Counterintelligence and the Pearl Harbor Attack

Essay by umd_girlUniversity, Bachelor's February 2005

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A surprise attack on Pearl Harbor left millions of Americans heartbroken. It is one of the most significant moments in American history. In just a short amount of time, so much devastation occurred. If the Americans would have kept better tract of Japanese intelligence, the bombing of Pearl Harbor could have been avoided and many lives could have been saved. Some people believe this attack occurred because of American intelligence failure and the well-planned, secretive attack by the Japanese. I have researched many sources to determine what factors led to the attack of Pearl Harbor; what actually occurred during the attack; how the U.S. intelligence failed; how the Japanese intelligence was underestimated; and how we were successful in breaking down foreign intelligence.

The Factors that Led to the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is located in Oahu Island, Hawaii. In 1908 it was established as a naval base of the United State's Pacific Fleet.

Various services provided on the naval base include a naval shipyard, a supply center, and a submarine headquarters. The Japanese were in desperate need of many natural resources. They decided to take control of the East Indies and Southeast Asia because those areas were very rich in raw materials. A Pacific war was obviously unavoidable. Therefore, the United States began to propose peace negotiations with Japan. The United States gave the Japanese an eight step plan, The McCollum Memo, for a peace settlement. This eight step plan stated that 'Japan would recognize the territory of China, French Indochina, and the British and Dutch colonies. The Japanese would remove forces from China and Indochina. The United States and Japan would recognize the Nationalist Government in China, and the United States and Japan would negotiate a mutual trade agreement ending the embargo with Japan' (The McCollum...