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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 6:08 pm 
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Particularly since the U.S.'s own intelligence has found that Iran is not actively seeking a nuclear weapon. Here is the National Intelligence Estimate released by the DNI late last year:

http://www.dni.gov/press_releases/20071203_release.pdf

Cross-posted with soli

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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 6:14 pm 
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I love how guyz like solictr think anyone who doesn't buy the bombs and bullets approach is "weak". It was the "weak" liberal democracies of the world that brought down Hitler and the Japanese.

solictr wrote:
"Had not Roosevelt not done the same with Japan, how much of the world would be shouting "Sieg Heil!" today?"


Where do you get this stuff? I suspect a whole new playbook is in the hands of the Faithful. All these WW II references can't be coincidence.

Most of us are Hobbits: remember the Scouring of the Shire?

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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2008 3:17 pm 
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sol wrote:
Had not Roosevelt not done the same with Japan, how much of the world would be shouting "Sieg Heil!" today?


Here's a little piece of history you won't find in the text books. And it flew right by.

I've never heard this story, sol. Could you elaborate?

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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2008 3:23 pm 
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vison called him on it, too, but he hasn't answered.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 1:02 am 
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I haven't been here.

It has been strongly argued by one school of historians (and of course criticized by others) that FDR, who desperately wanted to aid Churchill against Germany (that at least is beyond dispute: their correspondence is full of it) also knew that the isolationist Congress and electorate wouldn't stand for it (the draft bill passed by only a single vote)- and that his series of sanctions against Japan targeting crucial raw materials was designed to force the Empire to try to seize what it needed from one of the colonial possessions in the Orient. Not that Roosevelt expected such an audacious stroke as Pearl Harbor (conspiracy theorists notwithstanding); but Malaya, French Indochina, the Dutch East Indies and even the Philippines were likely objectives (and in the event Japan invaded them all near-simultaneously).

But even after, FDR and Churchill's fixed agreed policy was Germany First. Already from early 1940 'neutral' US warships were escorting convoys halfway (and being sunk by U-boats). Even when Nimitz was desperately short of cruisers and destroyers in the skin-of-our-teeth Solomons campaign, priority was given to the Atlantic; and the AAF in the Pacific had to make do with obsolescent fighters while the shiny new Thunderbolts and Mustangs went to England.

Why? And was it important? When Hitler did FDR a great political favor by declaring war on the US on Dec 9, was it a Fatal Blunder on a par with the arch-Fatal Blunder of attacking Russia? While nobody (except some dimwit American slob-patriots) can deny that the Red Army absorbed and inflicted the vast majority of the casualties, and was the principal engine of Hitler's fall, did the US effort merely hasten an inevitable German defeat, as was (arguably) the case in the First War? No. The unsexy Battle of the Atlantic is too often forgotten; and far too few remember, or ever learned, how perilously close the U-boats came to starving Britain into submission. At one point in spring 1942 the island was down to two weeks of food! The sheer numbers of the US Navy, and vast American shipbuilding capacity (Britain couldn't replace merchant tonnage as fast as the Germans were sinking it; we could) turned the tide, although things stood on the edge of a knife for long months.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 1:10 am 
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Just posting to say that that is completely consistent with my own understanding of the events in question. I am no expert on World War II, but I have read about the subject somewhat extensively. Roosevelt's insistence on Germany First, despite the country's understandable thirst for vengence against Japan was one of the great strategic moves in history (in my somewhat hyberbolic opinion). And soli is absolutely right in emphasizing the importance of the oft-neglected U-boat campaign.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 1:50 am 
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Why, thank you, Vor. :)


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 2:11 am 
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sol wrote:
and that his series of sanctions against Japan targeting crucial raw materials was designed to force the Empire to try to seize what it needed from one of the colonial possessions in the Orient.


That's very interesting, soli. I had not read previously that the sanctions were intended by Roosevelt as a provocation to military action against the US, but I find it plausible. Do we know for sure, though, that this was the cause for the attack on Pearl Harbor? I find this somewhat less likely, given the web of mutual protection treaty obligations in place at that time, and I have not read such an explanation before. Also, that seems like a fairly uncertain way of getting the US involved in the war, in spite of our treaty obligations to our Allies. Given the magnitude of pro-Nazi sentiment here in the US, I seriously wonder whether even the attack on Pearl Harbor would have induced Congress to declare war on Germany if Germany had not declared war on us.

However, once the war was enjoined, the importance of the U-boat attacks and Roosevelt's decision to give primacy to Europe are not really disputable, as far as I know.

