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#Caturday, July 19, 2014: Tokyo’s cat pub, the cat cafe for grown-ups

by 1389AD ( 59 Comments › )
Filed under Caturday, Food and Drink, Japan, Open thread at July 19th, 2014 - 5:00 pm

 

For a larger view of the above photo, please click here.

Rocket News 24 has the story:

In Japan, since so many people who love cute animals live in apartments that don’t allow pets, you can find cafes that’ll let you relax in the company of everything from owls to bunnies. The most common and widely documented are of course cat cafes, but what do you do when you’re craving not only a little feline companionship, but also want something a bit stronger than a cup of coffee?

Simple: you head to the cat pub in Tokyo.

Located on the Seibu Ikebukuro train line, Ekoda Station and the surrounding Ashigaoka neighborhood don’t draw especially large numbers of visitors. It’s just another six minutes to Ikebukuro Station, where they are far more dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

Ashigaoka does have something Ikebukuro doesn’t, though, in the form of a unique izakaya. Somewhere between a bar and ordinary restaurant, izakaya offer a wide range of alcoholic drinks and a selection of small plates of food to pair with them. What they usually don’t have is a group of cats roaming about, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Akanasu.

Akanasu opens at 6 p.m., slightly earlier than many of the other izakaya in its neighborhood. On the day we stopped by, we were the first customers to arrive, and no sooner had we opened the creaky wooden door than we received a warm greeting.

At the top of the stairs leading up to the dining room area was Chi, Akanasu’s “head of business operations.” Encouraged by her hospitality, we made our way upstairs where we didn’t see any other diners, but did find a few more kitties.

With its soft lighting and potted plants, Akanasu at first feels more like a retro-style coffee shop than a pub, but rest assured, there’s a proper izakaya menu, which includes such offerings as a mixed hors d’oevre plate for 700 yen (US$6.85) and baked cheese doria for 750 yen. Cocktails start at 450 yen and a glass of white wine is 500, both pretty reasonable prices for Tokyo. There’s also a two-and-a-half-hour all-you-can-drink deal for 1,999 yen, which gives you plenty of time to get tipsy enough that your hiccups will synch up with the surrounding meows.

“I don’t really look like a cat person, do I?” asked the good-natured owner, Koyanagai. Honestly, we’d say we have to agree with his self-assessment, though we could easily imagine him being the proud owner of a handful of Great Danes.

In actuality, though, there’s never been a time in his life that Koyanagai, who’s now in his 60s, hasn’t owned a cat. His family already had one when he was born, and as he got older, Koyanagi and his wife began taking in cats from animal shelters. For some of the animals, this was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, but the couple found themselves becoming attached to the creatures, and ended up giving them a permanent home.

Koyanagi says he’s drawn to the capricious nature of cats. True to his word, even though the animals spend time in his place of business, they aren’t compelled to work. Signs inside the restaurant ask customers to refrain from grabbing the cats or coercing them into playing when they’re not in the mood. Whether the cats interact with the customers is entirely up to them, as evidenced by the few we noticed nonchalantly taking cat naps while we ate our meal.
[...]

Restaurant information

Neko Bar Akanasu / 猫BAR 赤茄子
Address: Tokyo-to, Nerima-ku, Ashigaoka 1-77-2, second floor
東京都練馬区旭丘1-77-2 2F
Telephone: 03-6915-3166
Open 6 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
Closed Mondays
Twitter @Cat_Bar_Akanasu

Photos and more here.

Life under the Obama doctrine

by Speranza ( 115 Comments › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, Barack Obama, China, Iran, Israel, Japan, Libya, Libya, Russia, South Korea, Syria, Ukraine at May 6th, 2014 - 7:00 am

It seems as if Obama is an even worse foreign policy president than he is on domestic issues. Our friends and allies need to wait him out.

by Caroline Glick

For most commentators, President Barack Obama’s biggest achievement in his four-nation tour of Asia was the enhanced defense treaty he signed with Philippine President Benigno Aquino. The pact permits US forces to operate on Philippine military bases and sets the conditions for joint training of US and Philippine forces, among other things.

There are two problems with the treaty, however.

And they reflect the basic problem with US foreign policy generally, five-and-a-half years into the Obama presidency.

First, there is the reason that the treaty became necessary.

The Philippines has been under attack by China since 2012 when China seized the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines. Despite its mutual defense treaty with Manila, Washington did nothing.

This non-response emboldened China still further.

And today China is threatening the Second Thomas Shoal, another Philippine possession.

So, too, late last year China extended its Air Defense Identification Zone to include Japanese and South Korean airspace. The US responded to the aggressive move by recommending that its allies comply with China’s dictates.

The administration’s top priority in all these cases, as well as in the case of Beijing’s challenge to Japan’s control over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, has been to avoid conflicts with China.

But American timidity and refusal to abide by US treaty obligations to the Philippines and Japan have had the opposite effect.

By not responding to Chinese aggression, far from moderating China’s behavior, the Obama administration emboldened it. And in so doing, it destroyed the US’s deterrent posture in Asia. As China’s increasingly belligerent behavior has made clear, Obama’s attempt to appease China was perceived in Beijing as a green light for further aggression, because the Chinese correctly determined that Obama would never make them pay a price for seizing territory and otherwise harming America’s Asian allies.

Under these circumstances, Obama had no choice but to sign an enhanced defense treaty with the Philippines.

Far from calming the situation, though, the treaty increases the chance of war between China and its neighbors. No one, least of all China’s leadership, is fooled by Obama’s whiny insistence that the defense pact isn’t directed against China. And now China, already itching for more confrontations, will feel compelled to respond strongly.

This brings us to the second problem with the Obama administration’s new assertiveness in Asia. It simply isn’t credible.

[........]

We already know Obama lacks the will to confront China. And his decision to downsize the US military ensures the US will lack good options for confronting it in the coming years.

During his joint press conference in Manila on Monday with Aquino, Ed Henry from Fox News asked Obama to explain his foreign policy doctrine.

“What do you think the Obama Doctrine is in terms of what your guiding principle is on all of these crises and how you answer those critics who say they think the doctrine is weakness.”

Obama responded with his signature peevishness.

Before launching into a 900-word assault on a series of straw men to whom he attributed positions that at best distorted and at worst willfully misrepresented the positions of his critics, Obama muttered, “Well, Ed, I doubt that I’m going to have time to lay out my entire foreign policy doctrine.”

