…the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, thus finally sucking the United States into the conflagration that had been raging for two years in Europe and even longer in Asia.
Stories like this one from the AP remind us that the generation who fought and died to defeat Nazi-ism and Japan’s imperialism is very old and won’t be with us much longer. Ed Johann, the subject of the story, was a 17-year-old apprentice seaman on that fateful Sunday morning. He is going back for the first time since the attack because at age 86 he may not have many more chances:
For years, Johann said he wouldn’t go to the annual observance in Hawaii in honor of those killed in the attack. But now that he’s 86, it seemed liked a good idea.
“If I’m ever going to do anything like that I’d better do it now,” Johann said. His son, who lives on Maui, will accompany him.
Organizers expect between 40 and 50 survivors of the attack to come. Overall, some 2,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony on a pier overlooking the spot where the Arizona sank.
The bodies of more than 1,000 sailors and Marines are still on board, and small drops of oil continue to rise from the submerged battleship.
Every year, unfortunately, there will be fewer and fewer. The survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack are all in their 80s and 90s, and time is relentless.
50 replies on “68 years ago today…”
My dad was in the Navy during WWII. He was sent to school to learn Japanese at a special program at the University of Colorado. He passed away in 2006.
I wanted to take my Dad to the WWII Memorial in DC, but at 91 and slowed down since breaking a hip, he’s not in condition for a journey like that. (He was a nose gunner in a B-24 in Europe.) OTOH, he’s never shown much interest in reliving those days, so perhaps it’s something he wouldn’t especially want to do even if he could.
I think it was this last summer when the last veteran of WWI died (maybe it was American, but I think it was the last allied soldier (were they called the “allies” in WWI?))
It got me thinking about how many people are still alive who were born in the 1800s. Note that at the end of the month, they will have to be at least 110 years old.
There is a website out there that is trying to track all the known “supercentenarians” as they are called (it’s actually not just a website, and is a pretty big project). I think back in July, I estimated there might be something like 125 people left in the US who where born in the 1800s, but I haven’t investigated it recently.
I was in Honolulu on 7 December 2001 — the 60th anniversary.
Interesting scenes — including a bunch of NYFD firefighters who had been shipped to Honolulu with their families after months straight digging through the rubble of the WTC. Imagine a bar full of firefighters and WWII survivors arguing over who got to buy the drinks for whom.
We don’t really have many like those who served in the second world war, and few of those who lived through it to shake their hands and say “thanks “.
I’ve met a few WW2 vets, and have been glad of the experience, every time.
So, I’ll say it again:
What a sad day. Too bad Naval history debunked the official theory, and FDR had foreknowledge according to the Daughter of one of the leading members of the Red cross.
“Don C. Smith, who directed the War Service for the Red Cross before World War II and was deputy administrator of services to the armed forces from 1942 to 1946, when he became administrator, apparently knew about the timing of the Pearl Harbor attack in advance. Unfortunately, Smith died in 1990 at age 98. But when his daughter, Helen E. Hamman, saw news coverage of efforts by the families of Husband Kimmel and Walter Short to restore the two Pearl Harbor commanders posthumously to what the families contend to be their deserved ranks, she wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton on 5 September 1995. Recalling a conversation with her father, Hamman wrote:
. . . Shortly before the attack in 1941 President Roosevelt called him [Smith] to the White House for a meeting concerning a Top Secret matter. At this meeting the President advised my father that his intelligence staff had informed him of a pending attack on Pearl Harbor, by the Japanese. He anticipated many casualties and much loss, he instructed my father to send workers and supplies to a holding area at a P.O.E. [port of entry] on the West Coast where they would await further orders to ship out, no destination was to be revealed. He left no doubt in my father’s mind that none of the Naval and Military officials in Hawaii were to be informed and he was not to advise the Red Cross officers who were already stationed in the area. When he protested to the President, President Roosevelt told him that the American people would never agree to enter the war in Europe unless they were attack [sic] within their own borders.
You know, I was gonna suggest we have a pool on when there’d be a Pearl Harbor denialist, but it looks like I was too late. I guess it’s never too soon…
Wow. There’s a conspiracy theory for everything now. Thanks, guys, for detracting from the somber and memorable occasion.
