Typically I’ve got my nose in another book about Pearl Harbor and this isn’t written by an historian rather a feature writer so the thing flows nicely. I like to salt in books like this because they present more accurate pictures of personalities, feelings etc. Just interested in topics like this and like to do the Deep Dive.
What gave me a chill at four in the morning was reading over what the US ambassador in Japan in November 1941 thought about the likelihood of war. First, both the Japanese and U.S. generally held one another in contempt for various reasons mostly based in racial prejudice. Most who have a passing familiarity with this period take their cues from things like Tora Tora Tora and Yamamoto’s statement that he can run wild for several months on the Pacific but that a negotiated settlement had best follow before Japan is overwhelmed. That was a view shared by many Japanese at the time at the highest levels of power and yet the shit hit the fan anyway didn’t it? The prevailing view here was that the Japanese would have to be insane to go to war with such a substantially larger opponent. Ambassador Grew correctly pointed out to his superiors that although many Japanese understood the futility of such a war that it was a drastic mistake to think they might not just undertake one. From the Japanese p.o.v national hari kari made a sort of twisted sense, there was some cultural logic to it based on their history. I interpret it loosely as ‘better to die on your feet than your knees’ or something like that.
Dawned on me that we might just be applying the same calculus to North Korea for exactly the same reasons. Kim Jon Fatass isn’t crazy and you would think he’d have to be to start a conflict of any kind but crap, we’ve heard that all before haven’t we? Can’t help but think that even in these Woke times we still use the same racial lens to look at things like this. North Korea is foreign and weird and Asian and nuts, right? Of course, this all applies to Putin’s Russia as well but somehow we come up with a slightly different answer when we apply the formula to Europeans.
The people living though history are rarely aware of its import at the time.