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OP/ED: Target America: Iran And Its Parallels With 1930's Japan

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posted on Nov, 28 2005 @ 09:55 AM
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.

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.

Wiki on FDR

President Roosevelt

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.

McCollum memo

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.

President Bush

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.

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.

Presidents 2002 State of the Union Address

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 Day O'Connor.

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.

President Ahmadinejad

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'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.

Ahmadinejad Angering Allies

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.

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.

Times: President invokes new Islamic wave

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, Venezuela.

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:

Venezuela is opposed to a unilateral world order. We are ready to use our potentials to forge a multilateral world

Iran, Venezuela opposed to unilateralism

To which, the then Iranian President, Khatami replied:

We should be powerful with our countries' scientific and economic progress

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.

Iran, Venezuela opposed to unilateralism

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 might work.

Related News Links:

Related Discussion Threads:

posted on Nov, 28 2005 @ 01:43 PM
I don't think these nations are plotting any kind of "pre-emptive Pearl Harbor-esque attack". What it seems to me they are doing is trying to build up defenses against a United States "pre-emptive Pearl Harbor-esque attack".

It seems to me the current administration has chosen to attempt to control a good chunk of the international oil supplies as opposed to simply maintaining good relations with their respective nations and ensuring a steady safe flowing supply. The Bush administrations seems to enjoy beefing with oil-producing sovereign nations.

It is my feelings that due to conitnuous U.S. pressure and harrassment several of these countries may just decide to drop out of the UN and form their own coalition of allies from which they can freely trade with (including North Korea and Cuba) and defend against any future American aggression. IMO they should very well do so and if I were a leader of any of those countries I would do so myself.

Doing so would not mean they are preparing to declare war on anyone. Because of their geographical locations that would just be silly. However it would be perfect for defensive purposes if anyone else in the world decides to attack them. And why shpuld they be attacked. The world had grown tired of them so they decided to cut themselves off from the world and mind their own business between each other.

What right would the world have to meddle in their affairs after that?

posted on Nov, 28 2005 @ 04:14 PM
Granted, but these are not isolationist/nationalist countries, so they will (more than likely) try to separate themselves as you stated, but also attempt to strengthen their holdings, both internally and abroad. This joined alliance, bolstering one anothers' defensive capabilities with arms deals, militant initiatives against less defended (and possibly even internal) national threats, and trade agreements/embargos will be seen by not only America, but other UN nations, as a sign of impending aggression.

This will come to war. It always does. I can't blame the U.S.'s tendancies now any more than I can FDR's America. FDR wanted to help Britain not due to any big trade deals, but because he believed they were being beset by a tyrant. Where I can fault the U.S., however, is our tendancy towards a shoot first, ask questions later attitude.

As the U.S. tends more towards a socialist standard, our populous will continue believing any attacks against our soil to be preventable by creating applicable legislature to defend against the various possible methods of incursion (i.e. domestic terrorism - Patriot Act). However, as our government accordingly initiates these battles overseas preemptively to prevent domestic occurrences, the same citizens who've driven the socialist movement will cry that we are unjustly occupying or oppressing the countries we attack.

Solution? I would say: fewer laws, more personal freedoms, required military service (as combative or non-combative units) for citizenry, armed public. I believe this would lead to many excellent changes in both domestic and foreign areas.

posted on Nov, 28 2005 @ 06:11 PM
The United States has armies on both flanks of the Iranian border. If the Iranians wanted to drive off that threat, a devestating surprise attack would be needed. Couple that with a threat to mainland America (enter Venezuela) and it would force the American armies in the Middle East to withdraw.

Then if intense international pressure was placed on the United States to 'leave well alone' by the likes of Russia and China, I think a major confrontation would most likely be avoided.

Edit: Just looking at the latest news headlines on ATSNN.

NEWS: Venezuela And Spain Sign Controversial Arms Deal

(politics) Venezuela seeks Irans Help with Nuclear Energy Program

A clear coalition of countries with overt disdain for American foreign policy is emerging. A united ME front of Iran - Syria - Libya and possibly Qatar. A threat to American interests in the Western hemisphere from Venezuela - Cuba and possibly Brazil. Something is cooking, thats for sure.

[edit on 28/11/05 by subz]

posted on Nov, 29 2005 @ 02:54 AM
I don't see how Iran or Venezuela would avoid being nuked. If Iran launched a cripling strike against the US, I don't think the US would be forced to respond with nukes. If anything, I would suspect Iran to launch an invasion of US-occupied Iraq. That may very well be the insurgency.

The thing is that if the US is tied down in Iraq, then Venezuela has more capability to cut off oil supplies, or negotiate a better deal, while the US military isn't as prepared to overthrow the Chavez regime.

posted on Nov, 29 2005 @ 10:56 PM

Originally posted by crontab
I don't see how Iran or Venezuela would avoid being nuked. If Iran launched a cripling strike against the US, I don't think the US would be forced to respond with nukes. If anything, I would suspect Iran to launch an invasion of US-occupied Iraq. That may very well be the insurgency.

Thats where Russia and possibly China would come into play. If they were to 'step in' post-surprise attack and warn the United States off from escalating it further, with using nukes, it would't go that far. Would the United States risk starting a full scale nuclear war with the Russians? I dont think they would.

