Pearl Harbor was not about war with Japan -Most important was the promise FDR had made to the American people - solemnly given and repeated--not to send their sons into foreign war unless attacked. He did not mind violating that pledge. He merely feared the political effect of the violation.
It was about war with GERMANY
Alsop and Kintner, White House columnist pets, had written a short time before that "He (Roosevelt) does not feel he can openly violate them (his pledges). But he can get around them the smart way."
They explained this meant getting the Germans to shoot first. Then he could shoot back. But it was clear to him by November that the Germans were not going to shoot first. But FDR knew that he could force the Japanese to do so.
HITLER WOULD NOT DECLARE WAR IF U.S. UNBEATABLE
- OBJECTIVE: War with Germany. How do you bait Hitler to declare war on you? You don't get it by looking unbeatable!
- Direct provocation in Atlantic had failed - Hitler didn't bite.
- FDR knew from magic that if Japan attacked, Germany would declare war.
- Therefore: the problem was how to maneuver Japan into firing the first shot or make the first overt act.
- Japan must succeed or Hitler would renege.
It would have been obvious suicide for Hitler to declare war if Japan were crippled - it would allow the US to attack him without even the possibility of a two-front war. That was what he had just been avoiding for months.
The plan could only work if Japan's attack succeeded. The lure of a weakened US in a two-front war focused on Japan seemed to make a German war declaration cost-free.
But it was all a trap - FDR was always going to ignore Japan and go after Hitler, for his ultimate goal was to save his beloved Soviet Communism.