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The United States and Japan in World War II: Historical Overview

Certainly part of the reason for this abandonment of principles by Americans in the war with Japan was the nature of the beginning of the war---the "sneak" attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor. The day of the attack was memorialized by President Roosevelt's description---"a date which will live in infamy" (7). So brutal was the Japanese attack that war was declared by Congress the next day, less than an hour after Roosevelt's speech. The forty-four month war which would follow was marked, from the American side, by strong emotional forces which led to the abovementioned abandonment of principles, the bombing of civilian targets, the dropping of the atomic bombs on two cities, etc.

Spector analyzes not only the broad historical issues of the war, but also focuses on such specific elements as the states of mind of the military organizations on both sides. Spector makes clear that the outcome of the war depended on the flexibility of the American military and its ability to alter traditional military thinking to fit the contingencies of the war:

The United States entered the war with four more-or-less independent armed services, each with its own organizational goals, interested, and dogmas. Each service was led by officers committed to these organizational views. . . . How successful these officers were in modifying, or in some cases transcending, their service outlook and careerism would, in large measure, determine their success in the Pacific War (28).

Of course, the branches of the military in the United States were able to modify and transcend their independent views and goals, and the cooperative effort which resulted led to victory over Japan. Ironically, before the war started, the Japanese military was organized more cooperatively, but there were obstacles to effective military execution among Japanese leaders which were not overcome through the course of the war. For example, "If the [Japanese] army and navy could not agre...

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The United States and Japan in World War II: Historical Overview. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:09, August 23, 2017, from
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