The other thing I would question is the aptness of the analogy to Iran. It was Hitler who invaded other countries of Europe, not England who invaded Germany. We are the invaders in Iraq, and it seems not a parallel situation at all to use this as justification for provoking Iran into doing something we could then use as yellow cake 2.0.

Unless one suffers from a pre-existing condition, a seige mentality that views all aggression as justified in advance because the world is such an evil place. I personally don't think this makes for sound or effective foreign policy.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 2:49 am 
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Well said, Jnyusa.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 2:52 am 
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Jnyusa wrote:
sol wrote:
and that his series of sanctions against Japan targeting crucial raw materials was designed to force the Empire to try to seize what it needed from one of the colonial possessions in the Orient.


That's very interesting, soli. I had not read previously that the sanctions were intended by Roosevelt as a provocation to military action against the US, but I find it plausible. Do we know for sure, though, that this was the cause for the attack on Pearl Harbor? I find this somewhat less likely, given the web of mutual protection treaty obligations in place at that time, and I have not read such an explanation before. Also, that seems like a fairly uncertain way of getting the US involved in the war, in spite of our treaty obligations to our Allies. Given the magnitude of pro-Nazi sentiment here in the US, I seriously wonder whether even the attack on Pearl Harbor would have induced Congress to declare war on Germany if Germany had not declared war on us.


Not sure I buy that the sanctions against Japan were intended as a provocation to an act of war that would enable us to go to war with Germany. I mean, I suppose it's possible, but tensions had been building in the Pacific for a long time. Pearl Harbor was a disaster for the US, and it would have been an infinitely worse one had our aircraft carriers not happened to be at sea on maneuvers at the time. We had a tough enough time defeating the Japanese as it was. Had we started with no aircraft carriers...

I'm still stunned by the hubris of Hitler, declaring war on the US in solidarity with Japan. Talk about underestimating an enemy.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 3:21 am 
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Ethel wrote:
Jnyusa wrote:
sol wrote:
and that his series of sanctions against Japan targeting crucial raw materials was designed to force the Empire to try to seize what it needed from one of the colonial possessions in the Orient.


That's very interesting, soli. I had not read previously that the sanctions were intended by Roosevelt as a provocation to military action against the US, but I find it plausible. Do we know for sure, though, that this was the cause for the attack on Pearl Harbor? I find this somewhat less likely, given the web of mutual protection treaty obligations in place at that time, and I have not read such an explanation before. Also, that seems like a fairly uncertain way of getting the US involved in the war, in spite of our treaty obligations to our Allies. Given the magnitude of pro-Nazi sentiment here in the US, I seriously wonder whether even the attack on Pearl Harbor would have induced Congress to declare war on Germany if Germany had not declared war on us.


Not sure I buy that the sanctions against Japan were intended as a provocation to an act of war that would enable us to go to war with Germany. I mean, I suppose it's possible, but tensions had been building in the Pacific for a long time. Pearl Harbor was a disaster for the US, and it would have been an infinitely worse one had our aircraft carriers not happened to be at sea on maneuvers at the time. We had a tough enough time defeating the Japanese as it was. Had we started with no aircraft carriers...

I'm still stunned by the hubris of Hitler, declaring war on the US in solidarity with Japan. Talk about underestimating an enemy.


I think that what we all forget sometimes is that Hitler was nuts. I'm not joking. Hitler was crazy.

It was crazier to invade the USSR, actually.

We in "the West" are accustomed to our leaders being more or less sane. When we are confronted by lunatics, whether in our daily lives or on an international scale, we are often unable to grasp the truth that rationality has little part in their thought processes. Men like Saddam Hussein and the current nutbar in North Korea are almost the same: loony but cunning, absolutely almost perfect in their instinct for self-preservation.

Canada's wartime PM, William Lyon MacKenzie King, was a little bit nuts himself, but not crazy enough that it really affected the course of events. (While it may seem unbelievable to those of the present day, Canada was a major player in WW II. At the end of the war we had the world's third largest navy, for example.) King talked to his dead Mum and his dead dog via mediums. He apparently asked advice about the war. It was pretty good advice.

But it kinda makes a person's hair stand on end, doesn't it? What if his dog (the name of which escapes me at the moment) had suggested to him that he make a separate peace with Hitler or something?

eta: I think his dog's name was Rexy but then, maybe not. King was called "Rex" by his friends. He is always called "MacKenzie King", but "MacKenzie" was one of his Christian names, it was not part of his surname. A very strange man, all things considered.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 3:58 am 
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Do we know for sure, though, that this was the cause for the attack on Pearl Harbor? I find this somewhat less likely, given the web of mutual protection treaty obligations in place at that time,


But that's precisely it. Because of that web of treaties, the Japanese knew that invading Southeast Asia (as they had to do, if the Imperial project wasn't to sputter out) would automatically mean war with the United States. Tojo and the war cabinet resolved on the pre-emptive knockout blow- even though Admiral Yamamoto had serious doubts about the eventual outcome.

