August 19th, 2013

Midway Aftermath- Part 3.5

View from the top: The United States: The Roosevelt administration has in many ways a better idea of Japanese possibilities than any of the Japanese factions do. Roosevelt knows what's getting built in US shipyards, assuming no major production glitches. He has a pretty good idea of the limitations of Japanese power. It's true that if the Japanese put all, or even half of their available carriers into an area, no Allied fleet or combination of fleets can stop them, or survive within their range. It's also true that it will be at least six months, and more likely a year before that will change. At the same time, the Japanese can't control the Pacific, or even the Eastern half of it in the same way that the US and Britain can control the Atlantic. The Pacific is too big and the Japanese don't have the kind of fleet they would need to control it, even to the extent of establishing a credible blockade of Australia or Hawaii. The Japanese can send their carriers anywhere in their very long range, but where ever they aren't Allied convoys can go.

If the Japanese take more territory, they just spread their military power thinner. The Japanese will lose unless Germany has tricks up its sleeve that will let them knock the Soviets out of the war. Roosevelt worries far more about the Germans winning in the Soviet Union than about the Japanese taking Hawaii or attacking the US West Coast. At the same time, he is a democratically elected president with mid-term elections coming up in not many months, so the defeat at Midway forces Roosevelt to do some things he would prefer not to do. The Pacific fleet has to be reinforced because otherwise California voters view themselves as vulnerable. Defenses on the West Coast have to be beefed up, as do the already quite adequate forces on Hawaii. That's all a dead waste of men and material. To attack the west coast or mount a sustained attack on Hawaii, the Japanese would have to build up naval logistics and manpower on some of their newly conquered islands, Guam being the most likely, or they would have to build up a logistics fleet of the kind the US is trying to build. There is no sign they're doing either of those things.

Roosevelt does worry that the Japanese may take advantage of their six to nine months of near invulnerability to try to occupy islands to cut off Australia or tackle nickel-rich New Caledonia, and he has to quickly reinforce existing US garrisons there. His main worries are on mainland Asia though. Defeat at Midway means that the Japanese are free to do pretty much what they want to in China and possibly the Soviet Union until well into 1943.
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