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tv   Countdown to Pearl Harbor  CSPAN  June 24, 2017 12:00pm-12:45pm EDT

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particularly an occupational license to restrict the free flow of workers into an occupation in order to enjoy an economic benefit as a result. you can watch this and other programs online at bring you roosevelt reading festival at the fdr presidential library in hyde park, new york. the annual event teaches author presentations about president roosevelt and roosevelt era politics. today we'll hear from pulitzer prize winning author youssef. jared b. hawkins katherine smith, howard bloom and more for a complete schedule visit our website, first up is steve toomey who provides a history of the 12 days leading up to the japanese attack on pearl harbor on december 7th, 1941.
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>> good morning everyone. welcome to their franklin d. roosevelt presidential library museum and annual roosevelt reading festival. ... minute question and answer period. if you let the auto leave, they will be outside signing books by the bookstore. we are fortunate to have c-span with us today. if you're going to ask a question please walk to the microphone so your questions can be recorded and preserved for posterity. this is also a weekend c-span is featuring hide park on their
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c-span cities tour program today and tomorrow so check your local listings was one thing we are proud about in the reading facilities we do bring the greatest doctors talking about stories we care deeply about, one of the key stories, the beginning of world war ii, and last year we did a major exhibit on pearl harbor which featured a deep dive 24 hours inside the white house, the book "countdown to pearl harbor: the 12 days to the attack" provides a wonderful and emotional and visceral journey inside the events leading up to pearl harbor. executive order 9066 led to the
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internment, featuring things like dorothy lange. we get free information to the museum. to go over there and visit. raise your hands, members. and without our members, we appreciate your support. something to maintain the legacy of the roosevelts. in the washington post, it brings a journalist eye for detail, detail nuance, language, gives fatality to his writing that is important. he wrote an article about
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american aircraft carriers, a pulitzer prize winner, and the understanding, and roosevelt's intent connection to the navy. and all things maritime. and it is a t personal blow to him. he wrote two books, "countdown to pearl harbor: the 12 days to the attack" and what i learned when i almost died from a nonfiction book. please welcome arthur steve twomey. [applause] >> thank you for that introduction.
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a premature happy father's day to all the fathers out there. it is an honor to speak here today. without the material or staff here, the book would become a far less informed work. even before the publicity surrounding, we were aware of the two words before pearl harbor, most of us knew the surprise attack plunged the country into the world war that was raging at that point. most of us who did it. and the ben affleck movie
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throughout the attack, what is so fantastic about that movie that managed to unearth crucial romantic angles that all previous authors and movies had missed. you may have heard pearl harbor, the product of a grand conspiracy, anchored by the man whose home this is or was, franklin roosevelt. supposedly to get america into the war and help the british and fascism roosevelt provoked japan and may have known of a secret plan to attack hawaii and then let it happen. there is 0 credible evidence. franklin roosevelt did not know the japanese intended to attack the naval base at pearl harbor.
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let me give you one of the many reasons he did not, the president spent a good deal of saturday, december 6th composing a letter, a letter of a kind he never sent before. it was it hardly reflect the were eager president. it was not and ultimatum. instead it was a plea, one man directly to another. roosevelt wrote japan is militarism and threatening moves all over the pacific were causing what he called dark clouds over the pacific ocean.
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he called on the emperor to help him, to join with him and find a way to dispel those clouds and prevent what roosevelt called further death and destruction in the world. it never reached the emperor's hands. it may not have mattered if that cable that roosevelt personally compose if it reached the emperor. the emperor already, the japanese strike fleet completed its secret 12 day crossing,
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carrier planes are in donation receipt of that letter. you may have heard this roosevelt myth about a conspiracy, you may have a general knowledge of pearl harbor, we have a vague idea is. most of us know what a great drama it was. a drama of very talented and well-meaning civilians and military officials, trying in the last days of november 1941. to figure out with, and americans have any fairly super visual understanding of the japanese that included the
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leadership. the players or anything or their decisions for their mistakes or their pain, when they realize onset morning how wrong they have been in their assumptions and their beliefs about the situation they face. i had no sense of these things when i began the project, began researching a possible book. in the summer of 2011, i do something perhaps many of you have done, during a family vacation, it -- to the arizona memorial. the memorial is a squashed milk carton.
