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Pearl Harbor under attack, December 1941
Did US foreign policy lead straight to Pearl Harbor?
I AM a pupil at Oundle and attended your compelling talk. I found your oratory and persona inspiring and unique as well as seeing cogence and originality in your methods.
I hope you don't find it intrusive but I didn't get a chance to talk to you after the talk and really wanted to ask your advice on the following.
One area that you discussed particularly interested me as I have chosen to study it for my individual assignment -- the road to Pearl Harbor.
My question is "To what extent was American foreign policy rather than Japanese militarism responsible for Pearl Harbour?"
I was just wondering if you could expand on your justification for stating that Japan "had no alternative," as it would help me greatly. Or if you have an alternative viewpoint, that would be equally valuable. Also if you have any ideas on certain books that could be useful on this topic -- perhaps one you have written!
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David Irving replies:
IT was really fun to speak to such a great audience. You ask about foreign policy as a key to Pearl Harbor. I hinted at this in my talk, and I am going to ask you to borrow a copy of the book I brought, "Churchill's War", vol. ii: "Triumph in Adversity", and look under "Japan" and then "oil embargo as a key to sanctions" in the index: that will take you to roughly the right pages. You can also download the entire book free on my website unless your school has had a filter installed, which may prevent it!
You will also want to highlight Churchill's repeated comment that in the run-up to Pearl Harbor he had by agreement left it to the Americans to handle Far East foreign policy, and you might want to address that issue: was it a proper decision for Churchill to make in the circumstances? (Of course, Churchill never really expected the Japanese to attack, he thought they were bluffing and said so; a sentence that he later cut out of a letter to Anthony Eden, as published in his The Second World War!)
Come back to me with further questions, and encourage your friends to do so to. I have briefly posted your letter on my website, without naming you, and you may get assistance from others too. Follow of course the normal rules of prudence when replying to strangers.