Greatness of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Or not?

Greatness of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Or not?

Many people are aware that U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt skillfully lured Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor so as to get the American public to support joining England’s war against Adolf Hitler’s Nazis.

Until the Pearl Harbor attack, all of FDR’s efforts to win the U.S. public’s support for going to war against Hitler had failed miserably, and time was rapidly running out to turn the war’s tide away from Hitler and global dictatorship, and toward Churchill and a possible world future of democracy (the latter being the world future which has made our lives as good as they are, not the hell that Hitler had intended them to be). FDR’s effort to join the war was blocked by congressional Republicans, allied with a few determinedly pacifist Democrats such as Montana’s Senator William E. Borah, people who ignored the ideological stakes, vast though those were, if they even opposed fascism at all (which in many cases is questionable). Communism was widely hated because America’s rich hated it and propagandized heavily against it; so, Stalin’s perfidies were well-publicized, but Hitler’s and other fascists’ vilenesses weren’t so clearly and unambiguously presented, especially because many of America’s aristocrats were very profitably doing business with Nazis and were hoping to become invited onto what then seemed likely to be the winning team after the war between Churchill and Hitler would be over. Both the Congress and the American public were against FDR on the war-issue, and yet FDR needed to turn all of them around on it, and to do it fast. The process to do this violated moral rules; and, in some respects, it even violated U.S. laws; but FDR did what he had to do, in order to save the world, by joining Churchill’s war against Hitler. 

As the BBC documentary which is linked to there (within the article linked to just above) makes clear, Churchill was hiding some important things from FDR, or else FDR was hiding from everyone key things about Pearl Harbor that Churchill had informed him of. No one knows which is the case, but Churchill had certainly been constantly currently informed by British code-breakers regarding all details of Japan’s evolving war-plans concerning Pearl Harbor, including Japan’s decision in January 1941 to attack Pearl Harbor. Of course, Churchill had wanted the attack to occur, at least as much as did FDR, because Churchill desperately wanted Britain not to be defeated, and a U.S. entry into the war was now Britain’s only hope. Furthermore, America’s FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover intercepted British intelligence that showed Germany was helping Japan to prepare its Pearl Harbor attack. (Churchill already knew all about this, since it came from Britain’s double-agent, who had infiltrated German intelligence.) FDR might have been hiding some important things from Churchill, Hitler might have been hiding some important things from Japan’s leaders, Japan’s leaders were definitely hiding some important things from Germany’s leaders, and the situation was even more complicated than that. 

J. Edgar Hoover was hiding some important things from everyone but perhaps FDR, and FDR was hiding some important things from everyone, including from the commanders at Pearl Harbor. And the commanders at Pearl Harbor were, unbeknownst to them, being actively set-up by the U.S. President to take the rap for failing to have protected their forces adequately from an attack which FDR’s people were actually doing everything they possibly could to facilitate and even to cause, and which Churchill’s people knew all the details of, including even the planned day and time of the attack. (NOTE: Those commanders were not punished, only retired from further service, so their «Sacrifice at Pearl Harbor,» as the BBC documentary on the subject was titled, was kept to the very minimum that was necessary for the purpose, and the biggest sacrifice at Pearl Harbor was instead actually the 2,403 Americans who died, and the 1,178 who were wounded. Their sacrifices must be measured against the benefits that have been gained by defeating Hitler — benefits for the entire world, which continue to this day.)

The White House decided to transfer some important military assets away from Pearl Harbor in order to make the target more vulnerable to Japan’s attack. U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who was not in on the plan, was earnestly negotiating with Japan the conditions of ending the U.S. oil embargo against Japan, which blockade (aimed actually to force Japan to attack the U.S.) was strangling Japan, but (at 33:00 in the BBC documentary) Hull was shocked when FDR killed the deal, just at the time when Hull thought he had succeeded; Hull was «feeling betrayed» by the President, for whom he had been working so long and so hard on this. The tapped phone call from the Japanese negotiator, back to Tokyo (34:46), said: «I have made all efforts but they will not yield… I believe it is of no avail… Something will have to be done to get us out of this situation [i.e., to end the oil-blockade]».

Hull’s ‘negotiations’ with Japan’s Ambassadors were actually intended by Roosevelt to serve merely the purpose of fooling Japan’s high command to think that the U.S. was trying to avoid a war with Japan. It was part of the trap FDR had set up. He succeeded at fooling Japan’s high command. And he did it in such a way that (according to the taped phone-conversation) caused Japan’s high officials to feel «humiliated» by what seemed to them to be the American President’s casual dismissal of their offer. Hull was confused and frustrated by FDR’s response, and was consequently unable to explain or justify it to his Japanese interlocutors. This was precisely what FDR wanted.