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and and to go there, and if you look at the resting decks below the surface, pearl harbor is very shallow so when the ship sank they didn't have far to go. you see them below the service and standing at one of history's great pivot points. it is a sunny place, but a somber place. in that harbor took place the most catastrophically unexpected event in the country's 165 years of existence. it shattered america's and of itself as confident, optimistic, safe and superior. it shattered the reputation of
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the navy is unmatched and unbeatable as the best navy in the world, the navy was a bigger presence in the public's eyes than it is now. newspapers routinely covered the changes of naval command, big stories when admiral x was replaced by admiral why. even in peacetime reporters went out to see to file long, detailed reports about the complex exercises of atlantic and pacific fleet. the navy was
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the newspaper that landed on the front steps of homes in honolulu on sunday morning, december 7th, it was sitting there when the plane showed up overhead. the newspaper had a front-page announcement that santa claus would be in the newspaper bobby starting at noon like he was every year. ready to hear christmas wishes of the children of honolulu. i never did find out whether santa claus showed up that day, i suspect not.
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we also need to remember this was the age before spy satellites. there were no cameras in the stratosphere up there snapping photos as you would have today as 30 japanese warships silently sailed out of an obscure bay in the farthest most remote region of northern japan and began heading for hawaii. ready to sail the incredible distance of 3150 miles. that is how long their journey was. there weren't even american reconnaissance planes flying over japan because they alone if they had been doing that would have provoked a more. in other words it was hardly easy to know what the other guy was up to. keep those twee contextual points in mind. let's go to our four people i
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would like you to meet. the first was a civilian named helen and off the man is helen doff. she had been a resident of the hawaiian islands for about a month. she was a young mother of two, two young children and she had boarded an ocean liner in san francisco with them to make the one week crossing to the islands. it is possible to fly to hawaii on a pan am clipper but the flight was 15 hours. the conditions were pretty cramped and it was expensive, so most people went by ship. she was overjoyed to be in the islands, she was reunited with her husband who was an army officer but she was also overjoyed because she was alive. she had expected their passenger liner would be attacked on the
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way to hawaii. upon arrival she immediately wrote to relatives on the mainland, we didn't get bombed or torpedoed as i had anticipated, helen wrote. we didn't even see a submarine on the whole trip. but she added they were probably out there, they are crafty. this was more than a month before the attack on pearl harbor. we tend to think of pearl harbor as a bolt from the blue. the united states was minding its own business and along came the japanese and started world war ii. in reality, any american paying reasonable attention in 1941 as helen was new war with japan was drawing closer and incidentally, it was literally in all the
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papers almost every day. to get it to stop attacking countries in the far east especially china. and there was a belief that eventually america would have to use force, stepping with forces to stop the japanese. when war came, it would be by our choice, not theirs. by late november and early december diplomats and other sources were reporting japanese warships and troop transports were departing from ports in occupied china and heading south. these were not the same ship that had begun sailing to hawaii that i mentioned a few moments ago. nobody would ever know of these ships, these were other ships that were easier to see because they were leaving from china where they were western spies
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and not leading from japan, the southbound ship syndicated the japanese were about to attack the british at singapore, the dutch in the east indies, the ties or even the philippines which was an american possession. war seems so likely on december 5th that there was a debate on the floor of the house about giving each soldier $40 of federal money so they could travel home for the holidays and as congressman edwin hall told the house, this might be the last chance a great many boys have to come home. might be in the pacific soon. war seems so likely that franklin roosevelt wrote another letter to his former political opponents, wendell wilkie, the
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man he defended -- defeated in the 1940 election. they were quite close in their views of the world, roosevelt wrote wilkie about the japanese situation and perhaps the next four five days will decide the matter. we will find out where the japanese fleet is going and where they intend to attack. war seems so likely that the day before roosevelt wrote that letter, walter lipman, the columnist, told the nation the nation was, quote, now really on the verge of actual all out war and met with japan, not germany. that is point number one. war was extremely close. on november 27th, washington had officially warned both the navy and the army and all across the
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pacific in the philippines and panama at the various military bases across the pacific, had warned the more was imminent. the cables did not say who would be attacked or where because washington was not sure of that but wanted everyone in the pacific to be on their toes. that was ten days before the attack. the second point, the u.s. navy had long thought if there was a war, the japanese might attack pearl harbor without first declaring war. they had done something similar to the russians in 1904 in the war between those two empires. they had surprised the russian fleet before war was declared and to illustrate this tendency of the japanese, meet the second of our poor people, admiral
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patrick hollinger. officially belanger was designated as naval air pilot number 4. that is because he was the fourth person in history to ever fly a plane for the navy. he had all kinds of aviation firsts in his career, understood the relatively new source of naval power. in those days of early december '75 years ago, he was in charge of the pacific fleet patrol planes. that is a patrol plane. those are the planes that are called on to search out the enemy. if the fleet is -- flies far out in front of the fleet, the fleet is at the, flies far out from oahu if the fleet is important, solely to make sure nothing
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threatening is out there. in march of that year, 1941, patrick belanger had co-authored a report. and hg wells's time machine or michael j fox's delorean. this is what his report theorized was possible. if times were tense but there was no war, one or more japanese aircraft carriers might sail to hawaiian waters. army and navy intelligence sources services would not detect that they had done so. 300 miles from oahu the japanese force would launch its airplane. those planes would arrive at dawn catching it in the harbor.
