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Thread: Japan's war interests whom?

  1. #121
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Japan's war interests whom?

    Please help me understand your fascinating thought processes on the following:

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    Only in your imagination. I was talking about the Axis countries; specifically Germany and Japan. You included Hitler in the equation, not I, and my contention has nothing to do with Hitler or his relationship to his military officers.
    Well, it's been obvious to me since we started that you neither know what you are talking about, nor understand what is meant by "strategy". You keep saying Hitler was "bluffing" or was a "gambler" or similar dismissive adjectives, but that doesn't really address whether he was following a strategy. And my contention really doesn't involve Hitler; I'm talking about Germany as a country.
    Detailed plans to invade France? No, none existed to my knowledge before the fall of 1939. But yes, there were certainly plans for war with France as early as 1935 (Fall Rot, or Case Red). And no, Hitler didn't ignore Germany's strategic planning, he drove it.
    It seems when it suits your arguments, you're not really talking about "Hitler," but of the "strategy" of greater Germany. But then you state that, "Hitler didn't ignore Germany's strategic planning, he drove it." That's a rather fascinating contradiction that seems to be a bit of a self-serving intellectual undulation. If Hitler "drove (presumably German) strategy," then how can your "contention" "(not) involve Hitler?" Secondly, YOU mentioned Hitler by name in this discussion long before I did, in a retort to Rising Sun*. Thirdly, if Hitler didn't have a real war plan for a "quick and decisive" victory over the French (and ultimately the British) knowing they were going to declare war on Germany, then how could he have had a "coherent" strategy?

    Tooze writes, in his "preface," using some of the same "dismissive adjectives" several times:

    “The devastating effectiveness of the panzer forces, the deux ex machina of the early years of the war, certainly did not form the basis for strategy in advance of the summer of 1940, since it came as a surprise even to the German leadership...We are thus left with the truly vertiginous that Hitler went to war in September of 1939 without any coherent plan as to how actually to defeat the British Empire, his major antagonist.

    Why did Hitler take this epic gamble?...Hitler's conduct of the war involved risks so great that they defy rationalization in terms of pragmatic self-interest.”

    --Wages of Destruction, p. xxv

    Not as simple as that. I refer you to "The Wages of Destruction", page 333, "Since the Spring of 1939, at the latest...
    Yes. In fact, I recall another instance in the book where Hitler thought that time wasn't really on Germany's side as early as 1933 and 1936 with Hitler giving no specific indication as to when it might be time to launch a war. Germany was worried about long term economic viability and it is true that a long war of attrition was actually part of Allied strategy during the Phony War. We'll look at a few other things Tooze states to clarify the above in this and in following posts...

    Germany may not have been militarily ready for war, but waiting wasn't going to improve that situation; Germany's economy was shaky and delay on ly played into the hands of the United States.
    The above was Hitler's (mainly ideological) perception and the result of his aggressive, belligerent foreign policy as much as as anything else. This hastened his self-fulfilling prediction of an epic clash between a German-Unified Europe and the United States, one supposedly dominated by 'Jewish interests,' and turned it into a self-fulfilling prophecy in accordance with his conspiratorial Nazi ideology. However, Hitler was actually fighting against globalization of foreign economies and interdependence as much as he was inherent Allied economic superiority. Tooze states that Hitler made a conscious choice to continue the emphasis on rearmament in the late 1930s rather than switching things over to consumer production and exports in order to gain market share...

    So either Germany had a strategy or it didn't; which is it? I'm tired of listening to you blow hot and cold on that issue.
    And I'm tired of listening to you rephrase or bastardize my arguments into something I never actually said. In any case, I've already answered that. But that's a tough nut to crack due to your apparent unwillingness to decipher the different categories of strategy as evidenced with your prior exchanged with Rising Sun*...

    So you're saying strategy has to be set in stone and followed rigidly no matter how conditions might change? Otherwise it can't be considered a strategy?
    No. I've said Hitler had no actual military planning that in anyway legitimized his strategy, and that you've repeated many of the myths Tooze himself goes to great lengths to debunk regarding the typical “quick war” assertions and Germany’s premeditated ability and intentions to carry one out. Hitler wanted to win a quick war like most people want to win the lottery. So what? His policies prior to 1940 did little to actually achieve that.

    That, in itself, is a strategy; testing the will of one's opponent makes a lot of sense in certain circumstances. So, yes, that was a strategy that was both political and military.
    Political? perhaps. Military? hardly.