One thing that Obama did have the time do was signal to the Philippines that the US is no longer a reliable ally. After touting the new defense pact in one sentence, Obama proceeded to explain in the next that his administration cannot be expected to honor any commitment to defend the Philippines militarily.

Obama’s bloviations demonstrated why Henry’s question was so important.

For five-and-a-half years, Obama has not given a straightforward presentation of his foreign policy.

Instead, he has tailored his foreign policy statements to what he thinks the public wishes to hear.

So for instance, in responding to Henry, Obama sounded an isolationist note, attacking imaginary critics for their automatic rush to arms in all circumstances.

Beyond being a gross mischaracterization of his critics, Obama’s remarks ignored the inconvenient fact that he sent US forces on a NATO mission to overthrow the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya without congressional authorization.

No Republicans forced his hand. Since 2004, Gaddafi had posed no threat to US interests.

And in the aftermath of Obama’s unauthorized war in Libya, the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi.

Al-Qaida and other jihadist groups that benefited from NATO’s operation have taken over large swathes of the country and sunk it into ungovernable chaos.  [........]

Although Obama’s 900-word rant obscured rather than explained his foreign policy doctrine, the Obama Doctrine is easily understood from his actual policies – including his military adventure in Libya.

If Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy doctrine was “Peace through strength,” Obama’s doctrine can be summed up in two sentences: “Speak loudly and carry no stick.” And “Be good to your enemies and bad to your allies.”

The defense treaty with the Philippines, like Obama’s bluster in Ukraine and Syria, is a sterling example of the first part of his doctrine.

And Obama’s obsequious policies toward China, Russia and Iran on the one hand, and his coldness toward Japan, South Korea, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Israel on the other hand demonstrate the validity of the second part of his doctrine.

The reason that Obama has not shared his own doctrine with the American people is not because he can’t explain it in the course of one speech. It is because he knows that they won’t accept it.

For their part, the American people seem to have him figured out. According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll published on Wednesday, Obama’s approval rating for his handling of foreign policy is at an all-time low. Only 38 percent of Americans approve of his handling of foreign policy and 53% disapprove.

The same poll gave respondents two foreign policy doctrines and asked them to choose the one they preferred.

The first was, “We need a president who will present an image of America that has a more open approach and is willing to negotiate with friend and foe alike.”

The second was, “We need a president who will present an image of strength that shows America’s willingness to confront our enemies and stand up for our principles.”

Thirty-nine percent preferred the first policy course and 55% the second one. These numbers are nearly identical to the approval numbers for Obama’s foreign policy.

[......]

For America’s allies this reality requires them to carve out their own courses the best they can.

In Israel’s case, this involves first and foremost taking a less idealistic and more mercenary view of the world. This means not shrinking away from opportunities with the likes of Russia and China when they arise. And certainly it means not automatically siding with the Obama administration against them.

The Obama administration is reportedly angry with Israel for refusing to join America in scolding Russia for its aggression in Ukraine. But it is far from clear that the Obama White House offers Jerusalem a better option. To date, Obama has repaid Israel for its willingness to toe his line by undermining its core interests, publicly attacking it and seeking to subvert the elected government.

Israel has no interest in getting on Russia’s bad side in order to placate the Obama administration.

Nor is there any reason for Israel to obey the Obama administration’s demands for belligerent rhetoric when the next step of the Obama White House would doubtless be to turn around and castigate the “Israel lobby” for allegedly pushing the US toward war.

The same goes for China. There is no reason for Israel to jump into conflict with the growing Asian power. While Secretary of State John Kerry is egging on the Europeans to expand their trade war against Israel, China is assiduously expanding its trade with Israel. According to the Economy Ministry, next year Asia will surpass the US as Israel’s largest trading partner.

Then, of course, there is Iran. Out of loyalty and basic trust in the US’s strategic sanity, for the past decade, Israel has been willing to play second fiddle to the US in contending with Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program.  [.......]

Since his first days in office, Obama has signaled clearly through his deeds that he had absolutely no interest in blocking Iran’s nuclear progress. On the contrary, Obama’s policies in the Middle East have consistently involved strengthening and legitimizing the Iranian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood at the expense of Israel and the less radical Sunni Arab states.

Out of habit, and in the hopes that something would change, Israel pretended away this reality and continued to follow Washington’s lead, limiting its goals to covert operations against Iran – that Obama leaked to the media – and lobbying Congress for sanctions that never had any chance of blocking Iran’s race to the nuclear finishing line.

[.......]

And so Israel must ignore it. Every day that Israel does not set back Iran’s nuclear progress brings Israel closer to being the subject of nuclear blackmail, Iranian-backed terrorism, and even nuclear Armageddon.

Obama may hide his doctrine behind petulance, populist canards and straw men, but it is clear enough. And that means that as far as Israel is concerned, its goal of securing its survival and prosperity for at least the next two-and-a-half years requires Jerusalem to act on its own and in the face of White House opposition.

It isn’t pleasant to defy the American president.

It isn’t easy. But in light of the Obama Doctrine, defying the White House is required to preserve the freedom of the Jewish people.

Read the rest - Life under the Obama doctrine

The disappearance of American will

by Speranza ( 157 Comments › )
Filed under China, Iran, Israel, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Syria at April 21st, 2014 - 7:00 am

Is there a more pathetic looking cabinet member than Chuck Hagel? Seriously, we would have been better off picking any random name out of the phone book and installing them in the Pentagon than having the drunken, incompetent, boob Hagel running the department.

by Caroline Glick

The most terrifying aspect of the collapse of US power worldwide is the US’s indifferent response to it.

In Europe, in Asia, in the Middle East and beyond, America’s most dangerous foes are engaging in aggression and brinkmanship unseen in decades.

As Gordon Chang noted at a symposium in Los Angeles last month hosted by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, since President Barack Obama entered office in 2009, the Chinese have responded to his overtures of goodwill and appeasement with intensified aggression against the US’s Asian allies and against US warships.

In 2012, China seized the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines. Washington shrugged its shoulders despite its mutual defense treaty with the Philippines. And so Beijing is striking again, threatening the Second Thomas Shoal, another Philippine possession.

In a similar fashion, Beijing is challenging Japan’s control over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and even making territorial claims on Okinawa.

