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A Reluctant Enemy
December 7, 2011 8:12 AM   Subscribe

"What a strange position I find myself in," [Yamamoto] wrote a friend, "having been assigned the mission diametrically opposed to my own personal opinion, with no choice but to push full speed in pursuance of that mission. Alas, is that fate?"

A brief account of how one of the biggest critics of Japan's war policy became the mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attacks. (SLNYT)
posted by swift (44 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Alas" is such a beautiful word.
posted by srboisvert at 8:15 AM on December 7, 2011


Really good piece. I've always found Yamamoto a really fascinating, tragic figure. To me, he seems like a cautionary tale for military officers, but I'm not even sure what the takeaway would be, really*. I guess that's part of the fascination.

*other than "make sure you get the carriers, oil supplies and submarine pens, as well as the battleships."
posted by COBRA! at 8:26 AM on December 7, 2011


The takeaway is simple: WWII Nazis taught us that simply following orders that you
considered disastrous and totally immoral and just plain dumb is not an excuse. You can in this instance resign your post.
posted by Postroad at 8:35 AM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


The takeaway is: don't start wars of aggression. Japan lost, at incalculable cost, of which the two nuclear bombed cities are a small part.

Nowadays I'd say America paid an even higher price for winning. Eisenhower warned, but victors don't listen.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 8:39 AM on December 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


That's pretty simple, Postroad.

OTOH, one would assume the institution Yamamoto belonged to and rose through, and others like it, filter out individuals whose fidelity to institutional norms and goals can readily be overtaken by fits of independence.

Or, to answer Yamamoto's question: if character is fate, then yes.
posted by notyou at 8:44 AM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


The takeaway is: don't start wars of aggression. Japan lost, at incalculable cost, of which the two nuclear bombed cities are a small part.

I mean specifically for military officers, who (theoretically) don't get to make the decision about starting wars of aggression. On one hand, it's easy to look at Yamamoto and say that he should have resigned, refused the orders, etc. But on the other hand, you couldn't have a functional military if it was SOP for officers to bail on orders they didn't like (the Nazis are a different issue; a strategic sneak attack on a naval base is in a different moral universe from participating in genocide; I think there's a clear difference between refusing grossly immoral orders and just refusing those that you think are potentially disastrous strategically).
posted by COBRA! at 8:47 AM on December 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


You know this is all overblown. Yamamoto could have proposed a plan that was a lot less likely to awaken the sleeping dragon that was the US. They could have just occupied the Dutch East Indies and then seen if Roosevelt had the votes to declare war on Japan for attacking the imperialist possessions of a currently occupied European country.

Since Japan's overall goal was to obtain the oil to fight on in China (and eventually Siberia), this makes a lot more strategic sense.

Instead the dude does the one thing guaranteed to wipe out any trace of isolationist sentiment in the USA.

Makes zero sense.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:47 AM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Man, I gotta disagree with the author's assessment that Yamamoto was a bad admiral. His plans were sound. The Midway campaign plan was brilliant. But two things: 1) he didn't realize that the Americans had broken the Purple code and they knew everything in advance (this is perhaps a failure on his part); 2) Spruance got sooooo incredibly effing lucky.
posted by zomg at 8:49 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


> having been assigned the mission diametrically opposed to my own personal opinion, with no choice but to push full speed in pursuance of that mission. Alas, is that fate?"

Seppuku, dude.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:49 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


simply following orders that you considered disastrous and totally immoral and just plain dumb is not an excuse.

He was a brilliant admiral. Perhaps he believed that the odds of the orders being disastrous would have been slightly higher if someone else had been in command.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:50 AM on December 7, 2011


What Ironmouth said.
posted by wrapper at 8:52 AM on December 7, 2011


Pearl Harbor represented the end of America's Zero Tolerance.
posted by Renoroc at 9:01 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know this is all overblown. Yamamoto could have proposed a plan ...

Yes, he could have. But I recommend reading Flyboys for a look at Japanese military and everyday culture from the time. There really was some cultish elements at work. Half measures and "reasonable" invasion strategies just weren't something they were interested in considering.

