Author Topic: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack  (Read 6378 times)

Offline Volkodav

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2015, 10:19:40 PM »
This topic is intriguing, I am enjoying it already but really looking forward to how it progresses.  Basically as I understand it pretty much everyone saw a war between Japan and the US as inevitable, the real question was when rather than if.  The real issue was justifying entering the European conflict, there was political will but not public support.

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2015, 01:38:03 AM »
Basically as I understand it pretty much everyone saw a war between Japan and the US as inevitable, the real question was when rather than if.


I think that depends on your perspective. US policy regarding trade sanctions on Japan due to their aggression meant that Japan would need to acquire those resources by other means if they wanted to continue to expand. Since Japan considered the loss of face that would come from ceasing hostilities against China and to be unacceptable, they determined that a global war which they would inevitably lose to be their only option.

As an American, I can see parallels with the nascent US's own war of blatant aggression, the War of 1812. Deciding their honor had been besmirched by the impressment of its sailors and the overt military aid Britain was providing to the Native Americans that the United States was fighting in its own war of territorial expansion. With its own inflated sense of invincibility and self-importance, the US invaded the colonies of its transoceanic imperial rival and it just so happens they didn't want to be "liberated", either. Declaring war on a militarily and economically superior enemy eventually resulted in the invasion of the United States and the burning of Washington. We deserved that. After that, though, many of the parallels start to break down.



Now, obviously, there was another option. The Japanese could have taken the loss of face, stop expanding their empire, and sit out WWII. They'd have come out intact on the other side and been in a good position to exploit the power vacuum that the region would experience during the Chinese Civil War. With hindsight, this certainly seems to be best of the bad options available to Japan in 1941. The UK, France, and Israel were given a similar ultimatum in 1957 after Suez. In that case, they decided to cut their losses and not exacerbate their economic woes by declaring war against an economically superior enemy to maintain their empires or continue a policy of territorial expansion.

Sometimes, even world powers get put in a "no win" situation, but their decisions in those situations can have a major impact on just how much they lose. In the case of Japan in WWII, she lost almost everything. That was her choice. There were other options. Were they good options? No, none of them were. Were any of them better than the one Japan's leaders went with? Most certainly.

Too often, when the Japanese talk about WWII, they act as if the US forced Japan into declaring war on them. I disagree completely with that. By eliminating the peaceful option that would result in a loss of face, Japan's leaders artificially limited the choices available to them. They have to take responsibility for that, not the US.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Rickshaw

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2015, 08:15:53 AM »
An interesting analysis, Logan.  However, you're assuming that the Japanese (at the time) thought like Westerners and that "face" was a concept they could just forget about, if the situation called for it.  I'm much less willing to accept that.  The Japanese militarists were victims of their own society's unyielding adherence to the issue of "honour" and hence "face".   While I agree it was ludicrous to attack the Western powers, you must also remember the Western powers had set the Japanese on that path through it's own imperialists ambitions and then particularly with it's imposition of an oil blockade against the Japanese economy.

We saw a similar things when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1989 and threatened, not so much the US's supply of oil as Japan's and Europe's, the major trading partners of the US.  The US reacted in a similar manner to the Japanese in 1941 - they created a situation where the outcome was going to be war.  Saddam could have backed down, should have backed down but didn't because of "face".   We know the result of that.

The combination of Militarism, state Shinto and the Japanese character (at the time) all contributed to their decision to go to war against the USA.  You cannot wish all those factors away, Logan.  The Japanese weren't going to change overnight from an expansionist Empire into a non-expansionist one.  They had the Western "way" displayed to them, they were following it.

Offline jcf

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #18 on: September 03, 2015, 08:58:36 AM »
"Too often, when the Japanese talk about WWII," ... uh that should be "when some Japanese".


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And we, till now unmatched in ill,
Must leave successors more corrupted still."
Horace, 65BC - 8BC. Marsh translation.