As Chang explained, China’s recent application of its Air-Defense Identification Zone to include Japanese and South Korean airspace is a hostile act not only against those countries but also against the principle of freedom of maritime navigation, which, Chang noted, “Americans have been defending for more than two centuries.”

The US has responded to Chinese aggression with ever-escalating attempts to placate Beijing.

And China has responded to these US overtures by demonstrating contempt for US power.

Last week, the Chinese humiliated Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during his visit to China’s National Defense University. He was harangued by a student questioner for the US’s support for the Philippines and Japan, and for opposition to Chinese unilateral seizure of island chains and assertions of rights over other states’ airspace and international waterways.

As he stood next to Hagel in a joint press conference, China’s Defense Chief Chang Wanquan demanded that the US restrain Japan and the Philippines.

In addition to its flaccid responses to Chinese aggression against its allies and its own naval craft, in 2012 the US averred from publicly criticizing China for its sale to North Korea of mobile missile launchers capable of serving Pyongyang’s KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles. With these easily concealed launchers, North Korea significantly upgraded its ability to attack the US with nuclear weapons.

As for Europe, the Obama administration’s responses to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and to its acts of aggression against Ukraine bespeak a lack of seriousness and dangerous indifference to the fate of the US alliance structure in Eastern Europe.

[.......]

Clearly not impressed by the US moves, the Russians overflew and shadowed the US naval ship. As Charles Krauthammer noted on Fox News on Monday, the Russian action was not a provocation. It was “a show of contempt.”

As Krauthammer explained, it could have only been viewed as a provocation if Russia had believed the US was likely to respond to its shadowing of the warship. Since Moscow correctly assessed that the US would not respond to its aggression, by buzzing and following the warship, the Russians demonstrated to Ukraine and other US allies that they cannot trust the US to protect them from Russia.

In the Middle East, it is not only the US’s obsessive approach to the Palestinian conflict with Israel that lies in shambles. The entire US alliance system and the Obama administration’s other signature initiatives have also collapsed.

After entering office, Obama implemented an aggressive policy in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere of killing al-Qaida operatives with unmanned drones. The strategy was based on the notion that such a campaign, that involves no US boots on the ground, can bring about a rout of the terrorist force at minimal human cost to the US and at minimal political cost to President Barack Obama.

The strategy has brought about the demise of a significant number of al-Qaida terrorists over the years. And due to the support Obama enjoys from the US media, the Obama administration paid very little in terms of political capital for implementing it.

But despite the program’s relative success, according to The Washington Post, the administration suspended drone attacks in December 2013 after it endured modest criticism when one in Yemen inadvertently hit a wedding party.

[......]

This week, jihadist websites featured an al-Qaida video showing hundreds of al-Qaida terrorists in Yemen meeting openly with the group’s second in command, Nasir al-Wuhayshi.

In the video, Wuhayshi threatened the US directly saying, “We must eliminate the cross,” and explaining that “the bearer of the cross is America.”

Then there is Iran.

The administration has staked its reputation on its radical policy of engaging Iran on its nuclear weapons program. The administration claims that by permitting Iran to undertake some nuclear activities it can convince the mullahs to shelve their plan to develop nuclear weapons.
[.....]

In a televised interview Sunday, Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akhbar Salehi insisted that Iran has the right to enrich uranium to 90 percent. In other words, he said that Iran is building nuclear bombs.

And thanks to the US and its interim nuclear deal with Iran, the Iranian economy is on the mend.
[.......]

Rather than accept that its efforts have failed, the Obama administration is redefining what success means.

As Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz noted, in recent months US officials claimed the goal of the nuclear talks was to ensure that Iran would remain years away from acquiring nuclear weapons. In recent remarks, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US would suffice with a situation in which Iran is but six months away from acquiring nuclear weapons.

In other words, the US has now defined failure as success.

Then there is Syria.

Last September, the US claimed it made history when, together with Russia it convinced dictator Bashar Assad to surrender his chemical weapons arsenal. Six months later, not only is Syria well behind schedule for abiding by the agreement, it is reportedly continuing to use chemical weapons against opposition forces and civilians. The most recent attack reportedly occurred on April 12 when residents of Kafr Zita were attacked with chlorine gas.

The growing worldwide contempt for US power and authority would be bad enough in and of itself. The newfound confidence of aggressors imperils international security and threatens the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

What makes the situation worse is the US response to what is happening. The Obama administration is responding to the ever-multiplying crises by pretending that there is nothing to worry about and insisting that failures are successes.

And the problem is not limited to Obama and his advisers or even to the political Left. Their delusional view that the US will suffer no consequences for its consistent record of failure and defeat is shared by a growing chorus of conservatives.

Some, like the anti-Semitic conservative pundit Patrick Buchanan, laud Putin as a cultural hero. [......]
.

Leaders like Sen. Ted Cruz who call for a US foreign policy based on standing by allies and opposing foes in order to ensure US leadership and US national security are being drowned out in a chorus of “Who cares?” Six years into Obama’s presidency, the US public as a whole is largely opposed to taking any action on behalf of Ukraine or the Baltic states, regardless of what inaction, or worse, feckless action means for the US’s ability to protect its interests and national security.

And the generation coming of age today is similarly uninterested in US global leadership.

During the Cold War and in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the predominant view among American university students studying international affairs was that US world leadership is essential to ensure global stability and US national interests and values.

Today this is no longer the case.

Much of the Obama administration’s shuttle diplomacy in recent years has involved sending senior officials, including Obama, on overseas trips with the goal of reassuring jittery allies that they can continue to trust US security guarantees.

These protestations convince fewer and fewer people today.

It is because of this that US allies like Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, that lack nuclear weapons, are considering their options on the nuclear front.

It is because of this that Israeli officials are openly stating for the first time that the US cannot be depended on to either secure Israel’s eastern frontier in the event that an accord is reached with the Palestinians, or to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

It is because of this that the world is more likely than it has been since 1939 to experience a world war of catastrophic proportions.

There is a direct correlation between the US elite’s preoccupation with social issues running the narrow and solipsistic gamut from gay marriage to transgender bathrooms to a phony war against women, and America’s inability to recognize the growing threats to the global order or understand why Americans should care about the world at all.

And there is a similarly direct correlation between the growing aggression of US foes and Obama’s decision to slash defense spending while allowing the US nuclear arsenal to become all but obsolete.

America’s spurned allies will take the actions they need to take to protect themselves. Some will persevere, others will likely be overrun.

