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Briefly describe the event itself (Pearl Harbor)
Explain how intelligence failed to provide warning.
Describe why the intelligence failure occurred – not necessarily the “party line” (though include that), but what you think occurred.
Think about the Paradox of Warning – had there been proper warning, what “alternate reality” could have played out?

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Sample Answer

Here is a brief overview of the Pearl Harbor attack:

  • On December 7, 1941, Japanese forces launched a surprise attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
  • The attack killed over 2,400 Americans and destroyed or damaged 19 ships, including eight battleships.
  • The attack brought the United States into World War II.

Full Answer Section

The intelligence failure that led to the attack has been the subject of much study and debate. Some of the reasons why intelligence failed to provide warning include:

  • The United States was not expecting an attack from Japan.
  • Japanese military communications were very secure, making it difficult for American intelligence agencies to decrypt them.
  • There was a lack of coordination between different intelligence agencies.
  • Some intelligence analysts discounted the possibility of an attack on Pearl Harbor because it seemed too risky for the Japanese.

The “party line” explanation for the intelligence failure is that it was a result of human error and misjudgment. However, some historians believe that there may have been other factors at play, such as political pressure to avoid war with Japan.

The “alternate reality” that could have played out if there had been proper warning is difficult to say for sure. However, it is possible that the attack could have been prevented, or that the damage could have been minimized. It is also possible that the United States would have been more prepared for war with Japan, which could have had a significant impact on the course of the war.

Here are some specific examples of what could have happened differently if there had been proper warning:

  • The ships at Pearl Harbor could have been moved to a safer location.
  • The aircraft on the ground could have been scrambled to intercept the Japanese attackers.
  • The anti-aircraft batteries could have been put on alert.
  • The military could have been more prepared to respond to a Japanese attack.

Ultimately, it is impossible to say for sure what would have happened if there had been proper warning about the Pearl Harbor attack. However, it is clear that the intelligence failure had a significant impact on the course of the war.

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