Over the past few months I have come to recognize startling parallels between the current American confrontation with Iran and America's historical
confrontation with 1930's Japan. The parallels are wide ranging, with some seeming quite innocuous at face value. One must look to history for clues
of the future, this opinion piece explores the parallels with a view of discussing eventual outcomes of the Iranian nuclear stand-off.
The overall focus of this opinion piece is the current confrontation between the United States and Iran over the latter's nuclear programme. To
illustrate my opinion on why the confrontation has occurred, and where it might be headed, I am employing historical evidence of why pre-WW2 Japan and
United States came to blows.
The reasons why Japan and the United States became engaged in war are many and varied. For the purpose of this opinion piece I will focus on the
obvious similarities that exist between the leaders of then, and now. I will then conclude with what I believe the true reasons behind the current
nuclear stand off are, and the wider implications thereof.
Japan - 1941
America's Dispute With Japan
In 1941 Imperial Japan had invaded and occupied vast swathes of China. China was, as it is today, a vast market ripe for the tapping and the United
States maintained an "Open door policy" with her during this time. It also enjoyed a friendly relationship with the Chiang-Kali-Sheik government.
The Roosevelt administration took a hard line opposition to the Japanese occupation of Chinese land. In response to the occupation President Roosevelt
placed crippling sanctions upon Japan, including banning sales of strategic materials and oil to the isolated island nation.
Wiki on FDR
Roosevelt was less keen to involve the U.S. in the war developing in East Asia, where Japan occupied French Undo-China in late 1940. He
authorized increased aid to China, and in July 1941 he restricted the sales of oil and other strategic materials to Japan, but also continued
negotiations with the Japanese government in the hope of averting war.
At the time President Roosevelt was an isolationist, as was the prevailing sentiment amongst most Americans. Infact Congress had passed laws demanding
America's neutrality in WW2. It forbade the United States from selling arms to either side of the conflict. This pained Roosevelt who desperately
wanted to aid Great Britain in her fight against Nazi Germany.
Conspiracists have long maintained that Roosevelt was looking for a casus belli to get the United States engaged in WW2 so that he could shake America
loose from the Neutrality legislation and aid Great Britain. This was proven to be true with the declassification of the McCollum memo in 1994 which
strongly indicates that the Roosevelt administration intentionally provoked Japan into attacking the United States as a pretext to enter into WW2.
The Arthur McCollum memo is a US government document declassified in 1994 through the Freedom Of Information Act which strongly suggests that
the Roosevelt Administration conspired to provoke the Japanese to attack the United States in 1941.
Similarities To Note
During this period, Roosevelt enjoyed his Democratic Parties' dominance of Congress. But he continued to run into obstructions from the Supreme court
which ruled many of his proposals to be unconstitutional. In response to this, Roosevelt tried to amend the law and increase the size of the Supreme
Court so that he could fill it with sympathetic justices. His proposal ran into serious political opposition and was eventually abandoned by
Roosevelt. Regardless, Roosevelt got to nominate 8 Supreme Court Justices from 1937 to 1941 due to deaths and retirements.
Also the American economy had fallen back into economic crisis despite Roosevelt's efforts to drag America out of the Great Depression. At the time
employment figures still had not risen above pre-depression levels. The American economy was in trouble.
The stage was set for the Roosevelt administration to provoke a War.
Japan was technically at War with most of the World via its inclusion in Germany's Axis so trade with almost all nations was out of the question.
Japan also has no domestic oil or iron deposits of her own, therefore it was effectively cut off from all sources of strategic materials and fuel by
the American sanctions.
During this time Emperor Hirohito appointed General Hideki Tojo
as Japan's new Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Tojo
Wiki on Prime Minister Hideki Tojo
Tojo was appointed Prime Minister by the Emperor because he was, for all intents and purposes, the only man in Japan who could control the Japanese
military. At the time the Japanese army had invaded vast swathes of China and were becoming unruly. The Emperor wanted to retain control of the
military, via Tojo, whilst negotiating a settlement to the confrontation with the United States. Tojo was an ardent supporter of the the Emperor and
his adherence to the Emperor's wishes were absolute.
Similarities To Note
Tojo was a hard line, right wing, ultra nationalist who belonged to an equally hard line, right wing clique called Kodoshugisha
or the Imperial
Way Faction. They advocated and promoted totalitarianism, militarism and expansionism.
