The current position of the United States as the world’s sole superpower is unique and extraordinary in that it can mainly be attributed to her outcome from the Second World War, and even more so the way she entered it: The Attack on Pearl Harbor. The few critical hours in the early morning of December 7th, 1941 determined the future course of the world that would unfold for 70 years and still does today. It is extremely remarkable how the events of that day came together in perfect unison to produce the future that we know and live in. Had one detail of either the events or the situation leading up the events of Pearl Harbor had been changed in even a minuscule way, perhaps a different outcome to World War II might have occurred, and the United States as superpower might not exist. It is for this reason that the Attack on Pearl Harbor should not be considered as a total and complete military disaster for the US in WWII as it commonly is, but rather, an unfortunate and tragic loss of life that secured the best possible outcome for the US in WWII.
In order to fully understand the events that led up to the Attack on Pearl Harbor, a brief examination of US culture and Japanese-US relations starting in the mid-19th Century is necessary. The relationship between the two governments and American culture is important in that it contributed to the reaction of the American people to the attack. The US public believed the attack to be so treacherous that they called it “a date which will live in infamy”. It is extremely critical to understand the reasons why the Attack on Pearl Harbor is not to be considered a defeat for the US by forming a close examination of the battle that occurred, and the immediate and long-term military effects that followed. The situation of the US Navy after Pearl Harbor was not a deplorable one and the US was able to launch it’s own offensive at Guadalcanal less than year after the attack. Most important in understanding how Pearl Harbor put the US into the best possible position at the end of the war is the way the US entered it. With massive public support and a war economy in full swing, the US was able to win the war almost single-handedly, and her position as the world’s leading power out her on the path to became its sole superpower today. Essentially, everything discussed will be able to be related back to the cliché yet highly accurate “sleeping giant” quote by Japanese Admiral Yamamoto.
For sources, there are few, but they are informative. It is my belief that too many sources will become too confusing, and a few 3-4 detailed ones become much more convincing as more evidence is given from the same source.
An informative and thoroughly detailed source for the background information comes in the form of James Bradley’s The Imperial Cruise, a non-fiction about US Imperialism in the Pacific in the early 1900’s and Japanese-US relations leading up the Second World War. I have fully read this source but have to re-analyze it for evidence to support my thesis.
Sources that recount the historical details of the battle are numerous, so I chose one recommended by Stephen E. Ambrose, a world-renowned WWII author. Day of Infamy, by Walter Lord is Ambrose’s choice for best Pearl Harbor non-fiction, and I trust his judgment! I have not read this source yet and will over the coming week. I also have another source titled The Pacific War, by Daniel Marston, if I have need for more historical evidence.
The World War II Magazine has an article by Alan D. Zimm titled: The Pearl Harbor Myth: A new analysis shows the ‘brilliant’ Japanese attack was riddled with surprising blunders. This has some great evidence for my topic and I have fully read and analyzed it.
I am also considering using a Military Channel-aired documentary named: Unsolved History: The Myths of Pearl Harbor. It includes some great historical detail of the battle, but not all of it relates to my topic. I will have to decide if I want to use it or not. I have fully watched it but not analyzed it for evidence.
I also have a number of JSTOR articles. To name a few: Pearl Harbor: Deterrence Theory and Decision Theory, by Bruce M. Russet, Germany and Pearl Harbor, by H. L. Trefousse, Why Remember Pearl Harbor, by Carroll D. Alcott, and Pearl Harbor: Military Inconvenience, Political Disaster, by John Mueller. These scholarly journals will provide evidence for multiple areas of my thesis. I have fully read most of these articles and have analyzed some of them for evidence.
Lastly, I also wish to credit some sources of the time period, mainly those who made quotes, such as FRD’s “day of infamy” and Yamamoto’s fictional “sleeping giant” quote from the film Tora! Tora! Tora!. Perhaps some quotes by Admiral Chester Nimitz or General Douglas MacArthur could be useful, as well.
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