Japanese Strategists

Greg Cochran writes: “In World War II. It’s not clear that there actually were any. This isn’t always mentioned in histories, but a lot of what Japan did in the Pacific made no sense at all.”


* The US Navy’s “island hopping” strategy involved establishing as few bases as possible, whose strategic location allowed the US to make the bypassed, Japanese-occupied islands irrelevant and unsustainable strategic absurdities. On the few occassions when the US dropped the “island hopping” strategy, e.g. McArthur’s ego-driven invasion of the Philipines, the result was a blood-drenched catastrophe. If the Philippines had not been invaded by the US, the Japanese forces there would have surrendered when Japan did in August 1945. Instead, there was a brutal, eleven-month, totally unnecessary battle for the Philippines that did not end until Japan’s total surrender in August 1945, cost untold numbers of American, Philippine, and Japanese lives, and ravaged the Philippine’s, including the total destruction of Manila.

Japan’s biggest mistake was thinking that its far-flung island bases in the Pacific could provide mutual military support to one another and then be resupplied by Japanese maru and submarines. In fact, the island bases were too far apart to support one another and unrestricted US submarine warfare and absolute air superiority ensured that their regular ressuply was a logistic impossibility.

* This seems to be a basic aspect of Japanese culture. An acquaintance was invited to Japan to act as a software consultant to the Japanese tech industries during their big 4GL push in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was ideal for this position since he was an experienced software engineer and had enough Japanese to get by. (For those who don’t remember, Japanese 4GL was intended to give Japan a permanent edge in computer technology. Despite the hype it turned out to be a total bust.) When my acquaintance returned after three years working in Japan he explained the Japanese failure. Their culture was totally unsuited to the give and take he thought necessary for efficient software engineering. He told us that there was a phrase he learned to dread. It would pop up after a subordinate had been given marching orders by a superior. Its essential meaning was, “Yes. I will attempt with all my power to achieve what you ask. But you and I both know this task is hopeless and doomed to failure.”

* Greg Cochran: “In WWI, the Germans were assholes. Judging from their actions and stated intentions, they would have been far harsher in victory than the Allies were – for example annexing Belgium, and parts of Northern France, along with all of Poland and huge chunks of Russia.

In WWII they were monsters.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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