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2015, 09:16:50 AM »
An interesting analysis, Logan.  However, you're assuming that the Japanese (at the time) thought like Westerners and that "face" was a concept they could just forget about, if the situation called for it.  I'm much less willing to accept that.  The Japanese militarists were victims of their own society's unyielding adherence to the issue of "honour" and hence "face".   While I agree it was ludicrous to attack the Western powers, you must also remember the Western powers had set the Japanese on that path through it's own imperialists ambitions and then particularly with it's imposition of an oil blockade against the Japanese economy.

Oh, absolutely, and I agree completely. That's what I was trying to say. Even today, many East Asian cultures are still shame-based in a way those of us inculcated in Western culture can never truly appreciate. It wasn't an option that was given any serious consideration by those in power, I'm sure, but it was an option.

"Too often, when the Japanese talk about WWII," ... uh that should be "when some Japanese".

Very true. Mea culpa.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline Alvis 3.1

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2015, 01:02:32 PM »
I don't see the loss of the two carriers themselves to be a huge difference, and if they had been in port that Sunday, many of their aviators may have been ashore, or able to easily escape a ship sunk in the harbor. Where the problem occurs would be if given the whereabouts of the carriers being certain (on fire in Pearl), the Japanese strike force most likely would have done their third wave, which most likely would have targeted the oil tank farms.
That would have been a logistical problem for the US, and likely would have led to some serious setbacks early in the war. Again, in the long run, the US would have prevailed due to their massive industrial capacity, but where would it have left Australia? Would Oz have come under more determined and far reaching attacks, would New Guinea have fallen, would the battle of the Coral Sea have gone decidedly to the Japan?
The oil was of far greater importance to the US, ironically the Japanese didn't seem to realise this, as their view was that the US was awash in it, while they were being starved of fuel for their fleet.

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Offline taiidantomcat

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2015, 09:28:14 AM »
Basically as I understand it pretty much everyone saw a war between Japan and the US as inevitable, the real question was when rather than if.


I think that depends on your perspective. US policy regarding trade sanctions on Japan due to their aggression meant that Japan would need to acquire those resources by other means if they wanted to continue to expand. Since Japan considered the loss of face that would come from ceasing hostilities against China and to be unacceptable, they determined that a global war which they would inevitably lose to be their only option.

As an American, I can see parallels with the nascent US's own war of blatant aggression, the War of 1812. Deciding their honor had been besmirched by the impressment of its sailors and the overt military aid Britain was providing to the Native Americans that the United States was fighting in its own war of territorial expansion. With its own inflated sense of invincibility and self-importance, the US invaded the colonies of its transoceanic imperial rival and it just so happens they didn't want to be "liberated", either. Declaring war on a militarily and economically superior enemy eventually resulted in the invasion of the United States and the burning of Washington. We deserved that. After that, though, many of the parallels start to break down.



Now, obviously, there was another option. The Japanese could have taken the loss of face, stop expanding their empire, and sit out WWII. They'd have come out intact on the other side and been in a good position to exploit the power vacuum that the region would experience during the Chinese Civil War. With hindsight, this certainly seems to be best of the bad options available to Japan in 1941. The UK, France, and Israel were given a similar ultimatum in 1957 after Suez. In that case, they decided to cut their losses and not exacerbate their economic woes by declaring war against an economically superior enemy to maintain their empires or continue a policy of territorial expansion.

Sometimes, even world powers get put in a "no win" situation, but their decisions in those situations can have a major impact on just how much they lose. In the case of Japan in WWII, she lost almost everything. That was her choice. There were other options. Were they good options? No, none of them were. Were any of them better than the one Japan's leaders went with? Most certainly.

Too often, when the Japanese talk about WWII, they act as if the US forced Japan into declaring war on them. I disagree completely with that. By eliminating the peaceful option that would result in a loss of face, Japan's leaders artificially limited the choices available to them. They have to take responsibility for that, not the US.

