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tv   Open Phones with Ian Toll  CSPAN  December 11, 2016 12:30am-1:31am EST

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the military impacts. they are closely related. the attack on pearl harbor was an extraordinarily well executed attack from the japanese point of view. former speaker of the house newt gingrich tweeted out to the effect that the japanese attack had been technically brilliant. he was criticized for that. but whatever else you want to say about newt gingrich, i think he was right in this instance. fdr also essentially congratulated the japanese by saying this was an extraordinarily brilliant attack. tactically, certainly it was. the japanese accomplished something that never had been accomplished before. they came to theirs of the way across the pacific ocean, launched a huge, coordinated
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waves -- twosix waves from a six carrier flight deck. that was not only beyond american capability, but beyond the capability of navy. it had never been done before, and had never been imagined. that something that technically complicated could be achieved. that is part of the reason that pearl harbor was such a great shock. host: why did japan attack the u.s.? ian: that is a question japanese scholars and american scholars have been debating for 75 years. i think the best way to answer is to begin with the understanding that the japanese regime prior to and during the second world war was essentially dysfunctional. power was shared across many different elements of the
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military establishment. it was an army dominated government. the navy also had a great deal of power. there were rival factions within the services, and the two services were essentially at each other's throats nonstop for control of the national budget, military and foreign policy. essentially the japanese needed oil. they had relied on texas crude. they have imported about 90% of their oil to run their economy there were on as our relations deteriorated, we essentially cut off all oil exports. that created a crisis. the japanese needed to replace that source. in order to do that, they were determined to take the
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netherlands east indies, which we today call indonesia, where there were productive oil fields. in order to take those territories, they essentially decided they needed to preventively strike us at pearl harbor to clear the way for that invasion. host: this is american history anniversaryial 75th program on the attack of pearl harbor. we are talking with ian toll with his book "pacific crucible." we looking for your calls as well. we look forward to your comments on twitter as well. host: first up is glenn. caller: thank you for having me.
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could you ask the author to talk about the purple heart issue to the members of the fire department, my understanding is they were the only purple heart awarded to civilians. i have heard about these purple heart. you may know more about it than i do. the attacks resulted in an enormous amount of antiaircraft fire from various interfaces -- airbases around oahu. those antiaircraft shells fell into the residential districts of honolulu, creating several fires and casualties. all of the first responders, civilian and military, had to very quickly get into the act to respond.
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i believe you are correct that that was unprecedented at the time. it was a mark of what an extraordinary event this was. yet another way to measure what a remarkable and unprecedented event pearl harbor was. host: in your book you write that "by 8:10 a.m., the main battle fleet of the pacific was crippled." what allow that to happen so quickly? guest: the japanese achieved complete surprise. their first wave came in essentially with little or no opposition, either from american fighters or from antiaircraft batteries. they were able to line up their attacks, divebombing torpedo attacks on the american battleships, which were moored in pearl harbor in a double file. they were essentially sitting ducks with no prior warning.
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the crews were not ready to react, either by returning antiaircraft fire or closing hatches, which could've prevented sinking. didas the torpedoes which most of the damage. they were able to hit these battleships, immobilize large targets. they put all of the battleships eight in the pacific fleet out of action. six were returning to service later in the war, so it was a temporary loss. yet at the time there was still a prevalent view that the battleships were the heart of any navy's fleet. they were the queen of the seas. that is one the japanese targeted the battleships. it is also why the initial shock in washington and around the
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country was so great. we had lost all of these ships at the outset of the war. host: let's go to john in west palm beach, florida. caller: good morning. i grew up in the tv generation of the 1960's. my mother -- father was a tanker in world war ii. he took me to the movie "tora tora tora!" when i was 10 years old. i viewed it the other night. after watching c-span all week, i'm amazed at how accurate the movie actually was. it really was like the first docu-drama. i wanted to get your opinion on that. the producer made great efforts to keep accuracy in his movie. i just wanted to know how you felt about that.
