The 75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor: The Day That Will Live in Infamy

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For the US it was perceived as an unprovoked attack, which broke the domestic political logjam and brought the US into WW II. From the Japanese perspective it was a response to the economic warfare that the US had been waging on Japan since 1939. This included the US embargo on oil going to Japan.

From 1939 through 1941 the US and Japan were locked into a security dilemma (insecurity spiral) as the result of strategic miscommunication – the miscommunication of policy choices and strategic decisions on both sides. As the Japanese attempted to increase their influence throughout Asia, through the use of both economic and military power, the US sought to check them through the use of economic power. A significant portion of the Roosevelt Administration’s response, which was the result of the preferences of President Roosevelt and Secretaries Stimson, Morgenthau, and Ickes, was to adopt the Open Door Policy for China and impose economic sanctions and actions to limit Japan’s activities in Asia. The US policy was to bankrupt the Japanese and therefore stop their expansionism within Asia. The Japanese response was to utilize military power to get out from under the US’s actions – the attack at Pearl Harbor.

So while we take a moment and consider the events of that day, and those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, there is an important lesson to be relearned as 2016 gives way to 2017. Strategic preferences for policy decisions and the actions taken on them have consequences. For every problem solved or resolved as the result of a successful policy and strategy, new problems arise and are created. And context matters. How one’s allies, partners, and competitors understand what you are doing is as important as how you understand it. Failure to account for this is the difference between policy success and strategic failure.

Here is the link for a full roll call of the casualties and fallen at Pearl Harbor.

And here is the link to eyewitness accounts of the attack.

Here is the sole (surviving?) news report of the attack on Pearl Harbor:

Here is President Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy speech to the Nation where he declares war on Japan:

And finally, here is the live feed of today’s 75th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony.

Rest well Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

 



Tuesday Midday Open Thread

camo-lizard

Looks like human beings aren’t the only creatures who believe camouflage renders them invisible: This little guy was hiding in plain sight on a beer can huggie yesterday!

We’re having weird weather in my neck of the woods. A line of squalls is heading our way, and after it moves through, the temperature is supposed to plunge into the 70s/50s for a couple of days. Then, after another front comes through, it’s going to drop to the 60s/40s.

But for now, it’s in the 80s with absurdly high humidity. It’s muggy as hell! But I refuse to shut the windows and turn on the A/C because the minute I do, it’ll start raining and turn colder. I hate being jerked around by the weather!

Anyhoo. Open thread.



Strategic Miscommunication

There is a long term International Relations concept called the security dilemma, or as I like to think of it, the insecurity spiral. The security dilemma is a Realist concept that arises from the lack of an international sovereign. Basically because there is no overarching international controlling power, the actions of one or more states, usually in regard to military preparations, can/are misinterpreted leading to other states undertaking responses that in turn lead the original actor or actors to respond, leading to more counter responses. All of which causes a crisis of security, an insecurity spiral, which increases the possibility of conflict.

To avoid a security dilemma states, intergovernmental organizations, and a lot of non state actors, try to utilize strategic communication. Joint Publication 5-0 defines strategic communication as:

… efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of … interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power. Also called SC.

President-elect Trump’s recent, unsecured communications with many foreign heads of state have many concerned that these conversations are creating a type of security dilemma whereby the President-elect unintentionally or intentionally changes decades of American policy and strategic posture. And does so without the benefit of a State Department Protocol Officer, State Department pre-briefing to prepare for these calls, and secured comms to ensure that his conversations cannot be intercepted and used against the US (and our allies and partners) in the future. These communications have heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. And we now have an escalation in regard to the People’s Republic of China, which actually places the ongoing security of Taiwan at risk.

While some of this is a unique combination of the age of social media, 24/7 news media, and the Internet and a President-elect who seems addicted to social media and has a unique talent for capturing 24/7 news media, it is not unknown. To a certain extent the events that led up to World War I were the result of a classic security dilemma leading to a catastrophic insecurity spiral and the outbreak of actual war.

More recently, in the early 1980s, the aggressive attempts by President Reagan to pressure the Soviet Union led to a breakdown that almost led to war over the NATO war game known as Able Archer.

Able Archer was a 1983 NATO war game that was misinterpreted by the Soviet Union. The signals intercepts being made by Soviet Intelligence led them to mistakenly believe that NATO, led by the US and Britain, was preparing a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. This almost kicked off a classic security dilemma as the Soviets mobilized in response to the war game. This was initially misinterpreted by NATO as the Soviets conducting their own, counter, war game. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. After Able Archer’s conclusion, British Intelligence provided a complete report on the security dilemma that resulted from the strategic miscommunication to Downing Street, which then communicated to the Reagan Administration in order to prevent something like this from ever happening again. The documentary below details Able Archer, the Soviet Response, and just how closely everyone, on every side, escaped a war caused by misinterpretation from unintended miscommunication.



