Around this time 73 years ago, the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumimaro Konoe, had been in constant talks with the Emperor, at the time the head of state and military. While Konoe was no squish in terms of nationalism, he also saw the then-developing idea from the Imperial Japanese Army of a preemptive strike against the United States as a bad idea: They did not have the resources to conduct a three-front war over China/Korea, southeast Asia, and the Pacific, especially with the third front being opposed by an enemy not bound to any war and having far more manpower and materials to use against them. It is in fact the reason they avoided war with Soviet Union at the time, even when the latter was invaded by the Third Reich the same year.
The American government was predictably angry at the time of the “southern strategy” being used by the IJA and Imperial Japanese Navy, and wanted attacks against Dutch and British colonies to cease, or they would move to war. Konoe did not want that, but, as the fall turned colder, it seemed nobody in the Japanese government was particularly interested in what he had to say, despite being the head of the government. The Showa Emperor was initially on his side, even arguing against his chiefs of staff over the fact that despite predictions of finishing up in three months, it had been four years since the invasion of China began with little headway against the united Nationalist-Communist army. But then he too began ignoring Konoe. In October, the last shot at negotiations failed, possibly sabotaged by certain military figures, and Konoe resigned. Six weeks later, the Empire of Japan began its slow demise with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Asked to explain what happened, Konoe said this to his secretary:
“Of course His Imperial Majesty is a pacifist and he wished to avoid war. When I told him that to initiate war was a mistake, he agreed. But the next day, he would tell me: ‘You were worried about it yesterday, but you do not have to worry anymore.’ Thus, gradually he began to lead to war. And the next time I met him, he leaned even more to war. I felt the Emperor was telling me: ‘My prime minister does not understand military matters. I know much more.’ In short, the Emperor had absorbed the view of the army and the navy high commands.”
I think of this in the speech I heard last night.
At a time when the anticapitalist left and the traditionalist/libertarian right are in agreement on not having any further involvement in the Levant, knowing fully well the consequences of what will happen, it seems like nobody inside the Beltway seems particularly interested in listening to them, or the American people. And just as well: Neither side, due to pure ideological spite, seems to have been persuaded not to join forces for risk of being “tainted” by the other side. Thus, the Beltway gets further insulated from any outside opposition to this madness.
So then…who exactly are these people listening to?