COULD THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR HAVE BEEN PREVENTED?
In the years leading up to America’s involvement in World War II, President Roosevelt, his cabinet and staff, together with Captain Claire Lee Chennault and representatives of the Chinese Nationalist Government worked secretly on a plan to bomb Japan before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
On July 23, 1941, President Roosevelt signed Joint Army/Navy Board 355 (the “Joint Board Plan”) which authorized the bombing of key Japanese industrial centers. The Joint Board Plan has remained an obscure and overlooked chapter in American history. Stone Phillips of ABC News on the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1991, did a story on the Joint Board Plan, but confessed that he did not know whether the Japanese knew of the American plan. We know far more today about the Joint Board Plan than Mr. Phillips did in 1991. For example, intercepted Japanese radio communications confirm that as early as May of 1941, even before Roosevelt signed the order, a spy in or near Chiang Kai-shek’s government, identified only as “PA,” disclosed to Japanese agents America’s ambitions to bomb Japan, under the auspices of the newly formed American Volunteer Group which became known as the Flying Tigers.
At the heart of this story of political espionage and intrigue is Claire Chennault, a fighter pilot and instructor in fighter tactics who had been banished from the Army Air Corps because of his heresy in disputing the conventional wisdom of the day that bombers were the supreme weapon in aerial warfare. Forced into early retirement, Chennault found employment as a mercenary flying in air combat for the Chinese Government. It is no small irony that both the Chinese and the American Governments believed that this washed out Air Corps instructor should champion the bombing missions against the Japanese Empire.
"After some discussion, it was determined that nothing would do the Chinese much good except the big bombers if they were going to go after Japan.."
THE STORY BEHIND THE BOOK
Around the year 2000, Alan became intrigued with the idea of developing a story concerning the exploits and activities of Claire Chennault and the American Volunteer Group (also known as the Flying Tigers). Tom Pandolfi, a collector of Flying Tigers materials, provided Alan with a collection of papers found in a desk drawer at the Pensacola Naval Air Station (the “Pensacola Papers”). As Alan studied the papers, it became clear to him that there was more to the formation of the American Volunteer Group than merely providing fighter planes to China.
His curiosity aroused, Alan began ferreting out information from libraries and institutions throughout the United States dealing with Joint Army/Navy Board 355, Serial 691 (the “Joint Board Plan” or the “Plan”). The Diary of Henry Morgenthau, Jr., obtained from the Roosevelt Presidential Library, along with the Joint Board Plan, clearly demonstrated that America was formulating a plan to mount preemptive bombing raids on Japan before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The principal architect of this plan was Captain Claire Lee Chennault. Chennault had retired from the Army Air Corps in 1937. Then, Chennault began his exploits as a soldier of fortune in the employ of the Chinese government as China struggled to avoid being crushed by the forces of Japan in the undeclared Second Sino-Japanese War.
After writing several film proposals and screenplay synopses, two of Alan’s friends, Bill Wages and Phil Bellury, suggested that Alan write a book dealing with his findings in terms of the Chinese-American bombing initiative directed toward Japan before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Beginning in or about the month of January, 2004, Alan devoted as much time as possible to drafting a manuscript that was entitled: Preemptive Strike – The Secret Plan to Bomb Japan Before the Attack on Pearl Harbor. The majority of this manuscript was written in approximately nine months. Eventually, Lyons Press, a division of Globe Pequot Press, agreed to publish Alan’s manuscript. In time, it was re-titled: Preemptive Strike – The Secret Plan That Would Have Prevented the Attack on Pearl Harbor. With the assistance of Holly Rubino at Lyons Press, Richard L. Dunn and Skipper Steeley, Alan’s initial manuscript underwent massive revisions between September of 2005 and March of 2006. These revisions included not only stylistic and story-flow revisions, but also a considerable amount of data uncovered by Mr. Dunn dealing with the Chinese-American bombing initiative, the extensive construction of bomber bases in China, intelligence reports from the Naval and Air Attachés in China and in Japan, and the buildup of fuel stores in China. Additionally, Mr. Dunn found the four radio circulars from Tokyo to Japanese Headquarters in Southeast Asia concerning information being leaked to Japan by a spy in or near Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Government. Alan also received from Thomas Kimmel (grandson of Admiral Kimmel) Japanese radio messages decoded by American cryptographers before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Although developed, the Joint Board Plan was not timely executed. Alan’s work explains the struggles of Chennault, Roosevelt and their confederates as they attempted to deal Japan a preemptive blow before the attack on Pearl Harbor, but failed.
Alan’s research clearly demonstrates that America developed an offensive military initiative in concert with China, Great Britain and the Netherlands East Indies to reduce Japan as a power in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific before the outbreak of hostilities on December 7, 1941. This reduction of Japanese influence would be accomplished in two spheres. First, America imposed a total trade embargo against Japan in late July of 1941. At or about the same time, specifically on July 23, 1941, President Roosevelt signed the Joint Board Plan. On the same day the Joint Board Plan was signed by President Roosevelt, his aide, Dr. Lauchlin Currie, cabled the American Embassy in Chungking to deliver a message to Madame Chiang declaring that China would receive sixty-six bombers, with twenty-four bombers to be delivered immediately.