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The Root Causes of Pearl Harbor Serve as Important Lessons for America Today

Guest Piece by Gregg Updike

Remembering Pearl Harbor – Part two, The Cause 

NOTE From the Author: On this date last year, I wrote a Lengthy comment on what was the long-term legacy of the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  David Blackmon contacted me via email and offered to post it as a standalone article giving attribution to me.  He posted it the next day with his appropriate title “Yalta and Potsdam: Days That Still Live in Infamy”.  That title was and is particularly appropriate because the Pearl Harbor attack was the galvanizing event which thrust the United States into World War II and created the Yalta and Potsdam foreign policy giveaways, the legacy of which still create most of the foreign policy problems America faces today.

Here is my next installment on Pearl Harbor which describes why and how it happened:

The origins of the Pearl Harbor attack can be traced back to 1853 when the United States essentially forced a feudal Japan to open trade via Commodore Matthew Perry’s squadron of armed ships.  Japan, at that time was very much like much of Europe was centuries before with warlords using the obsolete sword as the primary weapon of war duking it out among their various tribes with little central control.  This forced Japan out of some 250 years of self-imposed isolation from the rest of the world and they opened one port for international trade.  Other nations, including Russia soon followed trading with Japan.

Japan’s leadership saw how far they were behind in weaponry and understood they were vulnerable to becoming a dominated colony.  Unlike China and the Philippines and even America’s Native Americans they decided it was far better off to unite and be able to defend their homeland rather than be subjugated under another nation’s rule.

Of the seven major powers in World War II, only England was a mature nation with centuries of consistent governance.  It took until the middle 1800s for America (1865 and many years after to recover from the Civil War), Japan (1868), and Italy and Germany to become unified nations.  The ruling dynasties of Russia and China had collapsed by 1917 and the 1920s, respectively.  Japan, once unified, took great pains to ‘catch up’ with western technology and essentially armed itself to the teeth to make it very costly for any power to colonize them.  That coupled with their islands having virtually no exploitable resources ensured their independence on the world stage.

Throughout this period England had the most powerful navy and it only made sense that Japan would emulate it and in fact formed an alliance and a trading partnership with England.  Originally warships and other weapons were imported, studied and copied and once their industrial base became developed, they built their own.  England and other European Powers were happy to have another customer for its military accoutrements and with the purchaser on the other side of Asia they did not feel threatened.  This was also the time when wooden sailing ships were being replaced by steel and coal power and other modern technologies from which Japan benefitted greatly.

Within twenty-seven years Japan embarked on being a colonial power and fought their first war with China where they gained Formosa (Taiwan) at little cost.  Ten years later (1904-5), seeing the building of the Russian Trans-Siberian Railroad as a threat, they launched a sneak attack on Russia and opened their second conflict without a formal declaration of war against a neighbor.  They were unbelievably successful and defeated what was considered a first-class western power and navy; the world took notice.

Troubles with America began brewing at about this time and would fester for the next four decades until that fateful “Day of Infamy”.  The highlights are:

Late 1800s, America acquired the Philippines which was viewed as a threat

  1. Theodore Roosevelt intervened in the Russo-Japanese War and was and forced the Treaty of Portsmouth on Japan which halted the war, but was seen as another unwelcome intervention. The peace deal greatly benefitted Japan at the time because they were still very weak economically and even winning was bankrupting them.
  2. As an ally of England Japan defeated Germany in 1918 and gained many German colonies in the central Pacific at little cost by being on the right side.
  3. In 1921-2, the United States forced a naval arms limitation treaty on the Japanese which ultimately saved Japan from going broke and America from embarking on an expensive arms race.  Japan and America were the only two countries not severely impacted by World War I and the other naval powers had no ability to engage in such a race.  Japan wanted naval parity but was forced to accept second rate naval status; they greatly resented being limited to building 60% of what the United States and Great Brittan could.
  4. America, through its diplomacy, forced a fracturing of the Anglo-Japan trade and arms alliance further exacerbating the deteriorating relations. However, England still sent military equipment and a training – most notably in naval aviation – commission to Japan.  America’s purpose was to prevent Japan and England ganging up on the US Navy from the Atlantic and Pacific in a continued alliance – we still were not all that friendly with England post World War I.
  5. America passed very restrictive immigration laws in the 1920s severely limiting Japanese immigration, and later during the Depression enacted trade tariffs which destroyed Japanese exports to the United States.
  6. America passed very restrictive immigration laws in the 1920s severely limiting Japanese immigration, and later during the Depression enacted trade tariffs which destroyed Japanese exports to the United States.

