tv Open Phones with Ian Toll CSPAN December 26, 2016 4:32pm-5:33pm EST
pearl harbor as we face the challenges and dangers of our own time. grant us hearts to love liberty and guide our bodies, minds and souls toward the true and lasting peace that is the fruit of moral strength and righteous courage. as sacred words have it, greater love has no one been this that one lay down his life for his friends. thus always, always, always we remember pearl harbor. and so hear us when we cry to thee for those in peril on the sea. amen.
>> you're looking at film shot 75 years ago on the morning of december 7th, 1941 when warplanes from fixed japanese aircraft carriers targeted the u.s. pacific fleet at pearl harbor. almost 4,400 killed, 1,200 wounded. the next two hours here on american history tv we will be joined by historians on fact on pearl bore. we have three ways to join the discussion. 202-740-8900. for those world war ii veterans
202-74 202-74-8902. send us a tweet and we look forward to your comments on facebook.com/c-spanhistory. joining us from new york city on the first hour of our program is ian toll, the author of "pacific crews bell," war at sea in the pacific, 1941 to 1942 which looks at the war in the pacific from pearl harbor to midway. welcome to american history tv. and i'll start by asking you how pearl harbor changed the course of history. >> well, in many ways. i could probably go on the whole hour just answering that one question. it is is fair to say that pearl harbor is the central event in the history of the 20th century. really not just for our country but for the world. because it launched this country onto the global stage after a long period in which we had
really been an isolationist country and by and large the american people were not interested in participating in the second world war or in the affairs beyond our shores. pearl harbor changed that virtually overnight. and led to this long period of american nationalist leadership, which continues today. >> in researching this book and your other writing on on world war ii, did your view on pearl harbor change at all? >> well, certainly. you know, i've written about both the political impacts of the attack on pearl harbor and the military impacts. of course they're closely related.
form speaker of the house tweeted out the japanese attack had been technically brilliant and was criticized for that. but whatever else you want to say about newt gingrich he was right in this instance. fdr essentially congratulated the japanese by saying that this was an extraordinarily brilliant attack. tackily certainly it was. the japanese accomplished something that never had been accomplished before. came two-thirds of the way across the pacific ocean, launched a huge accord ated air strike in two waves from is six carrier flight decks. that was something that not only was it beyond american capabilities at that time, it was beyond the capabilities of any navy. it had never been done before. and really had never even been
imagined that something that technically complicated could be achieved. that's part of the reason pearl harbor came at such a huge shock. >> why did japan ask the u.s.? >> that is a question japanese scholars and american scholars have been debating now 75 years i think the best way to answer it is is to begin with the understanding that the japanese regime, prior to enduring the second world war, was essentially disfunctional. power was shared across many different elements of the military establishment. it was an army-dominated government. yet the navy also had a great deal of power. and there were libel factions within each services and also the two services were essentially at each other's throats nonstop in a contest for control of the national budget
and military policy, foreign policy. essentially the japanese needed oil. they had relied on texas crude essentially, imported about 90% of their oil, to run their economy and to run their war in china from the united states. and as our relations deteriorated in 1941, we put in place a number of trade sanctions, essentially cut off all exports. that created a crisis. the japanese needed to replace that source. and in order to do that, they were determined to take the netherlands east indies productive oil fields. in order to take those territories, they essentially decided that they needed to preemptively strike us at pearl harbor to clear the way for that
invasion. >> this is american history tv on the special 75th anniversary program on the attack the on pearl harbor. we're talking about ian toll is and his back "pacific crucible." 202-748-8901 for mountain and pacific. for world war ii vets, 202-748-8902. we look forward to your comments on twitter as wel well @cspanhistory. glen, welcome to the program. >> caller: hi. thank you for having me. would you ask the author to talk about the purple hearts that issued to the members of the honolulu fire department, which my understanding the only purple hearts ever issued to civilians outside the military specifically. >> thanks, glen.