At any rate, it’s too bad that far too many of us would rather sit on our fat butts all day than lift a finger to serve the country. Too, too sad.
Should we even dignify Cooler ‘s comment with a reply?
I’m torn between not dignifying the comment with a reply to hijack the post and the desire to not leave such a comment uncontested.
Umm, this is direct testimony from a credible witness, the Daughter of Don Cross who led the war services for the Red Cross daughter has no motive to lie, and she was told from her Dad that FDR knew, because he met with them him in advance.
BTW this was published in Naval history magazine, people that are experts. Sad to see the delusional denialism of apologists who support a nation that killed millions of Iraqis and Vietnamese for no reason. But such denialism is not surprising, especially if you read Orwell’s 1984.
Sadly, this information is undebunkable, which is why it appeared in highly respected military tactics magazine run by experts. There is no motive for Don Cross’s daughter to lie, so sad our country is hijacked by criminals and the SHEEP have no evidence to back their claims.
Cooler, there is no reason for her to lie. We get it. Was there a reason for her father to die?
And why didn’t the father shout it out from the four corners of the world that an attack was imminent? Isn’t that treasonous on his part to know of an attack and not do something about it?
Why? So he can get taken out or called a nut? Hell if I knew certain secrets I’d be scared to death to go public.
@Cooler – So you’re calling him a coward? One that would value his life over the life of some 2,400 men and women at Pearl Harbor?
If you knew certain secrets, huh? What secrets are those? And why are they secrets if you know they’d get you killed?
What difference would it make if he went public back then, everyone would just call him a nut and the media would ignore him like they do now.
Cooler, I figure you must get a nice warm feeling of superiority from believing yourself to be the “guy in the know”. I can’t think of any other motive for being a fool like you.
My husband and I went to Pearl Harbor during our honeymoon. Very interesting place and we hope to go back there again in the future. My father and his family was sent to China from Hong Kong to try and avoid the Japanese. He never said much about that time, only that he felt he didn’t get enough to eat. My surviving aunts and uncles have some conflicting stories about that time. Us cousins are trying to pin them down more, but it’s been challenging.
You must get a sense of gratification on having no evidence to back your claims and to ignore overwhelming evidence, I can think of no other motive for being a fool like you.
The sentiments expressed by the old sailor Orac quotes match pretty well to those of the last two veterans of the Great War (WW1) Western front, who as someone pointed out died earlier this year. I quoted some of them in a post here.
In Europe and the Brit Commonwealth we do most of our remembering of veterans, and of those lost in wars whether military or civilian, on 11th November (Remembrance Day), the date of the Great War armistice in 1918.
No, seriously, Cooler, I totally see your argument. None of the evidence presented by the NSA, the Smithsonian, hundreds of historians, and common sense stand up to the hearsay confessions of one woman accusing her father of being a coward not because he was afraid but because, according to you, the media would have never picked up his story. I bet he’d have a web page if one was available back in the 1940’s where he’d written: I KNEW IT ALL ALONG BUT CAN’T TELL YOU MORE FOR FEAR OF YOU-KNOW-WHO.
Anyway, here, this is for you: http://www.cracked.com/funny-44-conspiracy-theories/
There are many historians that support the alternative view as well, read the article, it is from experts and contains evidence that corroborates Don Smith’s story. Oh wait you guys didn’t read the article, just like a little kid that wouldn’t listen to evidence that Santa was not real!
Thank you for a great post and for remembering to honor all involved on that fateful day. The picture is sombering…
Shorter version of all of cooler’s claims:
Someone said that her dad told her something. Her dad is dead, and there’s nothing presented to evaluate the veracity of the claims. However, since I can’t think of a reason she might be mistaken or possibly lie, I fully accept her claims and demand proof that the supporting evidence for my stance (which isn’t actually presented) be wholly disproven or I win and you lose and I’m right and you’re wrong and stupid and probably ugly and a virgin.
It’s a familiar script…delusions of intellectual grandeur.
Did you even read the article? The author specifically investigated if the actions of the Red Cross before during and after Pearl Harbor corroborated Smith’s testimony, he found they did. Would help if you guys bothered to read the article, and the countless mounds of other evidence that have been documented.
For all the other evidence you can read Day Of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor (Paperback)
~ Robert Stinnett. Here is great interview.