Also, thinking outside of the box a little, a surprise attack wouldnt necessarily have to extend to military means. If Iran engaged in petrodollar warfare and began trading their oil in Euros, with Venezuela and Russia following suit it would literally shatter the American economy. Now couple this with a pax Persian-Syrian-Libyan surprise assault on the American troops staged in Iraq and Qatar withdrawing American access to their country and you have a serious problem for the United States.

To force the American withdrawal from the Middle East the Venezuelans could do a multitude of things. They too do not necessarily have to confront the full might of the American military to achieve these goals. Take the Panama Canal and then withdraw when the GI's have returned to the America's from the Middle East?

Originally posted by crontab
The thing is that if the US is tied down in Iraq, then Venezuela has more capability to cut off oil supplies, or negotiate a better deal, while the US military isn't as prepared to overthrow the Chavez regime.

The US has burned quite a lot of bridges and its reputation with most of the World is in tatters, regardless of what some patriotic Americans would say. If a coalition of, lets face it, second world nations stood up to the United States hegemony and forced them out of controling the World's oil reserves I dont think the World's rancor will be headed Venezuela/Iran/Syria's way.

[edit on 29/11/05 by subz]

posted on Nov, 30 2005 @ 02:05 AM
Some thing dont really make sense to me concerning the Roosevelt administration trying to provoked Japan into attacking the United States as a pretext to enter into WW2.

The US was giving aide to England over a year before Pearl Habor so it was hardly neutral before that

The US was also more concerned about Europe then Asia and proking a Japanese attack would not guarantee war with Germany. The Tripartite Treaty Japan stipulated that Nazi-Germany was required to come to the defense of her allies only if they were attacked. Since Japan had made the first move and attacked, Germany was not obliged to aid her

The fact that Hitler declared war on the US after pearl habor was some what of a shock and arguably the greatest mistake made by the Third Reich.

posted on Nov, 30 2005 @ 02:32 AM

Originally posted by ShadowXIX
Some thing dont really make sense to me concerning the Roosevelt administration trying to provoked Japan into attacking the United States as a pretext to enter into WW2.

The US was giving aide to England over a year before Pearl Habor so it was hardly neutral before that

The US broke its own laws by lend leasing munitions and equipment to Britain during the period of WW2 before the US entered. However, selling equipment to Britain does not equate to a declaration of war so they were very much neutral until Pearl Harbour.

Originally posted by ShadowXIX
The US was also more concerned about Europe then Asia and proking a Japanese attack would not guarantee war with Germany. The Tripartite Treaty Japan stipulated that Nazi-Germany was required to come to the defense of her allies only if they were attacked. Since Japan had made the first move and attacked, Germany was not obliged to aid her.

Public sentiment and that of the majority of Congress wanted absolutely no part in another war in Europe. The scars of WW1 were very much apparent to the American populace at the time. Short of an attack on the US by Germany, there would of been no way Roosevelt could of got America involved. Hitler also didnt have the resources to launch an attack on America, provoked or otherwise, so goading Hitler would of been obvious to the American people and a complete waste of time.

That left Roosevelt with Japan, a coiled Imperial spring waiting to unleash itself on the Pacific. It might of been a shock that Germany declared War on America following Pearl Harbour to be sure, but Roosevelt had his declaration of War and would of worked a way of declaring war on the the rest of the Axis much easier afterwards.

Originally posted by ShadowXIX
The fact that Hitler declared war on the US after pearl habor was some what of a shock and arguably the greatest mistake made by the Third Reich.

Good points to make and no one could know for sure since Germany did infact make the first move. Following Pearl Harbour Hitler, like Churchill, knew what was coming. America would flood Britain with more equipment and US reinforcements before Operation Sealion could eventuate. To have absolutely any chance of preventing that he needed to unleash his U-Boats on US transports. To do that he would of declared war irrespective of declaration or not. It was a military necessity for Germany that American transports be prevented from reaching Britain.

[edit on 30/11/05 by subz]

posted on Nov, 30 2005 @ 03:28 AM
The US has pretty much openly pursued a course indistinguishable from global dominion. We may tell ourselves we have only the best of intentions, but the fact is we've pretty much abrogated to ourselves veto authority over the decisions of every other governing body on the planet.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that an ever growing portion of the planet is beginning to fear us. It is not only countries like Iran, Syria, Venezuela and the like that fear their freedom of action being curtailed by unlimited US power. Not only nascent superpowers like China or faded ones like Russia. Our NATO allies in Western Europe are also increasingly concered about our growing power, and growing willingness to use it unilaterally.

The keystone of this whole sea change was the invasion of Iraq.
With Iraq, powers that previously saw us as somewhat overbearing maintainers of stability came to see us as frightening purveyors of instability. Very, very well armed and very, very rich purveyors of instability.

I personally don't see us being attacked directly by any power.
Instead I see us lured into an increasingly elaborate set of traps designed to grind down and overextend our military and our treasury, until we collapse from within like the Soviet Union did. Iraq may have been the first step. And if you liked the War in Iraq and the insurgency there, you're just going to love the invasion and occupation of Iran and Syria.

[edit on 11/30/05 by xmotex]

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