How Pearl Harbor Changed the World

August 11, 2017

After Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, the United States opted to remain isolated from the conflict in Europe. As the British and French struggled to fight back the Nazi forces, the United States lent support in the form of resources, but decided not to get more involved by sending troops. That choice was rendered moot on December 7, 1941, when a fleet of Japanese fighters and bombers flew into Pearl Harbor and launched a surprise attack. In many ways, Pearl Harbor changed the world.

The immediate aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor saw a shift in opinion in the United States, as a mix of fear, anger, and patriotism sparked a new readiness to go to war. On December 8th, 1941, Japan and the United States went to war. Days later, the other Axis powers declared war on the United States.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was more than just a catalyst to war, however. It was an event that changed not just the United States, but the entire world. Japan’s decision to attack Pearl Harbor altered the course of history.

Changes in the United States

The most notable change was in the nation’s stance on joining World War II, but there were lasting, long-term effects still felt today. Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States held to a policy of non-intervention, remaining isolated from active involvement for the good of the country.

The attack on Pearl Harbor forced the end of isolationism. After four years of fighting in World War II, the United States played a leading role in the creation of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), ensuring their continued presence on the world's stage.

As a result of the Pearl Harbor attack and the nation's response to it, the United States became a global military and political superpower.

Changes in Japan

For years, Japan sought expansion in Asia and the Pacific, aiming to control the entire region and its rich resources. The attack on Pearl Harbor was meant to help achieve that goal, but it actually worked completely against the nation’s end game.

As a direct result of the Pearl Harbor attack, the United States was forced into war. In Japan's utter defeat, its military was dismantled and the Empire of Japan was officially eradicated. In the years since, Japan and the United States have become strong allies, a far cry from their status in the 1930s and 40s.

How Pearl Harbor Changed the World

Without the end of American isolationism 75 years ago, it’s entirely possible that the Nazis would still be in power in Europe, or the Soviet Union might have conquered vast portions of the world. The world would likely be a very  different place if the Japanese hadn’t decided to attack Pearl Harbor and draw the United States into war.

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