It compares the atrocities Japanese troops committed on a large scale against Chinese civilians, with similar atrocities committed by American forces against Filipinos during and after the Spanish–American War, and earlier by American troops against native American Indians. Both the American and Japanese populaces were arrogantly indoctrinated that their national cultures were uniquely superior, which gave them the right to impose those cultures through imperialism on other weaker countries, whose people were viewed as subhuman.

Moreover, you have to consider the role the Battle of Tsushima played in the Japanese thinking (and indeed, Yamamoto fought in that battle as a junior officer). The Russians were at the far end of their supply lines, and the Japanese slapped them around by starting with a surprise attack. They looked at the Americans and saw many of the same conditions.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:12 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Since Japan's overall goal was to obtain the oil to fight on in China (and eventually Siberia), this makes a lot more strategic sense.

Instead the dude does the one thing guaranteed to wipe out any trace of isolationist sentiment in the USA.


Clearly it was a gambit by Yamamoto to save China.

I say this mostly facetiously, but Yamamoto was one of the few in the upper echelons of the Japanese military that wanted Japan out of China (and the Tripartite Pact, for that matter). I remember even my grandmother spoke of him with respect when we saw either Midway or Tora! Tora! Tora! on TV. And she lived through the occupation and generally has few kind things to say about wartime Japan.
posted by kmz at 9:24 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth if I'm not mistaken the US had warned Japan against exactly that sort of thing. I think the Japanese assumed (perhaps incorrectly?) that doing so would lead to war with the US anyway so they skipped ahead a bit to the 'how do we neutralize the US so we have a free hand in Asia' thing.
posted by zomg at 9:25 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Arguably, the outcome of WWII was decided before it even started, at the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. Hadn't the Soviets completely thrashed the Japanese in that "border incident", the Japanese high command may well have decided to join in in Operation Barbarossa, rather than engaging the United States. If the Soviet Union had had to defend itself on two different fronts, with the US remaining neutral, WWII may well have had a completely different outcome.

As it was, the Japanese were so scared by their defeat in Khalkhin Gol, that they preferred to attack anybody but the Soviets...
posted by Skeptic at 9:26 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


When the US cut off shipments of oil and scrap metal to Japan, the Japanese decided that war was inevitable. They wanted to seize the initiative on a war they figured was bound to happen anyway. One can say attacking the US was stupid, but if you figure they considered it inevitable, why not lead off with a crippling blow?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:28 AM on December 7, 2011


1941 found us all geared up to join the exciting new war.
posted by squalor at 9:42 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't forget that Yamamoto was in a double bind. Yes, in theory he could have resigned. In practice that would have resulted in his assassination by nationalist Army personnel.

Why do you think an *admiral*, a guy who should be back at HQ making plans, was on a boat in the first place? Yamamoto was put on a ship by the Navy specifically because his prior anti-war efforts had made him a target for the assassins. At that time in history Japan was very much a nation where politics by assassination ruled, and where assassins who were motivated by nationalist feelings could reasonably expect to be lightly punished, if punished at all. Prominent liberals, intellectuals, and anti-war advocates, etc who expressed those things in public could expect a dagger in the side sooner rather than later.

Yamamoto was at sea to protect his life. Resigning would, flat out guarantee, result in his assassination. Possibly even by a Navy man, in theory the order to attack America came from the Emperor, and thus resigning would be an insult to the Emperor and even a Navy man with great respect for Yamamoto might feel compelled to kill him.

Cool Papa Bell Yup. Also, the Battle of Tsushima had reinforced the Bushido stupid notion of a "single decisive battle" that would simply settle things quickly and neatly and there would be no more problems. It worked against the Russians, but in large part because the Russians were embroiled in the beginnings of their civil war. I'm not at all sure that, had the Tsar not been beset by internal strife, he would have ended the fight for China so quickly.

So the Navy was blinded by the idea that, just like in all the samurai novels and poems, Japan and America would face off (presumably with cherry blossoms falling slowly in the moonlight) there'd be a single flash of swords, and America would fall, defeated, that they didn't really bother much considering other possibilities. Like the possibility that America might be a mite grumpy about the attack and use it's massive industrial might to rebuild quickly.

