybe, that leads to a longer war. we still win it in the end. >> gentleman in the center aisle. >> here is the setup, the japanese pulled our troops out of china, the attack pearl
harbor, and immediately build a ring of defensive positions around malaysia, the dutch east in these, hiroshima, okinawa, and maybe even the marijuana's. the immediately go on to the defensive and make the u.s. come after it. could the japanese have inflicted so much pain, and so many casualties on the u.s., that one, we might have fdr, or his successor inviting those fun loving -- to invade northern japan? or two, the u.s. would have had to have built more nuclear bombs, and dropped maybe ten or 15 nukes on japan, just to get the war over? >> really tough to say. one of the problems, of course, with counterfactual, if you are dropping a pebble in the water. as the ripples of time get further and further out from the event, it is like, the battle of midway. i feel safe in prognosticating
a day or two after the historical battle, but we are now projecting five years into the future, what is going on after this not even happens. that is really tough. and that is all i will say. >> the japanese, there was no way they would pull out of china. they are locked in their. >> if they pulled out of china, then we would have been like, thank you. you pulled out of china, so i guess we do not need to embargo the oil anymore. here you go. everyone is happy. that is one potential scenario. the other thing i would say though, the whole business of we will build a string of defenses around our new fire, neglects the fact that the pacific is nothing but ocean. you can put a lot of airplanes on a place like this, but not that many. it is the size of a postage stamp. the japanese never really had the ability to a series of defenses, that would have been sufficient to beat off an
american attack, i do not think. at least not in the long term. that said, i will go, and this is something frank and i have talked about on some occasions. i said, very glibly, in my presentation, as long as the americans maintain the political will to remain in the war, i think there is a danger point towards the end of the war. we are tired of the kind of combat that we are running into in places like okinawa and so forth. it is argued-able that if we had gone into japan, and pulled an invasion that resulted in heavy casualties in japan, we might have been inclined to negotiate. i do not know. >> there was a fear that, in a book, the american public was using will. they were not helping out with these ships that are coming back from the kamikaze raids. people were trying to change back to civilians. the industrialists were trying to go back to building industrial goods. >> the fifth bomb did not go
well. >> there is a sense that they feel that one of the reasons they pushed for stronger actions against japan, is they were afraid to put the american public out there with the well. >> one of the things that we overlook sometimes, is the american serviceman who are being killed at the end of the war. they were younger than the ones who were casualties earlier. we were going into the teenage casualties. it is an environment was a serious moral problem. >> you will notice the programs has for 15, but we sort of felt that in as a question. we knew this would have a lot of questions. the next one is going to be to your left. we will get a couple of more in. >> do we get overtime? >> you said. >> here is one that should be a little bit easier for you. if enterprise makes the
pressure, and the arrival into pearl harbor, and it is burned to the water line, what implications are there for the do little raid? and possibly, later, in midway? >> i think ian already touched on this pretty well. i think you see not a lot of carrier raids going on around the periphery. i think it is pretty hard to anticipate do little coming off. >> one carrier, i don't think so. >> they have just to be 25 on one side there. no air cover. >> i think what that does, it supports us up more of a defensive stance than we were at. we were on the defensive in 1942. people were constantly looking for opportunities to act aggressively, and turn around this train wreck of a war. if we lose one or two carers already at the outset, that means that we have to be a lot
more careful about how we are going to risk those assets. >> to your right, halfway back. >> what would be the possibility, if the u.s. fleet had stayed in san diego? what it would have been the willingness capabilities, and desire, of japan to attack the west coast of the united states? >> they did not have the logistical capability to reach that far. it was actually a real surprise to me in the last few years. one of the things i got wrong, was sort of, pooh-poohing japanese underway capabilities. there is a really interesting article that came out the couple of years ago go. it illustrated that the japanese had much better refuelling capabilities than i
was aware of at the time. that said, i do not think they have the reach to go all the way to the west coast. despite all the panic monger -ing that occurred in the next few months. certainly, from what i read from a japanese perspective, they never had any intention of doing anything of the sort. that really would have put the fleet kind of off of the map at that point. >> please go. >> i will agree with what john said. maybe it is not that useful. as a kind of reality check, look at the fleets that we assembled to take okinawa, the philippines. look at the size of those fleets. you realize that if the japanese had those kinds of fleets, not just the navy, but the troop transports, and the logistics capabilities, everything it chucked to push the fleet across the pacific, and land significant amounts of
ground force on a hostile shore. even if they had that, once they landed their troops, they would be on a continent. they would be fighting against all of the forces that we could muster, to meet that on a continent. the scenario of the japanese invading the west coast or north america, was never feasible. it was never remotely feasible. they could never mount a successful invasion on the continent. >> i think you can think of it as a pure rating force. it could project our power into st. pulses over a very short time schedule. it never had the ability to actually sustain itself in the field, unlike the korean forces that we brought to the party in mid 1944. they not only would come smasher island, but they would go off of here for as long as it takes to reduce that bastion for a physical invasion as
well. the japanese never had that capability, not even in their wildest dreams. >> so no scenario in 1941. patrick sway zeke coming ashore. >> the last question will be to your far-left, halfway back. >> given that the united states would develop the atomic bomb, when it did, and it would become available. if we extended that war, or if the war was extended with japan, for another two to three years, how do you think the atomic bomb capabilities would have played in? >> i have the numbers on that. we are developing, 15 bombs by them, but by then you would have had millions of japanese dead from starvation. in january of 46, we start putting chemicals to destroy the race cops. we would've used poison gas on the beaches. it would have been japan destroyed. >> conventional bombing, the
size of a conventional bomb campaign, just how quickly that was growing at the end of the war, in august, i think the estimate was that if the warhead continued, by january of 1946, in that months, we would have dropped more bomb tonnage on japan then we actually did drop on japan in the entire war. >> the other thing i would say in that respect is that we often lose sight of what was going on body count would've probably been a 3x or 4x larger in the occupied areas in china and indonesia and vietnam and that would've been a tremendous humanitarian tragedy. tens of millions more people would've been killed, not just in japan. >> with a japanese believe that they would've disappeared. that there would've been famine that the russians would've been for continue to invade the islands and there would be
untold catastrophe which the postwar political situation of might've looked much like germany. >> it goes back until the story before, i gave the presentation about the bombing in tokyo and the senior japanese historian got up and said, in and we must thank you americans because you made a surrender in august therefore a soviet invasion later in september come up in a prevented ten millions of starving to death in the winter because they couldn't get food and so there is all kinds of oil every month, you place kind of actual games which started out earlier but every month of the way it changes something else in the ripples could've added massive it implications for the history of the world and the common denominator would've been a lot of civilian bodies. >> i thank you so a great way to