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ian: i agree with you. i think it is the best movie that has been made about pearl harbor. that includes the more recent 2001 movie. as you say, that is a film that tried to use all of the most up-to-date historical sources at the time it was made and to accurately depict what happened. i also think it was a joint effort between american and japanese filmmakers. the japanese sequences i think are a real highlight of that movie. i agree with you. i wish there was more filmmaking like that today. the filmmaking track record of the pacific war in general is mixed. we could use a new movie about the battle of midway.
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the movie in the 1970's was quite good, but inaccurate in many respects. with filmmaking technology today, there is a great movie to be made about the battle of midway. i want to point out the attacks on hiroshima and nagasaki for -- are the last mile of big-budget hollywood filmmaking. we've not had a big budget treatment of those events. somebody is going to make a great movie about the bombing of hiroshima. i predict that film will win the best talk -- oscar for best picture. host: we're speaking with ian toll, author of "pacific crucible." over the course of many years, we have seen many american newsreels about the attack at
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pearl harbor. let's take a look at one of the japanese newsreels reporting on the attack that day. ♪ >> nippon declared war against america and britain december 8, 1941. the navy attacked pearl harbor when the u.s. boasted its strength as the strongest in the world. ♪ >> there are many miles. our carriers sweep toward hawaii. a strong wind blows. the sea is rough, and the waves are high, crashing against the side of the ship's. a thunderous noise. our men are on deck, the
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commander of the imperial air squadron sounds the alarm. war heroes determined to respond to their country's call. ♪ >> one by one, navy eagles pop off from the deck. ♪ >> on that memorable day, december 8, squadrons of nippon bombers head tour hawaii.
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-- head for hawaii. first nippon planes attack america's air base. next, nippon planes land heavy charges. dive bombers go into action. enemy cruisers are hit hard in the harbor. there shows the miserable state of the american navy, which boasted the strongest fleet in the world.
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♪ >> nippon now commands the vast waters of the pacific. her mighty warships plow the way majestically. the greatest victory in hawaii facilitates us to carry operations of the philippines and beyond. a new chapter in the history of asia begins. ♪ host: an understandably bold newsreel from japan in 1941 after the attack on pearl harbor. back with ian toll, author of "pacific crucible" on the 75th anniversary of pearl harbor.
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a question from one of our viewers on twitter asking, for the japanese, what part of the attack did not go as planned? ian: the attack went largely as planned for the japanese. there was one element of the attack which was essentially not coordinated with the aerial attack. that was a number of what were called midget submarines. these were small, two-man submersibles armed with two small torpedoes. they attempted to penetrate pearl harbor. they may have contributed to the capsizing of the battleship oklahoma, although the crews did not survive. there is some debate about what those submarines achieved. it was hoped they might be able
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to recover the crews of those submarines. none of them were recovered. as for the main carrier air attack, it largely went off as planned. it was a tactically brilliant success. they lost only 29 planes. none of their ships were scratched. although they expected a counter attack on their fleet, and had even assumed they might lose as many as 2 aircraft carriers. host: we have plenty of calls for ian. norman from michigan, welcome to the program. caller: hi, i would just like to ask mr. toll, in 1939, there was a battle between the soviet union and the japanese in
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manchuria. it was considered a decisive battle, some say in history. i would like to know if that had a bearing on the japanese decision to strike at the americans in pearl harbor. host: thanks, i think we have it there. ian toll? ian: yes, i think you can see -- say the experience of the japanese army fighting the soviets in manchuria did contribute to the decision to attack the united states and great britain. there had been essentially
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debate between the japanese army and navy over whether they should concentrate their efforts on attacking russia or whether they should look at going out -- south and taking territories in the south pacific. these were two fundamental , strategic directions that japan could have taken. there was no war declared, but large-scale combat, as aller mentioned, in manchuria. the soviet army got the better of the japanese army. that came as a wake-up call for the japanese army, going against an efficient, modern, mechanized army was going to be more difficult than they thought. from that point forward, japanese policy making rested
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on the idea that they would avoid war with the soviet union. that continued through the end of the war. 1944 -- there were hopes in 1944-1945 that the japanese government might people -- execute a diplomatic agreement where they bring stalin in to have a negotiated end to the pacific war. that never amounted to anything. there was no chance that could have succeeded. host: we welcome ray, a world war ii veteran from arkansas. good morning. why it hasonder never been mentioned that the top-secret invasion of the mainland japan has not been mentioned to the public. where we would have lost more
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americans killed plus japanese killed than the bomb dropped at hiroshima. it has never been mentioned. i have copies of the invasion order. it is unbelievable that it has not been put in the history books. it is very important that this be known other people what was to happen in november 1945 that did not happen. we were on our way to japan. i was in the armada when the war ended. we had passed the uss missouri the day the peace treaty was signed. host: do you know how big that force would have been? do you know how big the force would have been? caller: they had every army, naval, and marine units banded together to attack the japan mainland.