Truth told, even if Yamamoto had taken out every carrier we had along with all those battleships, it wouldn't have really changed much of anything.

We beat Japan by a combination of massive industry, the fact that we'd broken open every code they had and the Japanese honor system demanded that even if an officer suspected this they couldn't say anything, and the fact that Imperial Japan was far too stretched out and had a talent for making enemies in their conquered territories that even the Nazis couldn't match.
posted by sotonohito at 9:48 AM on December 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


strategic sneak attack on a naval base

Announced one week a head of time kind of sneaky.

http://militarywired.com/i/uploads/HTH_Nov_30_1941_front_600.jpg
posted by rough ashlar at 9:51 AM on December 7, 2011


The takeaway is: don't start wars of aggression. Japan lost, at incalculable cost, of which the two nuclear bombed cities are a small part.

Nowadays I'd say America paid an even higher price for winning. Eisenhower warned, but victors don't listen.

-CautionToTheWind

I don't know how you can even begin to equate spending too much on your defense budget with the destruction of a nation.
posted by Vhanudux at 9:54 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


We killed Yamamoto
posted by timsteil at 9:59 AM on December 7, 2011


Ironmouth: Congress was almost certain to declare war in 1942. German submarines had expanded the Battle of the Atlantic to attacks on American-flagged merchant vessels while the U.S. expanded its declared military protection in the Atlantic as far as Iceland. In Asia, continued support of English forces and the presence of Americans in combat roles made continued neutrality difficult. The United States was only a Maine or Zimmerman Note away from going all in.

As far as single battles go, Pearl Harbor was brilliant. In one of Japan's few intelligence victories, Yamamoto transferred all of his radio operators to harbor stations, tasked them with transmitting routine daily reports, and commanded the Pearl Harbor taskforce in radio silence using visual communications. American listening posts identified ships by the characteristic morse-code "fist" of their radio operators and were largely blindsided by this tactic.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:00 AM on December 7, 2011


Also, the Battle of Tsushima had reinforced the Bushido stupid notion of a "single decisive battle" that would simply settle things quickly and neatly and there would be no more problems.

Sonohito, I believe that policy was remarketed as "Shock an Awe" in more recent decades. It's still stupid.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:12 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nowadays I'd say America paid an even higher price for winning. Eisenhower warned, but victors don't listen.
-CautionToTheWind

I don't know how you can even begin to equate spending too much on your defense budget with the destruction of a nation.


I don't know how you can equate the annihilation of two cities*, national defeat, and reestablishment of a nation's entire industrial capacity (with great improvements) as "destruction," Vhanudux.

* Not unique to Japan, except by method. See Dresden, Birmingham and Coventry.

The Austrian Empire was destroyed. Japan was defeated and then rebuilt.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:12 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This article is despicable. It is a modernized revisionist history of the same old rationale the Japanese used to start WWII, the "ABCD Theory." Oh poor Japan, reluctantly forced to war because of the stranglehold of the Americans, British, Chinese, and Dutch.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:15 AM on December 7, 2011


Man, I gotta disagree with the author's assessment that Yamamoto was a bad admiral. His plans were sound. The Midway campaign plan was brilliant. But two things: 1) he didn't realize that the Americans had broken the Purple code and they knew everything in advance (this is perhaps a failure on his part); 2) Spruance got sooooo incredibly effing lucky.

A colossally stupid plan. Pearl Harbor was a strategic loss. They ended up doing the very thing that Yamamoto didn't want to do, enrage the US and assure war. Listen, this is for all the marbles. You're supposed to see what the political conditions are and know the other side's political situation. Does Roosevelt have the votes? I'm not so sure. Not only that, but by the terms of the Tripartite Pact, Germany was not required to go to war with the US if Japan attacked the US.

