For a while, I couldn't wrap my mind around the Japanese decision to attack the United States and enter World War II - while I'm sure it was a very complicated choice, as far as I'd been brought to understand, it seemed mostly to be in response to a steel embargo, which seemed a rather silly thing to start a transoceanic war over.

So I'm playing Civilization III the other day, and I'm at a point that would roughly correspond to the real world's late 1800s. In a random map game, I began on a large peninsula, and while I now entirely control it, the other civilizations have come to fill the other continents, leaving me with little success finding a foothold overseas. The Iroquois, on the continent to the east, have just built a city that cuts off my only access to coal and rubber, which are vital for the newest improvements and military units.

The Iroquois just lost a war on another border with the Egyptians, so they're weak enough that I could capture and hold the coast easily, capturing not only the vital strategic resources, but a well-developed, productive region. However, they've got a treaty with the Romans, to my west, a formidable force. It's a narrow border, though, and with my quick cavalry units, I might be able to take a few of their cities and fortify, or trade them back for a peace treaty.

I could just stay as I am - I haven't really ticked anyone off, and my mainland is isolated enough that no one has any big land disputes with me. I'd survive, but without the resources and territory, I know I'd be doomed to second-rate status as the other civilizations build up their cities, maneuver their shiny new armies, and take some time out every now and then to extort some gold, or an interesting technology. Given a choice between a risky unknown and a certain future of obscurity, I know what I'll pick.

Tora! Tora! Tora!