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View Full Version : Slightly OT: Has anyone read 'Carnage and Culture'?



CaptainFlunky
10-31-2004, 10:34 PM
If so, what's your opinion on the authors view of the Battle of Midway? In case you haven't read it, the book breaks down as to why western military forces have historically beaten non-westerners in warfare. It uses Midway, Poiters, Lepanto, and Rorke's Drift as some examples. It all basically boils down to the fact that westerners have a knack for killing people because our cultures are based on individuality and personal and civic freedom. I really don't know if I agree 100% or think it's a load of ****.
Anyway, about Midway; the theory is that american flexibility and ability to change a plan, along with personal initative resulted in victory while the Japanese dogmatic adherance to a set plan and rigid command structure insured defeat. It makes sense, but I also think the americans got very, very lucky.
It also pokes some holes in the idea of "Waking the sleeping giant", as it points out that Japan was in a wartime production mode for over ten years prior to Pearl Harbor, and that it's air and sea forces were superior to american forces in both quantity and quality, had ample resources, and did not have to fight a two front war. It sums up that the reason they lost the war was because the plan of Japan was to destroy the military forces of anglo-americans in the pacific, but the anglo-american plan was to destroy the country of japan.
Very interesting and thought provoking.

CaptainFlunky
10-31-2004, 10:34 PM
If so, what's your opinion on the authors view of the Battle of Midway? In case you haven't read it, the book breaks down as to why western military forces have historically beaten non-westerners in warfare. It uses Midway, Poiters, Lepanto, and Rorke's Drift as some examples. It all basically boils down to the fact that westerners have a knack for killing people because our cultures are based on individuality and personal and civic freedom. I really don't know if I agree 100% or think it's a load of ****.
Anyway, about Midway; the theory is that american flexibility and ability to change a plan, along with personal initative resulted in victory while the Japanese dogmatic adherance to a set plan and rigid command structure insured defeat. It makes sense, but I also think the americans got very, very lucky.
It also pokes some holes in the idea of "Waking the sleeping giant", as it points out that Japan was in a wartime production mode for over ten years prior to Pearl Harbor, and that it's air and sea forces were superior to american forces in both quantity and quality, had ample resources, and did not have to fight a two front war. It sums up that the reason they lost the war was because the plan of Japan was to destroy the military forces of anglo-americans in the pacific, but the anglo-american plan was to destroy the country of japan.
Very interesting and thought provoking.

A.K.Davis
11-01-2004, 07:07 AM
I'm off and on reading it. Haven't got to Midway yet.

Waldo.Pepper
11-01-2004, 08:42 AM
Now that I am aware of it, I will definately read it. But to be honest reading what you wrote about it, it sounds like later day sociological Western centric rubbish to me. But I'll read it.

CaptainFlunky
11-01-2004, 09:01 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Waldo.Pepper:
Now that I am aware of it, I will definately read it. But to be honest reading what you wrote about it, it sounds like later day sociological Western centric rubbish to me. But I'll read it. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thats sort of my take also, but like you, I am open to explore alternative points of view.

owlwatcher
11-01-2004, 11:33 AM
Sounds like some one is trying to rewrite history .

Waking the sleeping giant sounds crazy.
Get back to earth read
http://www.combinedfleet.com/economic.htm
Or
replay the 2ndWW and see for yourself.

Waldo.Pepper
11-01-2004, 12:33 PM
Most of what you wrote I take it you got from the book and its not you speaking. But I think I have trouble with almost all of it just the same. Typical huh! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif Anyway.

That JPN had a qualitative and quantatative advantage over the nations that were arrayed against them. (I think you said verses the US but this is meaningless as JPN was not just fighting the US).

Also that Japan had 'ample resources' (That MAY have been true until they were interdicted that is, largely by USN Submarines.)

That they did not have to fight a two front war? What about the CBI theatre? I think that qualifies as a second from. Their campaign in China/Burma was a huge drain on the Army and resources.

As to Japan's plan to destroy the Military forces of the Anglo-Americans. I'm not sure that this was the case. Maybe they wanted to destroy the Countries of the Allies.

But if I relent and accept that their goal was in fact to destroy the military forces of the Anglo-Americans... that might have been a pretty good idea. There is a classical debate among military theorists. And the debate is structure something like this. Should your goal be to conquer territory or destroy enemy material? (The answer is of course, variable depending upon the situation. Sometimes territory and sometimes enemy forces.

And the last idea put forth is that the goal of the Anglo-Americans was to destroy the nation of Japan. Hmmm. I don't really think so. I think the goal of the Allies in the Pacific theatre against Japan was the defeat of Japan, through the destruction of their ability to make war. The Emperor was not toppled, merely the militarists caste in the nation. Certainly there war tremendous damage do to civilian infrastructure of Japan. But I think that this was due to the limitations of the trechnilogy of the time. If the allies had Smart bombs they surely would have used them to save many lives of Allied Airmen, and cosequently Japanese civilians as well. If they in fact had destroyed Japan as a nation that would not have furthered the postwar goals of the Western Allies, namely to use Japan as the anchor of their cold war defense against the USSR.

If I can offer some recomendations of my own for some excellent 'Big Picture' books on war I would resomend the following two.

First:

The Pursuit of Power by William H. Mcneill

Second;

The Causes of War by Geoffrey Blainey.


Still I am trying to keep an open mind and will start the book tomorrow. Maybe I shall learn something and be influenced. Thanks again.