    Well, not really. My quote demonstrated that no general ever really believes his forces are ready for battle. That feeling isn't unique to Hitler. I believe Marshall also said something similar and Eisenhower also voiced similar sentiments. your citation doesn't demonstrate anything except that Hitler's troops didn't think much of him.
    Actually my quote demonstrates that his generals thought Hitler was an incompetent ****wit that would quite possibly cause the downfall of Germany --and they were correct in the end. Marshall may have said something similar, but ironically it was Marshall that wanted to land Allied troops onto the Continent prematurely in 1942...

    Ok, how about "Wages of Destruction", pages 333-334; "Given the constellation of 1939, even with the support of the Soviet trade deal, Hitler had no interest in fighting a protracted war. Everything depended on winning a decisive victory in the West at the earliest possible opportunity."

    Your problem is you really have no idea what was going on in Germany in 1938-39 and are focused exclusively on military war planning, not overall strategy which included political, economic, and military considerations.
    I’ve done nothing but speak of overall strategy! Tooze goes a long way to discuss that there was no unified "coherent strategic synthesis" (p. 371) in Germany and contradicts the very premise you’re supposedly attributing to him in your basic misunderstandings. And didn't you nihilistically state that "strategy is strategy" in the aforementioned previous exchange with RS*? Why separate strategy into subcategories now? Really? At least attempt consistency in your arguments…


    On this, Tooze writes (p.372):

    “...what is most characteristic of Hitler's is the lack of of any clear strategic rationale, the lack of a realistic vision of the war Germany might actually expect to fight. The Gigantic armaments plans of 1936 and 1938 were certainly not premised on any clear-sighted anticipation of the Blitzkrieg...Hitler's rearmament drive Amidst the procurement crisis of the summer of 1939, it is hard to discern any coherent strategy at all.”

    And what you don't seem to realize that by the mid-1940's, Germany, militarily and economically, would be so far behind the Anglo-American coalition that it would have been impossible to wage any kind of warfare at all. Hitler did understand that.
    In 1939, there really wasn't much of an "Anglo-American coalition" although Hitler’s actions went a long way towards forging one…

    Detailed plans to invade France? No, none existed to my knowledge before the fall of 1939. But yes, there were certainly plans for war with France as early as 1935 (Fall Rot, or Case Red). And no, Hitler didn't ignore Germany's strategic planning, he drove it.
    No, not "detailed" plans. No plans to invade France whatsoever --outside of fantasy or speculations. The 1935 version of "Fall Rot/Fall Blau" were strictly defensive contingency plans not to be confused with the 1940 Fall Rot to consolidate Fall Gelb...

    You don't need a detailed plan for war in order to have a strategy of pursuing only short wars for limited objectives.
    Really? Then why did the Germans bother spending months forging Fall Gelb/Rot to the last detail. In fact, it had to be extremely detailed. The Battle for France featuring up until then the largest tank battle in history, upwards of 200,000 battle deaths, and the near complete subjugation of a major European power could hardly be called “limited”..

    So what? The German economy couldn't sustain a long war regardless of the disparity in birthrates between Germany and France
    Well, since the German leadership felt they had little alternative prior to the late Winter of 1940, evidently they were prepared for that eventuality as their initial invasion that Hitler was clamoring for in Oct.-Nov. of 1939 would have resulted in at best a stalemate, and probably strategic defeat. You simply cannot argue that Hitler had a coherent strategy for a quick and decisive war when if he had actually had his way, Germany would have fought anything but..
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 10-11-2010 at 08:34 PM.

  2. #122
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    Default Re: Japan's war interests whom?

    I disagree. You are focusing on a single issue among dozens. The air war in the Battle of France was important but not the sole decisive factor, and certainly not indicative of relative economic strengths. The Germans defeated the French by getting inside their decision cycle and initiating successive battles before the French could respond; that has nothing to do with economics.
    Disagreeing with what? I'm providing an example of at least one decisive advantage the Germans had over the West. It certainly wasn't the sole decisive factor, but the breakthrough at the Sedan was in no small part enabled by the Luftwaffe. And France's Armée de l'Air inability to destroy the vulnerable traffic jam of Heer vehicles in the Ardennes were no small factors in the Battle...
    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    Actually, that's incorrect. Britain's economy was in far better shape than Germany's, and was, by 1940, out producing Germany in aircraft and ships. The British economy supported a Navy that was actually, by the end of 1939, strangling Germany's ability to import materials crucial to Germany's war production, while Germany could hardly scratch Britain's ability to import crucial materials. If that wasn't a significant threat to Germany, I don't know what was. Britain's manpower "disadvantage" had no real significance since Britain had no intention of challenging Germany on the continent, and German had no means of projecting it's manpower beyond Continental shores. If you really had studied the European war as much as you like to pretend, you'd realize that naval power trumps land power any day.
    The British economy was also struggling to rearm and equip an Army that was essentially being reconstituted from scratch equipment-wise, and of course was producing more aircraft as the Luftwaffe started out with more, and had more modern types and wasn't beset by flying-coffins such as the Fairy Battle. Whether Britain's economy in better shape in 1939 or 1940 doesn't really matter as Germany now controlled the continent and was able to now pilfer resources from France, the Low Countries, Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc. Barbarossa, budding American support in 1940 after the shock of the defeat of France, and Pearl Harbor were the important factors here. Britain certainly had an interest in "staying on the continent" as evidenced by many of her actions following the ejection from France.