While Japan was embracing capitalism and modern ways, their centuries old traditions were always in the forefront especially regarding the tradition of the emperor and racial purity.  When the worldwide Depression hit, Japan was among the hardest hit.  The militant wing of the military gradually took over and much of the nominal civilian control of their government was run by assignation throughout the thirties.  The cause of much of this upheaval was the near total autonomy granted to the army and navy and the perceived failing of western capitalism as an economic system.  In short, during the 1930s Tokyo could not control the Army and the Army could not control its mid-level officers when they were stationed next to Mongolia, China and the USSR.

These hotheads provoked border clashes with all three nations.  In 1930, another naval arms treaty was forced upon Japan which was even more unpopular with its hawks in the navy.  In 1931 army officers precipitated the Manchuria ‘incident’.  The result was a large territorial gain with some resources but international condemnation.  Ultimately this led to Japan walking out on the worthless League of Nations when they were condemned by the body in 1934.  At around this time Japan also quit the naval treaty restrictions as of 1936.  Japan was rapidly becoming a rogue nation and was seen as a regional bully.  With the depression deepening, the hotheads in the military never being sanctioned by their superiors and gaining ever more power, Japan saw its destiny as being the leader of the Orient, they had their own version of lebensraum (living space), which was dubbed “The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” with the ultimate goal of driving out the European colonial powers.

In 1937 another boarder ‘incident’ was provoked, this time with China which was embroiled in its own civil war and was always seen as being weak since the collapse of its running dynasty decades earlier.  This conflict resulted in an eight-year quagmire with no victory, great losses, and a near premature war with the United States.  Only a massive diplomatic apology for sinking a US Navy gunboat, the Panay, averted open conflict.

Soon thereafter, there was another boarder clash – this time with the USSR – and the Japanese Army got its nose bloodied and quickly sued for peace and later signed a long-term non-aggression pact with Stalin.  This ‘incident’, as Japan liked to call their undeclared wars was a disaster for her because it forced the permanent deployment of over half its army to defend against a feared USSR attack and paralyzed their military doctrine which effectively reduced their ability to fight America in the Pacific.

Japan soon thereafter allied with Germany and Italy, by formally joining the Axis.  Further incursions into China caused the United States to begin trade embargoes on vital resources.  When Japan’s Army bullied its way into French Indochina (Vietnam) in July of 1941 to gain a key staging point, Roosevelt got the world to cut off all oil supply to Japan.  This was intolerable and Japan was going to have to either accede to America’s demands which included leaving ALL of China in order to get the oil and other resource trade resumed or fight.  Even without the embargo Japan was going to default on foreign trade by 1942.  The only way to stave off economic disaster was territorial expansion and take the resources it needed to achieve hegemony and self-sufficiency.  Being in a similar circumstance as Germany in 1938, they followed Hitler’s route to war and national destruction.

Japan’s initial targets were England’s Malaysia, Singapore and Burma and the Netherlands’ (Dutch) East Indies in order for it to survive as an independent nation and not a colony under the Allies’ thumb.  As events transpired, France had fallen which allowed for the bloodless grab of their Indochina colony which gave them a vital operation base for future expansion.  The Netherlands likewise fell to Hitler and their oil producing islands were ripe for conquest.  England was known to be extremely weak in Asia and was fighting for its very existence, so her prized colonies were also vulnerable. Furthermore, in late 1941 the USSR was on the brink of collapse and not a threat at that time.   All these ambitions could have been successfully realized at this time except for one major problem.

That problem was the United States and its Philippine possession which laid astride the main line of advance to the southern resource areas that Japan needed.  Earlier in 1941 the US Navy was permanently stationed at Pearl Harbor from the US west coast which represented a major threat that could not be ignored.  Japan’s plans of conquest would likely succeed only if America remained neutral.   However, since America was already seen for decades as a probable future belligerent, it had to be incorporated into the grand scheme.  And finally, one other event occurred which forced the Pearl Harbor attack decision: After the fall of France, America embarked upon a massive naval building program that would be realized in 1943-44.

In 1941 Japan’s Navy was equal to or held numerical superiority over the US Pacific Fleet, however it would be dwarfed by the US Navy in three years AND be out of oil.  The window of opportunity and time to strike was at the end of 1941 when American strength and the other allies were at their nadir.  The strategic situation was never going to be better and the economic and military dynamic was only going to deteriorate.  By mid-1941, Japan had found itself truly between a rock and a hard place, but it was a rock and a hard place largely of its own making.