>> glen, i have heard about these purple hearts. you may know more about it than i do. of course the attacks resulted in an enormous amount of anti-aircraft fire coming up from the navy yard and the various air bases around oahu that were attacked by japanese planes that morning. those anticipate-aircraft shells, many of them fell into the residential districts of honolulu creating several fires, causing a number of casualties. and so all the first responders, is civilian and military, had to quickly get into the act to respond. and you're correct that that was unprecedented at the time. and it's just a mark of what an extraordinary event this was, yet another way to measure what a remarkable and unprecedented event pearl harbor was. >> in your book you write by
8:10 a.m., 15 minutes into the attack, the main battle fleet of the pacific fleet was tripled. what allowed that to happen so quickly? >> well, the japanese achieved complete surprise. their first wave came in essentially with little or no opposition either from american fighters or from anti-aircraft batteries. and they were able to line up their attacks dive bombing torpedo attacks, on the american battle ships which were moored in the east lock of pearl harbor in a double file. and we're essentially sitting ducks. with no prior warning, the crews weren't ready to react either by returning anti-aircraft fire or by closing water-tight hatches which might have prevented the ships from sinking.
it was really the aerial torpedos that did most of the damage. and they were able to hit these battleships, immobilize targets, large targets, and put all eight of the battle ships of the pacific fleet out of action. now, six were returned to service later in the war. so it was a temporary loss. yet at the time there were still a prevalent view that the battleships were really the hard of the navy's fleet and were the queen of the seas. so that's why the japanese targeted the battle ships. and it's also why the initial shock in washington and in the navy and around the country was so great. we had lost all of these ships, put out of action, essentially right at the outset of the war. >> let's go to john in west palm beach, florida, on the air with ian toll. good morning.
>> caller: good morning. i grew up in the tv generation of the '60s. my father was a tanker in world war ii at the end of the war. he took me to the movie "torah, torah, torah." i viewed it the other night again. after watching c-span, i'm amazed at how accurate the movie actually was. it really was like a first docudrama. i just wanted to the get your opinion on that. elmo williams, the producer, made a great effort to keep the accuracy in his movie. i just wondered how you felt about that? >> i would agree with you. i think it's the best movie that's been made about pearl harbor, including the more recent 2001 movie. as you say, that is a film that
tried to use all the most up to date historical sources at the time it was made and to try to accurately depict what happened. and i also think it's terrific that it was a joint effort between american and japanese filmmakers, directors, writers, and actors. the japanese sequences i think are a real highlight of that movie. and i would agree with you. and i wish there was more film making like that today. film making track record about the pacific war in general i think is is very mixed. we could really use a new movie about the battle of midway. the movie in the '70s was quite good, i thought, but inaccurate in many respects. with film making technology today, there's a great move where to be made about the battle of midway. i would like to point out that the attacks on hiroshima and
nagasaki are really the last mile in american film making. we haven't had a big budget hollywood treatment of those events. of course that's understandable in a sense why that hasn't happened. yet somebody is going to make a great movie about the bombing of hiroshi hiroshima. i predict that will win an oscar for best picture. >> our guest this hour is ian toll, author of "pacific crucible" looking at the war of 1941 and 1942. we have seen american news reels about that attack on pearl harbor. let's look at the japanese news reels reporting on the attack that day. >> a great war against america
and britain december 8th, 1941. the navy attacked pearl harboa which the united states boasts it is the strongest in the world. there are many miles on the pacific. our carriers go toward hawaii. strong wind blows. 17 meters per second. the sea is is rough and the waves are high, smashing against the side of the ship in a thunderous noise. all men are on deck. the imperial air squadron delivers an attack. the end of the war will be carried out in a few moments. war heroes respond to their country's call in life and
the greatest victory in hawaii. carrying out operations over a wide area of the philippines. america and britain, east asia is imminent. a new tester in the history of asia against. >> understandably bold news reel from japan in 1941 after the attack on pearl harbor. back with ian toll, author of "pacific crucible" on the 75th anniversary of the attack on pearl harbor. they were asking what part of the attack on pearl harbor did not go as planned? >> well, the attack went largely as planned fort japanese.
