At WorldNetDaily, columnist Vox Day argues that “[t]here was never a genuine military threat to the West Coast” during World War II. Further, Mr. Vox argues that this is not merely a hindsight conclusion since “the facts and logistics of the Pacific situation were very well known to American military strategists at the time.”
Mr. Vox has got his facts wrong. There is no question that in early 1942 our military leaders believed the risk of a Japanese attack on the West Coast was substantial.
Henry Stimson, President Roosevelt’s Secretary of War, stated in his autobiography that hit-and-run raids on the West Coast were “not only possible, but probable in the first months of the war, and it was quite impossible to be sure that the raiders would not receive important help from individuals of Japanese origin.”
That is enough to knock down Mr. Vox’s argument, but if you are still not convinced, click below.
As I noted in my book and in an earlier blog entry, the concern among our military leaders about a Japanese attack on the West Coast was palpable even after Executive Order 9066 was signed in February 1942:
After the daring Halsey-Doolittle raid in Tokyo in April, “[e]ight Japanese carriers had returned from their operations around southeastern Asia and the Japanese could release at least three of the eight for a retaliatory attack on the west coast without jeopardizing successes already achieved,” Army historian Stetson Conn recounted. Secretary of War Stimson “called in General Marshall and had a few earnest words with him about the danger of a Jap attack on the West Coast.” Stimson confessed that he was “very much impressed with the danger that the Japanese, having terribly lost face by this recent attack on them ? , will make a counterattack on us with carriers.” General DeWitt’s superiors warned him to be on guard against a carrier attack at any time after May 10 and was informed that two more antiaircraft regiments were being sent to bolster the Los Angeles and San Francisco defenses.
Preceding the pivotal Battle of Midway, which the U.S. was alerted to thanks to another extraordinary communications intelligence operation that partially cracked JN-25, the Japanese navy’s operational code, the West Coast again prepared for the worst. Gen. Marshall informed General DeWitt that a Japanese attack with a chemical weapon might be expected; in mid-May, 350,000 gas masks (the entire available supply), protective clothing, and decontamination supplies were hastily shipped to the west coast. MID concurred with the Navy that a strong Japanese attack on American territory was in the offing before the end of the month, but it forecast that the “first priority” target of the attack would be “hit and run raids on West Coast cities of the continental United States supported by heavy naval forces.” Army intelligence held that such action was entirely within Japanese capabilities, considering the weakness of American naval power, and urged the concentration on the Pacific coast of all available continental air power to meet the threat.
The perception among our military leaders of risks to the West Coast in early 1942 is so well documented that I am surprised one of my critics would choose this line of attack. Did Mr. Vox even bother to read my book before slamming it?
There was no analogous concern, by the way, about a major German or Italian attack on the East Coast. Neither Germany nor Italy had any aircraft carriers, whereas Japan’s surface fleet was the best in the world.
I will agree with Mr. Vox about one thing. The risk of a full-blown invasion of the U.S. mainland was low. This was known at the time. As I made clear in my book, the principal concern was spot raids on the West Coast (such as the one that occurred at Pearl Harbor), not a major invasion.blog comments powered by Disqus
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