Strategy and Tactics

View 752 Friday, December 07, 2012

Pearl Harbor Day

Japan is our ally now, and China is building the Greater Southeast Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere which Japan planned. Japan sought to exclude the Western colonial powers – including the United States – from Asia in a sort of Japanese equivalent of the Monroe Doctrine. “Asia for the Asiatics!” was a common battlecry.

In practice the Sphere operated as a supply source for Japan, although the Japanese insisted that was only because the West wanted war, and the Empire had to be strong. Japan claimed to be the liberator of the Colonies: Manchuria liberated from Chinese occupation, Philippines from the US conquest, Taiwan from China, Hong Kong from Britain, Indo-China from France, Burma from Britain, Indonesia from the Dutch, The Malay States from Britain and Portugal, etc. It included Thailand, which managed to stave off occupation by joining the Sphere and even declaring war on the United States, but the Declaration of War was conveniently lost on its way to the Secretary of State and the United States never considered itself at war with Thailand.

The Pearl Harbor attack is a splendid example of a tactical victory spoiled by a failure of exploitation and pursuit. Had the Japanese carriers refueled their aircraft and sent them back to destroy all the fuel dumps around Pearl and the airfield, and destroyed the ship repair facilities, the war would have taken a different course. Japan still had no chance at victory, and Roosevelt was not open to offers of a negotiated peace. The attack was a strategic blunder of the first magnitude. Yamamoto may or may not have said that “We have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a sense of terrible purpose,” but it is an apt description of the Pearl Harbor attack and of its effect on the American people. The nation had been divided on the war in Europe, and Roosevelt only won reelection in 1940 on a platform of “Not one American boy is going to die on foreign soil,” but once the nation had been attacked the American Way of War took command, and no Japanese offer of a negotiated peace with return of the Philippines and Japanese payment of reparations was possible.

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We move closer to the financial cliff. It is likely that we will go over it. The President wants higher tax rates on “the Rich.” For reasons I do not understand, the Republicans do not seem to be open to negotiation on what is “The Rich.” To most Americans “rich” doesn’t even mean old money (which isn’t going to be affected by any of the proposed tax raises anyway, since their income isn’t “income” open to the income tax) but executives with enormous bonuses, many of them paid for wrecking the company abolishing pension funds. Of course that’s not a very accurate picture of “the rich” but it doesn’t matter: the image is the issue.

Republicans ought to be willing to negotiate over the definition of “the rich”. Start by saying incomes of more than $5 million a year. Raising those taxes isn’t going to have much effect – people in that bracket have many alternatives – and avoiding a Depression is worth a lot. The likely result of going over this cliff would actually cost more for rich and poor alike than raising rates on incomes of millions of dollars.

Of course there are principles involved. There are also realities: government workers will continue to be paid in a Depression. And as the Depression deepens, the negotiating position of “the rich” becomes less tenable. Already the smart people are moving money into safe havens (which are not usually investments that create jobs or move the economy).

I have errands again today. Someone broke the mirror on my car while it was parked outside the house yesterday and while it’s drivable – I had no real problems going to LASFS last night – it’s not safe to leave that so I have to go take care of it. I also have to look for some Christmas presents. More on all this another time, but it does seem to me that there is some room for negotiation on taxing the rich if we can be careful how we define “The Rich.” Of course the really rich aren’t involved in most of this to begin with. When we had 91% income tax rates few paid them. Those high tax rates certainly negatively affect investment strategies and thus have an effect on the economy, but going over this fiscal cliff will have a much larger effect. On Everything. And Everyone.

We lost the election. We have to live with that. So do “the rich.” But we lost the principles last November. It isn’t as if the population didn’t understand what it was voting for – or what would be the consequences of staying home to show Romney what they thought of him. That loss has consequences. We still have a constitutional republic. The losers of elections do not take up arms and rebel, thank God. We are not in a civil war. But we do have to make strategic and tactical decisions. We lost the battle. The Democrats understand the concept of pursuit. We need to understand that retreats are difficult, but they are not fatal. What is fatal is to make a suicidal last stand.

We was sick o’ bein’ punished, an’ we let ‘em know it, too;
clip_image003An a company-commander up ‘an ‘it us with a sword,
An some-one one shouted " ‘Ook it! " an’ it come to sove-ki-poo,
clip_image003[1]An we chucked our rifles from us—O my Gawd!
There was thirty dead an’ wounded on the ground we wouldn’t keep—
clip_image003[2]No, there wasn’t more than twenty when the front begun to go –
But, Christ! along the line o’ flight they cut us up like sheep,
clip_image003[3]An’ that was all we gained by doin’ so!

And so it went in November. Now it’s up to the regulars to save the country. We can make our retreat cost us or cost them.

I ‘eard the knives be’ind me, but I dursn’t face my man,
clip_image003[4]Nor I don’t know where I went to, ’cause I didn’t ‘alt to see,
Till I ‘eard a beggar squealin’ out for quarter as ‘e ran,
clip_image003[5]An’ I thought I knew the voice an’—it was me!
We was ‘idin’ under bedsteads more than ‘arf a march away:
clip_image003[6]We was lyin’ up like rabbits all about the country-side;
An’ the Major cursed ‘is Maker ’cause ‘e’d lived to see that day,
clip_image003[7]An’ the Colonel broke ‘is sword acrost, an’ cried.

And now it’s time to decide what to do next.

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The Nurse who allowed herself to be deceived into giving information about the Duchess to pranksters has committed suicide. Death by embarrassment. She could not survive being made a fool of.

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