It’s Pearl Harbor Day — Trot Out the Official Fable
By Robert Higgs • Tuesday December 7, 2010 10:15 AM PDT • 13 Comments
Sixty-nine years ago, Japanese forces attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, provoking the United States to declare war against Japan. When Japan’s ally Germany declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941, the United States immediately reciprocated. These actions brought the United States into open warfare against the Axis powers and made it a full-fledged participant in the greatest war ever fought. For most Americans, this story is simple: they attacked us; we fought back and defeated them.
Historians have always known, however, that the true story was nothing like this patriotic fable dispensed each year on December 7 for popular consumption. Not long ago, I briefly reviewed some of the elements of this history, linking my statements to some of the most reliable histories publicly available to one and all. (See also my account of how U.S. economic warfare provoked the Japanese attack.) It behooves every educated American to learn this honest history and to pass it along to others when an opportunity arises, because the myth has long contributed, and continues to contribute, to a false view of the U.S. place in the world and to a grave misunderstanding of U.S. foreign policy. Ceaseless dissemination and widespread acceptance of this view is the very model of how the U.S. government tends to do foreign policy: provoke foreigners to attack Americans, then tell the American people that foreigners have attacked us for no reason and therefore we must strike back to defeat them or at least to teach them a lesson about treating the United States with deference.
Along with the myth of Munich, the myth of the Pearl Harbor attack has performed magnificently in keeping Americans dumb and belligerent and in preparing them to sacrifice their children’s lives in the service of the ruling oligarchy. Unless the American people can rise above these historical myths, they stand little chance of freeing themselves from those who would make them the living, breathing but unthinking means for the attainment of their masters’ ends.