But with Americans across the ideological spectrum pretending that failure is success and defeat is victory, while turning their backs on the growing storm, how will America protect itself?

Read the rest - The disappearance of US will

 

What we can learn from the twentieth century’s greatest diplomatic disaster – the Munich conference

by Speranza ( 152 Comments › )
Filed under Afghanistan, France, Germany, History, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Japan, John Kerry, Nazism, Syria, UK, World War II at January 16th, 2014 - 5:00 pm

As the author states, democracy was introduced into Japan and Germany at the point of a gun after those two nations were utterly devastated and had to submit to foreign occupations. No such thing has ever happened to any Islamic nation.  “Nation building” in Iraq and Afghanistan never had a chance in hell of succeeding. The analogies to Munich 1938 are interesting but often misleading.

by Bruce Thornton

During the recent foreign policy crises over Syria’s use of chemical weapons and the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran, the Munich analogy was heard from both sides of the political spectrum. Arguing for airstrikes against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the nation faced a “Munich moment.” A few months later, numerous critics of Barack Obama’s diplomatic discussions with Iran evoked Neville Chamberlain’s naïve negotiations with Adolph Hitler. “This wretched deal,” Middle East historian Daniel Pipes said, “offers one of those rare occasions when comparison with Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938 is valid.” The widespread resort to the Munich analogy raises the question: When, if ever, are historical analogies useful for understanding present circumstances?

  what economic recovery
Photo credit: Anna Newman

Since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, one important purpose of describing historical events was to provide models for posterity. Around 395 B.C., Thucydides wrote that his history was for “those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the understanding of the future, which in the course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect it.” [........]

Both historians believed the past could inform and instruct the present because they assumed that human nature would remain constant in its passions, weaknesses, and interests despite changes in the political, social, or technological environment. As Thucydides writes of the horrors of revolution and civil war, “The sufferings . . . were many and terrible, such as have occurred and always will occur as long as the nature of mankind remains the same; though in severer or milder form, and varying in their symptoms, according to the variety of the particular cases.”  [.........]

In contrast, the modern idea of progress––the notion that greater knowledge of human motivation and behavior, and more sophisticated technology, are changing and improving human nature––suggests that events of the past have little utility in describing the present, and so every historical analogy is at some level false. The differences between two events separated by time and different levels of intellectual and technological sophistication will necessarily outweigh any usefulness. [......]

An example of a historical analogy that failed because it neglected important differences was one popular among those supporting the Bush Doctrine during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush Doctrine was embodied in the president’s 2005 inaugural speech: “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.” Promoting democracy and political freedom in the Middle East was believed to be the way to eliminate the political, social, and economic dysfunctions that presumably breed Islamic terrorism. Supporters of this view frequently invoked the transformation of Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union from aggressive tyrannies into peaceful democracies to argue for nation building in the Muslim Middle East.

Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and political prisoner, used this analogy in his 2004 book The Case for Democracy, which was an important influence on President Bush’s thinking. Yet in citing the examples of Russia, Germany, and Japan as proof that democracy could take root in any cultural soil, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sharansky overlooked some key differences. Under Soviet communism, a highly religious Russian people were subjected to an atheist regime radically at odds with the beliefs of the masses. Communism could only promise material goods, and when it serially failed to do so, it collapsed. As for Germany and Japan, both countries were devastated by World War II, their cities and industries destroyed, the ruins standing as stark reminders of the folly of the political ideologies that wreaked such havoc. Both countries were occupied for years by the victors, who had the power and scope to build a new political order enforced by the occupying troops. As political philosopher Michael Mandelbaum reminds us, in Germany and Japan, democracy was introduced at gunpoint.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, neither of these important conditions existed when U.S. forces invaded. The leaders of these countries are Muslim, thus establishing an important connection with the mass of their people. Unlike Nazism and communism, which were political fads, Islam is the faith of 1.5 billion people, and boasts a proud, fourteen-centuries-long history of success and conquest. For millions of pious Muslims, the answer to their modern difficulties lies not in embracing a foreign political system like democracy, but in returning to the purity of faith that created one of the world’s greatest empires. Moreover, no Muslim country has suffered the dramatic physical destruction that Germany and Japan did, which would illuminate the costs of Islam’s failure to adapt to the modern world. Finally, such analogies downplay the complex social and economic values, habits, and attitudes––many contrary to traditional Islamic doctrine––that are the preconditions for a truly democratic regime.

More recently, people are invoking the Munich analogy to describe the Syria and Iran crises. But these critics of Obama’s foreign policy misunderstand the Munich negotiations and their context. The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens, arguing that Obama’s agreement with Iran is worse than the English and French betrayal of Czechoslovakia, based his assessment on his belief that “neither Neville Chamberlain nor [French prime minister] Édouard Daladier had the public support or military wherewithal to stand up to Hitler in September 1938. Britain had just 384,000 men in its regular army; the first Spitfire aircraft only entered RAF service that summer. ‘Peace for our time’ it was not, but at least appeasement bought the West a year to rearm.”

Stephens, however, is missing an important historical detail that calls into question this interpretation. France in fact did have the “military wherewithal” to fight the Germans. The Maginot line had 860,000 soldiers manning it––nearly six times the number of Germans on the unfinished “Western Wall” of defensive fortifications facing the French—and another 400,000 troops elsewhere in France. Any move east by the French would have presented Germany with a two-front war it was not prepared to fight. Nor would Czechoslovakia have been an easy foe for Hitler. As Churchill wrote in The Gathering Storm, the Czechs had “a million and a half men armed behind the strongest fortress line in Europe [in the mountainous Sudetenland on Germany’s eastern border] and equipped by a highly organized and powerful industrial machine,” including the Skoda works, “the second most important arsenal in Central Europe.” Finally, the web of military agreements among England, France, Poland, and the Soviet Union was dependent on England backing France, which would not fight otherwise, and without the French, the Poles and the Soviets would not fight either. Had England lived up to its commitment to France, Hitler would have faced a two-front war against the overwhelming combined military superiority of the Allies. And he would have lost.