Japan could never accept the American demands placed on her. Accepting them would of destabilized the government and resulted in anarchy. Conversely,
America could not accept any negotiations with Japan due to similar internal requirements.
America viewed the appointment of General Tojo as a clear sign of their impending military confrontation with Japan. Irrespectively they continued to
demand Japanese withdrawal from all of China as a prerequisite to ending sanctions. Japan had foreseen that it would have to acquiesce to at least
some American demands or face war. But complete withdrawal from China after the costly invasion was unthinkable for them.
The furthest thing from Emperor Hirohito's wishes was to engage the United States in battle. So in response to American demands the Japanese had
offered a compromise: Japan would partially withdraw from China.
This was rejected by the Roosevelt administration and prompted the Japanese to
fall back on Plan B: Japan would cease all military actions in exchange for 1 million gallons of aviation fuel aid from the United States.
The Americans were about to offer a counter proposal that basically accepted the compromise when they learnt of Japan's contingency plans for war.
Feeling the Japanese were not sincere in their negotiations the Americans cancelled their counter proposal and offered the Japanese an ultimatum:
Leave China now or else!
On the same day the Japanese received the American ultimatum (later referred to as the Hull note
) a Japanese attack force bound for Pearl
Harbour was dispatched. Feeling they had no chance of settling the dispute with America diplomatically, Tojo ordered the execution of the contingency
plan: pre-emptively attack Pearl Harbour.
The Japanese rationale for attacking Pearl Harbour was pinned on the hope that after experiencing near total annihilation in the Pacific the Americans
would withdraw from the area for good. This would allow the Japanese empire to secure its own oil and iron supplies. The Japanese also counted on
America's traditional reluctance to lose American lives to prevent a full blown War.
The rest is history...
Iran - 2005
America's Dispute With Iran
The bad blood between America and Iran is deep seated. To very briefly sum up the reason for the animosity; America supported the pro-Western Shah
(King) of Iran, in spite of popular Iranian support from becoming a Republic. The United States aided the Shah in his vain efforts at resisting the
Islamic republican revolution.
In response to American interference in Iranian domestic affairs, a group of University students seized hostages at the American embassy in the
Iranian capital, Tehran.
The United States also funded Saddam Hussein in his War against Iran in the 1980's.
However, the most recent dispute between the United States and Iran stems from Iran's uranium enrichment activities as part of their nuclear
programme. The Bush administration accuses Iran of secretly attempting to build nuclear weapons and demands they cease uranium enrichment completely.
The Iranians vehemently deny this and say their programme is purely for peaceful means. They also add that their right to enrich nuclear fuel is
protected under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that both the United States and Iran are signatories to.
Wiki on President Bush
Speaking in his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush labelled Iran as being part of an "Axis of evil" along with Iraq and North Korea.
Presidents 2002 State of the Union Address
Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.
Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror.
States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass
destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger.
Similarities To Note
President Bush belongs to a select clique of Straussian neo-conservatives which includes Defence Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney.
The aim of Straussian Neo-conservatism is to revert back to classical political teachings and to manufacture threats to unite the populace when no
real threats are at hand.
Prior to the events of 9/11, President Bush was seen as an isolationist President. He shunned involvement in traditional areas of interest such as
North Korea and the Middle East peace process.
During much of President Bush's Presidency he has enjoyed his Republican parties dominance of Congress. His dominance has not extended to the Supreme
Court and has led to him recently appointing a conservative Justice to replace late Justice Rehnquist. He also has plans to replace outgoing Justice
Currently America's economy is in relatively bad shape. Record deficits coupled with record fuel prices and the worst hurricane season on record have
all conspired to drag the American economy downward.
Whilst a military confrontation with Iran would not be as preferable in kick starting the American economy as WW2 was, it would help if America was
dragged into a full scale War with a much larger enemy than Iraq.
Wiki on President Ahmadinejad
President Ahmadinejad was elected President of Iran on August 3rd 2005 after receiving the full blessing from Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah
Khamenei. Ahmadinejad is considered a hard-liner and a religious conservative who does not advocate fostering relations with the West.
