Pearl Harbor and the Engineers of War

What gets me are the lies. Iraq’s "weapons of mass destruction" – Iran’s (nonexistent) nuclear weapons program – the Vietnamese "attack" in the Gulf of Tonkin – Germans bayoneting Belgium babies – the sinking of the USS Maine: over the long and bloody history of US imperialism, these are just a few of the fabrications US policymakers have seized on to justify Washington’s aggression. It’s quite a record, isn’t it? Not only that, but there’s been little if any acknowledgment by the American political elites that they’ve ever lied about anything: it’s all been thrown down the Memory Hole, along with whatever sense of shame these people ever had.

Indeed, if there is an award for sheer shamelessness then surely it must go to the court historians who preserve the myth of Pearl Harbor, insisting that the Japanese launched a "sneak attack" on the US fleet. The official version of the narrative is that the Americans, dewy-eyed innocents all, were simply minding their own business, not bothering anybody and certainly not aggressing against the predatory Japanese, who were fighting harmless "agrarian reformers" led by Mao Tse-Tung in China. Suddenly, totally without provocation, and out of the clear blue the Japs – to use the term routinely employed by the Roosevelt administration and its media minions at the time – crossed thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean to commit murder and mayhem for no good reason other than their own inherent evil.

What’s amazing is that even though this nonsense has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked over the years by historians concerned with discovering the truth – as opposed to getting tenure at some Ivy League university – the Big Lie is still not only believed by the hoi polloi but also stubbornly upheld by the "intellectuals." As to whether they actually believe it or not, that’s largely irrelevant as far as they’re concerned. As Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the archetypal pointy-headed liberal intellectual – and idolator of FDR – put it: "If he [the President] was going to induce the people to move at all, he had no choice but to trick them."

What do "the people" know? Only what our elites deign to tell them – and this was especially true in the run up to World War II. We didn’t have the Internet back then, nor did we have a group of people dedicated to defending truth-tellers against the government and its journalistic camarilla – the liberal-leftie ACLU wasn’t interested in defending "isolationists" against their hero FDR. Nor did they challenge the internment of Japanese-Americans. If a Snowden type had dared to come out and debunk the government’s lies the ACLU would’ve been in the front row of the hanging party.

So we didn’t learn the truth about Pearl Harbor until many years later. The facts are these: the Americans had broken the Japanese diplomatic and military codes and knew all about Tokyo’s war plans. As the Japanese made their way across the Pacific the Americans tracked their every move: they knew the timing and the tactics of the Japanese attack, and yet President Franklin Roosevelt did nothing – he let the fleet sit there, a sitting duck.

Then there is the story of Takeo Yoshikawa, the 27-year-old spy sent by the Japanese to scout out Pearl Harbor. He was discovered almost immediately after he arrived in Hawaii: he was, after all, very suspicious to begin with. The Japanese never sent youngsters abroad on diplomatic missions, and yet here was Yoshikawa – going under the name Morimura – being assigned as an attaché at the Japanese consulate in Honolulu. So they followed him around and intercepted every one of his messages to Tokyo: they knew exactly what he was there for and what he was up to.

Previous efforts by the Japanese government to reach an agreement with Washington had failed due to American intransigence. When Japan’s Prince Konoye offered to travel to Washington on a secret mission to prevent the conflict, FDR refused – and leaked the news to the pro-British pro-war Herald Tribune. Konoye’s government fell shortly afterward due in part to the leak. With the pro-war faction in Tokyo in charge, FDR’s longstanding efforts to get us into the war were finally bearing fruit.

All this is known: indeed, pro-Roosevelt historians make a major point of telling us how necessary it was for FDR to lie us into war – for our own good, and the good of the world, of course. After all, what do we plebeians know about running the world. Best to leave such weighty matters to our betters.

Nothing has really changed since Pearl Harbor: our officials are still lying, our "historians" are covering up the lies, and the whole rotten edifice is sitting on a foundation of lies, past and present.


You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].