And I have no reason to believe FDR saw it coming in that form. Remember, all our senior naval commanders were old battleship admirals- the notion of a major long-range strike using those newfangled birdfarms never occurred to them, any more than the top levels of our 'intelligence' services envisioned airliners as kamikazes (notwithstanding Tom Clancy using that very device in a novel a decade earlier). Similarly, it seems our bluesuits never got the message from the British having crippled the Italian fleet in Taranto harbor using carrier-borne torpedo planes!

It does remain an interesting speculation whether FDR would have been able to get a declaration of war against Germany had Hitler not obliged him.


--------

Incidentally, the first US military deaths of World War II occured two months before Pearl Harbor, when 115 men of the USS Reuben James were lost in the sinking of their ship by the U-552. She was escorting a British/Canadian convoy from Halifax at the time.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 4:18 am 
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sol wrote:
But that's precisely it. Because of that web of treaties, the Japanese knew that invading Southeast Asia (as they had to do, if the Imperial project wasn't to sputter out) would automatically mean war with the United States. Tojo and the war cabinet resolved on the pre-emptive knockout blow- even though Admiral Yamamoto had serious doubts about the eventual outcome.


Your response seems to confirm the alternative approach that has been my understanding of Japan's motivation in the past. They wished to dominate the Pacific and decided that they needed to knock out USs naval power pre-emptively. What I was asking earlier was whether there was any evidence that the embargo had much to do with this, or whether Japan was likely to attack us eventually anyway to remove our competition from their sphere.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 4:19 am 
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We in "the West" are accustomed to our leaders being more or less sane. When we are confronted by lunatics, whether in our daily lives or on an international scale, we are often unable to grasp the truth that rationality has little part in their thought processes.


This very good point relates to the blind spot exploited on 9/11. Our entire doctrine with respect to airline hijackings was developed around treating them as hostage situations: "stay calm, don't be a hero, do what they say, get the plane on the ground and we'll negotiate it out." Nothing in the protocol envisioned maniacs who just wanted to kill themselves and everybody else.


Last edited by solicitr on Sun May 18, 2008 4:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 4:19 am 
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vison wrote:
I think that what we all forget sometimes is that Hitler was nuts. I'm not joking. Hitler was crazy.


I think he was crazy. But a particularly effective kind of crazy. That youth program he built... you've seen the films of pretty German mädchen in white, gracefully exercising to music with those things that looked like bowling pins. They appeared to be loving it, and I'm sure most of them did. Hitler looked like a hero for getting inflation under control and factories working again. It was clearly a time of, well, hope, after the deprivations of hyperinflation years.

The dark side was there to see, but it's easy not see the dark side when the pretty side seems to be working for you.

A lot of Germans, perhaps the majority, were not especially sorry to see their Jewish neighbors led away--leaving houses and furnishings and bank accounts of great value behind. But those who had qualms could soothe themselves by chanting, "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!" with a great big crowd. It must have been very seductive. Those events were managed masterfully.

At first they could tell themselves stories that, while they were sorry about that good Jewish friend who got transported; still, the Führer must have had his reasons, and I'm sure they'll be okay. It's a new Germany, and we finally have the respect of the world! We must trust the Führer--look how bad things were before he came along.

The "provocations" in the Polish Corridor and the Sudentland were managed very skillfully: "See! They are attacking Germans just like us. We must save them!" And why not take all of Czechoslovakia, since it was there for the taking, and the British and French wouldn't object.

Seems to me the "crazy man" was playing his cards very well right up through the Nazi-Soviet pact. So much for Poland.

Attacking Russia was when it really started to get crazy. The attack started on the exact same day of the year that Napoleon set out to conquer Russia. Some might have seen that as an ill omen, but if they did they dared not speak up.

Meanwhile the western army was cutting like butter through France and the low countries. Next stop: England.

I wonder if we would think of Hitler as crazy if he hadn't had his little side project of killing all the untermenschen: Jews, homosexuals, communists, gypsies, Slavs, the retarded or deformed, political enemies... and... well, anyone who got in the way. And if he had held his eastern campaign to the Russian satellite countries and not attacked Mother Russia itself. It's an interesting historical thought experiment: could he have gotten away with it if his objectives weren't so ridiculously huge? How much lebensraum does a guy need?

