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US war policy in pictures

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It's unfortunate that Pearl Harbour is included above as an example of the United States government lying to its people to justify war. Whilst it is true that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's (FDR's) claim that he was surprised by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour was a lie, it should not be included in this list.

FDR realised months before Pearl Harbour that if the United States did not enter the war then raging in Europe, particularly after 22 June 1941 in the Soviet Union, then Hitler would win the war and humanity would descend in to a new age of barbarism.

Unlike the case for all the other wars listed above, all of humanity, including the people of the United States, had a vital stake in the outcome of that war.

However, given that there were powerful vested interests in the United States that sided with Hitler, FDR could not see how the United States' people, rightly angry about the needless First World War slaughter, including the loss of 117,000 American lives, were going to be convinced by reasoned argument in sufficient time to prevent Hitler's triumph.

President Roosevelt saw no choice but to pull a stunt somewhat similar to the stunts previously pulled to overcome opposition to past unjust wars.

That stunt was to provoke Japan into launching a surprise attack. He did so by imposing sanctions on Japan. Japan was then engaged in a vicious war of conquest against China. Without raw materials including oil, Japan would be left with two choices: 1. abandon its war against China; or 2. launch a war of conquest to gain the necessary raw materials from South-East Asia.

The Japanese rulers chose the latter course and, at the outset of that war, they attempted to knock out the bulk of the United States' Pacific Fleet including the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise, USS Lexington and USS Saratoga.

However, the attack was expected, all the more so, because the Americans had cracked the code used by the Japanese navy to encrypt their radio communications.

The devastation caused by the 'surprise' Pearl Harbour attack was considerable: 4 battleships sunk 15 other ships damaged, 188 aircraft destroyed and 2,403 lives lost, but the Japanese failed to sink the three aircraft carriers which had not yet arrived at Pearl Harbour. These aircraft carriers were to play critical roles in the subsequent naval war against Japan in the Pacific.

Pearl Harbour gave FDR overwhelming public support for the war against Japan, but not yet for war against Nazi Germany. Four days later on 11 December, fortunately, Nazi Germany, decided to declare war on America. No doubt this was spurred on by United States' warships attacking U-boats and the sendng of Lend-Lease aid to the embattled British Isles as well as Pearl Harbour.

The above is documented in a number of works, including "Day of Deceit" (2001) by Robert Stinnett.

It is my view that the seemingly cynical underhanded actions of FDR may well have made the difference between the triumph of Nazism and its defeat. Had the US not entered the war, even the heroic sacrifice of the peoples of the Soviet Union may not have stopped Hitler. Without military campaigns of the United States against Nazi Germany and without material supplies from the United States, would the Soviet people have been able to make the further additional sacrifice that was necessary to defeat Nazi Germany, on top of the 25 million that they did lose?

I think it unlikely.