Friday, January 20, 2012

Japan and Iran

Ask most Americans why the United States got into World War II, and they will talk about Pearl Harbor. Ask him why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and many Americans will struggle for an answer, perhaps suggesting that the Japanese people were aggressive militarists who wanted to take over the world. Ask if the United States provoked the Japanese, and they will probably say that the Americans did nothing: we were just minding our own business when those crazy Japanese, completely without justification, mounted a sneak attack , catching us totally by surprise at Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941. Don’t bother to ask the typical American what U.S. economic warfare had to do with provoking the Japanese to mount their attack, because he won’t know.

Japan as an expanding industrial nation required access to raw materials and energy. In the Great Depression, as trade dried up and unemployment grew, an ultra-nationalist clique within the Japanese military sought to secure the markets and raw materials Japan so desperately wanted. For a time there were two competing strategies to capture oil, the Strike North route to acquire the USSR's and the Strike South route to capture the Dutch East Indies, one being mainly land-based and army dominated , the other mostlly naval. 1938 saw the defeat of an attempted Japanese invasion of the USSR , (which brought General Zhukov to prominence). Therefore Japanese diplomacy became centred upon the views of the naval commanders.

Japan relied heavily upon American oil and metals

In 1939 the United States terminated the 1911 commercial treaty with Japan. July 2, 1940, Roosevelt signed the Export Control Act, authorizing the President to license or prohibit the export of essential defense materials.” Under this authority, “ exports of aviation motor fuels and lubricants were restricted.The US the imposed a total ban on exports of iron and steel scrap, and finally, in July 1941, by a freezing of Japanese assets and a tightening of the licensing requirements that de facto ended all trade with Japan, including oil exports.
Foreign Minister Teijiro Toyoda had communicated to Ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura on July 31: “Commercial and economic relations between Japan and third countries, led by England and the United States, are gradually becoming so horribly strained that we cannot endure it much longer. Consequently, our Empire, to save its very life, must take measures to secure the raw materials of the South Seas."

"Within days of the freeze announcement, PM Konoe set about arranging a meeting with Pres. Rooseveldt in a last ditch attempt to restore trade relations and avoid war in the Pacific. While FDR initially welcomed Konoe's planned visit, his inner circle, as they had for decades, vied Japan as untrustworthy and vulnerable, and steadfastly opposed the idea of a Pacific summit...Hull, Hornbeck, Stimson and others also shared the view of senior military officials that a successful summit could have disastrous consequences for America's strategic position in Asia. A negotiated end to the war in China and the prompt withdrawal of Japanese forces would sine qua non of any agreement and this, military officials argued, America must avoid. In October 1941, Hayes Kroner, chief of the British Empire Section for the War Department General Staff, informed Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, as follows ' At this stage in the execution of our national strategic plan, cessation of hostilities in China...would be highly detrimental to our interests' ...By early November, Tojo and Togo overcame substantial cabinet opposition to continued negotiations and won approval for talks based on two proposal. In Prposal A. Tokyo pledged to immediately withdraw forces from Indochina, remove troops from all of China except Hainan Islans and the far north and respect the Open Door. Japan also agreed to notautomatically support Berlin in the event of a German-American war. Proposal B sought only a limited agreement in which Japan pledged to refrain from furtheroffensive operations in return for normalized trade relations and a US promise 'not to take such actions as may hinder efforts for peace by both Japan and China.

Henry L. Stimson, who had been secretary of war confided to his diary after a meeting of the war cabinet on November 25, “The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.” After the attack, Stimson confessed that “my first feeling was of relief ... that a crisis had come in a way which would unite all our people.

There are in the above lessons to be learned in regard to Iranian sanctions. A cornered country will bite back and America will sacrifice peace for dominance.

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