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lastly, the results could be disastrous. sound familiar? belanger predicted every single thing that wound up happening but for much of the first week of december, he was at home in bed in a while who sick. he was reading the newspapers, he knew the situation was deteriorating. he did not know washington had sent the warning message about the possibility of war breaking out imminently. he did not know navy, radio eavesdroppers had lost track of four of japan's aircraft carriers. the pieces were falling into place for precisely the scenario belanger had envisioned in march, but no one was telling him that. the pacific fleet commander who
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was his boss did not feel the clues were worrisome enough to tell belanger. belanger said he would -- if he knew about the warning message and a for missing japanese carriers he would also guess whether he recommended the fleet commander that some sort of search begin to see if those barriers were coming. but he definitely wished someone had told him, so that he could have had the chance to think about as possibly make that recommendation which brings us to the third person i would like to share with you. navy captain by the name of arthur maccallum, an intelligence officer in washington, he was a most unusual american. he had been born in japan, he spoke japanese fluently. as a naval officer he had served
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in japan twice as an attaché at the embassy. he had even taught the emperor how to dance in an american style. maccallum respected the japanese and their fighting ability. that was not a common feeling in the america of 1941 and that is point number 3. americans tended to think of the japanese as a curious little people who are not particularly creative or innovative. one article noted that japan had never produced a mozart or shakespeare or michelangelo, only western art were the benchmark of a nation's creativity. japan's weapons were not thought to be very good, nor their ability with mechanical things. they were even thought to have physiological defects that made
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them lousy aviators, a poor sense of tolerance. and fletcher pratt, rose, quote, the japanese as a race have the effect of the inner year, just as they are generally myopic. and lousy flyers because he had an impeccable source. an official of the singer sewing machine company, based in japan, told him personally, taking a japanese domestic flight because it would crash. he would say later it was difficult to break through the mindset given what he called the constant daily drum fire from
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our press about how militarily amusing the japanese were. the u.s. navy did not think its own ships could change -- stage a long-distance attack in japan. we couldn't sail that far ourselves and we couldn't fail this far either. this is called mirror imaging. you measure someone's capabilities by your own. if our boys can't do it, their boys can't do it either. that made it easy to think the belanger report did not outline something that was likely to happen, it outlined something that possibly could happen. it was like kicking a box or covering your bases. this view of japanese inability proved literally fatal in a very specific regard. going to get slightly technical for a moment. the torpedo dropped from an
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airplane weighs nearly a ton and as a result, it needs a good bit of water damaged of function, it levels off and races to its target. as i mentioned, pearl harbor was quite shallow, 45 feet. the u.s. navy torpedoes needed more depth than that to work, torpedoes dropped from an airplane. the pacific fleet assumed japanese torpedoes dropped from an airplane needed more than 45 feet too, so if the fleet were tied up at its home port, it would be safe. nobody seems to have wondered whether the japanese, who also knew the depth of pearl harbor, no one seems to have wondered whether the japanese would tackle the problem rather than simply accept and they did tackle it and they solved it.
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that was going to be japan's main point of attack, that fleet was indeed bonged for the philippines to the dutch east indies for singapore, all of which japan did attack in the next few days. many in the japanese navy wanted to confine to that part of the world and prefer to leave the pacific fleet alone. and if it came forth to stop japan's conquest after america had declared war, they preferred to deal with american fleet on their side of the pacific ocean. and besides these japanese naval officers argued, a surprise attack on pearl harbor would be enormously risky for japan. and attack fleet would be at sea for days. and could be discovered by american search plane or ships at any moment. if it were discovered, it might
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not knowed it been discovered. it might not see the airplane up there that had spotted them. might not see the ship that submarine that spotted them. an would keep sailing in ignorance right into an ambush now being set by the american fleet that was alerted and waiting. the attack fleet would have to be refuel many times at sea in the 12 days it was -- it would take to cross. and reare refueling a ship underway at sea is very -- risky in the north pacific many december. finally japings realized they could reach hawaii only to find pacific fleet was not there. remember there were no satellites. they had no ability to know whether the pacific fleet would be in port when they got there. and if it wasn't then there's a obvious immediate next question --
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where is it we're sitting here 3,000 miles are from home and we don't know where they are. but despite all of these objections -- to attacking pearl harbor, the decision was made to attack because the pacific threat was the only force in the pacific capable of forging or challenging japan plan for conquest elsewhere in the pacific. a young officer was one of the 16,000 men on those 30 ships on their way to hawaii. he's the fourth person i'd like you to meet. like almost all of those in the attack fleet, he did not know the enemy or the target until just before they set sail from that obscure bay and when he found out, he thought he would
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be sailing to his death. this plan was just so ridiculous. so he cut a snip of his hair and tucked it in an envelope and wrote farewell letter to his wife and two young, very young children, and he wanted the hair to be a memento of the father of the children would never really know. he wrote his will as did many people. and aboard his ship, there was a joke -- they would all receive jp's highest military award for attempting it this attack but none of them, there to get it because americans were sure to detect them from coming and he thought he would die in his words -- , quote, off hawaii in the greatest and most desperate battle in our history.