    Britain could no longer challenge the Germans in Europe; it was not that she had "no interest" in doing so. There's a difference! Both the Kreigsmarine and Luftwaffe were waging an effective naval air-sea war of her own, though whether they would have been decisive enough to actually "starve Britain" in the long run is another matter. I agree the Kreigsmarine wouldn't, even with her Italian Allies and even if she had hypothetically seized what remained of the French fleet, been able to have challenged the Royal Navy directly for some time. But I think you'd have a hard time finding any sort of historian that would contend that Britain would have held out indefinitely without huge numbers of the German men and machines tied down in the inner recesses of the Soviet state--and without U.S. production of shipping, planes, tanks and the "Anglo-American Alliance" that Hitler so feared, yet made inevitable by his own actions...

  3. #123
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    Default Re: Japan's war interests whom?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    You're kidding? You read the forward while talking to "the girls" at the bookstore? Actually, there is a preface, and an introduction, but no forward in "Wages of Destruction". I thought maybe you'd at least read the Cliff's Notes version. Makes me wonder what are the other books in which you've read the forward?

    I suggest you read the whole book before telling me what Tooze does or doesn't say.
    And I suggest that you reread Tooze, including the preface and chapter II. Because you've obviously either missed a good deal of what he was saying; or you misrepresented specific parts of his text pertinent to the discussion in order to "win-an-argument-on-the-internet." I’m seriously wondering WTF you were reading at all!

    For all your talk of "strategy" here, you seem to have either missed,or ignored, that Tooze goes a long way to state that Germany had no "strategic synthesis" of Blitzkrieg in the beginning of the Victory in the West - Sieg im Westen chapter. That is to say that there was no set plan of economic plan of production, military planning, nor a "coherent" geopolitical outlook prior to February of 1940 (the very date I actually posted here WITHOUT reading Tooze substantially) He also states that indeed Hitler was an 'epic gamble(r)' and refers to Hitler's 'gambles' numerous times in his text, using the same "adjective" you were so critical of me for using. You specifically seem to go a long way towards perpetrating the same "Blitzkrieg" strategic planning legends that Tooze goes a long way to dispel and seem to confuse the the fact that while Hitler may have had some sound reasons as to why he pushed for war against the Allies so early, he had no actual plans to conduct one and the "strategic synthesis" was more or less a myth used by both the Allies and Axis. For the French and British, it was a way to explain away their military incompetence in 1940, and the Germans enjoyed a mythic status of near invincibility. A notion that would lead to the seeds of their defeat on the Russian steppes and North African planes..

    In fact, I never said the US was an "immediate" threat to Germany, I said that Hitler viewed the US as the "primary" threat to Germany. In fact, Tooze, early in the book, on pages 7-11, makes it plain that Hitler regarded the United States as the ultimate threat to Germany and the rest of Europe. According to Tooze, Hitler saw the struggle in Europe as merely the preparatory phase before a grand "war of the continents" could be successfully (for Germany) pursued. Of course no one could foresee Pearl Harbor in 1939, but that is irrelevant.
    I never said you did, I merely put what Tooze is actually saying in his text in context. Because you so often fail to do so. Tooze does indeed state that Hitler regarded the United States (in his little mind run by 'hook-nosed' Jewy JEWS controlling the media, finance, etc.!) based on Hitler's Second Book as an "epic" adversary. But if Hitler couldn't foresee Pearl Harbor, he also couldn't foresee a rapid, complete victory over the Western Allies in 1939-1940. Indeed, his early actions nearly prevented one! There's a difference of what Hitler actually wished for, and how it was actually achieved.

