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I simply have not got enough Navy to go round—and every little episode in the Pacific means fewer ships in the Atlantic." 2 Once Japanese troops began moving into southern Indochina, however, a new situation was created.3 The President consequently changed his mind about the way to react.
He said that a knock.down, fight was taking place in Tokyo.
Japan's leaders were trying to figure out which way to jump—whether to invade the Soviet Far East or the South Seas or whether to "sit on the fence and be more friendly with us." The decision was anyone's guess, "but, as you know," he told Ickes, "it is terribly important for the control of the Atlantic for us to keep peace in the Pacific.
December 7, 1941, began as a typical Sunday for millions of Americans, but suddenly everything changed, irrevocably, in ways they would remember for the rest of their lives.
As the news flashed from coast to coast, the bombing of Pearl Harbor mushroomed into a national disaster. What could be done to guard against surprise attacks in the future?
A month before the Japanese government sent its troops into southern French Indochina in the summer of 1941, Ickes recommended to the President that shipments of oil to Japan be stopped immediately.
In a brief reply that skated on the edge of sarcasm, FDR said, "Please let me know if this would continue to be your judgment if this were to tip the delicate scales and cause Japan to decide either to attack Russia or to attack the Dutch East Indies." 1 When Ickes argued the case, the President pressed his own point of view.What is disturbing about the Pearl Harbor revisionists, however, is their tendency to disregard the rules of scholarship and to gloss over the complexities of the historical record.They are determined to spread the notion that Roosevelt goaded the Japanese government into attacking the United States at Pearl Harbor, thus making it possible for him to enter the European conflict through the "back door of the Far East." They therefore attribute Tokyo's decision for war to the allegedly arbitrary policies sanctioned by the President, especially the freezing of Japan's assets in July 1941 and the proposal for a settlement that Secretary of State Cordell Hull presented to the Japanese government in November.Roosevelt of having misled the public in regard to the coming of the war in the Pacific.These detractors paid little attention to Japanese military intrusions in East Asia in the decade prior to Japan's attack on the United States.His secretary would then transcribe the material, but Stimson apparently did not edit the typescript.9 Anyone who uses this rich source will soon become aware of the problems it presents: awkward phrasing here and there, irreconcilable changes in tense, pronouns with ambiguous antecedents, and—most serious of all—elliptical passages that raise questions of interpretation.Honestly held differences of opinion can easily arise out of conflicting interpretations of what happened in the past, even when everyone accepts the same set of facts.This form of debate is one of the most important mechanisms by which historians eventually arrive at tenable conclusions.In the Pacific, however, the President was prepared to be conciliatory.Over a period of months, he had resisted the tempting advice of several members of his cabinet who had urged him to adopt stringent measures.