You ought to know…
Given that Frank Buckles testified before Congress regarding a WWI memorial only a few days ago, Im pretty sure he didnt die last summer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Buckles
Not trying to feed the troll, but for those who may have questions, I took a look at the Naval History Magazine site. I couldn’t find the article cooler mentioned anywhere, however I did find something that appeared in November 2009 regarding the Japanese and Pearl Harbor:
To quote from the article: “Of all the aspects of the attack on that 7 December 1941 Sunday morning-including its treachery, swiftness, daring, and skillful execution-none seems more compelling than the assault’s total surprise. This element is even more striking, knowing that just prior to the attack, a U.S. Army radar site at Opana Point, on Oahu, tracked incoming aircraft, and the Navy discovered a foreign submarine at the entrance to Pearl Harbor. Add to this mixture that American code-breakers were reading Japanese diplomatic messages of all types, and it seems simply incredible that Japan could pull off a thorough surprise attack.
Yet it did precisely that. ”
The rest of the article explains how Japan did it. It was a very interesting read as well. The article is free and available at: http://www.usni.org/magazines/navalhistory/story.asp?STORY_ID=2081
What are you talking about. I already posted it. From Naval history magazine 1999.
The Red Cross Connection
By Daryl S. Borgquist
Naval History, June 1999
“The bodies of more than 1,000 sailors and Marines are still on board, and small drops of oil continue to rise from the submerged battleship.”
Really? FFS, clean up the bay already.
First off, cooler, the guy’s name was Smith, not Cross. Don C. Smith. He worked for the Red Cross. Try and keep your own BS straight, will ya?
Second: now I’m not a student of history, more of an observer. I don’t have any links for you, just my memories of what I’ve read about WWII, but then, I’m not trying to prove a conspiracy. Rather, let me try and explain what woud have had to be true, and why it comes as such a shock.
America has a popular fantasy that the attack on Pearl Harbor was a dastardly act of savagery, totally unannounced, unanticipated, and unprovoked. We even call it a “sneak attack,” as though 1941 was still the days of the French and Indian War, when opposing generals would meet on the proposed battlefield to negotiate the terms of the impending conflict. We cast ourselves as innocents, neutral bystanders in the war in Europe and the international tensions it caused. This isn’t a flaw of Americans, it’s simply human rationalization.
The truth – as revisionists, conspiracy theorists, and legitimate historians all point out – is that the U.S. was far from neutral. Our sympathies were clearly with the British. And for reasons both related and unrelated to the Nazis, relations with Imperial Japan were highly strained. To listen to the CT’s, you’d think Japan was our bestest friend until December 6, 1941.
The truth is that in 1941, FDR and his political and military advisers would have been well aware that Imperial Japan was contemplating a declaration of war. The above second hand account can easily be interpreted as FDR quietly making preparations for a possible declaration and attack. The secrecy can be explained in several ways. He didn’t have to inform his military commanders in the Pacific that there might be an attack, the would have known full well what was happening between Washington and Tokyo. He did have a strong anti-war contingent of the American populace to contend with. He might not have wanted to further antagonize the Japanese, as an open movement of materiel, even humanitarian supplies, might have done.
Some other issues to consider: iirc, it was unusual in the extreme, and possibly a war crime, for Japan to mount a major attack prior to a formal declaration of war. Also, Hawaii was not the only American target in the Pacific. Attacking Pearl Harbor was a bold move for Japan, bordering on reckless. If you doubt that, if you think Hawaii was the only game in the Pacific, why then did the Japanese never seriously attack San Francisco or Los Angeles?
Now that I’ve written this book, it occurs to me that maybe you really are just a troll. If so, I award you 6/10 points. I considered 8 or 9 points, but posting on December 7, when the thrust of Orac’s post was the longevity of WWII vets, just plain tacky.
You know, it’s really annoying how a denialist conspiracy theory troll like Cooler can infest a perfectly innocent thread.
Ditto someone like JD and his post about the Japanese internment camps. Here’s a hint. We know about the internment camps. It was a horrible and unjustified thing our government did to Japanese-Americans, many of them native-born citizens. The hysteria and war fever in the wake of Pearl Harbor partially explain, but do not excuse, what our government did. However, bringing that issue up here is nothing more than a transparent attempt to troll and derail the conversation, every bit as much as Cooler’s conspiracy mongering. None of that has anything to do with honoring the men and women who fought and died at Pearl Harbor on this, the 68th anniversary of the event, or expressing sadness that, given the march of time, there are fewer and fewer of them every year.