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their fleet arrived undetected they saw no search plane, no search ships, they were never found. they couldn't believe it. and he wrote, i really couldn't find any e other better expression of our good fortune than had the words, the grace of heaven and the help of god. it was not, of course, due to god that they had succeeded. they had succeeded because they had been underestimated and they were daring. they had skdzed because washington's warnings to them were written so ambiguously and vague isly that they could be misunderstood and they were. they had had succeeded because after issuing warnings washington never made sure of precautions but washington assumed that pacific fleet had begun to search for a possible approaching enemy. it had not.
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in closing, i'd like to tell you about one more individual. his name was husband chillel from kentucky, and he was a very regal looking man of 59 years old. and on the morning of sunday december 7th he had been expecting to play golf at a club near honolulu. but about 8 a.m. telephone rang, and it led him to step outside of his house and on to the lawn of his house which is still there. the house has a view sits on that hill and look down on harbor where you can see even no this day the current pacific fleet. and as he watched from that spot, with he could see dozens and dozens of jappedz planes beginning to billion and straight the ships down in the
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what are -- harbor. his ships. kimwas commander of the pacific fleet until that moment he had had nearly 40 years of service in the navy. spotless years of service. he had succeeded at every command he had ever had. and now watching from his house, he saw destruction and smoke. he saw one of his battleships already beginning to turn over becaused it taken so many torpedoes and was filling up so rapidly with water. the noise was tremendous. one thing it is hard to appreciate how noisy it must have been. everything kimmel thought he knew -- about military tactics and the capability -- capability of the japanese was being blown up right before his eyes.
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and all of the decisions he'd been making about the threat he faced were being nullified. in a matter of minutes, he went from a perfect record to blemish. he wept from the best job in the navy to national disgrace. and whenever i think, think of him standing there, i can't help but think this was one of the saddest moments in american history. and kimmel was never the same. he never recovered from -- he wasn't physically injured he never recovered from the emotional trauma. a neighbor came out to stand with him on the lawn. and she would recall that kimmel seemed incredulous, quote, his face as white as the uniform he wore. thanks for listening this morning and i be happy to take
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any questions. [applause] >> in the university of pittsburgh one question i have is -- things that people bring up concerning the oil embargo against japan. and what role this had in the attack. japan got almost all of its oil from the united states prior to pearl harbor. japan is a very resource poor nation in terms of -- about the natural resources that a military, navy need or a country needs frankly. and as japan's behavior became more and more aggressive in 1940 and 1941, the united states
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continued to warn japan try to reason with japan, deal with japan to get it to stop doing what it was doing. as i mentioned particularly in china. where japan has been at work since 1937 millions of people were killed and wounded in china and we were an ally of china. many july of 1941, roosevelt created a system by which it's a little complex but essentially we stopped shipping oil. to japan -- and as a way to protest their actions and as retaliation for their bad behavior, that oil embargo hurt japan deeply. and people have often suggested from people have suggested well if roosevelt had not embargoed their oil, they would not have
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is egg tayed. they were responding to a -- life-threatening economic reality. i've always found that argument hard to follow. because you're saying the problem here was not the misbehavior but the response to the misbehavior. japan was a militaristic nation absolutely bent on creating its own sphere of inthriewns in influence in asia. in one sense it was noble there were still vast european colonies in -- in the far east. white people still controlled way too much of -- of asia philippines, dutch east indy, singapore, hong kong and on and on. in the japanese object o od strongly to that and thought asia ought to run asia and problem with the goal is they should they should run everyone
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else -- [laughter] so oil embargo was a factor. japan in its southwest move was -- hoping to obtain the great oil reserves that were in the dutch east indies today is indonesia so oil embargo was definitely a major factor at that time. but i think you can safely argue if they hadn't embargoed oil would japan have behaved? i doubt it. >> sorry about that. >> sorry about about that. [applause] thank you.
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now from the roosevelt reading festival adrian miller former special assistant of president bill clinton. recalls the many african-americans who worked in food service at the white house. and their relationship to president franklin roosevelt. >> good morning -- my maim is and on what have of the library i'd like to welcome


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