there was one element of the attack, which was essentially not coordinated with the aerial attack, and that was a number of what were called midget submarines. these small two-man sub percent i believe so around with two small torpedoes attempted to penetrate pearl harbor, i believe two of them got into the harbor and fired on our ships and may have contributed to the sinking cap sizing of the battleship oklahoma although the crews didn't survive so there is some question and debate about exactly what those submarines achieved, but it was hoped that they might be able to recover the crews of those submarines, none of them were recovered, and -- but as for the main attack, the carrier air attack, largely went off as they had
planned and was a tactically brilliant success. they lost only 29 planes and none of their ships was scratched, although they had expected a counterattack on their fleet and had even assumed that they might lose as many as two aircraft care whiers. >> we have plenty of calls waiting for ian toll so let's get to them. here is norman. welcome to the program. >> hi. i would just like to ask mr. who will in 1939 there was a battle between the soviet union and the japanese at cull kin goal in man chewer i can't and 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 -- in pearl harbor. >> okay. thanks. we think we've got it there, norman. thanks for the question. ian toll. >> yes, i think you can say that the experience of the japanese army fighting the soviet army in manchuria in 1939 did contribute to the decision to attack the united states and great britain in 1941. there had been essentially a debate between the japanese army and the japanese navy over whether they should concentrate their efforts on attacking russia or whether instead they should look at going south and taking territories in the south pacific and these were two kind
of fundamental strategic directions that japan could have taken. now, the combat -- this was an undeclared -- there was no war declar declared, but there was large-scale combat as the caller mentioned in manchuria, and the soviet army really got the better of the japanese army in that action and that was -- came as a -- a kind of a wakeup call for the japanese army realizing that going up against an efficient modern mechanized army was going to be much more difficult than they thought. so from that point forward japanese policy making really rested on the idea that they were going to avoid war with the soviet union, and that continued right through the end of the war. there were hopes in 1944, 1945 that the japanese government might be able to execute a kind of diplomatic maneuver where
they would bring stalin in as a mediator to try to have a truce and a negotiated end to the pacific war. of course, that never amounted to anything and, in fact, there was really no chance that that could have succeeded. >> we've set aside a line for world war ii vets 202-748-9802. we welcome ray from fayetteville, arkansas. good morning. >> yes. i wonder why it's never been mentioned that the top secret invasion of the mainland of japan has not been mentioned to the public where they -- we would have lost more than -- we would have lost more americans killed plus japanese killed and the bomb dropped at hiroshima and it's never been mentioned. it's been taken out of top secret now and i've got -- i've got copies of the invasion order, but it's unbelievable that it's not been put in our
history books. it's very important that this be known by the feel just what was to happen in november of 1945 that did not happen. we were on our way to japan. i was in that after mad da, to a attack japan when the war ended and we passed the uss missouri the day -- we arrived there the day the peace treaty was signed. >> brady, do you know how big that force would have been? >> that what? >> do you know how big that force would have been? do you have any idea? >> it would have been ever -- they had every army unit and every naval unit and every marine unit gathered together to attack japan mainland and there would have been over a million men lost on the beach if they would have hit it. >> let's hear from ian toll. i appreciate your comments this morning. >> sorry. before we cut the line i'd like to know what -- >> he's -- he's gone. there you go.
>> okay. i was just curious to know exactly what unit he had been in. but that's fine. yes, we had planned an invasion of the japanese islands, it was in two stages, first in november as ray said correctly and then the main island of honchu following some months after that, that was going to be an enormous invasion, it would have been larger than the normandy invasion, there were more than ten divisions army and marine slated to take part in that information and it would have been an immensely cloudy and really very terrible operation not only for our own forces but as ray said for the japanese people and this has been the traditional justification for the decision to drop the bomb, atomic bomb on hiroshima. i think that it is in the history books, ray.
