The Devastation of Pearl Harbor

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The attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor that took place on the December 7th of 1941 was a shocking event for the American public, and had served as the catalyst for the country’s entry into the Second World War. The attack on Pearl Harbor is considered the most shocking event that left a mark on United States’ culture and public awareness before the September 11 attacks. One reason for this is the surprise nature of the attacks and the massive number of casualties. Because of this, most historians and critics, along with the public considered Pearl Harbor as a grave tragedy. This paper goes beyond highlighting how the Pearl Harbor attack is a tragedy; rather, it wants to offer an effective understanding of the circumstances surrounding the attack and the immediate and long-term effects of the attack. Events leading up to the Attack

Prior to engaging in the Second World War, Japan was already facing a myriad of problems. It started to depend increasingly on the supply of raw materials, especially that of oil from external sources instead of domestic production. Even though they were faced with these difficulties however, even if they were lacking these resources and experiencing difficulties, Japan was also at that time, building a successful empire of stable industrial foundation, associated with good army and naval strength. The military became powerful part of the government, and this set the stage for trouble. In the early 1930s, the Japanese Army engaged in many and yet small conflicts with the Chinese in Manchuria. The Japanese had won several of these battles, and Manchuria was captured and turned into a part of the Japanese Empire. The conflicts that took place in the area near Beijing’s Marco Polo Bridge in 1937 were one of popular conflicts that took place; however, whether these conflicts were planned or not remains a mystery up to now. These conflicts eventually became a full-scale war now known as the second Sino-Japanese War, one of the deadliest war that ever took place in world history. The war resulted into the final defeat of Japan in 1945. Before this however, the Second World War taking place in the other side of the world saw a string of victories by German forces, which included defeating Poland and France and the bombing of England. Most of the European nations that Germany managed to capture had their own colonies such as East Indies and Singapore. Japan saw this as an opportunity. Most of these colonies controlled by the European nations possessed the natural resources that Japan was desperate for and because these countries are preoccupied with Germany and what is happening in Europe, Japan felt that it can be the right time to step in and seize some of these resources. In the United States, President Roosevelt sought to stop the expansion of both Germany and Japan, but the Congress and the public wanted the opposite and warned against intervening further. The United States began to provide supplies and materials to countries at war with either Japan or Germany but also kept its space and maintained neutrality to prevent an overseas war from taking place. Meanwhile, the Axis Alliance was formed in September of 1940, which comprised of Germany, Italy and Japan. In 1941, Japan became determined to acquire access to the rich resources of the Southeast Asia and became afraid at the same time that it would be impossible to defeat the Western powers. As such, Japan thought of strengthening its armies so that it can stay in the war. Japan started to enter and seize Southern Indochina, which met strong opposition from the United States. In response, the United States employed an embargo on the exporting of oil to Japan, which had significant consequences to the latter. Japan needed oil to keep its technologies and military running. Without oil, Japan’s industrial and military capabilities can be impeded. Therefore, oil embargo imposed by the United States was perceived as a declaration or an act...
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