Japan’s defeat was inevitable as soon as the bombs began falling on Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese didn’t understand America. They interpreted America’s previous efforts to compromise as being examples of a democracy’s inability to wage a war. The leadership of Japan truly believed that once they had destroyed the American fleet and established their defensive zone, America would decide that dislodging the Empire of the Rising Sun was too expensive and would meekly acquiese to Japanese domination of the Pacific.

Tellingly, Admiral Yamamoto had studied in America (Chicago, if I am not mistaken), and he pled with his superiors not to send him to Pearl Harbor. He told them that he would sink the American fleet, run rampant in the Pacific for eighteen months, and then the awakened giant would “grind us to dust.” He was prescient except for the eighteen months part - we stopped the advance of the Japanese Empire at the Coral Sea half a year later.

America’s industry dwarfed Japan’s. A statistic I give to my kids is that at the beginning of the war, Japan had six fleet carriers (largely built from American steel) and America had two. After Pearl Harbor, Japan never built another carrier and America built 29 Essex class fleet carriers. Plus hundreds of smaller escort carriers.

When told of Pearl Harbor, Churchill (apocrophally? Maximum Leader?) smiled and said “Now we’ve won.”


A friend of mine wrote a college paper on this topic. His original title was, “We so sorry.” While I think there is some room to argue on the predestined outcome of the Civil War (not much, but some) there is very little for this one. Curiously, the Japanese hope was similar to the Confederate one. It seems that the Japanese hoped to present the Americans with a fait accompli in the Western Pacific, and get a negotiated peace. The confederates hoped that battlefield victories would tire the North, to the point where they would accept a negotiated peace.

What the failed to consider is that sneak attacking what might be the most self righteous nation in the world is less than clever. My favorite quote from the war was Raymond Spruance, who is supposed to have said on the way to Midway, “When we’re through, the only place the Japanese language will be spoken is in Hell.”

So far as I know, the quote from Churchill is true.

quasimodo said:

Today however, is a different story. If they attack today, their plans might just work.

AirMarshall said:

I agree with everything in the post for the most part. I only meant to point out that there are parallels between the points made in your essay on the Civil war, and Japans loss to the US in the Pacific.

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