certainly anybody who pays attention to the history of the pacific war is aware that we had these plans, they were well advanced, i've spent a lot of time talking to veterans who would have gone in and certainly it was necessary to avoid that operation. now, the question which he didn't directly bring up, you know, did we need to use the bombs in the way that we did. i think that that is something that we're going to continue to debate. of course, the attack on hiroshima was in the first week of august, 1945. the d day, the date for the invasion of kushu was november 1st so that's a long period of time and there was not an immediate invasion that was about to occur. my own view and i have expressed this recently in may when president obama went to
hiroshima is that i think it would have been a good idea for our own sake to provide an explicit warning to the japanese. i think that that would have been easier to defend in the long light of history, but 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 one way or another. >> we should point out, too, pacific crucible is part of a trilogy of ian toll, 1941 to 1942, the conquering tide from 1942 from midway until 1944 and i assume this information you're talking about now in the book you're working on currently. >> yes, i will get deep into the plans for the invasion of japan in the third book which is going to be entitled "twilight of the
god's". >> and when will we see that published, ian toll? >> well, that's a very personal question, bill. >> we won't hold you to it. >> i would like to say the fall of 2018. >> all right. let's hear from dave in rensselaer, new york. good morning. go ahead, dave. >> caller: good morning, gentlemen. my basic question, mr. toll, you referred on this before, is when exactly did the united states realize that the day of the battleship was over and when the day of the carrier arrived? when them et cetera was looking at his fleet after he took over from kimmel did he believe relieved that the battle ships were hit and he still had call of his carriers and that the most part of his fleet was intact or was he in a state of panic in that we lost all our battle ships what am i going to do with all these carriers that have never been tested in battle and i have no idea how to use
them? i particularly ask when the americans passed the two ocean navy act in july of 1940 they included six iowa battle ships and a montana class of battleship but by the end of '42 the six iowa battle ships were down to four and the montanas were canceled. i'd ask for him to go in more detail, please. >> sure. first of all, i would say that nim mitts certainly wasn't panicked. he was a battleship admiral, he had been the captain of the arizona, he had been an admiral heading up a battleship division and so, you know, certainly the loss of the battle ships at pearl harbor gave as a real gut punch personally to chester nim mitts as it did to many other officers. i think it's fair to say that when he arrived in pearl harbor on christmas day 1941 and spent three days touring the navy yard
and made his assessment he recognized that the loss of the battle ships was not going to be a permanent setback, that several of the battle ships would be able to be raised and returned to service, that the carriers having been spared meant that he had the means to begin striking back at the japanese almost immediately in the first carrier raids against japanese held islands began in february of 1942 so very quickly after pearl harbor of course the battle of midway just six months after pearl harbor was a devastating counterbunch in which four of japan's first line aircraft carriers were sent to the bottom of the pacific. and so i think nim mitts in general the navy quickly recognized that the aircraft carrier was going to be the most important weapon, with submarines also, that the battleship was going to be
placed into a supporting role essentially as an anti-aircraft gunnery platform to protect the carriers and as a specialized weapon to bombard island beaches prior to an amphibious assault. so i think it -- you know, the emotional kind of gut level shock of losing the battle ships and, you know, particularly losing the arizona and more than 1,000 sailors killed in an instant when her magazine went up, those were terrible, terrible events but they were not crippling events. so i think nim mitts and his subordinates relatively were relatively quick to recognize that. >> a viewer asked on a related topic were the japanese expecting the u.s. aircraft carriers to be in pearl harbor that day. >> well, they had targeted them
so, yes, i think that they did expect them to be there, at least had contingency plans to attack them if they were there. what is notable really about the japanese plan is that they had targeted -- their primary targets were the battle ships even if the carriers were important. the irony of that is that the attack on pearl harbor itself demonstrated that the carrier was a much more important weapon and, you know, that's really because the carrier can strike across a range of 200 to 250 miles. battle ships under optimal conditions might be able to strike an enemy over, say, 5, 6, 7 miles at most. and so it was that difference in the striking range that made the carrier really the most important weapon of the pacific
war with submarines as perhaps a close second. >> one of the photographs inside ian toll's book pacific crucible looks at the white house on december 7th, the night of december 7th, 1941, and in the background you can see the christmas trees in the front of the white house, people always remember the next day the speech from capitol hill to the joint session of congress by fdr. what they may not know is that eleanor roosevelt actually spoke to the nation in a radio address the night of december 7th. here is part of that address. >> good evening, ladies and gentlemen. i'm speaking to you tonight at a very serious moment in our history. the cabinet is convening and the leaders in congress are meeting with the president. the state department and army and navy officials have been with the president all afternoon. in fact, the japanese ambassador was talking to the president at the very time that japan's air ships 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 the 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 now the knowledge that something of this kind might happen has been hanging over our heads and yet it seemed impossible to believe, impossible to drop the every day things of life and feel that there was only one thing which was important, preparation to meet an enemy no matter where he struck. that is all over now and there is no more uncertainty. we know what we have to face and 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.
