Saturday, October 03, 2015
The Ten Ships (this was written in 2010)
To jump from the correct idea that defeating the forces which ‘attacked American on 9/11″ were an existential threat to the idea that ergo Afghanistan was a war of necessity was a huge non sequitur. Afghanistan happened to be the place from which Osama Bin launched his attack on September 11. Admiral Nagumo launched his infamous attack on Pearl Harbor from a nameless patch of ocean 200 miles North of Oahu. But Admiral King had the sense to understand that the location itself had little significance. It was the Kido Butai, the ten carriers which made up the Japanese Fast Carrier force which momentarily occupied that ocean waste that he had to destroy. While the Kido Butai existed it could move across the vast spaces and attack at a point of its choosing. While it survived every patch of ocean was dangerous. Once it had been neutralized all the oceans of the world were potentially safe. As John Adams in his book If Mahan Ran the Great Pacific War wrote: “sink ten ships and win the naval war”. Both the Nihon Kaigun and the CINCPAC understood this. The entire purpose of subsequent American naval operations was to find and sink these ten ships; and the Nihon Kaigun’s subsequent efforts revolved around their attempt to preserve them.But today only one side — the forces behind al-Qaeda – have a clear strategic conception of the war they are waging. The President seems determined to misunderstand it. He is waging existential war against tribesmen at the end of the world while denying that the Kido Butai even exists. He may succeed on narrow terms, but al-Qaeda, the modern Kido Butai, will simply move elsewhere: to Yemen, Birmingham or Detroit and the menace will remain unabated.