Obama’s Midway

Over at The Belmont Club Richard Fernandez draws an analogy from naval warfare, always dear to your humble correspondent’s heart.  He writes:

One trivial but often underappreciated fact about the battle of Midway was that for Spruance to hit Nagumo he had to expose his carriers to reciprocal damage. Once you close with an opponent he closes with you. Risk is often symmetric. Nimitz understood this well, and it lies at the heart of his order to the carriers on that occasion. He told Spruance, “you will be governed by the principle of calculated risk, which you shall interpret to mean the avoidance of exposure of your force to attack by superior enemy forces without good prospect of inflicting… greater damage on the enemy.”

Up to that time the very formidable Japanese carrier force had struck suddenly, swiftly and with overwhelming force.  The December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor is the classic example of Japanese success.  The showed up unexpectedly, attacked with overwhelming force and left a shattered, burning foe in their wake.  At Midway that calculus changed, the Americans were forewarned and were ready to rumble.  The Japanese had never faced a determined, capable foe and had not developed the weaponry and tactics that would enable them to engage in a defensive fight, take a major hit and survive.  When the hits finally came, despite the American lack of effective coordination, they were catastrophic for the Japanese carriers; all four were destroyed while two out of three of the American carriers survived.  The Japanese never recovered from those losses.

To this point in his career Obama’s success has been very much like the initial Japanese carrier strikes.  He depends on ruthlessness, stealth and treachery to achieve his political ends, and he has been stunningly successful.  He now finds himself in Nagumo’s situation at Midway.  His position is known, it is broad daylight and no matter how ill coordinated the attacks from the Republicans and conservatives the attacks just keep on coming, and they are scoring hits.  Surrounded by his foes there is nowhere he can hide, no distraction he can point to and, more importantly, no one he can betray to get clear.  He has proved that he can dish it out, now we find out if he can take it.

IJN Shoho burning and taking another hit at Midway.

My money says Kid Barack goes the way of Kidô Butai.

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