two of my children are in coast cities on the pacific. many of you all over this country have boys in the services who will now be called upon to go into action. you have friends and families in what has suddenly become a danger zone. you cannot escape anxiety, you cannot escape a clutch of fear at your heart and yet i hope that the certainty of what we have to meet will make you rise above these fears. we must go about our daily business more determined than ever to do the ordinary things as well as we can and when we find a way to do anything more in our communities to hen others, to build morale, to give a feeling of security, we must do it. whatever is asked of us i'm sure we can accomplish it. we are the free and unconk rabl people of the united states of
america. to the young people of the nation i must speak a word tonight. you are going to have a great opportunity. there will be high moments in which your strength and your ability will be tested. i have faith in you. i feel as though i was standing upon a rock and that rock is my faith in my fellow citizens. now we will go back to the program which we had arranged for tonight. >> back live for our 75th anniversary of the attack on pearl harbor, our guest is ian toll, joining us from new york city, he is the author of "pacific crucible". ian toll what did you hear in the tone and the words of eleanor roosevelt? >> well, that was a terrific address and i haven't heard that until the producer sent it to me just yesterday, i listened to that for the first time. i think what's extraordinary, that was on the night of sunday,
december 7th. the news of the attack had only arrived in washington after noon and so she had gathered her thoughts and written that or perhaps she had some help writing it, but, you know, this was -- these ee marks were given in the first flush really just hours after we had learned of the attack on pearl harbor. there are a couple of inaccuracies which is understandable given -- given the timing. the japanese did not sink a transport and president roosevelt was not talking to the japanese ambassador at the time of the attack. that was the secretary of state, kordell hall, who was meeting with the japanese ambassador, but, again, those kinds of inaccuracies given that this was all happening in realtime are very understandable. >> let's get back to your calls.
202-748-8901 for mountain and pacific and for our world war ii veterans 202-748-8902. san juan capistrano is next. thanks for waiting. helen, go ahead with your comment or question. >> thank you. i have a question for ian. during my childhood my stepfather told us at the dinner table he was previously in west point, he graduated from west point and he told us that a professor or maybe more than one professor at west point had told the class that the united states knew that the attack on pearl harbor was coming that they had broken the code, but they needed a catalyst for the american people to be enthusiastic about going to war, and i wondered if you had heard that before
because it struck me because he said that the professors had told him that codes were broken, they knew pearl harbor was going to happen but that the people in the u.s. were not behind going to war with japan and that's why they needed this catalyst. >> well, i don't know who those professors were, but the conspiracy theories have been persistent over really many decades and the theories essentially go to, as you say, the fact that fdr had tremendous political problem in the fall of 1941 which was that he saw -- foresaw correctly that the united states was going to have to get into the second world war sooner or later, but that our people were divided, that the isolationist sentiment in the
