I posted earlier today about the “Blame America for Pearl Harbor” crowd.  Allow me to bookend the day by reprinting a piece of real historickal analysis by the superb Victor Davis Hanson:

Why did Japan attack us 70 years ago today, other than the usually cited existential reasons and the fact that they thought they could and get away with it?

We sometimes forget that their expansionism in Manchuria quickly put them in collision with the Soviet Union, and for much of the summer of 1939 they waged a vicious and costly border war against the Soviets — one that they eventually lost and which led to their signing a non-aggression pact with Russia by spring 1941.

The Japanese had bitterly complained that, in the midst of their ordeal, their supposedly anti-Communist ally Nazi Germany had without warning agreed to a duplicitous non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union. Indeed, the Ribbentrop-Molotov deal was signed on August 23, 1939, amid some of the worst fighting for the Japanese on the Russian eastern front. If Hitler thought that he had a green light to go into Poland, Stalin was equally relieved that he too had only a one-front war and no worries about the Japanese as he gobbled up his share of Poland.

The irony was, of course, that when Hitler invaded Russia the next year in June 1941, Stalin was freed up by Japanese neutrality to send critical divisions from the east; in tit-for-tat fashion, the Japanese had done to Germany what Germany had just earlier done to it. After the stall at Moscow, it is strange to read of growing Germany exasperation with the Japanese, given prior Nazi unconcern with Japan’s war with Russia.

As for the Japanese in spring 1941, with their own rear largely freed from worries over the Soviets and the army somewhat in disrepute after the costly and losing conventional border war and the humiliation of being loud proponents of the now dubious alliance with Hitler, the navy was able to make the argument that a one-front, primarily carrier war against the Americans made some sense, and a simultaneous one against the naturally rich colonies of the weaker European Pacific powers even more sense given their losses in Europe to Hitler.

Indeed, until August 1945, it was the United States, not Japan, that had a traditional two-front war. We rarely talk of Stalin’s duplicity in this regard: While we were suffering terrible casualties from the Japanese, supplying Russia, conducting bloody campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and over the skies of Europe, and being hectored by the Soviets to open a second front in Europe, the Soviets honored their non-aggression pact with Japan, freeing up hundreds of thousands of veteran troops to be used against us on the islands. I never understood why history books focus on Stalin’s exasperation with our supposedly tardy invasion of Normandy, when he was completely unwilling to open a second front against Japan — until it was utterly wrecked in August 1945 and there were easy pickings to be had in the region.

Go read the rest for some further thoughts on the supposed genius and enlightenment of Admiral Yamamoto, as well as the Hobbesian lesson about international politics every bit as applicable today as it was back then.