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Unformatted text preview: Great Power Politics and War: Weeks 8-9, Sagan; “The Origins of the Pacific War” The Pacific War was part of WWII that took place in the Pacific Ocean (+ its islands) and East Asia from the 7 th of December 1941 – 14 th of August 1945 . Most famous event: The Empire of Japan attacked US forces at Pearl Harbour on the 7 th of December 1941 • Much speculation as to WHY they did it. • The American military potential > Japan ’s • People assumed the Tokyo Government was acting IRRATIONALLY; Congressman Hamilton Fish said “The Japanese have gone stark raving mad, and have by their unprovoked attack [on Pearl Harbor] committed military, naval and national suicide.” • But was it irrational? we need to explore this because “what appears irrational in the past can best illuminate the future that we seek to avoid” [e.g. nuclear war] – Scott Sagan . 1 st steps: Expansion and mutual Deterrent Bluffs: • 1937 : Japan started war against China (Plan to expand into Southeast Asia) Goal: “To perfect the joint defence against communism and to create a new culture nd realize a close economic cohesion throughtout East Asia” - Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, 1938 • Key target for Japanese expansion = Oil fields of the Dutch East Indies • They took advantage of the situation in June 1940 when:- Hitler achieved victories in Europe- The British were engaged in the “Battle of Britain” • They planned a surprise attack against British and Dutch colonies in the Far East:- the navy and army set up large-scale strategic map exercises in May 1940 to decide whether they could gain military occupation of the Dutch East Indies- These predicted a counterattack from the American Fleet at Pearl Harbor which would lead to (=>) a prolonged war between Japan and the USA- That would be bad because they imported 80% of their naval fuel supply from the 1 Great Power Politics and War: Weeks 8-9, Sagan; “The Origins of the Pacific War” USA . War => banned exports of petroleum- Even if they (somehow) managed to get oil from somewhere else, they were unlikely to survive in a war for > 1year. - The army said they’d make plans for the attack against the British and Dutch colonies and possibly the undesired war against the US- The navy refused to get involved unless it was clear that the US would not intervene militarily- How were they going to achieve this?...
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This note was uploaded on 04/22/2008 for the course POLI 244 taught by Professor Saideman during the Fall '07 term at McGill.
- Fall '07