He was previously the mayor of Tehran who had a history of successful populous policies. It is my opinion that Khamenei replaced President Khatami
with a hard line President, who has the support and backing of the average Iranian, so as to not lose popular support in the coming nuclear show down
with America. There were reports earlier this year of civil unrest in Iran stemming from the looming confrontation over Iran's nuclear programme.
Like President Bush, Ahmadinejad is a member of a select clique who is currently under fire for ignoring the wider will of the government in favour of
that of his close friends.
Ahmadinejad Angering Allies
"Ahmadinejad's behaviour has annoyed many fellow conservatives. That he doesn't like to consult with anybody outside his small circle of old
friends is a reality," said Ghodratollah Rahmani, a conservative writer.
Similarities To Note
Iran is currently under American sanctions, as Japan was in 1941. Iran is also facing American demands that it cannot accept i.e. that of suborning
its nuclear fuel cycle to non-Iranian entities.
Iran's leadership has recently changed from that of moderate reformist, President Khatami, to that of a hard-liner, much like the transition to Tojo
in 1941 Japan.
The negotiations brokered by the EU have failed to reach a consensus and the rhetoric has been ratcheted up in recent weeks from all sides. Iran is
now facing referral to the UN Security Council for possible international sanctions.
Iran is faced with accepting foreign control of its nuclear fuel, or risking financial ruin from sanctions.
I feel that the negotiations aimed at getting Iran to relinquish control of its nuclear fuel production are doomed to failure. President Ahmadinejad's
campaign slogan was "putting the petroleum income on people's tables". Which meant Ahmadinejad wants to apportion more of Iran's already sizeable
petroleum revenue to benefit the average Iranian. Much like his populous mayoral policies of free soup for the poor.
To further this aim the Iranian leadership could save billions of dollars in precious foreign currency by producing domestic electricity via nuclear
power. This frees up petroleum that would otherwise be consumed locally to be sold at ever increasing prices internationally.
Also to yield to "the Great Satan" and so publically acquiesce to American demands would be completely unacceptable to both the Iranian people and
government alike. Since all negotiations to date have failed I can assume with some confidence that a negotiated settlement that satisfies both
parties will not be forthcoming.
It is my belief that much like Japan of 1941, Iran is being backed into a corner by the United States. I also believe that the United States wants to
engage the Iranians in a war, but a war that they themselves initiate.
I find the parallels, although not conclusive alone, striking between the leaders of Iran today and the leaders Japan in the past. Supreme leaders
appointing hard line national leaders during intense confrontations with the United States is present in both instances.
That's not to apportion all the conspiracist blame towards the Bush administration. I also have theorized that, much like Japan of 1941, Iran intends
to attack the United States to further her aims of spreading its form of Islam on a global scale.
Times: President invokes new Islamic wave
Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution has arisen and the Islamic revolution of 1384 [the current Iranian year] will, if
God wills, cut off the roots of injustice in the world. The wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world.
I also believe the Iranians to be conspiring to severely prune America's global influence in conjunction with a group of other nations, most notably,
President Chavez in Tehran with then Mayor Ahmadinejad
President Chavez visited Iran with an entourage that included his Defence Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister and Energy Minister. Speaking in Iran,
Chavez had the following to say:
Iran, Venezuela opposed to unilateralism
Venezuela is opposed to a unilateral world order. We are ready to use our potentials to forge a multilateral world
To which, the then Iranian President, Khatami replied:
We should be powerful with our countries' scientific and economic progress
Iran, Venezuela opposed to unilateralism
Venezuela is located in a sensitive region of the American continent and Iran is located in a sensitive situation of the Middle East. The two
countries can complement each other through bilateral interaction and development.
It is even more interesting to note that prior to visiting Tehran, Chavez visit President Putin in Moscow. He also visited the now anti-American,
socialist Spain as well as Libyan President Gaddafi. Chavez wound up his 5-Nation tour in Qatar, an American ally that houses American bases.
At the same time the Spaniards cancelled their planned consignment of tanks which they were going to sell to Columbia. Those tanks would of likely
been aimed at Venezuela. Columbia's Uribe administration enjoys a friendly relationship with the United States.
The animosity between the United States and Venezuelan President Chavez is also well known. Chavez has accused the United States government of trying
to assassinate him and of instigating the failed coup against his government.
Could these nations be plotting a pre-emptive, Pearl Harbour-esque attack on the United States? I have a suspicion that its possible and that it just
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