nation was fairly strong, that it was even stronger than that in congress, that there was a bipartisan movement in congress to keep us out of the war and that many leading newspapers had taken a strongly isolationist stance. so how to unify the country around what fdr saw as the need to go to war was a tremendous problem that he had and the attack on pearl harbor solved that problem literally overnight so that on december 8th the congress voted unanimously with the exception of one vote in the house to declare war on japan. so if you were a prosecuting attorney and you were trying to make the case that fdr and other members of our military and political leadership had advanced knowledge of the attack on pearl harbor you would begin by saying i've got motive, but of course motive isn't enough to prove a case in court and it's not enough to prove the case in
this historical debate. i do not believe that our leaders had advanced knowledge of the attack on pearl harbor. i do understand why the conspiracy theories have persisted and why they really continue to be quite active even today. we had broken the japanese diplomatic codes, we were able to read essentially the mail between the japanese foreign ministry in tokyo and the japanese ministry in washington. based on our reading that diplomatic mail we knew -- our leaders knew and expected that there would be a war and that it might begin even on that day, december 7th. i think the evidence clearly shows that the expectation was the japanese might strike us somewhere in the western pacific
and that if the attack came it would fall on the philippines, on guam, perhaps on territories of our british allies. there is really no convincing evidence at all that anyone in washington, any of our military political leaders had any reason to believe that we were going to be attacked in pearl harbor in hawaii and, in fact, the technical difficulty of that attack, take a six-carrier task force two-thirds of the way across the pacific at that time was really beyond -- would have been beyond american capabilities and i don't think that our military leaders had even imagined that it was possible. so i could say more about this but i think that the more recent attacks in 2001 and 9/11 are a good analogy in the sense that after this sudden attack there are a number of investigations,
those investigations will reveal evidence that there may have been reasons to think that an attack like this was going to come but of course at the time you're searching through a haystack and trying to find needl needles. just as the fbi had evidence tracking the 9/11 hijackers all of that came to light after the attack on 9/11 at the time it was very difficult to see that pattern. so i don't believe -- very few historians of the second world war believe the conspiracy theories. >> we go next to dull utah, georgia. euge eugene, welcome. >> caller: gentlemen. i certainly men joig this program, especially mr. toll's comments. first of all, let me say that i don't know as much about the pearl harbor harbor attack as i
intend to learn, but my father who died when i was very young served on the carrier saratoga as a jag officer throughout world war ii and after it was put out of commission i believe my a ckamikaze attack he served on the us carl c. our family understand plea is very proud of that fact. i'd like to know whether you agree with an admiral who was interviewed on a panel, i remember having seen a panel of high ranking officers, admirals and generals and they were asked the question what was the most terrifying event in war that you can describe in your theater of battle and the admiral said the kamikaze attack was probably the
most terrible and fearful event. i know that the carrier saratoga was active and was divide at by kamikazes numerous times throughout the war. i'd like to have mr. toll's reflection on that, his information, and i'd also like to know whether he agrees with another comment i heard another historian say that the battle of, i believe, okinawa was the greatest naval battle of the war. i'd like to have his comments on that as well. >> eugene, appreciate the comments. just a quick reference, ian toll when he says kamikaze he's talking about suicidal attacks? >> yes. exactly. yeah, so thank you for your comments and your question.