Cheers,

Logan


An interesting analysis, Logan.  However, you're assuming that the Japanese (at the time) thought like Westerners and that "face" was a concept they could just forget about, if the situation called for it.  I'm much less willing to accept that.  The Japanese militarists were victims of their own society's unyielding adherence to the issue of "honour" and hence "face".   While I agree it was ludicrous to attack the Western powers, you must also remember the Western powers had set the Japanese on that path through it's own imperialists ambitions and then particularly with it's imposition of an oil blockade against the Japanese economy.

We saw a similar things when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1989 and threatened, not so much the US's supply of oil as Japan's and Europe's, the major trading partners of the US.  The US reacted in a similar manner to the Japanese in 1941 - they created a situation where the outcome was going to be war.  Saddam could have backed down, should have backed down but didn't because of "face".   We know the result of that.

The combination of Militarism, state Shinto and the Japanese character (at the time) all contributed to their decision to go to war against the USA.  You cannot wish all those factors away, Logan.  The Japanese weren't going to change overnight from an expansionist Empire into a non-expansionist one.  They had the Western "way" displayed to them, they were following it.


Just want to add

I was just reading about this in Fire in The Sky The author pointed out that the West was on the ropes in 1941, and Japan saw an opportunity. I think that also plays a part, there was an opportunity there that was wholly new.  The west was losing, Russia was losing, The holdings in the Pacific were there for the taking. and hell the first 6 months went great for Japan.
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Offline Rickshaw

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #22 on: October 03, 2015, 10:23:15 AM »
Just want to add

I was just reading about this in Fire in The Sky The author pointed out that the West was on the ropes in 1941, and Japan saw an opportunity. I think that also plays a part, there was an opportunity there that was wholly new.  The west was losing, Russia was losing, The holdings in the Pacific were there for the taking. and hell the first 6 months went great for Japan.

All very true.  It wasn't that the Japanese were particularly good at warfare, they were just better than the forces that faced them in the first 18 months of the war in the Pacific (exception, the Australian Army AIF and to a lesser extent the Militia).  Once the West became organised and was able to devote sufficient resources to hold them and then defeat them strategically, the Japanese were toast.   Until early 1942, all they faced were understrength, poorly led and all too often colonial troops and they cut through them, easily.  The West's forces were victims of their own propaganda as much as they were victims of the Japanese forces.   Once the resolve of the troops was improved and they were provided with the resources killing Japanese became "fun" and was apparently easily accomplished (at one point, one Australian unit refused to be relieved from operations at the front because they were having too much "fun").  The West's forces believed the Jungle was "impenetrable" and that the Japanese were "invincible".   Once those lies were exposed, the West's forces reacted much better.  The Japanese resorted increasingly to "Banzai!" Attacks and were mown down by much greater Allied firepower.

Offline MaxHeadroom

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2015, 01:46:24 AM »
To Logan Hartge:

Germany and Italy were forced to declare war to the USA because of the axis-treaty between Berlin, Rome and Tokyo.

Norbert
« Last Edit: December 16, 2015, 03:11:47 AM by MaxHeadroom »

Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2015, 02:50:57 AM »
Not as I understand it, Norbert. If the US attacked Japan, sure, but not if Japan attacked the US. Ribbentrop's interpretation of the Tripartite Pact seems to agree with this.

Quote
According to the terms of their agreements, Germany was obliged to come to the aid of Japan if a third country attacked Japan, but not if Japan attacked a third country. Ribbentrop reminded Hitler of this, and pointed out that to declare war against the US would add to the number of enemies Germany was fighting against, but Hitler dismissed this concern as not being important, and, almost entirely without consultation, chose to and declare war against the US, wanting to do so before, he thought, Roosevelt would declare war on Germany.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_declaration_of_war_against_the_United_States_(1941)#Background

It is for that reason that Japan didn't feel obligated to declare war on the USSR when Germany declared war on it, despite being a member of the Tripartite Pact.