And Midway? Like all the Japanese Plans except Pearl Harbor, it assumed the enemy was going to act in a certain way. It assumed the enemy had not cracked its code. It was wrong and dumb. And they got whipped because of it. Yamamoto was responsible for the Navy and his navy had JN25 broken (not Purple, which was the diplomatic code). "AF is short of water" was a failure on Yamamoto's part. Spruance lucky? Hardly. The plan was to search, find the Japanese fleet at the positions reported by the plan, (which the Americans had) and send out a lot of planes to attack it. He was really hurt by the fact that American torpedoes ran deep and were terribly ineffective. But his dive bombers came through.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:20 AM on December 7, 2011


Ironmouth: Congress was almost certain to declare war in 1942. German submarines had expanded the Battle of the Atlantic to attacks on American-flagged merchant vessels while the U.S. expanded its declared military protection in the Atlantic as far as Iceland. In Asia, continued support of English forces and the presence of Americans in combat roles made continued neutrality difficult. The United States was only a Maine or Zimmerman Note away from going all in.

As far as single battles go, Pearl Harbor was brilliant. In one of Japan's few intelligence victories, Yamamoto transferred all of his radio operators to harbor stations, tasked them with transmitting routine daily reports, and commanded the Pearl Harbor taskforce in radio silence using visual communications. American listening posts identified ships by the characteristic morse-code "fist" of their radio operators and were largely blindsided by this tactic.


I'm unconvinced by your counterfactual. It was stupid to attack Pearl. They sank a bunch of obsolescent battleships and destroyed a few dozen planes on the ground. They did nothing to counter the striking force of the Pacific Fleet, which, only seven months later without any new ships from Pearl Harbor replaced, sank 4 of the 6 fleet carriers Japan had and more importantly decimated the pilot corps of Japan's Naval Air Arm. And they enraged the USA. Strategically dumb, tactically brilliant. And Yamamoto knew that the US was no Tsarist Russia, but had the most powerful fleet in the world at the time and had the capability to build an immense fleet that Japan could never match.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:26 AM on December 7, 2011


I didn't really see that in the article at all, charlie don't surf. It does try to rationalize Yamamoto a bit, but not Japan's expansionist wars (which Yamamoto opposed).

On the other hand, I do remember once seeing somebody on Metafilter claiming that Japan was justified in attacking Pearl Harbor because of American oil embargoes, but that's as persuasive as saying a bully is entitled to sucker punch somebody hoarding the rocks that he was going to use to pummel his victims.
posted by kmz at 10:27 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


@charlie don't surf True, however, regardless of whether or not that was true a lot of Japanese high ups felt it was true.

A good book on the subject is Japan Prepares for Total War, it's a study of the rise of the notion of autarky in Japanese leadership circles, and the way that Japanese leadership was convinced that Germany lost WWI specifically because it did not directly control all the necessary resources for waging war.

The conquest of Korea was intended both to give Japan a defensive buffer in continental Asia, but also to help Japan procure some of the necessary materials for war. The islands in the Pacific were equally critical (manganese and rubber especially).

Worse, there was direct competition with the USA for the resources of the islands. Prior to WWII America got most of it's rare earths (tungsten and manganese most critically), and rubber from south Asia and mostly that meant either China (tungsten) or the islands (manganese and rubber) [1].

Point is that there really was conflict between Japan and the USA over the resources of China and the south pacific. And America had been systemically denying Japan war making resources, bringing the Japanese leadership to recall the way Germany was cut off from war making resources in the last war.

Interestingly, the US strategic planners had a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere equivalent, called the Grand Area which they considered vital for America's supply lines, and it was basically the GEACPS.

So there's a grain of truth to the idea that Japan was threatened, from a supply perspective, by the West, and especially by America. I think they very much overstated that threat for propaganda purposes, but it wasn't wholly fabricated.

@Ironmouth I'll agree that in the long run it was a stupid decision, but it was a very well executed bit of tactics.

And, don't forget that the only reason we won Midway, or even knew where to go to find Yamamoto's carriers, was because we'd cracked their codes.

To a large extent the history of WWII is the history of one side stupidly trusting that it's communications were secure and the other exploiting that fact. And, despite that, Yamamoto did manage a pretty well executed strike against Pearl Harbor. That it was, in the long run, not merely futile but directly harmful to his nation is something that Yamamoto was well aware of.