So, in this light, we should all become introduced and welcomed into the world of international relations, regarding how mega-history is really made — not the fantasies that are told about it in the cleansed ‘history’ books (such as Republicans and other conservatives insist upon). It’s made by deceptions. And it’s made by strategically sacrificing some of the people on one’s own side, in order to save others of one’s own people, so as to win victory in the greater international conflict.

Mega-history is made by individuals who, even when they are partners and not merely when they are enemies, don’t trust and are not always honest with one-another. It’s made in a murky world, where each individual, if he is intelligent at all, needs to be doing his own investigation and to take the statements even of people on his own side as being possibly intended to deceive or otherwise mislead. This is the world of intelligence, and it’s also the world of national leadership — even in a democracy. It’s not just right values, and right priorities; it’s also right gamesmanship. FDR was a giant.

The press are constantly being lied-to; and any ‘news’ medium that reports, other than with considerable skepticism, anything that its government is saying or doing about international relations, is purely a propaganda-medium, no authentic journalistic medium, at all. That’s just fake ‘news’ ‘reporting,’ but it is the routine and not the exception. It’s nationalistic, but it is not patriotic. (There is a big difference.)

On 29 November 1941 (39:00 in the linked-to BBC documentary), Cordell Hull confided to a journalistic friend, Joe Leib, that «Pearl Harbor would be attacked on December the seventh,» and that «if anything should erupt against him, that he would be protected by a friend». It was his request to Leib, to be that friend, «which I have been to him». Leib immediately then issued a news report, to UPI, «which put it only on the foreign wire. Ironically, the only paper to use it was The Honolulu Advertiser. In its watered-down form,» it was ignored even there locally; the news-editors had turned it into nothing, despite its being an exclusive news report from the U.S. Secretary of State. Even the Pearl Harbor command was still being kept in the dark. No one could imagine that the U.S. President would be willing to do such a thing. Even the U.S. Secretary of State did not fully understand FDR’s strategy and the necessity of the tactics. The President played his cards that close to his vest. And this is how Hitler was defeated. Because: otherwise, there seemed to be no other way he even could have been. (At that time, the defeat by Stalin of Hitler’s invasion of Russia («Operation Barbarossa») was hardly even imagined: Stalin’s counteroffensive, which won the war in the East, just started on 5 December 1941, two days before the Pearl Harbor attack. At the time of Pearl Harbor, Hitler’s fortunes were at their very peak. This is how desperate things were at that time.)

As an investigative historian, I am dedicated to truth as being a historian’s highest and most solemn obligation, and so I was taken aback when finding that many readers have criticized articles that I’ve written that FDR was one of America’s greatest, if not the very greatest, Presidents (a view that is widely shared among historians but not among the public who read only press propaganda), and who were saying of those articles from me, such things as, «that was truly fdr’s ‘we had to kill democracy in order to save it’ moment. it’s not a democracy if the executive uses a false flag attack to manipulate the public into war. he made his choice. he failed to imagine a better way. it’s hard to respect such a person».

I replied to him: «FDR did what he needed to do there, because otherwise Hitler would have won the war, and we’d subsequently have been ruled by Hitler. You might prefer Hitler to FDR, Harry Truman, etc., but most Americans would not. FDR faced a public and a Congress who opposed our getting into the war; he needed something like a Pearl Harbor in order to get the U.S. into the war in time to prevent Hitler from defeating Britain. Being a nation’s leader entails the making of a few choices that are like this: an injustice sometimes needs to be done in order to prevent there being an even bigger injustice. Abraham Lincoln knew this; FDR knew this, and you are not better than they for your not knowing this or for your denying that it is true. To the contrary».

Another reader backed up the complainant’s criticism, by saying, «A justified false flag. Amazing».

To that, I replied: «Yes, a justified false-flag. It was the only remaining hope for the possibility (which is all it was at the time) that Hitler would be defeated. I am amazed at the number of readers at this site who wish that Hitler had succeeded. Go to StormFront, instead: you don’t belong here».

And, to that, the original complainant responded by linking to this terrific BBC documentary (the one that was linked to in the present article’s first link, and which has been summarized earlier here). That video was their «case».

So: now you know both sides of this debate, and can fairly judge it. I think that I have adequately presented both sides.

PS: I have intentionally left out of this debate the other enormous achievements of FDR, such as Social Security, Glass-Steagall, and many more, because the complainants against my respect for FDR have focused almost exclusively upon this ‘scandal’ about him — a ’scandal’ which I believe to be instead against the people who find it to be a scandal, not actually against FDR, in any way. But that’s for you to judge, because the essential facts in the debate are now clear, and are accepted by both sides to it.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Tags: Asia-Pacific  Japan  US