yeah, the kamikaze attacks began in the fall of 1944, so this was something that began in the last year of the war and very quickly became essentially the principal means that the japanese used to try to get at our ships. the battle of lee t. gulf was the largest naval battle of the war, that was the series of recon battles around the conquest of the philippines. it was during that time that the japanese first used this tactic of essentially flying their planes directly into our ships. this was a conceptual leap in that essentially what it allowed them to do was to send guided missiles against our ships, about 20 years before the non-man guided missile, what we think of as a guided missile,
was first used in warfare. so in a sense -- in a sense they were able to sort of use this futuristic weapon. because they had a cadre of young pilots who were willing to give their lives, yes, i think that it was a uniquely terrifying experience for the crews of our ships to be faced with this kind of attack. really because it was so far out of our own warrior culture to have suicide flights on such a massive scale, and the kamikazes did a great deal of damage. i think they probably accounted for something like 6,000 or 7,000 k.i.a. and that really came to a crescendo during
okinawa. okinawa was not the largest naval battle of the war, really it wasn't a naval battle in the sense that the japanese ships were never able to get to our fleet. it was the largest fleet ever brought into action and this was right at the end of the war, april/may 1945, and because okinawa is only a few hundred miles south of kushu the japanese were able to launch kamikaze attacks from the island of kushu really on a massive scale against our fleet as it lay off of okinawa. in some cases hundreds of planes coming at the same time and when there are that many planes it's very difficult to stop them, either with your fighters or your anti-aircraft guns. and so they really exacted a terrible toll during that period. >> your comments and questions for ian toll. also welcome on twitt
twitter @cspanhistory. this is one from captain mark eschar who asks about douglas macarthur. how was it that macarthur was so ill equipped for the attack on pearl harbor. >> it was actually the same day as pearl harbor, it was nine hours later that the first japanese air attacks fell on the philippines. our main air base on the island of lausanne, clark field, was bombed and some -- i believe about a dozen b-17 bombers were destroyed on the ground and, again, this was nine hours after the attack on pearl harbor. so macarthur's headquarters had ample warning that we were at war and yet this extraordinary attack was permitted to occur. so why did that happen? the questions are still being asked and have not been
answered. i think it's likely that what happened was macarthur and his chief of staff, general sutherland, were hoping that if they didn't make any sort of hostile move toward the japanese that the philippines might be spared and so i think that that is the most likely explanation, but the local commanders at the air base had called manila, had asked for permission to get the fighters in the air to get the bombers into the air, to perhaps launch air strikes on japanese air fields in formosa what is today taiwan and were essentially grounded. were told that they were not allowed to move. weren't given any orders. and macarthur was never held to account for that. i think it's somewhat of a mystery, i think a lot of it has to do with the way the news was
presented to the american people and by the time the american people and the leadership in washington began to focus on what was happening in the philippines, by then the african-american press had really chosen to portray macarthur and his forces as making kind of a heroic stand. so it's a good case study in how really in a very arbitrary way the way news is reported during -- during a conflict really shapes public perceptions and that, in turn, will shape actual strategic and tactical decisions. >> did he suffer any of the disciplinary actions that were imposed upon the commander of the pacific fleet, admiral husband kimmel after world war ii -- after pearl harbor, rather? >> no. no. none. none at all. he was given a congressional medal of honor which i believe was unprecedented because that
medal is really reserved for hair owe whistle in combat but congress voted to give it to him and he was of course ordered out of the philippines by president roosevelt in april he went to australia, he was made the supreme commander of the southwest pacific area which was the southern theater, it was a two-theater command setup in the pacific, and led troops from australia back up through the axis of the new guinea and the southern oceana and was eventually permitted to recapture the philippines in october 1944. macarthur remains a very controversial figure and even today historians and buying grafrs are divided over him. you know, he is one of these characters in american history that uniquely is able to really
arouse some pretty strong feelings even so many decades after his death and his career. he had a mixed record, i think, as a commander. he was an extraordinary soldier in the first world war, highly decorat decorated, extraordinary courage, he was brilliant. i think he was first in his class at west point. so he had courage and he had brains and those are two things that you want in any commander. he was an effective general, i think the record will show in the second world war, his campaigns were successful. i think where his talents really came through was in the postwar period when he essentially became a kind of military dictator presiding over the reconstruction of japan and his particular kind of understanding of the asian mindset, his experience in asia, i think, helped him to really do i think