[1] You can't make steel efficiently, using the Bessemer method, without manganese. It doesn't take much, a pound or so per ton of iron to be processed, but without it you get a worthless mess rather than good steel.

Tungsten is critical for any sort of steel alloy armor.

And rubber is used not merely for the final product of many war machines (tires and whatnot) but is also necessary at various stages of assembly. In the USA in the early 1940's manufacturing a tank took around 100lbs of rubber at the minimum.

Since WWII we've mostly switched to Africa and South America for those resources, but at the time they weren't developed there yet.
posted by sotonohito at 10:32 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hahaha, I'm Alec Baldwin to Ironmouth's Sean Connery: "Your conclusions were all wrong, Ryan. Halsey acted stupidly!" Fair enough.
posted by zomg at 10:49 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I remember even my grandmother spoke of him with respect when we saw either Midway or Tora! Tora! Tora! on TV.

Tora! Tora! Tora! was on the History channel last weekend. It's actually quite a good movie. Richard Fleischer was an under-rated director.
posted by ovvl at 10:57 AM on December 7, 2011


One odd bit of trivia from Len Deighton was that the strategists for the Pearl Harbor raid were inspired by an odd bit of American propaganda. An admiral would never usually cluster several aircraft carriers close together, but the US Navy did it for a photo-op demonstrating the power of the fleet. Deighton claimed that Yamamoto saw this photograph and thought to himself: "What a stupid idea... but, hey!"
posted by ovvl at 11:08 AM on December 7, 2011


ha, I'm Alec Baldwin to Ironmouth's Sean Connery: "Your conclusions were all wrong, Ryan. Halsey acted stupidly !" Fair enough.

Yeah, a fictional character in a Hollywood movie isn't exactly an authority on anything.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:17 AM on December 7, 2011


I don't know how you can equate the annihilation of two cities*, national defeat, and reestablishment of a nation's entire industrial capacity (with great improvements) as "destruction,"

Annihilation of two cities? Hiroshima and Nagasaki were just the shit cherry on the crap cake for Japan. Much of urban Japan was in ruins by the end of the war -- wikipedia estimates that 40% of Japan's urban acreage was burned out. Most of that was due to plain ol' napalm bombs.

Japan's cities were largely made of wood, and their air defense system was terribly underdeveloped, so they could be burned off the map with low-level firebomb raids that would be suicidal in any other major theater.

Nowadays I'd say America paid an even higher price for winning. Eisenhower warned, but victors don't listen.

I am not sure how you can say this. Given a choice between a) living in declining post-industrial America and b) being on the napalm end of hundreds of B-29s with only a river as my bomb shelter, I think I will take the former.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:29 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


And America had been systemically denying Japan war making resources, bringing the Japanese leadership to recall the way Germany was cut off from war making resources in the last war.

I guess the alternative of not waging war didn't occur to the Japanese leadership.
posted by kmz at 11:52 AM on December 7, 2011


As soon as saw the quote I knew the author was Ian Toll because I am reading his new book Crucible in the Pacific on the first year or so of WW2 in the pacific. It is pretty good, much better on the causes of the war than most popular history books, a decent discussion of the reasons Japan went to war. If you find this interesting there is a very good chapter in Kershaw's book.
posted by shothotbot at 11:53 AM on December 7, 2011


Nowadays I'd say America paid an even higher price for winning. Eisenhower warned, but victors don't listen.

I am not sure how you can say this. Given a choice between a) living in declining post-industrial America and b) being on the napalm end of hundreds of B-29s with only a river as my bomb shelter, I think I will take the former.


The real loser of the war wasn't either of these two countries. It was the United Kingdom. WWII destroyed their empire. Flattened several cities. Devastated a generation and crippled an economy for decades and resulted in a bill that was only just paid off about 5 years ago and left them with an inferiority complex that has resulted them in still obsessing with 'punching above their weight' and maintaining the third largest military in the world.
posted by srboisvert at 12:03 PM on December 7, 2011


The real loser of the war wasn't either of these two countries. It was the United Kingdom. WWII...resulted in a bill that was only just paid off about 5 years ago

That's because there was a long period for repayment. The total repayment of 8.5 billion pounds is about 1.5% of the UK's tax revenue last year. Obviously it was a bigger burden in the past, but that's not because it was a particularly large bill - it had more to do with the general fiscal basketcase that was the UK until Thatcher.