The lessons of Munich, and its value as a historical analogy, have nothing to do with a material calculation. Rather, the capitulation of the British and the French illustrates the perennial truth that conflict is about morale. On that point Stephens is correct when he writes that Chamberlain and Daladier did not have “public support,” and he emphasizes the role of morale in foreign policy. A people who have lost the confidence in the goodness of their way of life will not be saved by the material superiority of arms or money. And, as Munich also shows, that failure of nerve will not be mitigated by diplomatic negotiations. Talking to an enemy bent on aggression will only buy him time for achieving his aims. Thus Munich exposes the fallacy of diplomatic engagement that periodically has compromised Western foreign policy. Rather than a means of avoiding the unavoidable brutal costs of conflict, diplomatic words often create the illusion of action, while in reality avoiding the necessary military deeds. For diplomacy to work, the enemy must believe that his opponent will use punishing force to back up the agreement.

This truth gives force to the Munich analogy when applied to diplomacy with Iran. Hitler correctly judged that what he called the “little worms” of Munich, France and England, would not use such force, and were only looking for a politically palatable way to avoid a war. Similarly today, the mullahs in Iran are confident that America will not use force to stop the nuclear weapons program. Iran’s leaders are shrewd enough to understand that the Obama administration needs a diplomatic fig leaf to hide its capitulation to their nuclear ambitions, given his doubts about the rightness of America’s global dominance, and the war-weariness evident among the American people.  [........]

The weakening faith in American goodness that afflicts millions of Americans, and the use of diplomacy to camouflage that failure of nerve and provide political cover for the leaders charged with protecting our security and interests, are a reprise of England and France’s sacrifice of Czechoslovakia in 1938. That similarity and the lessons it can teach about the dangers of the collapse of national morale and the risky reliance on words rather than deeds are what continue to make Munich a useful historical analogy.

Read the rest - The lessons of Munich

 

Canadian causes trouble at Japan’s Yasukuni shrine

by Rodan ( 135 Comments › )
Filed under Japan, World War II at December 27th, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Regardless of the controversial nature of Japan’s Yasukuni shrine, only an idiot would go there and start trouble. That is exactly what some German Canadian tourist did. He went in to try to shame the Japanese there and instead was lucky to get out with his life.

This German Canadian guy really had some nerve and balls to go to a Japanese shrine and cause the trouble he did.

(Hat Tip: Military Photos)

Update:) Per Guggi, the man in the video was Canadian.

Woe to America’s allies

by Speranza ( 114 Comments › )
Filed under Barack Obama, Iran, Israel, Japan, Joe Biden, Russia, South Korea at December 9th, 2013 - 9:04 am

As an Israeli Deputy Prime Minister recently stated (paraphrasing) “We have 2 1/2 more years of Obama, we need to hold out and then he will be gone”.

by Charles Krauthammer

Three crises, one president, many bewildered friends.

The first crisis, barely noticed here, is Ukraine’s sudden turn away from Europe and back to the Russian embrace.

After years of negotiations for a major trading agreement with the European Union, Ukraine succumbed to characteristically blunt and brutal economic threats from Russia and abruptly walked away. Ukraine is instead considering joining the Moscow-centered Customs Union with Russia’s fellow dictatorships Belarus and Kazakhstan.

This is no trivial matter. Ukraine is not just the largest European country, it’s the linchpin for Vladimir Putin’s dream of a renewed imperial Russia, hegemonic in its neighborhood and rolling back the quarter-century advancement of the “Europe whole and free” bequeathed by America’s victory in the Cold War.

The U.S. response? Almost imperceptible. As with Iran’s ruthlessly crushed Green Revolution of 2009, the hundreds of thousands of protesters who’ve turned out to reverse this betrayal of Ukrainian independence have found no voice in Washington. Can’t this administration even rhetorically support those seeking a democratic future, as we did during Ukraine’s Orange Revolution of 2004?

A Post online headline explains: “With Russia in mind, U.S. takes cautious approach on Ukraine unrest.” We must not offend Putin. We must not jeopardize Obama’s precious “reset,” a farce that has yielded nothing but the well-earned distrust of allies such as Poland and the Czech Republicwhom we wantonly undercut in a vain effort to appease Russia on missile defense.

[......]

The second crisis is the Middle East — the collapse of confidence of U.S. allies as America romances Iran.

The Gulf Arabs are stunned at their double abandonment. In the nuclear negotiations with Iran, the U.S. has overthrown seven years of Security Council resolutions prohibiting uranium enrichment and effectively recognized Iran as a threshold nuclear state. This follows our near-abandonment of the Syrian revolution and de facto recognition of both the Assad regime and Iran’s “Shiite Crescent” of client states stretching to the Mediterranean.

Equally dumbfounded are the Israelis, now trapped by an agreement designed less to stop the Iranian nuclear program than to prevent the Israeli Air Force from stopping the Iranian nuclear program.

[........]

Better diplomacy than war, say Obama’s apologists, an adolescent response implying that all diplomacy is the same, as if a diplomacy of capitulation is no different from a diplomacy of pressure.

What to do? Apply pressure. Congress should immediately pass punishing new sanctions to be implemented exactly six months hence — when the current interim accord is supposed to end — if the Iranians have not lived up to the agreement and refuse to negotiate a final deal that fully liquidates their nuclear weapons program.

The third crisis is unfolding over the East China Sea, where, in open challenge to Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” China has brazenly declared a huge expansion of its airspace into waters claimed by Japan and South Korea.

Obama’s first response — sending B-52s through that airspace without acknowledging the Chinese — was quick and firm. Japan and South Korea followed suit. But when Japan then told its civilian carriers not to comply with Chinese demands for identification, the State Department (and FAA) told U.S. air carriers to submit.

[......]

Again leaving our friends stunned. They need an ally, not an intermediary. Here is the U.S. again going over the heads of allies to accommodate a common adversary. We should be declaring the Chinese claim null and void, ordering our commercial airlines to join Japan in acting accordingly, and supplying them with joint military escorts if necessary.

This would not be an exercise in belligerence but a demonstration that if other countries unilaterally overturn the status quo, they will meet a firm, united, multilateral response from the West.

Led by us. From in front.

No one’s asking for a JFK-like commitment to “bear any burden” to “assure the . . . success of liberty.” Or a Reaganesque tearing down of walls. Or even a Clintonian assertion of America as the indispensable nation. America’s allies are seeking simply a reconsideration of the policy of retreat that marks this administration’s response to red-line challenges all over the world — and leaves them naked.

