Saturday, March 28, 2020

Japanese Hubris in WWII

In regard to Keegan's emphasis on chance.  It seems that Parshall & Tully's dealing so much from the standpoint of Japanese leadership diminishes the idea of chance playing a very important roll.  The hubris of Japanese leadership, the fact that they at the Battle of Midway had gone "all in" whereas the Americans were back home churning out another battle fleet much better than the one facing the Japanese at Midway (something the Americans could and did do many times over, but the Japanese fleet at Midway was all there was.  They never again had a battle fleet that could match the ones the Americans were turning out in abundance.  They never even tried to match them again.). 

If all the listings of chance had gone for the Japanese instead of the Americans they may have delayed the final defeat of the Japanese, but not by much. 

When a Japanese carrier was taken back to Japan for repair, it was most likely out for the entire war.  When an American carrier was taken back to Pearl Harbor for repair, that repair would take place so quickly it could sometimes be sent back to the same battle it had limped away from. 

Carriers were no good without planes, and the Americans shot almost all the Japanese planes down.  If I remember correctly, one last attempt by the Japanese to damage an American carrier at Midway occurred when all they could put in the air were 13 planes. 

I have been reading someplace that the mindset of the Japanese and Germans was similar.  Neither had an adequate battle plan.  The idea of the Germans imagining they could conquer the Red Army by chasing it over the Urals in winter on horseback can seem Quixotic if we don't focus on all the people dying.  We excuse the Japanese from folly because Yamamoto understood that American industrial resources would eventually wear the Japanese down, but he nevertheless underestimated the Americans to a fatal degree. 

Yamamoto made his name because of his "success" at pearl harbor, but he didn't manage to damage a single carrier, and his plan was to sink them all.  That isn't success.  Also, this attack at Pearl Harbor that had the Japanese cheering back home, had the effect of pissing the Americans off so that they transformed themselves on that day from a nation that was predominately isolationist to nation that was in a brief period to become the most powerful in the world.  If Yamamoto had left Pearl Harbor alone, it is unlikely that America would have gone to war against Japan.  America was counting on its embargoes, and it is true they were hampering Japans ability to conquer the Chinese.  So instead of finding another way, or even giving up the idea of conquering China, Yamamoto took the Japanese into a war he, we are told, knew the Japanese couldn't win. 

Yamamoto's poor battle plan at Midway condemned the Japanese to early defeat.

Yes, I recall reading in the past that if in both the Japanese and German portions of World War II things gone just a little more their way, that they could have won that war, but in the stuff I've been reading recently, I don't believe that was ever going to happen.  Neither the Japanese nor the Germans had the manpower nor the resources to win.  

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