Not learning from history
Posted by aogFriday, 03 September 2004 at 10:19 TrackBack Ping URL

Vox Day writes the article I was going to get around to, which is that the idea that the Japanese could have mounted any sort of significant invasion of the continental USA was ludicrious, even at the time. As Day does, I find it difficult to believe that anyone could take the idea seriously. I’d add that even the Japanese would have known this, their own nation having been saved from invasion by the difficulties of resupply over the ocean (from whence “kami-kazee”, divine wind). All of this concerns Michelle Malkin’s book about the internment of Japanese in the USA during WWII. Whatever security risks there may have been from the Japanese in country, support of an invasion wasn’t one of them.

In the comments to the original posts are questions about long term Japanese war aims. These were not invasion of the USA and probably not even the invasion of Australia. Instead, the goal was to seize a large chunk of south east Asia with a defensible perimeter, making it too expensive for ANZUS to break through. This was the “Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere”. In many ways it resembled Confederate strategy in the War between the States and ended badly for the other side for much the same reasons.

Interestingly, the Doolittle Raid may have actually played an important part in defeating the Japanese grand strategy. After the raid, there was such a panic (despite the completely negligible damage) that the Japanese extended the perimeter, weakening it and themselves. It’s not only democracies that are susceptible to such panics during wartime.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Noel Sunday, 05 September 2004 at 11:48

I’ve read that Doolittle Raid caused them to cancel the Australian invasion and actually contract their perimeter, no?

When they asserted the Emporer’s divinity, such a raid became an unallowable heresy.

Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 05 September 2004 at 13:05

The invasion of Australia was always a long range plan, if taken seriously at all. While not in the same category of silly as an invasion of the USA, it would still have been extremely difficult to accomplish and this would have been known at the time. The real fear was a Japanese seizure of key locations rather than a general conquest.

The Doolittle Raid caused an expansion of the perimeter precisely to avoid such attacks in the future. The Japanese government had claimed that the homeland was immune and had to recover that. The “solution” was to expand the perimeter far enough that there was no safe place from which to launch planes.

End of Discussion