    Hitler's declaration of war against the US only acknowledged the inevitable in Hitler's mind, and the action was taken because he felt he could at least gain some temporary political advantage by declaring a war which he knew would eventually occur
    Then he was a pretty shitty strategist that was out-of-touch with political realities upon reaching a certain level beyond his basic political competence. Because a better one would not have declared war and forced a potentially bitter debate within the United States...

    Well, Hitler is completely beside the point that I am arguing. I disagree that he never abided by a coherent strategy, but I guess you can make that interpretation if you like. I don't think you will convince many who have actually studied Hitler's behavior. As for being impulsive, irrational, and bullheaded....so what? So were Roosevelt and Churchill at times.
    Hitler is NOT completely beside the point! You brought him up first and Tooze focuses on him. Tooze questions Hitler's coherence at several points in his book, which was my only contention. He's just more articulate and better edited. And those that have studied Hitler's behavior, from the OSS to contemporary historians might well at least partially agree with me. And yes, both FDR and Churchill had their moments, but they didn't essentially dissolve the powers of their general staffs and both knew how to take advice...

    No, that implication never emerged in your comments; it seemed more of a criticism of Japan for not standing by her Axis partner Germany. When someone writes; "Thank you, Japan!", it's difficult not to sense a certain rancor toward that country.
    My only rancor is for Japan's Imperial policies that resulted in the deaths millions across Asia, including her own subjects/citizens.

    As for gaining nothing, well, I'd hardly call gaining a three-front war an advantage. Japan's industrial and economic situation was really far too constrained to fight on a single front successfully, so not intervening in the German conflict with the Soviet Union made a lot of sense.
    Well, Japan didn't actually have to go to war. Just appear as menacing as an army can while possessing few crappy tanks and little ability to contend with a mechanized, mobile enemy in open terrain favoring such warfare—in order to continue to tie down significant numbers of Soviet troops and tanks. Whether this would have made a difference in the end, but they were going to lose anyway...

  4. #124
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    Default Re: Japan's war interests whom?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    No, My reference to a "bureaucracy" was in response to your referencing people like Liddell Hart and Fuller, who, in my opinion try to put entirely too much emphasis on "defining" things like strategy, much like bureaucrats who develop their own mysterious terminology in an attempt to puff up what they are doing and mystify the uninitiated. Hart and Fuller, were, after all part of a military bureaucracy who were trying to keep themselves employed in tough times for the military.

    But the fact remains that the development of strategy at any level in any 20th and 21st century war or warlike action requires a huge bureaucratic effort, from the civil and military bureaucracies after the politicians have determined the aims.

    The better the bureaucrats, in the sense of their grasp and analysis of all relevant factors, the better the strategy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    I sense we are just going to have to disagree on this.
    Perhaps not.

    It may be a case of each of us agreeing on what constitutes the elements and formulation of strategy but not on the elements of the fabric which, in my view, should clothe strategy as a fully formed suit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    To me, strategy is simply making assessments of a given situation and charting a logical course of action for getting from the current situation to some desired goal or objective.

    But history is littered with so many failures in that regard, and most recently Iraq and Afghanistan. In the latter cases the first phase military strategy was sound and the execution brilliant, but there does seem to be an absence of any strategy beyond that point (in the sense of defining the aims before these long involvements which would justify and produce results from these long involvements). They’re not really all that much different to Japan’s doomed ribbon defence. Or Vietnam and other inadequately thought out exercises.

    The common fault is the failure to do the first step in military operational and strategic planning: Define the aim.

    At grand, or national if you prefer, strategy level the aim to be defined is the ultimate end point of the whole process. 'Go into Afghanistan and eliminate al Qaeda, then leave' is a clear aim. 'Go into Afghanistan and eliminate al Qaeda and convert Afghanistan into a democracy and stay there until we have done it and don't let the Taliban back in even if Karzai is going to negotiate a separate peace with them once he learns we're going to pull out' is not an aim but an ad hoc evolution which loses whatever the original aim was and makes it impossible to achieve the original aim, assuming anyone can remember what it was, and assures political parsimony in the commitment of forces while also assuring the continued presence of forces to avoid anyone thinking we've been beaten. And so on to no purpose because nobody knew what the aim was or when it had been achieved, unlike the 'Germany first' policy when Germany surrendered and the aim was achieved. The Marshall plan wasn't part of the aim, but something that followed in a different context.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    You can talk about political strategy, military strategy, grand strategy, global strategy, universal strategy, this strategy, and that strategy; but what it all comes down to is the rather simple, straightforward, two-step process that I have suggested. Anything else is just trying to make your resume look more impressive.
    I think it’s much more involved than that, in part for the reasons outlined by Liddell Hart in my earlier quote.