Read the rest – Woe to U.S. Allies

Japan Launches Largest Warship since WWII

by Macker ( 44 Comments › )
Filed under Asia, China, Japan, North Korea, World War II at August 7th, 2013 - 12:00 pm

Escort Aircraft Carrier? Or Destroyer…as the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force calls her? You be the judge:

(CNN) — Japan on Tuesday unveiled its largest warship since World War II, an 820-foot-long, 19,500-ton flattop capable of carrying 14 helicopters, according to media reports.
The ship, named the Izumo, is classified as a helicopter destroyer, though its flattop design makes it look like an aircraft carrier.
But the Japanese Defense Ministry says the ship is not intended to be used as an aircraft carrier and will not be used to launch fighter jets, state broadcaster NHK reported.
The launch of the $1.2 billion warship at a Yokohama dockyard comes at a time of increased military tensions between Japan and China over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
“The destroyer is aimed at better responding to various contingencies in waters near Japan,” NHK reported.

Given the current dispute between Japan, China, and Taiwan over a certain island chain, and especially in light of the continued belligerence of North Korea, I can certainly understand Japan building and launching this ship. Coincidentally (?)…she was launched on the 68th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.
Has the time now arrived for Japan to rearm itself?

Mega-WHAT???? OOT

by Macker ( 61 Comments › )
Filed under Asia, China, Entertainment, Humor, Japan, OOT, South Korea at June 28th, 2013 - 11:00 pm

I present, you decide. CAUTION: May be NSFW….

Those Japanese, they’re always up to something! Or is it the Chinese? The South Koreans?
Who Cares! It’s The Overnight Open Thread!

Energy Noodles

Japan – a land without Muslims

by Speranza ( 125 Comments › )
Filed under Islam, Japan at May 23rd, 2013 - 7:00 am

All I can say is “Lucky Japan”! The world needs to stop romanticizing the Religion of Peace because it is an aggressive and  subversive force.

by Dr. Mordecai Kedar

There are countries in the world, mainly in Europe, that are presently undergoing significant cultural transformations as a result of Muslim immigration. France, Germany, Belgium and Holland are interesting examples of cases where immigration from Muslim countries, together with the Muslims’ high fertility rate, effects every area of life.

It is interesting to know that there is a country in the world whose official and public approach to the Muslim matter is totally different. This country is Japan. This country keeps a very low profile on all levels regarding the Muslim matter: On the diplomatic level, senior political figures from Islamic countries almost never visit Japan, and Japanese leaders rarely visit Muslim countries. The relations with Muslim countries are based on concerns such as oil and gas, which Japan imports from some Muslim countries. The official policy of Japan is not to give citizenship to Muslims who come to Japan, and even permits for permanent residency are given sparingly to Muslims.

Japan forbids exhorting people to adopt the religion of Islam (Dawah), and any Muslim who actively encourages conversion to Islam is seen as proselytizing to a foreign and undesirable culture. Few academic institutions teach the Arabic language. It is very difficult to import books of the Qur’an to Japan, and Muslims who come to Japan, are usually employees of foreign companies. In Japan there are very few mosques. The official policy of the Japanese authorities is to make every effort not to allow entry to Muslims, even if they are physicians, engineers and managers sent by foreign companies that are active in the region. Japanese society expects Muslim men to pray at home.

Japanese companies seeking foreign workers specifically note that they are not interested in Muslim workers. And any Muslim who does manage to enter Japan will find it very difficult  to rent an apartment. [.......]

In contrast with what is happening in Europe, very few Japanese are drawn to Islam. If a Japanese woman marries a Muslim, she will be considered an outcast by her social and familial environment. There is no application of Shari’a law in Japan. There is some food in Japan that is halal, kosher according to Islamic law, but it is not easy to find it in the supermarket.

The Japanese approach to Muslims is also evidenced by the numbers: in Japan there are 127 million residents, but only ten thousand Muslims, less than one hundredth of a percent. The number of Japanese who have converted is thought to be few. In Japan there are a few tens of thousands of foreign workers who are Muslim, mainly from Pakistan, who have managed to enter Japan as workers with construction companies.  [.......]

There are several reasons for this situation:

First, the Japanese tend to lump all Muslims together as fundamentalists who are unwilling to give up their traditional point of view and adopt modern ways of thinking and behavior. In Japan, Islam is perceived as a strange religion, that any intelligent person should avoid.

Second, most Japanese have no religion, but behaviors connected with the Shinto religion along with elements of Buddhism are integrated into national customs . In Japan, religion is connected to the nationalist concept, and prejudices exist towards foreigners whether they are Chinese, Korean, Malaysian or Indonesian, and Westerners don’t escape this phenomenon either. [......]

And Third, the Japanese dismiss the concept of monotheism and faith in an abstract god,  because their world concept is apparently connected to the material, not to faith and emotions.  [......]Christianity exists in Japan and is not regarded negatively, apparently because the image of Jesus perceived in Japan is like the images of Buddha and Shinto.

The most interesting thing in Japan’s approach to Islam is the fact that the Japanese do not feel the need to apologize to Muslims for the negative way in which they relate to Islam. They make a clear distinction between their economic interest in resources of oil and gas from Muslim countries, which behooves Japan to maintain good relations with these countries on the one hand, and on the other hand, the Japanese nationalist viewpoints, which see Islam as something that is suitable for others, not for Japan, and therefore the Muslims must remain outside.

Because the Japanese have a gentle temperament, and project serenity and tranquility toward foreigners, foreigners tend to relate to the Japanese with politeness and respect. A Japanese diplomat would never raise his voice or speak rudely in the presence of foreigners, therefore foreigners relate to the Japanese with respect, despite their racism and discrimination against Muslims in the matter of immigration. A Japanese official who is presented with an embarrassing question regarding the way the Japanese relate to Muslims, will usually refrain from answering, because he knows that a truthful answer would arouse anger, and he is both unable and unwilling to give an answer that is not true. [......]

Japan manages to remain a country almost without a Muslim presence because Japan’s negative attitude toward Islam and Muslims pervades every level of the population, from the man in the street to organizations and companies to senior officialdom. In Japan, contrary to the situation in other countries, there are no “human rights” organizations to offer support to Muslims’ claims against the government’s position. In Japan no one illegally smuggles Muslims into the country to earn a few yen, and almost no one gives them the legal support they would  need in order to get permits for temporary or permanent residency or citizenship.

