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What made Pearl Harbor inevitable

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Over 2,400 Americans died that Sunday morning as the 1st Air Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the dreaded Kido Butai, struck the Pacific Fleet at anchor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. One US battleship, the Arizona, was destroyed outright. Another, the Oklahoma, damaged beyond repair. Six others were severely damaged. Most of the US airplanes were destroyed on the ground. At first glance, “a date which will live in infamy” was a massive tactical victory for the IJN, on par with the triumphs against China in 1895 and Russia in 1905.

It was also a strategic disaster. The port facilities at Pearl were left largely intact, so the US was able to rebuild and salvage most of the stricken ships. The US aircraft carriers were elsewhere, meaning they survived to fight another day. Just six months later, three of them would wipe out the Kido Butai at Midway.

More importantly, the attack provided President Franklin Delano Roosevelt with a rallying cry. He had been eager to get the US involved in the war in Europe, creating a “Lend-Lease” program in March 1941 to supply the UK and later the USSR with weapons, and signing the Atlantic Charter with British PM Winston Churchill in August. The vocal domestic opposition he faced from Americans unwilling to repeat Woodrow Wilson’s WWI adventure vanished overnight after Pearl Harbor.

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in “alternate history,”........

© RT.com

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