The three thousand plus mile sneak attack on Pearl Harbor was extremely contrary to Japan’s Naval doctrine which was basically defensive in nature and designed to be fought within a thousand or so miles of their home Islands.  The main reason Pearl Harbor was attacked was to disable the US Pacific Fleet (like they did with Russia in 1904) to gain a six month breathing space whereby Japan could conquer the southern islands, get their resources flowing and capture the Philippines without interference form the (on paper) powerful US Pacific Fleet.  In that regard she succeeded brilliantly with their tactical raid which should have been strategic attack.  In the end it was a strategic blunder because it galvanized a lethargic America like nothing else could have and spelled Japan’s doom.

In closing, America also bears some of the blame in its clumsy handling of Japan in the forty years prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, and because it began rebuilding its military and navy far too late to thwart Japan’s imperialist ambitions.  Had the mobilization and new construction begun when Japan quit the limitation treaties, invaded China, attacked the USSR, when Germany attacked Poland, or when Japan joined the Axis, it would most likely have persuaded its leaders that a war with the United States was a no-win proposition under any circumstances.  Reagan’s doctrine of “Peace Through Strength” was a true then as it was in the 1980s and is true today.  A powerful unassailable United States would probably have kept Japan at bay and it likely would have forced them to play nice on the international stage.

A perceived weak United States always emboldens mischief from nations controlled by tyrants.

That is all.

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than Whatfinger.com is the only real conservative alternative to Drudge, and deserves to become everyone’s go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time.

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Yalta and Potsdam: Days That Still Live in Infamy

Today’s Campaign Update, Guest Piece
(Because The Campaign Never Ends)

[Note: The following comment was submitted to a post on Saturday by Gregg W. Updike, a Navy veteran who served from 1983 to 1987. Gregg was on the USS America CV-66 when Ronald Reagan bombed Libya. This posting is a day late, given that Pearl Harbor Day was yesterday, but Gregg shared many thoughts that Americans should ponder these 78 years later.]

Don’t forget to “Remember Pearl Harbor” 78 years ago today; which resulted in our last formerly declared war a day later.

The results of that attack was paid back in less than four years with the total defeat of Japan and her Axis partners Germany and Italy.

Sadly, we left that war unfinished when we had the opportunity to be a true “arsenal of democracy” and defeat all totalitarian states for the foreseeable future at little additional cost (the Red Army was an exhausted force on the verge of collapse/revolt, and Mao’s China was a nonfactor). We won the war with our blood and treasure and gave away the peace with ink. Arguably more people ultimately lived under the tyranny of communism after the partial victory over dictatorships than before when our first communist president gave away the eastern half of Europe to the thug Stalin at Yalta in early 1945 with Truman basically sealing the deal at Potsdam later that year.

Hindsight is 20-20, and America in 1945 was “war-weary”, but Patton and Churchill, among others, saw the true evil that was on the horizon. Churchill was defeated and Patton was “accidented” as [a precursor to being Arkancided] to clear the way for the “New World Order”.

Since the Cold War started in 1945, 90% of the world’s problems of violence and unrest can be traced directly to Moscow! Examples are:

  • Active support of Mao in China after the Japanese defeat and withdrawal – USSR provided Mao with the captured Japanese Army’s weapons to use against Chang guaranteeing a communist China by 1950.
  • This lead directly to the 1950-1953 and beyond, Korean War. Both Mao’s China and Stalin’s USSR supported the first, and succeeding, Kims in North Korea.
  • USSR fomented world-wide third world violence and chaos by arming millions of insurgents with the famous AK-47 and other weaponry.

Several other USSR supported happenings during the Cold War and beyond:

  • Europe’s Iron Curtain, Cuba, numerous Latin and South America coups, insurrections, overthrows…, virtually the whole region is an economic disaster with not one strong or vibrant democracy!
  • USSR/Russian support to Israel’s Arab enemies, basically since 1947 and Afghanistan, just to name a select few overt actions.
  • And the covert infiltration of America’s education system (once the envy of the world – now ranked 17th), media, commercial/business (Chamber of Commerce), entertainment, political, and other institutions, and support of virtually every radical group active in the bringing down of our republic today with its money laundered through Soros front organizations with the silent support of several US presidents and the collective Deep State.
  • Over 100,000 American military and civilian deaths fighting USSR backed communist aggression since WWII, and the USSR was our “ally” and was saved from total defeat to Germany.

These are some thoughts to ponder when we think about the far ranging effects of that “Day of Infamy” 78 years ago.

PS: The USSR/Russia has the economic might equivalent to California, or Italy, and about half our population, so one must ask, how can they be such a threat to the US and to world peace and prosperity, without the help of globalist organizations like the UN, EU, and our Deep State?

[End]

 

 

 

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