By: A. Cordeiro
On December 7th of the year of 1941, during World War II, Japan, an allied force to the power of Germany, launched an unexpected aerial attack on the American naval base of Pearl Harbor. This attack can be considered the greatest turning point of the war, as many historians argue that if this attack did not take place, the United States would have never joined the war and the Axis forces would have proclaimed victory.
In reality, Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor did not have the outcome the Japanese military forces expected. The Japanese had hoped that this attack on the naval base would grant them full control over the Pacific Ocean, but it actually only caused one of the most powerful countries in the world to join the war against them. The Japanese did everything they could to maintain the attack a secret, as the United States was easily ten times more powerful than Japan and could certainly destroy their plan if it was unveiled. Japan also faced many risks in attacking Pearl Harbor, such as the fact that the base was 3000 miles away from Japan and it would take them 12 full days to get there. It was estimated by Japanese generals that there was only a 50% chance of successfully pulling off the attack.
On the other hand, American intelligence broke the Japanese code a few days before the bombing and the president at the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt, sent a message to the base stating that “this dispatch is to be considered a war warning”. The Americans knew the Japanese were geared and prepared for war, they simply had no idea where they would attack nor if it would be sooner rather than later. The Japanese attack was successful in the end; however, it caused the Americans to join the war, something that would impede the Japanese from ever gaining control over the Pacific Ocean, giving them a slim chance of winning the war at all. But what would have happened if the attack never took place?
According to various historians, if the Japanese had never attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States might have never joined the war. This would mean that D-Day, a crucial day to the eventual victory of the allies, would have never occurred. Following this train of thought, the victory of the allies in Europe would become very uncertain, whereas the victory of the axis's powers may have become a reality. This could have also meant that no atomic bombs would have been dropped on the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and thousands of Japanese lives would have been spared.
Though we can speculate, It is very hard to predict exactly what would have happened if the axis powers won the war, though we can maintain the assumption that Hitler would have continued to attempt to conquer every power possible. It is also thought that he would have let the Italians keep part of their empire, but would not allow Japan the same, and that he would instead have tried to claim all of Japan’s power to expand his own empire.
The fact that none of that happened comes to show how important every decision ever made in history was in shaping our lives today. It is impossible to know what would have happened if history unveiled differently, but it can be said that the world we inhabit today would be unrecognizable if it had.