But he was what he was, and he had to be stopped.

Once he attacked the Russian homeland, they were never going to give up until they pushed the German army all the way back to Berlin. The failure to take England was crucial too--supplied by her American allies, England held out. And then became the base for the reconquest of Europe.

I apologize for this Osgiliation--WW2 is a particular interest of mine. For what it's worth, I think the situation in 1939 is worse than useless as a guide to action with respect to Iran. The two could hardly be more different.

PS--I'm pretty sure Hitler's dog's name was Blondi.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 4:26 am 
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Ethel- perhaps you underestimate how close Hitler came to pulling off the conquest of Russia. I don't think it was necessarily a foreordained failure, or an insane move. Possibly risky, a gamble: but not an insane risk or a lunatic gamble. Right up to the end of '41 the Russian armies dissolved as fast as the Polish and French had (thanks in part to Stalin having killed most of his decent generals), and the Wehrmacht was in the Moscow suburbs. For all the obvious parallels drawn with 1812, the hypercentralized Stalinist state couldn't just bail out of the capital and keep things going from the hinterland the way Tsar Alexander did.

Of course the historical parallel uppermost in the German Army's mind was not Bonaparte but was only 20 years old, and many of them had been there: the Kaiser's crushing defeat of Russia in the First War and the humiliating peace terms Lenin agreed to at Brest-Litovsk.

And Hitler at least for quite a while was rational enough to listen to reason- in 1940 he accepted, glumly, the General Staff's assessment that invading Switzerland just wasn't possible.


Last edited by solicitr on Sun May 18, 2008 4:32 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 4:27 am 
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Rather than splitting this discussion off I took the liberty of changing the title of this thread

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 4:29 am 
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solicitr wrote:
Quote:
We in "the West" are accustomed to our leaders being more or less sane. When we are confronted by lunatics, whether in our daily lives or on an international scale, we are often unable to grasp the truth that rationality has little part in their thought processes.


This very good point relates to the blind spot exploited on 9/11. Our entire doctrine with respect to airline hijackings was developed around treating them as hostage situations: "stay calm, don't be a hero, do what they say, get the plane on the ground and we'll negotiate it out." Nothing in the protocol envisioned maniacs who just wanted to kill themselves and everybody else.


That's exactly right, solicitr. That's why it worked. But, interestingly, only on the first three aircraft. By the fourth, United Flight 93, the passengers had an inkling of what what happening. No one can really know what happened on that flight, but I believe it was a passenger revolt that caused it to crash in Pennsylvania. It really didn't take very long for the word to spread, and I doubt we'll see another hijacking in our lifetimes where the passengers sit idly by. It's one thing to have an unwelcome detour to Cuba. If you know you're going to be killed as part of a weapon against your own country, on the other hand... well, you're going to do everything you can to prevent it. There's no downside to fighting back if you know you're going to die anyway.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 4:37 am 
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And bin-Laden knows that too- if he's crazy, he's crazy like a fox. A surprise tactic only works once. That's why the only subsequent al-Qaeda plot involving airliners was designed simply to blow them up in midair.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 4:43 am 
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solicitr wrote:
Ethel- perhaps you underestimate how close Hitler came to pulling off the conquest of Russia. I don't think it was necessarily a foreordained failure, or an insane move. Possibly risky, a gamble: but not an insane risk or a lunatic gamble. Right up to the end of '41 the Russian armies dissolved as fast as the Polish and French had (thanks in part to Stalin having killed most of his decent generals), and the Wehrmacht was in the Moscow suburbs. For all the obvious parallels drawn with 1812, the hypercentralized Stalinist state couldn't just bail out of the capital and keep things going from the hinterland the way Tsar Alexander did.


Perhaps. But look how close Napoleon came to doing the same thing. He actually got further--all the way to Moscow. Took control of the city. But it didn't amount to conquest. For one thing, irregulars immediate set to burning the city down. Then winter came, and the French troops weren't equipped to handle it, and the Russian troops counter-attacked.

You're right that Stalin had grievously weakened his armies by decimating his officer corps. But even a monster like Stalin had to (briefly) put aside political considerations when his homeland was under attack. He brought in his Siberian divisions. A capable general emerged: Zhukov. And Russia's great ally--winter--also emerged. The German guns couldn't shoot straight, or at all in some cases, because they were warped by cold. The German troops did not have warm winter clothes, and the Siberian troops did.

History speaks for itself. At terrible cost, the Russian troops pushed the Germans out Moscow; lifted the siege of Leningrad; fought a bitter last stand at Stalingrad. It was the Eastern front that broke the power of the Wehrmacht more than any other single thing.


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