Kahn, David
December 1991
Foreign Affairs;Winter91/92, Vol. 70 Issue 5, p138
The article focuses on the U.S. communications intelligence prior to World War II. Tension with Japan had begun when the United States seized the Philippines in 1898. Within the Imperial Japanese Navy a vocal faction saw the westward march of the United States as squeezing and poisoning Japan. Friction intensified at the Washington disarmament conference of 1922, when the United States forced Japan to accept a lower warship ratio than it would have liked. This American diplomatic victory was achieved with the help of the charismatic cryptanalyst Herbert O. Yardley and his assistants, whose solution of coded Japanese diplomatic messages told American negotiators just how far they could push the Japanese. During the 1930s, the navy attacked and often solved other Japanese naval codes--for administration, merchant ships, logistics, intelligence--and several cipher machines. When codebreaking failed, traffic analysis provided much information. Traffic analysis infers an organization's structure and operation from message routing, message volume, call signs and operators' chatter.


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