Sorry – to correct my above post, I found the article from cooler’s comment (I missed the link) and an article with the same title as the link in his comment did appear in Naval History in 1999.
It contained the following disclaimer: “Mr. Borgquist is media affairs officer for the Community Relations Service Headquarters, U.S. Department of Justice. He also is a U.S. Naval Reserve public affairs officer. The views reflected here are his own. This article was not prepared as part of any of his offical duties.”
The Naval History version required a subscription, and the link cooler provided was a different site with a typo in the disclaimer, so how accurate it may be to the original text is unknown.
Dr. [email protected]
The attack on Pearl Harbor without a declaration of war was completely consistent with Japanese wartime behavior. They initiated the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 with an attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur, some three hours before the Russians would receive the declaration. If nothing else, this shows a pattern of very tight timings between the opening attack and the declaration – and that circumstances could easily lead to the attack coming first.
The Japanese had also been studying the British attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto almost exactly a year earlier.
I think it’s quite likely that FDR had some strategic warning that the Japanese were considering an attack of some kind (but that’s very different from the specific tactical warning of an attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7).
The Japanese attack appeared to make a lot of military sense at the time, but made very little political sense in the long run (not surprisingly given that neither country understood the politics of the other).
As for today. The first time I ever went to Washington DC was on December 7, 2006 – and I made a point of visiting the WWII Memorial.
It was a day that should be long remembered, and I take my hat off to those who were there, just as I do to my late Uncle who was in the rear guard at Dunkirk.
They truly were “the Greatest Generation” because that’s what they were called to be. They deserve our respect and remembrance.
Wow, this discussion changed a lot since I first looked at it this morning. I think one of Orac’s recent posts is quite relevant. More of this crank magnetism is being displayed.
Dismissing people like “cooler” out of hand is the easy and, on the surface, correct thing to do. However, he and his Pearl Harbor conspiracy theory is, I believe, symbolic of a far more disturbing trend and problem- an unwillingness to concede even the possibility of American weakness and fallibility, even a minor level. While Pearl Harbor and the follow-up attacks on places like the Philippines and Wake Island cost a significant number of lives and weakened, it wasnât a crippling blow. Most of our military, including naval assets, survived for both defense and a counterattack.
However, by refusing to concede that an enemy could outwit the United States and score significant blow, even at the tactical level, people are forced to conjure up an alternative explanation. The only realistic suspect left after the Japanese is the American government. So every little bit of information proving a conspiracy is cobbled together and fashioned into a narrative that indicts the American government while at the same time, stripping the enemy of any credit for their activities.
The same thing is occurring with Vietnam, except only âliberalâ portions of it, the liberal media, and the antiwar protestors are to blame, not the enemy, and certainly not good conservatives or American service personnel. It was the hippies damn it. So now all sorts of nonsense are being spawned to justify or explain away our defeat. None of them give credit to the Vietnamese, which with Soviet assistance built a military that beat or fought to a standstill the French, the Americans, the South Vietnamese regime, the Chinese, and the Khmer Rouge, took losses on par with what the Soviets suffered fighting on the Eastern Front, or the times were the American military was fought and defeated by the North Vietnamese. Nope, itâs all fault of the dope-smoking hippies and liberals.
The end result of this is that when the U.S. military is losing a fight, say like Afghanistan, it cannot be considered in polite discourse to the result of superior fighting skills or tactics of the enemy, poor soldiering, or bad military leadership. So the hunt for the scapegoat begins and so liberals, the media, and antiwar protests are to blame for allegedly providing aid and comfort to the enemy, even though high morale fails to stop bullets and showing weakness means nothing if American forces were capable of dispatching the enemy.
Meh, faulty memory. But thanks. 🙂
Also, the article Chezjuan linked to really is a fascinating read. And, unlike the Bordquist article cooler is so enamored of, presents facts with very little commentary and speculation.
However, he and his Pearl Harbor conspiracy theory is, I believe, symbolic of a far more disturbing trend and problem- an unwillingness to concede even the possibility of American weakness and fallibility, even a minor level.
