Your RDA of Irony

Your RDA of Infamy

December 7, 1941:  A Date Which Will Embarrass Sony

So, why did Japan attack America?  Was it vengeance for “Madame Butterfly”?  While that attack certainly would have been justified–how dare that tenor cad Lieutenant Pinkerton abandon his devoted, pregnant geisha–Japan would have had just as much reason to attack Italy.  Imagine 300 Japanese planes bombing La Scala; the problem would be scheduling the attack for the right opera.  The strategy only works for “Madame Butterfly.”  An attack during a performance of “Aida” might not even be noticed; the Japanese bombers would be upstaged by the parade of elephants.  The bombing of “Turandot” might be considered a welcome and light-hearted distraction for the public.  (Puccini died before finishing “Turandot”, and so usually does the audience.)

Japan really was outraged by the Immigration Act of 1924, which completely banned further entry to America by any Asians.  The Japanese agreed that the Chinese, Filipinos, Indians and the rest were inferior; but seeing themselves as the rightful masters of Asia,  the Japanese expected more deferential treatment.  Yet, that affront to Japanese dignity, while not forgotten, did not incite the war with America.

No, the reason for attacking Pearl Harbor was to conquer Indonesia.  Rube Goldberg could have been a samurai tactician.  To conquer China, Japan needed gasoline.  Indonesia–then known as the Dutch East Indies–was the closest source of petroleum in Asia.  Rather than haggle over petroleum exports, the Japanese simply preferred to seize the entire Dutch colony.  But the Netherlands were allied to Britain, and the British base in Singapore offered substantial protection to the Dutch East Indies.  So Singapore would have to be taken before Japan could secure the Dutch East Indies and its oil fields.  War with Britain was inevitable.  (If only those damn oil fields had been in French Indo-China, its colonial administrators were collaborating with the Germans and would also have accommodated the Japanese.)  But Britain was allied to the United States, and so a war with America would seem inevitable.  But a fair fight against the American giant was impossible; besides the Samurai Code really did not require fairness or even a declaration of war.  So Japanese would launch a surprise attack on the American bases in the Pacific, in order to attack Singapore, in order to seize the Dutch East Indies, in order to keep slaughtering the Chinese.

And the Japanese plan worked.  However, the Japanese may have underestimated how the Americans would respond.  In hindsight, bombing La Scala would have been wiser.

And from the archives, another event on this day:

  1. Leah says:

    Hope you’re catching the “Why We Fight” series on TCM today. I don’t think anyone making the case for combat has made such clear and straightforward explanations (or had the clear thinking behind them) since.

  2. Rothgar says:

    Ohio Goziemus

    In the RDA of Irony department, today the Japanese have greater control of those same resources as they’d planned to gain militarily in 1941. Proves the check book is mightier than the sword. I am not sure the full implications of that statement yet but it scares me.

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