The Pearl Harbor Legacy

Published on 09/08/2021
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The Pearl Harbor incident was a critical moment in the history of the United States and the world. This attack propelled the United States into World War II and unleashed a series of events that have transformed the United States into a global superpower and guardian of international order. 76 years later, the Pearl Harbor legacy may face a daunting challenge.
On December 7, 1941, Japan killed 2,403 Americans. Over the next four years, more than 400,000 American soldiers will die. His blood helped buy the defeat of fascism in Europe and Asia and laid the foundation for a postwar international order inspired by the United States.
Without Pearl Harbor, whether the United States will participate in World War II is a moot point. Scholars like John Schuessler of Texas A&M University believe that President Franklin D. Roosevelt has long sought US intervention. From this point of view, Roosevelt knew very well that Japanese expansionism in Asia and German expansion in Europe spelled trouble for the United States.
This attack marked a turning point in the history of American international relations. Isolationism was excluded from the powerful forces of domestic politics and made foreign participation the accepted norm.

The Pearl Harbor Legacy

The Pearl Harbor Legacy

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The military effort requires a large-scale mobilization of the American economy and society. By the end of 1945, the United States had built the largest fighting force in its history, with military bases scattered around the world. Most of the territories of Japan and Germany are occupied by the United States.
Together with its allies, the United States intends to establish a free international order that will be embedded in international cooperation and create a safe space for the capitalist economy to flourish. The Bretton Woods Financial Institution, the United Nations, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now the World Trade Organization) can all be seen as part of this ambitious order-building project. Another explanation is that all successive presidents agreed with Roosevelt’s view that national security cannot be separated from international security. From defeating the Axis powers to containing the Soviet Union, fighting rogue states and terrorist organizations, fighting American enemies abroad instead of risking Pearl Harbor again seems more attractive. Containing communism became the organizing principle of US foreign policy for the next 40 years, driven by a broad consensus on the issue between the two parties. The attempt to defeat fascism after the Pearl Harbor incident turned into a global global struggle against communism and for the preservation of national independence in the so-called “free world.”

Expand Commitments Abroad

Expand Commitments Abroad

Business And Security Issues

One reason is that the American economy, or at least most of it, has benefited greatly from liberal international architecture. If the power of the United States is not harnessed to keep trade routes, energy flows and anti-capitalist forces open, this architecture could collapse in the Persian Gulf.
Another explanation is that all successive presidents agreed with Roosevelt’s view that national security cannot be separated from international security. From defeating the Axis powers to containing the Soviet Union, fighting rogue states and terrorist organizations, fighting American enemies abroad instead of risking Pearl Harbor again seems more attractive. Decades after 1945, America used its power to shape and change the world. But now, 25 years have passed since the Soviet Union voted to pull out, and the United States still has a large global presence. For better or for worse, the post-Pearl Harbor world has always been a powerful driving force for the United States to maintain its dominant position in international affairs. However, this internationalist consensus was never inevitable or immutable. As conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer pointed out at the end of the Cold War, isolationist tendencies on the left and right wing of American politics will resurface over time.

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