As witness the “truthers.” Who was it said that we should never attribute to malice what is so easily explained by stupidity?
I thought the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theory wasn’t that some people had an inkling the Japanese would invade but the U.S. were goading the Japanese into retaliatory force – i.e. the U.S. informally declared war on Japan thus making the U.S. the aggressor.
I KNEW IT ALL ALONG BUT CAN’T TELL YOU MORE FOR FEAR OF YOU-KNOW-WHO.
Voldemort was behind Pearl Harbor?!
âAmerican code-breakers were reading Japanese diplomatic messages of all types, and it seems simply incredible that Japan could pull off a thorough surprise attackâ
Naval code breakers could read Japanese diplomatic traffic (known as âMagicâ). They also had Japanese naval military traffic, JN25, partially decrypted (perhaps 10%). However, they did not have the subset JN25B decoded, which is how the order to attack Pearl Harbor was transmitted. Naval intelligence did not have the man power during the early 1940âs, at the most having 5 code breakers working on all Japanese transmissions. Pres. Roosevelt also, was very biased in favor of HUMINT before and during the entire war and was never impressed with anything SIGINT could produce, no matter how ground breaking. Interestingly enough, NSA conducted a study of Japanese SIGINT traffic and found that had Naval Intelligence had the manpower, they would have been able to decrypt the messages.
The US government saw Intel in a negative light prior to WWII and its merits were only recognized during wartime. WWII demonstrated its continual necessity, hence the founding of a number of national agencies dedicated to collecting intelligence in peacetime.
âan unwillingness to concede even the possibility of American weakness and fallibility, even a minor level.â
There was a lot of denial right after it happened on a racist level. Gen. MacArthur thought the Japanese were too stupid to pull something like that off and hypothesized it was German mercenaries.
“However, he and his Pearl Harbor conspiracy theory is, I believe, symbolic of a far more disturbing trend and problem- an unwillingness to concede even the possibility of American weakness and fallibility, even a minor level.”
You may be correct about the trend, but I doubt your diagnosis in the case of cooler. For him it is not enough to concede that the American government may be weak, stupid, incompetent, or unlucky; for him it must be deliberately and consciously evil. If something bad happens, therefore, the American government must have been complicit: Pearl Harbor, 9/11, the AIDS epidemic, vaccine injuries … those are the ones I’ve seen him rant about. No doubt there are more. In his case, it’s not an elevated respect, it’s hatred.
There is one other element to the FDR knew idea. It is an attempt to smeer him and prove that FDR was evil. Therefor the New Deal was evil and everything we have from it should be abloished.
the tragady of this is that it cheepens the event of Pear Harbor and the suffering of the people who lost loved ones or lived through it for a cheep polical shot.
there is pleanty of evedinace to show that the yes the US goverment was preparing for war that fully expected to be attacked soon and that they did not know the day the time or the location or who could have been germany. we have the advantage of knowing who when and where. which brings us to the great trap of historical reaserch presnetism. meaning we know how we got here the leadership and people at pearl did not
It will be sad day for the rest of us when there are no more surviors to inspire the rest of us who are just fat dumb and should be happy
I was in Oahu in 2001 and went to the gathering. It seemed urgent that I go, as my brother had just survived 9/11 in NY. Hearing all the stories of families really got to me. One woman spoke about her brother, who was entombed in the ship. I felt very lucky that I would get to have my own brother for so many years after 9/11. It was a very powerful day.
If you know a WW II veteran, please get him or her to write down their experiences. My father, who served as an artillery forward observer in Europe during WW II (dangerous!) used to tell us stories. We urged him to write them down, and in his late 80s he started. After he died, I read what he had written. He told about his training, which lasted about three years, and his landing in Belgium after D-Day. But it ended just as he was about to go into combat. Now it’s lost forever.
I’m a a member of the USNI, and found the article in full. The “Red Cross” conspiracy was just the lead into the article, as stated by Don Smith’s daughter. However, the gist of the article was about the pre-positioning of medical aid by the Red Cross to the Pacific theater, first on the west coast, then to Hawai’i.
From Red Cross reports, there was an upswing in personnel activity to fill new facilities at Hickam Field starting in November. In addition, new supplies were ordered as early as summer 1941, but deliveries had not come until November.
