Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

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john2
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Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by john2 » 18 Jul 2019 00:17

Most people are aware of the conspiracy theories that Roosevelt knew about the Pearl Harbor attack. That Roosevelt let the attack happen to get the US into the war. Usually when this theory is discussed people focus on intelligence reports and whether or not the Japanese codes were broken. While this aspect of the theory is certainly important I wanted to focus more on the diplomatic side - Roosevelt's overall dealings with Japan. So a key part of the theory is that Roosevelt provoked Japan into war. Now although the US had interests in the Pacific and in China Roosevelt recognized the main threat was Germany. So according to the theory Roosevelt first tried the direct approach - provoke Germany through a series of incidents at sea but when that failed he turned to Japan. I have read almost exhaustively the diplomatic records between Japan and the US. The impression I have is that Japan was willing to make concessions but the US took a hard line approach. The main talks began in April 1941 and had reached a dead end by late November. At the beginning one could argue the US thought Japan would back down. However as time went on both sides started getting frustrated. Things reached a turning point in July when Roosevelt imposed an oil embargo. The Japanese continued to negotiate and offered concessions but Roosevelt refused to give on anything - even refusing to meet the Japanese prime minister prince Konoe who asked for a meeting. By the fall the Japanese feeling they were getting nowhere began making plans to attack. The oil embargo was now hurting them very much and if the US wouldn't lift it through negotiations they would have to go to war. Intelligence reports soon picked up on the Japanese preparations. Roosevelt now had a choice - make concessions or prepare for war. He chose the second option. The problem here is that both the military and Roosevelt himself agreed that Germany was the main threat. They had even told him several times to move the fleet to the Atlantic but Roosevelt refused. Such a strategy doesn't make sense unless Roosevelt thought a war with Japan would lead to war with Germany. So how would that happen? Supporters of the backdoor to war argue two key pieces of evidence - first there was the tripartite pact signed in September 1940 where Germany, Italy and Japan agreed to support each other in war. The second piece of evidence is that in March Hitler told the Japanese foreign minister he would support Japan in war with the US - even if Japan attacked first. Roosevelt apparently found out about this. So now Roosevelt knew that if he could get into war with Japan Germany would join in. Indeed 4 days after Pearl Harbor Germany declared war on the US. Unfortunately there are some holes here. The tripartite pact was a defensive pact - Germany only had to come in if Japan was attacked by the US - not the other way around. Now in March Hitler did promise he would join in even if Japan attacked first however assuming Roosevelt was aware of this how did he know Hitler wasn't lying? Hitler had in fact broken numerous treaties before. It would in fact be in his best interest to let the US fight Japan while he dealt with Britain and the SU. Hitler had a long record of broken promises. This is the big hole in the theory - there is no definite link to show war with Japan equals war with Germany. Now some versions of theory are more inventive. They argue that if there was war with Japan the isolationist movement would end and the US would be more interventionist - that Roosevelt might get congress to declare war on Germany. However Roosevelt here would be taking a bit of a gamble. Another point to keep in mind is that Japan could have chosen not to attack Pearl Harbor or the Philippines - there were multiple targets they could have gone after. Without the spectacular attack on Pearl Harbor Roosevelt might not even if had gotten war with Japan. But this all leaves us back at square one. So the conclusion is that there are either intelligence reports we don't know about, Roosevelt was so desperate to get into the war he took a gamble or he had no strategy in the Pacific and was just being stubborn. Thoughts?

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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by OpanaPointer » 18 Jul 2019 00:32

Roosevelt's cabinet was unanimous at least twice in 1942 in agreeing that FDR could get a declaration of war against Germany through Congress. Stimson recorded these in his diaries. The one I recall was on July 5. Stimson made notes every day but didn't update his diary every day, so that event is recorded in his entry for July 7, 1941.

As for being certain that getting into a war with Japan would get the Germans into a war with us, the Tripartite Pact doesn't require that.
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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by OpanaPointer » 18 Jul 2019 00:32

And do we have to go through all this again?
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john2
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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by john2 » 18 Jul 2019 01:08

Well most of the time the theory focuses on what Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor. I didn't know how war with Japan was supposed to get the US into war with Germany or all the diplomatic dealings going on. I have only just now read up on that and I was curious to see what others thought.

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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by john2 » 18 Jul 2019 01:19

Roosevelt's cabinet was unanimous at least twice in 1942 in agreeing that FDR could get a declaration of war against Germany through Congress. Stimson recorded these in his diaries. The one I recall was on July 5. Stimson made notes every day but didn't update his diary every day, so that event is recorded in his entry for July 7, 1941. As for being certain that getting into a war with Japan would get the Germans into a war with us, the Tripartite Pact doesn't require that.
I'm not trying to argue against you here but if that was the case then why didn't Roosevelt declare war? Obvious he didn't think public opinion was on his side. Now from what I've read Roosevelt thought of asking for a declaration of war on Germany when he declared war on Japan but chose not to do so. So even after Pearl Harbor he still didn't think the people were with him. So Roosevelt's strategy as I said would have been a gamble - that he could either win over the people eventually or Germany would declare war. But if he fails he's going to be stuck only in war with Japan.