    A nation which doesn’t devote its resources fully to victory and accept nothing less than victory isn’t going to have one. e.g. U.S. and allies in post-WWII conflicts such as Korea, Vietnam, Iraq 1 and II, Afghanistan and sundry minor conflicts.

    So, because the numbnuts in the political or military didn’t think it through, we end up with potentially endless engagements in places of ultimately little significance like Vietnam and Afghanistan where we waste troops and resources in pursuit of ill-defined objectives (Vietnam was never intended to be more than holding the fort while, apart from the commendable objective of removing bin Laden et al, Afghanistan is equally inconclusive but with an even less clear long term initial objective).

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    As for Japan, prior to WW II it had a strategy in place to achieve it's goals and it was, given the Japanese leadership's understanding of the situation, a logical strategy. Unfortunately, the Japanese military and civilian leadership had accepted rather cursory assessment processes and the results of those assessments were erroneous assumptions that invalidated the strategic planning when it was put into practice.


    Japan began the war on the basis of so many things it got wrong in its assessments of its enemy, and how it thought the war would end in its favour.

    I say that that was a spectacular failure at the grand strategy level.

    Japan’s conduct of the war and its eventual defeat supports my view.

    We can say that hindsight is marvellous here, or we can do the arithmetic on Japan’s merchant and naval shipping and conclude that Japan was buggered before it started. Even without looking at its determination to persist with pilot training which took much longer than American pilot training and sundry other aspects of Japan vs US where the US was overwhelmingly dominant and, worse, Japan knew that before it started the war.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
    Yes, another way of putting it is that the Japanese failed to do their "homework", and the result was a strategy based on unrealistic assumptions; same thing as I have always maintained. But to say the Japanese never considered strategic matters or war planning is incorrect, they just went about it in a way that replaced cold hard judgment, and acknowledgment of unpleasant facts, of with wishful thinking.
    I agree largely with that statement, except that I think you’re being unduly kind to Japan in attributing its strategic assessment failures to wishful thinking.

    For example, Tsujii’s flights over and plans for the Malayan invasion, along with Yamashita declining extra forces for that campaign, demonstrate an acute ability (or stunning luck) at staff level which translated into success at operational level.

    Japanese military strategy and operations in the first phase were outstandingly successful. Wishful thinking had nothing to do with these great achievements. Every conquest was in pursuit of clear and sound plans for the southern advance.

    The problem is that Japan’s superb military effectiveness in the first phase was not supported by a comprehensive and properly thought out (as distinct from based on false assumptions) grand strategy of which the military strategy was but one thread.

    Even without the increasingly ad hoc deviations from the original firm and provisional aims up to Papua New Guinea, Japan’s grand strategy, to the extent it had one, was based on so many profound misunderstandings about its enemies and their capacity to wage war against Japan, and its own capacity to wage war and hold its conquests, that it reflected more of a wishlist about how the war would proceed and end rather than the requisite coldly objective strategic assessment.

    I think that much of that can be laid at the door of rampant nationalistic thinking in Japan, which was not limited to the militarists, which created a degree of hubris which was reinforced immensely and fatally by its stunning successes in the first phase operations.

    The delusions were compounded by the resurgence of notions of Bushido etc which elevated Japanese conceptions of themselves and their potential and were reinforced by the rampant racism towards and apparent victories over the Chinese from the 1920s onwards which also elevated Japanese self-conceptions. These and related factors encouraged the Japanese at all levels to believe that they were capable of considerably more than they were. A ‘reality check’ after four years of unsuccessful and inconclusive war in China should have told them that they weren’t really all that good, and that it was foolish to dilute their forces by thrusting south when their shipping resources were so precarious.

    But, impelled by the oil embargoes and the consequent concerns about the erosion of their ability to wage war, they embarked on a war to gain the oil and other resources they needed to wage a war to, ultimately, retain the oil and other resources they needed to wage that war. The circularity in that strategy never seemed to penetrate the strategists’ thinking as they seemed to work on the basis that once they had the oil and other resources all problems would be solved by Japan being allowed to keep them. That makes about as much sense as a bank robber believing that if he can grab the money and hostages and stay in the bank long enough to outlast the law enforcement forces deployed to capture him, and who control what goes into the bank, he will win in time. Strategy it may be, but sound strategy it ain’t.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 10-12-2010 at 08:18 AM. Reason: typo
    A rational army would run away.

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