Devastated a generation

Without minimizing the loss of the UK, its losses as a percentage of population pale in comparison to those of the Soviet Union, Germany or Japan, all countries which suffered significantly more physical devastation as well, yet went on to success - including obvious economic success in the cases of Germany and Japan. The UK didn't succeed economically because of post-war socialism, in much the same way that the Soviet Union lost of the cold war because of Marxism, not because of devastation from WWII.
posted by Dasein at 12:42 PM on December 7, 2011


Well that served me right for trying to be funny.
posted by zomg at 12:45 PM on December 7, 2011


They sank a bunch of obsolescent battleships and destroyed a few dozen planes on the ground. They did nothing to counter the striking force of the Pacific Fleet, which, only seven months later without any new ships from Pearl Harbor replaced, sank 4 of the 6 fleet carriers Japan had and more importantly decimated the pilot corps of Japan's Naval Air Arm.

On top of that, the US submarine fleet did serious damage to Japanese supply lines, sinking badly needed troop, supply and oil ships. According to the article, US submarines sunk more than half of the merchant ships Japan lost in the Pacific, and a quarter of the warships (including the carriers Shōkaku, Shinano and Taihō and the battleship Kongō).
posted by Gelatin at 1:51 PM on December 7, 2011


I say this mostly facetiously, but Yamamoto was one of the few in the upper echelons of the Japanese military that wanted Japan out of China

I always thought that there was a pronounced divide at the top: the army wanted to conquer China, while the navy (of which Yamamoto was a part) wanted to go south. This factionalism is one of the many reasons why Japan was doomed to lost the war.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:06 PM on December 7, 2011


Annihilation of two cities? Hiroshima and Nagasaki were just the shit cherry on the crap cake for Japan. Much of urban Japan was in ruins by the end of the war -- wikipedia estimates that 40% of Japan's urban acreage was burned out. Most of that was due to plain ol' napalm bombs.

My father-in-law watched his younger sister burn to death in an air raid, about 20 feet from where I type this out; most cities of any size (ie, above 10,000 people) were fucking flattened.

On the other hand, about 3 blocks from here there stood a prison camp, right on the harbour, for American POWs, who were forced to load coal off ships; the camp was also flattened in an air raid, and prisoners were transferred to another location which is now a large textile mill.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:13 PM on December 7, 2011


Ironmouth: I'm not debating that the Japanese offensive in December 1941 was strategically stupid. I'm debating the myth of the "sleeping dragon" that was roused by Pearl Harbor.

For one thing, the "dragon" wasn't exactly sleeping. Congress passed a peacetime draft in 1940, and the Lend-Lease act in 1941. The U.S. Army doubled the American presence in the Philippines in preparation for a Japanese invasion and belatedly shipped new weapons to replace the WWI-vintage rifles. Sympathy to England was growing, as was anger at Axis attacks on American shipping. The United States had imposed an trade embargo to Japan, was openly mortgaging weapons to China and England, and was not-so-covertly supporting French and Vietnamese resistance. The United States was preparing for war with Japan, and knew it was coming.

Japan's co-prosperity sphere included expansion south through the Philippines, which the United States considered a semi-autonomous territorial commonwealth. Even if Japan had not declared war or attacked Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, and Guam on the 7th, the two countries would have been at war when Japan invaded the Philippines starting on the 8th. Pearl Harbor wasn't the biggest battle of the offensive, or the strategic objetive.

Yamamoto's calculus probably involved thinking that if the chain of command was dumb enough to invade and occupy an American colonial territory, that they might as well attack all the territories in reach in the hopes that the hawks blink. We know, in hindsight, that this gamble did not pay off.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:42 PM on December 7, 2011


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