Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Final Surrender

This is coolbert:

"lieutenants thing tactics, generals think logistics!"

Here is a review [mine] of a book review: [Thanks to the FrontPage web site]

"Eagles of the Ocean Sea"

By Christopher S. Carson.

The book being reviewed is:

"Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-1945" By Max Hastings.

Max Hastings, eminent historian, has detailed the final days of the Japanese Empire during World War Two [WW2].

The final days of the Japanese Empire in WW2 by definition is a subject much more complex than the surrender, unconditional, of Germany, during the same conflict. German territory was invaded, the German armies crushed, the will of the German populace to resist further broken. Victory as traditionally defined in warfare, but rarely achieved!! Victory over Japan in a manner NOT traditional. Land not invaded. Armies not defeated, will of the people to resist NOT broken.

According to Professor Hastings, the unconditional surrender of the Japanese during WW2 was primarily not due to:

* The dropping of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. [??!!]

* Entry of the Soviet Union into the Pacific war.

* Various defeats on land and sea suffered by the Japanese prior to and during 1945.

* Saturation and incendiary bombings of Japanese cities.

Rather - - instead - - consider the unconditional surrender of the Japanese during WW2 as being primarily due to:

The defeat and decision to surrender, unconditionally, by the Japanese was due to real, pragmatic concerns and a realization by the ruling militarists that without resupply from OVERSEAS, via merchant shipping, Japan COULD NOT CONTINUE FIGHTING AND WAS DOOMED TO DEFEAT!!

Japan was then [during WW2], as it is now, highly dependent upon the import of raw materials, including food! An import, that during the war, had been severely curtailed by the predation upon Japanese merchant shipping from American submarines. Submarine warfare primarily carried out by the Tambor class of submarine.


According to Hastings:

"Japan’s large population was massively dependent on imports from East Asia, most famously oil (in the Roosevelt Embargo of 1941 that some argue led to war with the United States), but also food, rubber, tin and nearly everything else. Without its merchant fleet, Japan—and its millions of soldiers gamely ensconced in China and the Western Pacific--was a husk of corn waiting to wither on the vine."

[I have repeated this a number of times and will repeat again. Roosevelt NEVER cut off the flow of OIL from the U.S. to Japan prior to Pearl Harbor. The supply of REFINED AVIATION GASOLINE WAS CURTAILED!! NOT the flow of raw, unrefined oil. Aviation gasoline not being sold to Japan subsequent to the Japanese saturation bombing of Chinese cities in earnest.]

"With the submariners’ destruction of the enemy merchant fleet, the vast forces increasingly arrayed behind Kyushu’s fortifications would surely have turned, in a matter of months, into ghosts, driven mad by hunger, thirst and incessant aerial bombings."

And it cannot be forgotten that an adjunct to the American submarine campaign was the dropping of naval mines in Japanese waters by B-29 bombers in Japanese home waters! This campaign of aerial destruction, Operation Starvation, as it was called, resulted in the sinking of whatever Japanese merchant fleet remained!

"In what was helpfully named Operation Starvation, their mission was to mine the waters around Japan with thousands of magnetic anti-ship bombs and acoustic fuses. For a time, these also had an extreme impact on the remainder of the enemy merchant marine."

An American submarine warfare campaign to a degree planned and prepared for prior to the outbreak of WW2. A campaign to which the Tambor class submarine played a crucial and defining role.

"the U.S. navy began to see the potential for extended offensive submarine operations. Submarine operations with the fleet required boats each with a large cruising radius and a relatively high speed so that they could intercept and stay with their prey."

A pelagic [deep-water], long-range submarine [Tambor class] that could be used as an offensive weapon, attacking enemy shipping far from home base.

The concept prior to WW2 was for the American submarine to act in a defensive role. A coastal hugger used defensively. American naval planners did conceive of an OFFENSIVE ROLE for the U.S. submarine force in case of a war with Japan, carrying the fight to the enemy in the home waters of Japan!! Large, long range vessels with offense in mind, not defense. Such a submarine was the Tambor class of vessels.

"Only 1.6 percent of the US wartime Navy, or 16,000 men, served in its submarines. But this small, brave and hyper-competent elite brought 55 percent of all Japan’s shipping to the bottom of the Pacific. This translated to 1,300 vessels, or 6.1 million tons of merchant and naval shipping—a ravaging of unprecedented proportions and probably the true death-knell of the Japanese Empire."

"The US submarine war’s real period of effectiveness was relatively short in duration, perhaps only one year, but this was not by design. While the 1,500 [ton] Tambor class sub was the best in the world, with its priceless (to the crews) air-conditioning and its range of 10,000 miles, plus an ability to crash-dive in 35 seconds . . . the Tambor became a war-winning weapon, driving Japan’s bulk imports down by 40 percent in 1944 alone."

An American submarine campaign, however, that was NOT without heavy loss:

"The hard fact is that a whopping 22 percent of all American sailors who fought in Pacific submarines died from combat and accident, or 375 officers and 3,131 enlisted men. As Hastings points out, this was the 'highest loss rate of any branch of the wartime US armed services.'"

I would stress that the Japanese prior to the dropping of the atomic bombs WERE considering surrender. The term "surrender" being very loosely defined. More of a cessation to hostilities. A negotiated surrender with conditions - - terms, etc. Terms that would not have been accepted by the allies.

"At no time did any member of the ruling military-dominated junta, however vocal in his desire for negotiations with the Americans, seriously propose anything resembling something the Allies could accept. After four years of appalling Allied combat casualties and national mobilization, the Allies could hardly be expected to sign off on a cessation of hostilities that allowed the ruling gangsters to remain in power, immune from war crimes prosecution, and still holding on to its dreadfully denuded and ill-gotten Manchuria."

Conditional cessation of hostilities [not even surrender?] would have consisted of:

* Ruling Japanese militarists left in power. [no war crimes trials either or punishment for perpetrators thereof!]

* Japanese military left intact to the extent it still existed.

* Overseas possessions and colonies still under Japanese control [Korea, Formosa, Paracels, Dagalet]

And - - it should not be forgotten that - - something less than unconditional surrender would have prolonged the duration of the war with disastrous consequences for millions of ASIANS and also the hundreds of thousands [excess of 300,000?] allied POW and civilian internees still being held in captivity by the Japanese! MOST OF THOSE INTERNEES WERE ON THEIR LAST LEGS AND WOULD HAVE DIED IF THE JAPANESE HAD NOT SURRENDERED WHEN THEY DID AND IN THE MANNER WITH WHICH THEY DID!!

The submarine campaign against Japan, as successful as it was, has lessons that can be used in the current anti-terrorist war, the focus of which is the Al Qaeda group of villains?

"The point is not to expect the enemy’s will to be broken, but to seek his fighting ability to be broken. This was done by the American submariners to a superlative degree in the final year of the war. In our current fight against al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism, our war planners would do well to keep this lesson in mind. It is not that we can persuade the terrorists to give up, or to like us, or any such na├»ve dream. We must erase what fuels them—their money sources, and their sources of materiel, and their dependency on electronic communications. Do all these, and you keep Manhattan another day." [and keep up this pressure relentlessly, without let, unceasingly, as long as it takes, NO pity shown at all!!!]

"The obvious lesson of the Pacific War, implicitly proffered by Mr. Hastings, is to find your enemy’s weak spot and crush it with everything you have."

The Japanese were brought to their knees by the American submarine offensive - - the final coup de grace to end the war being the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Makes sense to me.

"Hit him as fast as you can, where it hurts him the most, and when he ain't lookin'!!" - - the principles of war, as enunciated by a British Sergeant Major to a then Cadet William Slim.


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