On Sunday, The University of Tennessee Center for the Study of War and Society co-sponsored a lecture at the East Tennessee Historical Society, given by UT professor emeritus Jonathan Utley.
The lecture, entitled "Why Nations Go to War: Lessons from World War II," was presented in commemoration of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which will be nationally observed on Wednesday.Utley, a diplomatic historian who retired after 25 years at UT in 1994, illustrated patterns he has studied about warfare, reactions which he said also preceded the Pearl Harbor attack.
identified three warnings of rhetoric that he
said have many times led to war.
identified portrayals of the enemy as "some type of subhuman animal, bent on creating catastrophic things because that's just the way they are."
pointed out arguments such as, "They started it; we had nothing to do with it.We were just minding our own business, and, by God, they attacked us."
said, "When you see people who will argue publicly or privately ... either go to war or we face catastrophic consequences, be worried ... "Utley
said that oversimplifications such as these divert analysis of other related events that may underlie an opponent's actions.Every nation that has gone to war, he
said, felt that they were the aggrieved party.
studies did not find that the consequences which will fall upon the people in the war are considered by officials in the equation of whether to go to war.He
detailed how political misrepresentations led, step by step, to diplomatic failures and, inevitably, conflict.Utley
proposed that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in response to a desperate need for oil, created in part by the U.S.-led international oil embargo levied against Japanese expansion in the Pacific region.
said that U.S.-supported purchases of Chinese silver in response to the atrocities against that country, were seen by the Japanese as preventing their attempts to isolate and destroy the Chinese army
explained how earlier in the 20th century, Japan's international policies had evolved similarly to those in the United States, shifting from military expansionism to "economic liberalism," expanding via investment control in other countries' resources. Utley
described how political shifts in Japan culminated in the World War II era, including how a perceived insult by an international mandate that Japan's navy remain small steered the country away from economic liberalism and back to hard-line militarism.He proposed that Japan intended to disable the fleet that the United States had placed on guard in the Hawaiian Pacific, and then bargain for peace once its economic routes had been secured.
Utley's studies are detailed in his
republished book, "Going to War with Japan: 1937-1941."He
has also published another book, "An American Battleship at Peace and War: The USS Tennessee."Ron Thomas, who graduated from UT with a master's degree in history in 1972, traveled from Powell to hear Utley, his former professor.
..."Dr. Utley was my professor when I got my master's degree in 1972 so when I got the brochure in the mail concerning the program, I was interested in hearing him and seeing him again," Thomas said.
"The thing that keeps you intellectually alive, that keeps you going, are the students," Utley
admiration and appreciation of one former student, Nancy-Ann DeParle
, who has helped to establish a research and scholarship fund for the UT history department in his
honor."She happened to be exceptionally bright, well-organized and ambitious," he said of DeParle, who interned with the Chief Justice of the United States during her junior year at UT.