Foreign Policy

Some Pearl Harbor Day Heresy

|


Pat Buchanan at American Conservative revives some old arguments about the foreign policy manuevers on the U.S.'s part that led up to Pearl Harbor, hooked off the new book Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's Secret History of the Second World War and its Aftermath, edited by conservative historian George Nash. Basically, it argues that more intelligent diplomatic maneuvers and not freezing Japan's assets and embargoing oil and metal shipments to it could likely have avoided Pearl Harbor and its aftermath.

There is a rich history of such revisionist arguments about blame and heroism leading up to World War II, and such thinking used to be a significant element of the inchoate libertarian movement in the 1940s and '50s, though little discussed today. Two of my own biggest libertarian influences, novelists Robert Heinlein and Robert Anton Wilson, both found the war revisionist historians influential on their own ideological development, in complicating the heroic narrative usually told about your own government. 

Looking twice at exactly how U.S. choices and behaviors may have exacerbated the conflict that led to Pearl Harbor is not the same as arguing specific foreknowledge of the specific Pearl Harbor attack on the part of FDR, as per John Toland and Robert Stinnett.