Today another explanation was offered.
According to accepted history, on December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese navy caught the US naval and air force installations at Pearl Harbor by surprise in a bold attack intended to cripple America’s ability to retaliate or wage an extended war in the Pacific. President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan the next day (they gave him such approval immediately). Then, three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on America due to their Tripartite Agreement to defend one another and Japan, and both Roosevelt and Congress returned the favor the same day. The American public had been staunchly against getting involved in the conflict, so much so that Roosevelt had run for reelection on a pledge to keep out of it while in office. But now committed, the US would go on to lose almost a half million people before the war ended four years later.
Accusations that it was the result of a conspiracy were rampant, focused particularly on a memo written on this day a year earlier by a Lieutenant Commander Arthur H. McCollum, in which he made a 8-point case of how the U.S. should prepare for an “inevitable” war with Japan. He also made an offhand note that America’s actions could include goading Japan into making the first strike, and that such an action would make entry into the war more likely (in spite of public resistance). It wasn’t widely circulated but those who read it gave the note more credence than you’d want people equipped with guns and authority to give such stuff. Roosevelt never saw it and there’s not even the hint that anybody did anything with it other than tsk-tsk or chuckle, but the conspiracy theory thrives to this day. So do many others for every world event.
We’re always looking for more satisfying reasons to explain what sometimes defies explanation (or explanations defy satisfying us).