a remarkably good job in rebuilt -- helping to rebuild japan as a democratic country and cementing that alliance and in putting the bitterness of the war years behind us. >> we have several calls waiting. let's hear from robert in north las vegas, nevada. robert, hello. >> caller: yes, hello. i sure appreciate your program. i'm watching it on c-span 3 here and i've got two quick questions. i know there are a lot of patriotic folks out there wanting to talk, but your book, is that on sale at barnes and noble or do i have to order it? >> it's -- yeah, it's on sale wherever you can buy books, barnes and noble or amazon or the local bookstore down the street. >> caller: good. i'm going to read that. i was old enough to remember world war ii, but not old enough to fight nazi germany with all
my relatives that were there, but i did join in the korean, i was amongst the fleet the 11th naval district on destroyer division and my two quick questions, i understand that when pearl harbor was bombed there was more than 130,000 japanese living in hawaii and never heard if there were any spies or not. that was my first question, did you have any information on that, and my second question, i understand it comes up every so often that china still waiting for japan to apologize to them for the atrocities in china and they won't apologize. i just wonder if you have any
comments on that. >> okay. robert, good questions. ian toll. >> yes, thank you. both terrific questions. as you say, japanese americans were the largest single ethnic group in hawaii in 1941 and there were more than 100,000 japanese americans living in the islands. so fear of sabotage or espionage was something that had really occupied the minds of our military commanders there prior to the attack. there really is very little evidence that the japanese americans living in the islands had any sort of structured kind of connection with the japanese government. there was an incident on one of the outer islands in which a crashed japanese pilot was able to get some japanese americans
to help him. of course, he was armed so it's not clear to what extent they had volunteered, you know, aside from that one incident, no evidence was emerged to suggest that the japanese americans in hawaii had any role at all in helping the japanese navy to attack pearl harbor. i'd also point out that although of course the japanese americans on the mainland were interred, it's well known, that did not occur in hawaii. it really was not considered feasible given the size of the population there and given the fact that their labor was needed. many of the national guardsmen in hawaii were japanese american and had an important role to play in guarding installations during the war, many hawaiian japanese americans worked as translators in the pacific and
of course some of them enlisted and were highly decorated combat unit that fought in the european theater. so that's your first question. the second question was i believe on -- >> reparations. >> what was it again? >> reparations for the -- japan to -- >> apology, right, excuse me. >> apologies, yes. >> well, the japanese government has expressed remorse for the war and so, you know, the degree to which they have apologized or not apologized i think you have to parse their statements because certainly if you look at some of the statements including the current japanese prime minister shinzo abe he has expressed in fairly strong terms remorse for japanese war crimes including against the chinese. i think the larger questions in asia about the way the war is remembered or often in the japanese case not remembered is
really quite significant. it's 75, almost -- well, 70 years now since the end of the second world war in asia and yet the memory of the way the japanese treated other asian people's continues to be right at the heart really of foreign relations between japan and china, between japan and korea, the two koreas, between japan and the philippines. so, you know, decades later these are still open wounds in a sense and what i have said to the japanese who i have spoken to, scholars and political leaders and so forth is that a better approach for japan would be to acknowledge -- to acknowledge that the record of japanese forces in that war was really deplorable in many cases. the way that they treated civilian populations in china and the philippines, other places, also their treatment of prisoners of war was deplorable and even disgraceful, but to say
that -- that that was a 15-year period of japanese history when those things occurred and that japan does not deserve to be judged based only on the experience of that one 15-year period i think that would be a much better kind of approach. >> ian toll, we just have a minute or two left. i wanted to ask you about an article we saw in preparing for the program that was published in the boston globe titled "the paradox of pearl harbor", you write about some of the losing of world war ii and in particular pearl harbor vets. what's this all about? >> well, the point i wanted to make in that article, and i think it's important, is that there is a paradox and this is true generally in history, but it's especially true with an event like pearl harbor, which is that we study these events retrospectively as historians very, very closely and pearl harbor is one of the most exhaustively studied events in our history.
there were nine separate investigations, military and congressional investigations, producing hundreds of volumes of testimony. so we really have gotten to the point where we understand very clearly what happened, why it happened, what were the decisions in japan, what were the effects, all of that? we parse and we get to the point where we can say now we understand what happened and we understand really even better in a sense than the men who were there and fought the battle. but by gaining this clarity in hindsight we inevitably begin to lose touch with the kind of immediate sense of shock and horror and the kind of volcanic wrath that results from an event like that. to try to get in touch again with the way it felt to those who were on the receiving end is important because that shock, the intensity of that shock, the horror, the anger that results from it, that partl