Thinking Security

Several of you have asked in comments or by email if I’d write a little bit (a lot of bit?) about security. Specifically, personal security. I intended to get this up earlier in the week, but things went sideways on Tuesday, then did an inversion on Wednesday, then a triple lindy yesterday, so…

The first thing that I think is important is something I, and several others, have stressed here in posts and comments: freaking out is not a useful activity. I’m not stating that to pooh pooh anyone’s reactions to the elections, whether they be anger, fear, anxiety, stress, depression, or any combination thereof. All of these are normal and understandable responses. And, of course, if you are feeling really overwhelmed and are having trouble finding/regaining your equilibrium please go see a professional counselor or therapist.

The second thing is don’t do this!

CLEVELAND – Police are investigating the theft of seven guns swiped from a Cleveland home sometime early Tuesday morning.

A mom and her two children were asleep upstairs when she said the thief or thieves broke into the home and cleaned out two gun cabinets. “They’re ready for a war, we were ready for a war,” said Teena Brayen

Brayen and her family are doomsday preppers. “We’re preppers, we believe in preparing for what could happen,” said Brayen.

The Brayens are part of the Three Percenters Club, a militia group that ‘exists to… protect and defend the constitution and our way of life’ by helping people ‘execute Military Strategies to defend against foreign and domestic enemies’.

But the items they wanted to use to defend against invasion in Rome made them a target for invasion in Cleveland.

On November 22, burglars – who, Brayen believes, spotted the weapons when she was moving into the home – took seven guns, 12 machetes, body armor, smoke grenades, more than $1,000 in ammo and some of their food.

Two gun cabinets were emptied of their contents: a high-powered, armor-piercing sniper rifle; five shotguns, and a pellet gun.

Leaving aside the Brayens and the Three Percenters Club, which is not the same as the other Three Percenters, what was missing here was a failure to think security.

Thinking security means to proactively consider what the potential threats might be in order to establish effective, reasonable solutions to them. This means to consider what the potential threats and dangers are to oneself, one’s family, and one’s property (home, business, etc) and what reasonable steps should be taken ahead of time to either deter them or, should deterrence fail, respond to them in the most effective and safe manner possible. This is not just for human threats like crime or terrorism, but also for preparing to deal with natural or man made disasters such as a hurricane or blizzard or earthquake or a gas main explosion or a fracking induced sinkhole or earthquake. To do this one needs to consider several questions.

  1. Who or what is the threat? And what kind of threat is it?
  2. Does the location, item, and/or person need to be secured against a potential threat?
  3. What is the extent of the location’s vulnerability?
  4. Does the potential security countermeasure need to be human, animal, technological, or a combination of them?
  5. How far can I, and how would I go about, extending my secure zone away from myself, my family, my home, etc?
  6. What effect will the potential security response have on me, my family, my friends, my neighbors, my employees, coworkers, and/or customers?

Read more



Mmmmmm….Pie! — Cake Edition

My poor kiddo has a cold and allergies that have left her with a sore throat. She came over for dinner and requested mac-and-cheese (creamy rather than baked) and a Boston cream pie for dessert.

These are both somewhat labor intensive dishes, but what the hell — anything for the kid. Here’s what the Boston cream pie looked like before it was hacked up and eaten:

boston-cream-pie-dec-2016

I think I overdid it on the ganache a bit, but then again, maybe too much chocolate simply isn’t possible. I used the same recipe I’ve used for years from a Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cook Book that I acquired at a yard sale as a teen. I believe the ganache is usually thicker, but maybe it’s the humidity.

After dinner, we watched a terrible movie about an alien abduction on Netflix. I don’t remember the name, but it was set in the 1970s and featured James Garner as an irascible detective. It’s allegedly based on a true story. The entire population of the small town depicted in the movie appeared badly in need of anger management classes — even the moms, nurses and waitresses were snarly.

Anyhoo, open thread!



December Already (Open Thread)

falafuckingla

I just had a panic attack thinking about the looming holidays. I’m not ready. Open thread.



Open Thread with Tasty Bread!

Here are bakers creating loaves of Cuban bread at my favorite bakery in Tampa:

mauricio-faedo-bakery

See the little strips of green protruding from the ends of the loaves like serpents’ tongues? Those are palm leaves, which give Cuban bread its distinctive pattern. How I missed this bread when I lived up north for a few years!

This particular bakery prints the following list of ingredients on its long bread sacks: Water, flour, salt, lard and yeast. If you don’t consume it all within 24 hours, the loaf will petrify to the point that it can be used for household demolition chores.

Open thread!