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there would have been over one million men lost on the beach. host: let's hear from ian toll. ian: sorry, before they cut the line-- host: he's gone. ian: i was just curious to know what unit he had been in. yes, we had planned an invasion of the japanese islands. it was in two stages. the first in november, as ray said correctly. then the main island some months after. that would've been an enormous invasion, larger than the normandy invasions. it would be more than 10 divisions slated to take part in that operation. it would have been an immensely bloody and really very terrible operation, not only for our own
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forces, but as ray said, for the japanese people. this has been the traditional justification to drop the bomb on hiroshima. i think that it is in the history books. certainly anybody who pays attention to the history of the pacific war is aware that we had these plans. they were well advanced. i have spent a lot of time talking to veterans who would have gone in. certainly it was necessary to avoid that operation. now, the question that he did not directly bring up, did we need to use the bombs to avoid the invasion? i think that is something we will continue to debate. the attack on hiroshima was the first week of august, 1945. the d-day date for the mainland
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invasion was november 1. that is a long period of time. there was not an immediate invasion that was about to occur. my own view, and i've express this recently in may when president obama went to hiroshima, i think it would've been a good idea for our own sake to have provided an explicit warning to the japanese. i think that would've been easier to defend. certainly, and this is important when you're talking to a veteran who would have gone in and might not have survived, i think it was clear that we needed to avoid ending the war with an invasion of japan. host: we should point out "pacific crucible" is part of a trilogy by ian toll.
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i assume this information you are talking about now is in the book you are working on currently. ian: yes. i will get deep into the plans for the invasion of japan in the third book, which will be entitled "twilight of the gods." host: when will we see that published? ian: that is a very personal question. [laughter] host: we won't hold you to it. ian: i would like to say 2018. host: let us hear from dave in new york. good morning. caller: good morning, gentlemen. my basic question, when exactly did the united states realize when the day of the battleship was over and the day of the carrier arrived?
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was nimitz relieved the battleships were hit and that they had most of the fleet intact? what was he in a state of panic that we lost most of her battleships, what i like going to do with all of these carriers that have not been tested in battle? pas the americans asked -- sed the two ocean navy act, that included six battleships and a montana class battleship. by the end of 1942, they were going to four, and the montana. ian: i would say nimitz was not panicked. he was captain of the arizona. he had been an admiral heading the battleship division. certainly the loss of the battleships came as a that punch
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personally, as it did to many officers. i think it is fair to say when he arrived at pearl harbor on christmas day, 1941 and spent three days touring the navy yard and made his assessment, he recognized the loss of the battleships would not be a permanent setback, that several could be returned to service. that the carriers, having been spared, meant that he had the means to begin striking back at the japanese almost immediately. the first carrier raids against japanese home islands began february of 1942. the battle of midway just six months after pearl harbor was a devastating counterpunch, in which four of japan's airline
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carriers were sent to the bottom of the pacific. i think nimitz and in general the navy quickly realized the aircraft carrier would be the most important weapon, with submarines also. that the battleship would be placed into a supporting role essentially as an antiaircraft gun or to protect the carriers, and as a specialized weapon to bombard island beaches prior to an amphibious assault. the emotional, kind of got level shock of losing the battleships, particularly losing the arizona and more than 1000 sailors killed in a second when her magazine went up, those were terrible events. but they were not crippling
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events. i think nimitz and his subordinates were relatively quick to realize it. host: were the japanese expecting the u.s. aircraft carriers to be in pearl harbor that day? ian: they had targeted them. so yes, i think they did expect them to be there. or at least had contingency plans to attack them if they were. what is notable about the japanese plan is that the primary targets were the battleships in the carriers were important. the irony is that the attack on pearl harbor itself demonstrated that the carrier was a much more important weapon. that is because the carrier can strike across a range of 200-250 miles. a battleship under optimal