From the end of the article:
“The role played by the Red Cross at Pearl Harbor has been neglected by historians, mostly because accounts inevitably focus on the military attack. In all of the confusion after the Japanese attack and with military censorship, the arrival and activities of Red Cross medical workers at all of the major military locations immediately before the Pearl Harbor attack were not questioned, most likely because of the high esteem in which the organization always had been held. Their arrival had been coordinated quietly from Washington and even most of the workers themselvesâalthough some seem to have had more informationâthought it a mere coincidence that they were there just before the attack. But thanks to Don Smith’s daughter, it is now known that it was no accident that specific pieces were in place in the nick of time. It appears to have been part of a planned operation within the rapid overall growth of the Red Cross.”
IMO, with the political climate of the day, including negotiations going on between Washington and Tokyo, the positioning of equipment and persons to the west coast wasn’t a result of foreknowledge or of attempts to start a war. Instead, it was just prudent planning for a “just in case” scenario.
Orion, not much reason for suspicion there; surely everyone knew a war was coming, just not exactly when it would start. I think the draft was reinstituted about a year before the Pearl Harbor attack.
My father-in-law landed on the beach at Normandy but would never talk about his experiences there. Said if he never thought about it again it would still be too soon because there was nothing good about it. He lived to be 88. Those who have seen action in the military services of this country deserve our heartfelt thanks, and condolences as well for what they lost as a consequence.
I hate to go off-topic from a subject that deserves our respect, but I feel I have to point out the flaw in Don C Smith’s (or his daughter’s) claim. If FDR knew there would be an imminent attack on Pearl Harbour, why not raise the level of preparedness there anyway?
It wouldn’t have had to be a full deployment, just gunners ready at the anti-aircraft batteries (ship and shore) and airmen and aircraft standing by at the airfield, rather than the vast majority being at home having a Sunday lie-in. It could have been done under the guise of a week-long training exercise or similar. All FDR needed to be able to bring the US into the war was an act of aggression by Japan, and once the first wave of aircraft entered Hawaiian territorial waters that would have been achieved and the Kittyhawks could scramble. The attack could have been allowed to happen but with the expectation of a much lower loss of life, ships and aircraft than full surprise would cause. Even if spies warned the Japanese that an exercise was underway, Admiral Yamamoto may still have felt compelled to attack rather than abandon his mission, because so much else of the Japanese strategy depended on destroying the USN Pacific Fleet even given the obvious risks of bringing the US into the war sooner rather than later.
You could say that it would still have been a cynical decision on FDR’s part, but surely much less so than allowing the avoidable deaths of so many.
I’m a little late posting on here, but I thought I’d point out what in my opinion is the basic factual error committed by Pearl Harbor conspiracy theorists. To quote the article posted by Cooler:
“President Roosevelt told him that the American people would never agree to enter the war in Europe unless they were attack [sic] within their own borders.”
Based on documentary evidence, there is widespread acceptance of the fact that Roosevelt wanted to enter the war against Germany. The problem with Pearl Harbor conspiracies is that a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in no way obligated the Germans to declare war on the United States. Keep in mind that on December 6th 1941, Germany was at war with the United Kingdom, it’s allies, and the Soviet Union, whereas Japan was at war with China. While Germany and Japan had a nominal alliance, they were not treaty bound to enter any war in which the other found themselves.
So, again quoting Cooler’s article “the American people would never agree to enter the war in Europe unless they were attack [sic] within their own borders.”, the logical inconsistency become apparent.
On the 11th of December, Hitler declared war against the United States using Pearl Harbor as a pretext (again according to documentary evidence) because of his increasing frustration at naval provocations committed by the United States in the Atlantic Ocean in the U-boat war between the British and the Germans. The Germans did not declare war on the United States because they were treaty bound to do so. If that were the case, they would have already declared war on China and the Japanese would have already been at war with the British and the Soviets. Simply put, there was no reason to assume that the Japanese attack would have gotten us into the war in Europe.
Saying Roosevelt let Japan attack us so we could fight the Germans makes no sense when one has even a basic understanding of World War II history. If Hitler had not declared war against the United States four days after Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt would have still faced a fight to get the United States Congress and the American people behind an entry into the war against Germany.
Roosevelt wanted a war against Germany, Pearl Harbor gave him a war against the wrong nation on the wrong side of the planet.