Another thing that helps the Japanese keep Muslim immigration to their shores to a minimum is the Japanese attitude toward the employee and employment. Migrant workers are perceived negatively in Japan, because they take the place of Japanese workers. A Japanese employer feels obligated to employ Japanese workers even if it costs much more than it would to employ foreign workers. The traditional connection between an employee and employer in Japan is much stronger than in the West, and the employer and employee feel a mutual commitment to each other: an employer feels obligated to give his employee a livelihood, and the employee feels obligated to give the employer the fruit of his labor.  [......]

The fact that the public and the officials are united in their attitude against Muslim immigration has created a sort of iron wall around Japan that Muslims lack both the permission and the capability to overcome. This iron wall silences the world’s criticism of Japan in this matter, because the world understands that there is no point in criticizing the Japanese, since criticism will not convince them to open the gates of Japan to Muslim immigration.

Japan is teaching the whole world an interesting lesson: there is a direct correlation between national heritage and permission to immigrate: a people that has a solid and clear national heritage and identity will not allow the unemployed of the world to enter its country; and a people whose cultural heritage and national identity is weak and fragile, has no defense mechanisms to prevent a foreign culture from penetrating into its country and its land.

Read the rest - The Land without Muslims

 

 

 

From Pearl Harbor to the Eastern Front to Korea – the lessons of history

by Speranza ( 137 Comments › )
Filed under China, France, Germany, History, Japan, Military, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, United Nations, World War II at December 23rd, 2012 - 8:00 pm

VDH analyzes three pivotal events in the 20th century. I am glad to see that he recognizes the German failure to win the war against the U.S.S.R. in 1941 was largely due to the fact that  they lacked motorized transport – something that so many people ignore or are ignorant of.  Also Hitler never factored in the notion that the RedA rmy would fight a lot harder on its own territory then it would in Finland. As for Korea he points out that we were fortunate to have had Matthew B. Ridgway replace the shell shocked Douglas MacArthur (Ridgway, not David Petraeus) was our greatest commander since World War II.

by Victor Davis Hanson

From time to time, I take a break from opinion writing here at Works and Days[1] and turn to history — on this occasion, I am prompted by the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Here are a few of the most common questions that I have encountered while teaching the wars of the 20th century over the last twenty years.

I. Pearl Harbor — December 7, 1941

Q. Why did the Japanese so foolishly attack Pearl Harbor?

A. The Japanese did not see it as foolish at all. What in retrospect seems suicidal did not necessarily seem so at the time. In hindsight, the wiser Japanese course would have been to absorb the orphaned colonial Far Eastern possessions of France, the Netherlands, and Great Britain that were largely defenseless after June 1941. By carefully avoiding the Philippines and Pearl Harbor, the Japanese might have inherited the European colonial empire in the Pacific without starting a war with the United States. And had the Japanese and Germans coordinated strategy, the two might have attacked Russia simultaneously in June 1941 without prompting a wider war with the United States, or in the case of Japan, an immediate conflict necessarily with Great Britain.

But in the Japanese view, the Soviets had proved stubborn opponents in a series of border wars, and it was felt wiser to achieve a secure rear in Manchuria to divert attention to the west (the Russians, in fact, honored their non-aggression pact with the Japanese until late 1945) — especially given the fact that the Wehrmacht in December 1941 seemed likely to knock the Soviet Union out of the war in a few weeks or by early 1942.

In the Japanese mind, the moment was everything: it was high time to get in on the easy pickings in the Pacific before Germany ended the war altogether.

While the United States had belatedly begun rearming in the late 1930s, the Japanese were still convinced that in a naval war, their ships, planes, and personnel were at least as modern and plentiful, if not more numerous and qualitatively better than what was available to the United States. [......]

Japanese intelligence about American productive potential was about as limited as German knowledge of the Soviet Union. In Tokyo’s view, if Japanese naval forces took out the American Pacific carriers at Pearl Harbor, there was simply no way for America, at least in the immediate future, to contradict any of their Pacific agendas. Nor on December 7 could the Japanese even imagine that Germany might lose the war on the eastern front; more likely, Hitler seemed about to take Moscow, ending the continental ground conflict in Eurasia, and allowing him at last to finish off Great Britain. Britain’s fall, then, would mean that everything from India to Burma would soon be orphaned in the Pacific, and Japan would only have to deal with a vastly crippled and solitary United States. In short, for the Japanese, December 1941 seemed a good time to attack the United States — a provocation that would either likely be negotiated or end in a military defeat for the U.S.

II. The Russian Front — June 22, 1941

Q. Why did the Germans attack the Soviet Union so recklessly at a time when they had all but won the war?

A. Once more, what seems foolhardy to us may not have seemed so to Nazi Germany[3]. True, the Germans each month were receiving generously priced Soviet products, many on credit; but Hitler (wrongly) felt that he could nevertheless steal food, fuel, and raw materials from the east more cheaply than buying them. And while the Germans were paranoid about opening a two-front war — like the one that had plagued them between late 1914 and 1917 — Hitler argued that the western front was all but somnolent. British strategic bombing in 1941, remember, was still mostly erratic and ineffective.

In any case, Hitler was more paranoid about a British embargo and blockade that might cut off fuel and food in the manner of 1918; with the acquisition of the great natural reserves of the Soviet Union, especially its Caucasian oil, the Nazis believed that they would become immune from the effects of a maritime blockade.

In addition, the war was never intended to be entirely rational in the purely strategic sense; instead, it was seen also as a National Socialist ideological crusade in which the complete destruction or enslavement of Europe’s supposed Untermenschen was impossible without access to the huge populations of Jews and Slavs in Russia. To Hitler, Marxism was a Jewish perversity and Operation Barbarossa meant that he could kill two birds with one stone. The perverse notion that a Germany with 30% more territory and a population of 80 million — similar to its population today — still could not live without “Lebensraum” apparently appealed to many German elites who had visions of eastern estates and baronies, worked by serfs, with vacation trips on super-autobahns to the Crimean beaches — at least if all that cost only a month of war.

[........]There was no reason to believe that the United States would enter the war; if America had not declared war to aid Britain, it most certainly would not do so to save the communist Soviet Union.

Moreover, the German army had proved almost superhuman in its invasion of Poland and Western Europe; even the messy conflicts in the Balkans, Crete, and the recent deployments to North Africa had not slowed the Wehrmacht’s progress. Hitler, just to be sure, took no chances and assembled the largest invasion force the world had yet seen, over three million Germans and 500,000 allies. Operation Barbarossa was truly a multilateral effort, with contingents from most of Eastern Europe, Spain, and Italy joining the German effort. [......]Such technological superiority blinded Hitler to the reality that there were few modern roads in Russia, and most of the invasion would still be powered by horses, with inadequate air, train, and truck transport.

