How did the attack on Pearl Harbor impact World War Two (WWII)?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The attack on Pearl Harbor had a momentous impact on the course of World War II (1939–1945). By the time of the attack in December 1941, the war had been going on for more than two years in Europe and even longer in Asia. The attack ended President Franklin D....

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The attack on Pearl Harbor had a momentous impact on the course of World War II (1939–1945). By the time of the attack in December 1941, the war had been going on for more than two years in Europe and even longer in Asia. The attack ended President Franklin D. Roosevelt's dilemma over American entry into the war. He had been helping the Allies in their fight against the Axis in different ways. FDR was convinced that Adolph Hitler had to be stopped, but he knew that isolationism was very strong politically in America. After the Japanese attack, Hitler, an ally of Japan, declared war against the United States. The Japanese attack and Hitler's war declaration completely ended American neutrality.

Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander of the Japanese navy, was not enthusiastic about going to war against the United States. He had lived in America, so he knew how formidable an enemy it could be. Nevertheless, he followed orders and carried out the attack. The Japanese won almost all of the battles between the two forces until mid-1942. After that point, the US sunk four Japanese carriers at the Battle of Midway. Momentum swung to the American side for the remainder of the war.

In Europe, the US joined Britain and the Soviet Union in their war against Hitler. American troops were sent to Africa, Italy, and France as progress was made against Germany. The USSR was primarily responsible for the defeat of Germany, though. And the the US fought most of the key battles against Japan. In 1945, both Germany and Japan surrendered.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team