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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by OpanaPointer » 18 Jul 2019 02:18

Because FDR was always behind public opinion.
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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by OpanaPointer » 18 Jul 2019 02:19

john2 wrote:
18 Jul 2019 01:08
Well most of the time the theory focuses on what Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor. I didn't know how war with Japan was supposed to get the US into war with Germany or all the diplomatic dealings going on. I have only just now read up on that and I was curious to see what others thought.
You have to read more than one book.
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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 18 Jul 2019 03:31

OpanaPointer wrote:
18 Jul 2019 02:19
... You have to read more than one book.
I'd recommend 'The Borrowed Years' Seven hundred plus pages of details and analysis of how Roosevelt tried to prepare the US for a War he feared. 'The Warhawks' by Chadwin is a overview of the people (mostly conservatives & Republicans) who persuaded Roosevelt the war was inevitable & should be prepared for.

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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by OpanaPointer » 18 Jul 2019 12:59

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
18 Jul 2019 03:31
OpanaPointer wrote:
18 Jul 2019 02:19
... You have to read more than one book.
I'd recommend 'The Borrowed Years' Seven hundred plus pages of details and analysis of how Roosevelt tried to prepare the US for a War he feared. 'The Warhawks' by Chadwin is a overview of the people (mostly conservatives & Republicans) who persuaded Roosevelt the war was inevitable & should be prepared for.
I just finished "The Borrowed Years" a few months ago. My copy has dozens of flags. I didn't know Stimson and Knox were Republicans.
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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by rcocean » 20 Jul 2019 15:30

Despite campaigning on keeping the USA out of War in 1940, FDR starting in Jan 1941, started a series of actions that were designed to do the exact opposite. The first was Lend lease, which was absurdly touted by FDR as an act that would keep us OUT Of war. By the Spring/Summer 1941 people like Stimson were demanding FDR get an official declaration of war, which FDR refused because he knew he would lose. He then escalated and then ordered US ships to not only convoy war material to England - US destroyers were to attack German U boats on sight.

By November 1941, people like Senator Taft, considered the USA to be for all intents and purposes at war with Germany. He and other members of "America First" were switching their energies to fighting a new AEF and limiting our involvement to the Navy and Air Force. So, i never believed the "back door to war" theories because FDR didn't need a back door. By September 1941 we were already at war with Germany. We just hadn't sent an Air Force and Army over to fight him, because no one wanted to go.

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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by rcocean » 20 Jul 2019 15:35

Another point is the FDR didn't need a Pearl Harbor. He had already planned a Gulf of Tonkien type situation. When the IJN started running convoys southward to attack Singapore and Malaysia on December 7th, FDR had planned to order Admiral Hart to send subs and destroyers out from Manila to "Shadow" the IJN convoys and press them so hard the IJN would attack them. The whole point was to play "Chicken" with the IJN with the understanding they'd attack. Then claim the Japanese attacked us out of the blue - ala LBJ in 1964.
Last edited by rcocean on 20 Jul 2019 15:41, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by rcocean » 20 Jul 2019 15:38

FDR didn't "Prepare a USA for the war he feared". He lied and tried everything he could to get the USA into a war he wanted to fight. He not only hated Hitler, he hated Germans. He'd been a warhawk during WW1, and wanted the USA to fight the Kaiser after the Lusitania in 1915. in 1918, he wanted the Allies to demand Unconditional Surrender. He was already scheming in September 1939 about how to get into the war, and secretly telling the Brits that he would overcome the Neutrality Acts and get them the money and supplies (especially Airplanes) that they needed.

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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by OpanaPointer » 20 Jul 2019 17:24

You make a good case for FDR wanting to go to war with Germany. You have jack for why getting us into an entire different war would help that.
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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by OpanaPointer » 20 Jul 2019 17:25

john2 wrote:
18 Jul 2019 00:17
Most people are aware of the conspiracy theories that Roosevelt knew about the Pearl Harbor attack.
And only conspiracy nuts buy into that.
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Re: Backdoor to war theory - do you believe it?

Post by rcocean » 20 Jul 2019 20:20

OpanaPointer wrote:
20 Jul 2019 17:24
You make a good case for FDR wanting to go to war with Germany. You have jack for why getting us into an entire different war would help that.
Are you talking to yourself? And what does the 2nd sentence mean?

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