Besides, it's not like being part of a treaty was actually an obligation for Hitler, especially given the precedent Japan had set. I don't think we really need to list all the treaties Hitler broke in his quest for world domination. Germany declared war on the US because Hitler wanted to.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline MaxHeadroom

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #25 on: December 16, 2015, 03:16:13 AM »
Nazigermany never declared war to the Soviet Union, it was an assault.
Same to Japan, it didn't declare war to the USA, but the day after the USA declares war to Japan... so Nazigermany and faschist Italy were "forced" because of the terms of the treaty.

Norbert

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #26 on: December 16, 2015, 03:24:09 AM »
I believe the decision of Hitler to declare war on the USA was field by numerous reasons and that the Tripartite Pact was only one aspect.  For the reports/analysis I have read it certainly wasn't the predominant reason.  I also don't think Germany (or more rightly Hitler here) would have felt forced to do so by the terms of the pact.  Other reasons might have
forced' him though.
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Offline Logan Hartke

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #27 on: December 16, 2015, 03:33:56 AM »
Nazigermany never declared war to the Soviet Union, it was an assault.
Same to Japan, it didn't declare war to the USA, but the day after the USA declares war to Japan... so Nazigermany and faschist Italy were "forced" because of the terms of the treaty.

Those were both actually timed declarations of war. Neither country was given advance warning, but formal declarations of war were still given to them at the time of attack. I don't say that to justify the actions of Germany and Japan—far from it—but they still declared war, so the original statement isn't wrong. Again, though, the fact that it was an offensive action, not a defensive one, meant that Germany and Italy weren't obligated to declare war on the US, just as Japan wasn't obligated to declare war on the USSR five months earlier.

Cheers,

Logan

Offline jcf

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #28 on: December 16, 2015, 03:43:04 AM »
Forced? Umm, no, how was Japan going to force Germany to declare war on the US?
Through what mechanism? By declaring war on Germany?
 :-X

Sorry, but none of the various pacts made before either of the World Wars had any ability to force
anyone to do anything, all the 'honoring our agreements' bullshit was just making excuses for doing
what some of those bloody-minded assholes wanted to do all along.
"Evil our grandsires were, our fathers worse;
And we, till now unmatched in ill,
Must leave successors more corrupted still."
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: US Carriers Sunk in Pearl Harbour Attack
« Reply #29 on: December 16, 2015, 02:20:36 PM »
I think there may be another topic somewhere this may fit in but could Japan have offered to go to war against Germany after the fall of western Europe, in exchange for the UK and perhaps the Dutch East Indies, breaking the US embargos?  Could Japan have offered more to the UK than the US?

Back to the original topic, if there were no (or fewer) US carriers in the Pacific in 1942 then the New Guinea campaign could have been quite different.  As I mentioned in another topic, the Australian reaction to the raids on Darwin from 19 February 1942 was to concentrate on the defence of Darwin to the detriment of Port Moresby, the saving grace for new Guinea being the availability of US carrier based aircraft to back up the single RAAF squadron.  No carriers, no help for Port Moresby and possibly a successful sea borne invasion, or at least less support for the defenders fighting along the Kokoda Track. 

The pacific campaign was a close run thing in the early months with Japan proving to have not quite enough resources to fight US and the Commonwealth across multiple fronts.  No US carriers could have seen the fall of New guinea, no ongoing fighting in New guinea would give them a better chance in Guadalcanal, this could have allowed them to better isolate Australia.

Overall effect I don't know but Japans entry into the war did see the withdrawal of Australian land forces from the Middle East and ensured they played no part in Italy or Western Europe, while once US forces were fully mobilised in the Pacific, US policy saw Australia perhaps playing a far less prominent role than they would have say in France.  No US carriers would have perhaps seen a more prominent role for Australia in the Pacific.