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conditions might be able to strike an enemy over 5-7 miles at most. it was that difference in striking range that made the carrier the most important weapon of the pacific war. with submarines perhaps a close second. host: one of the photographs inside toll's "pacific crucible" looks at the white house in december 7, 1941. you can see christmas trees on the front lawn of the white house. people always remember the next day, the speech to congress by fdr. what they might not know is that eleanor roosevelt spoke to the nation that night. i'm speaking at a very serious moment in our history. the cabinet is convening and
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congress is meeting with the president. army and navy officials convened with the president all afternoon. in fact, the japanese ambassador was talking to the president at the very time that japan's airships were bombing our citizens in hawaii and the philippines, and sinking one of our transports loaded with lumber on its way to hawaii. by tomorrow morning, members of congress will have a full report and be ready for action. in the meantime, we the people are already prepared for action. for months, the knowledge that something of this kind might happen has been hanging over our heads. and yet it seemed impossible to believe, and possible -- impo ssible to drop the everyday things of life and feel there was only one thing that was important, preparation to meet an enemy no matter where he struck. that is all over now. there is no more uncertainty. we know what we have to face.
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we know that we are ready to face it. i should like to say just a word to the women in the country tonight. i have a boy at sea on a destroyer. for all i know, he may be on his way to the pacific. n are in the pacific. boys who willve not be called upon to go into action. you have friends and family and what has summoned to come in danger zone. you cannot escape the sadie -- you cannot escape the anxiety. i hope this will make you rise above this fears. we must go about our daily business more determined than ever to do the ordinary things, as well as we can. when we find a way to do anything more in our communities have a others, to
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feeling of security, we must do it. whatever is asked of us, i am sure we can accomplish it. we are the free and unconquerable people of the candidates of america -- people of the united states of america. to the young people, you are going to have a great opportunity. there will behind moments, and which are strength and ability will be tested. i have faith in you. i feel list though i was standing upon a rock. and that rock is my faith and my fellow citizens. now, we will go back to the
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next, we look at one of the oral histories produced by the national park service. >> as we prepared to get the church,ready to go to we looked up over the sky. there were planes flying around. i did not know what the devil a on the ship, i thought it was just a stunt, and somebody said the japanese are coming. it was bouncing off the still work, and the next thing we know we hear the words "all hands, manual battle stations. boat crew, report to the duty officer." they told us your heavy ammunition would endanger the people of while or the islands around there.
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so, we were restricted. your thing could fire is a 20 millimeter and machine guns. told me that this kid davis, who i had spent all of these schooldays worth was in the navy and was on the arizona. we were parked on the arizona. i went over to the arizona. there was what we call a gang plank. it went down so you could go a short. there, at the deck, and this tradition in the navy -- you have to salute the flag, salute the officer, state your business, and he would let you aboard or want, and i told him i wanted to see this kid davis
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from colorado. him bigger, colorado, and he says ok. he is the only one that could be from there. at that time, i turned around, looked down, and about that time is when i seen there were four planes coming direct, straight at us. and we did not think much of to, kinduse they used practice, for target dropping balloons, balloons full of water on us on a sunday, but this was not that. it was a real fact because as soon as the ship dropped -- you could not see the torpedoes drop, but when he turned up and went away, like this, you could see him, and you can see torpedoes coming straight at us. i would say it was less than 300 feet from us when y


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