CaptainFlunky
11-01-2004, 12:57 PM
Waldo, yes, I was paraphrasing from the book. Like I said, I am not in entire agreement with the ideas put forth by the author, and in my opinion he tends to shoe horn his ideas dependant on the battle being discussed- the British were successful at Roarkes Drift because of their iron discipline and adherance to command structure, yet at Midway, it's the free wheeling individualism that carries the day.
I find the book to be very westerncentric and somewhat arrogant, yet interesting.
I'll surely give the two books you mentioned a read, thanks for the recommendations.

CaptainFlunky
11-01-2004, 12:59 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by owlwatcher:
Sounds like some one is trying to rewrite history .

Waking the sleeping giant sounds crazy.
Get back to earth read
http://www.combinedfleet.com/economic.htm
Or
replay the 2ndWW and see for yourself. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

What I was refering to was the famous quote of Yamamoto.

Waldo.Pepper
11-01-2004, 01:06 PM
Boy do I ever need a spell checker! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Amazed that anyone understood what I wrote I banged it out so fast. Looking forward to reading this book. Thanks again

CaptainFlunky
11-01-2004, 01:22 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Waldo.Pepper:

As to Japan's plan to destroy the Military forces of the Anglo-Americans. I'm not sure that this was the case. Maybe they wanted to destroy the Countries of the Allies.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well, this is one of the authors points I agree with- Japan had no long range plans to conquer London and Washington D.C.. Then again, perhaps they were counting on the Germans to take care of the UK? Who knows.

A quick question for you, do you think Japan was doomed from the start or do you think they had a fighting chance of knocking the US/UK out of the pacific rim? I just ask because I'd be interested in your opinion.

As a side note, I happened to be reading The Onions 'Our Dumb Century', and here is their satircal version of Roosevelts 'Day of Infamy' speech;

Today, December 7th, 1941, a date on which I had no special markings in my calender of any kind, especially not any sort of note that read "Pearl Harbor to be attacked by 'suprise' today," the United States was suddenly and without several days' advance warning from reliable intelligence, deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
It is only by sheer coincidence that I spent the last four days composing this stirring speech ahead of time, in order to rouse the American public into a state of unbridled bloodlust and pro-war xenophobia. I had no fore-knowledge of the attack, and, in fact, spent much of the past four days whistling to myself idly.
The recent, unexpected order to move all of the United States' modern aircraft carriers out of the base at Pearl Harbor just days before the attack, and replace them with outdated, expendable battleships, was also a coincidence. It should not be inferred that, as commander-in-chief of the American Armed Forces, I had complete foreknowledge of the Emperor's battle plans. I was just as shocked as all of you when I found out about it.
Japan has, precisely on schedule, embarked on a suprise offensive extending throughout the pacific rim. The American people are now willing to support whatever war plans their governemt sees fit, even if the Department of War has worked on these plans long before the fact, which is certainly not the case.
Always we will remember the character of the onslaught against us, thanks to this expert public-relations coup, which has fixed in the minds of all Americans an image of the Japanese as a devious, dastardly, cowardly enemy which attacks without provocation and is, therefore, deserving of the worst collective race-hate we as a nation can muster.
Therefore I as, largely rhetorically, since we have already made up our minds, that Congress declare a state of war between the United States and the Japanese Empire.


I think it's funny.

Waldo.Pepper
11-01-2004, 10:18 PM
I believe that it is a very complicated issue.

If this is a little rambling forgive me.

I believe that the war aims of the Japanese underwent a shift during the war. However, they had a single war aim that remained common throughout the war. National Survival.

I believe that the pre and early war aims of the Japanese were in a very broad sense to elevate their nation to the level of parity, equal in power to the Unites States and/or the UK of the time period. They wanted at least parity so that they could establish a free hand throughout Asia and achieve their lesser security aims. This objective (parity with the West) was a prerequisite to give them the security and elbow room for this free hand in Asia. (The hollow sounding, Great East Asia Co Prosperity Sphere, a direct manifestation of this goal.)

I do not for a minute think that they had the Military Power to do that. The only way that I think that they could have achieved that would be for the Allies (US/UK et al) to in effect 'let' the Japanese win, through inaction. Appeasement if you will.

Once the Japanese attacked US/UK/Australia etc on Dec 7/8... their only hope was if the Western nations somehow decided to stop the fight and let the Japanese win. (If the Western powers were somehow demoralized or made war weary by high casualties etc.)
FDR got it exactly right when he said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. In effect, he was saying that if we keep our heads we will be OK.

The Japanese were so totally outclassed in GNP, military productiion, manpower reserves, access to raw materials that [objectively] they had no chance. Only if the West lost their head could htey lose.

I believe that the war aims of the Japanese were certainly attainable, but these aims were not within their own hands. In order for the Japanese to 'win' (i.e. to achieve their war aims) the Allies had to let them. So in a perculiar way I believe that in order for the Japanese to win their [overarching] aim had to have been to destroy the ability of the Allies to wage war.

Because as the war waged on month after month, year after year, it became increasingly apparent to the Japanese that the morale of the Allies was not going to fail, and consequently they were doomed to loose. At this point the Japanese in effect would have to have been able to destroy the Allies countries themselves. Merely destroying the military of the Allies, was insufficient. They could, and would be rebuilt, much quicker and larger than those of the Japanese. At this stage the Japanese had the need (the war aim) but not the ability to destroy the countries of the Allies.

The Kamikaze tactics were a last desperate attempt to make the cost of Allied victory too great. In their highest hopes they believed that at best the Kamikaze attacks would cost so many lives that a negotiated peace would be possible. In fact the targets of the Kamikaze planes were formally shifted from Aircraft Carriers to troops ships part way throught the campaign, in a effort to cause the maximum lose of life. And thereby make the human cost of the war excesive to the Allies. It failed to achieve even this limited aim.

After this when their own national destruction loomed large, they sued for peace.

There you have it.