Still, in contrast to Germany’s string of successes, the Soviet Union’s recent military record was dismal. Stalin had liquidated many of the officer class (although not as large a percentage as was once thought). The Red Army had not performed well in carving up Poland in September 1939 and appeared almost incompetent in the early stages of the Soviet invasion of Finland in late 1939 (Hitler foolishly did not distinguish between the Red Army when fighting on home soil and when it was deployed abroad). [......] Given poor German intelligence about the quality and production of Russian artillery, tank (cf. the new T-34[4] that was about to go into full production), and aircraft, the Germans assumed that Russia would fall rather easily — relying on a comparative World War I calculus. France had held out for four years, while Russia had fallen in about three; thus, the next time around in 1940, France’s fall in about seven weeks suggested a Russian collapse in about four.

Japan, at war in the east with Russia during 1938-1939, had felt betrayed when its Axis partner had signed without warning the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, effectively ensuring the Soviets could focus on one front against the Japanese. A defeated Japan repaid the treachery in kind, by signing a similar neutrality pact with Russia in April 1941. That bargain assured Stalin, in turn, that the Soviets would have only a one-front war should Hitler break his agreements — a fact that might have saved Moscow as reinforcements from the east poured in.

In short, had Hitler maintained his pact with Stalin and focused instead on North Africa and the Persian Gulf oil fields, perhaps in conjunction with the Japanese advancing toward India and Suez, Great Britain would have probably lost the war. But by invading Russia, and declaring war on the United States on December 11 (when Army Group Center seemed on the verge of taking Moscow, when Japan seemingly had destroyed the Pacific fleet and had ensured both Britain and America a two-front war, and when U-boat commanders assured the Nazi high command that with free rein to attack the East Coast of the United States they could destroy the shipping lanes of the convoy system between North America and Great Britain), Hitler chose about the only two courses of action that could have lost him the war.

III. A Divided Korea?

Q. Why did the United States stop after spring 1951 at the 38th Parallel, thereby ensuring a subsequent sixty-year Cold War and resulting in chronic worries about a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons and poised to invade its neighbor to the south?

A. Americans were haunted by the nightmare of November 1950 to February 1951. After the brilliant Inchon invasion, and MacArthur’s inspired rapid advance to the Yalu River and the Chinese border, the sudden entrance of an initial quarter-million Chinese Red Army troops, with hundreds of thousands to follow, had sent the Americans reeling hundreds of miles to the south (in the longest retreat in American military history), back across the 38th Parallel, with Seoul soon being lost to the communists yet again. Matthew Ridgway had arrived in December 1950 to try to save the war, and had done just that by April 1951, when he was replaced as senior ground commander by Gen. Van Fleet and in turn took over the theater command from the relieved MacArthur. But the Americans had been permanently traumatized by the Chinese entry and the North Korean recovery after the all-but-declared American victory of October 1950.

Ridgway, after the UN forces’ amazing recovery in early 1951, was in no mood to go much farther across the 38th Parallel. From his study of MacArthur’s debacle in Fall 1950, he knew well that the peninsula in the north became more rugged and expansive and would swallow thousands of troops as they neared the Chinese and Russian borders, and had to be supplied from hundreds of miles to the rear. [.......]

Moreover, the UN coalition had been created under quasi-coercive premises in Fall 1950. The war was seen as about over, and allied deployment might well amount to only garrison duty. European participation in Korea was also predicated on ensuring an American commitment to keeping the Soviets out of Western Europe. But by the time UN troops arrived in Korea, the Chinese were invading and slaughtering the coalition in the retreat to the south. Most European participants simply wanted a truce at any cost and an end to the war.

Further, the U.S. had been drawn into a depressing propaganda war. We were responsible for rebirthing Japan, Italy, and Germany as pro-Western democracies, while Russian and Chinese communists posed as the true allies of the war’s victims that were continuing their war against fascism, against a capitalist American Empire that had joined the old Axis. In the case of Korea, Americans took over constabulary duties from Japanese militarists and supported South Korean authoritarians, while Soviet and Chinese-backed hardened communists in the North posed as agrarian reformers — or so the global leftist narrative went. [.......]

Was that stalemate wise, given the later trajectory of North Korea to the present insanity? Perhaps not — but the American effort nonetheless jumpstarted the South, which eventually evolved into a nation with consensual government and the world free-market powerhouse of today.

Lessons?

As historians we must remember not to evaluate what happened solely on the basis of what we now know in hindsight, but rather weigh the information available to the warring parties of the time — albeit with ample attention paid to their own shortcomings and prejudices.

Moreover, most blunders in war follow from the fruits of perceived success (e.g., Germany after victories in the West, Japan after sensing the colonial powers were all through in the Pacific, MacArthur after Inchon, the Chinese after successfully crossing into Korea, and perhaps even the United States in Iraq after the quick victory over the Taliban and the three-week disposal of Saddam Hussein’s regime), when the winning side rarely evaluates its ongoing success in terms of tactical means and strategic ends, the changing tides of war, and the advantages that will soon begin to accrue to the defenders. Few dared challenge the purported genius Hitler in 1941, or the supposedly all-knowing Isoroku Yamamoto in late 1941, or the brilliant MacArthur after Inchon.

Finally, no one can quite predict what will happen when the shooting starts, as even the past can be a deceptive guide. Hitler believed that the Czar’s Russians, who did not fight as stubbornly as the French in World War I, would collapse like the French did in June 1940. When the Chinese crossed the 38th Parallel, they did not anticipate that their communist supermen were subject to the same facts — long, vulnerable supply lines, bad weather, and an enemy with easier logistics — that had plagued the Americans on the way to the Yalu. And while Hitler may have had grounds to doubt the initial effectiveness of the U.S. Army, its sudden mobilization, and its inadequate equipment, he had no appreciation of lethal American fighter-bombers or a growing strategic bombing arm, no appreciation of the brilliance of American generals at the corps and division level, and no appreciation of what Henry Kaiser and Charles Sorensen were up to back in the United States.

Read the rest – War’s Paradoxes: From Pearl Harbor to the Russian Front to the 38th Parallel