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sdholloway56
Senior Advisor

Bullwinkle's History Corner

I guess the reason why I found revisting this interesting is on account of the present moment. As Bruce has said, back in the day you'd find guys who would whisper that we were on the wrong side in WWII but now they pretty much say it out loud. And the present public mood is evidence to me of US public sentiment heading into the war- during another period of extremely low social mood. It isn't news that even though sentiment about US involvement in the war was turning by '41, the sentiment against remained very strong until Pearl Harbor.

Anyway, there was a difference of opinion in the Japanese high command about attacking the US vs. picking the lower hanging fruit of the Soviet Far East. Japan already held Manchuria and Korea and was winning in China. The Red Army had defeated some Japanese incursions in '38 and '39, but after Barbarossa it would have been a much easier fight. And the Nazis would have most certainly prevailed under those circumstances. One of the turning points on the Eastern Front was when the Soviets received intelligence that indicated that the Japanese did not intend to attack and they were able to move a lot of assets to the west.

May have come down to oil. While there's a lot of oil in Siberia, it wasn't highly developed at that time. Most of Soviet production was in that Capsian/Urals region- also a prime and desperately needed target for Hitler.

So the Japanese High Command probably concluded that they had to have the readily available oil from Indonesia and Malaysia urgently, particualrly after the US embargoed them. And that the US was a lot more of a problem if they attacked the colonial possessions of their western allies, so it was all in.

13 Replies
sdholloway56
Senior Advisor

Re: Bullwinkle's History Corner

Oil was huge in that conflict, probably the pivotal factor, along with food.

And of course it presented an outsized importance in US strategic thinking for decades, including the "strategic" thinking behind the Iraq and Afghanistan wars- really the entire WFTGME since the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

The Germans' general opinion of the US forces was not particularly high except they always had plenty of fuel and anything that got knocked out was just replaced by another one.

rawhide
Advisor

Re: Bullwinkle's History Corner

If they would have just had windmills and electric tanks huh?

sdholloway56
Senior Advisor

Re: Bullwinkle's History Corner

The Pentagon is the largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world but they are working to reduce that. I assume that the military will continue to run on liquid fuels for a log time, regardless.

But having dispersed domestic energy sources would be helpful to national security, and looks like we'll have plenty of oil for the 30 or so years it takes to wind that down- even after that for applications that really require it.

Hardening the grid is a top priority.

rsbs
Veteran Advisor

Re: Bullwinkle's History Corner

The Germans were close to having atomic power, and did have jet engines. If Hitler would have listened to cooler minds, slowed down, consolidated power and governance to the European continent, we probably all would be speaking German....well, those that were uncircumcised, blonde and blue eyed, etc. You know, the joebiden types. Didn't the irish refuse to take up arms against the Germans?

The real test would have came once the main consolidation  wars were over, and the krauts then took on the japs.

sdholloway56
Senior Advisor

Re: Bullwinkle's History Corner

They just went at Western Europe to clear their rear for the Big Show- they didn't care for the 2 front war before. Given the attitude of the British upper classes, they had good reason to think that Britain would sue for peace. But Churchill and the British working people would have none of it.

The clear and stated goal was to create lebensraum in the East- remove or subjugate the inferior Slavic peoples and eliminate the Jews and Bolsheviks, who they regarded as mortal enemies who would kill them eventually if they didn't kill them first.

The more reasonable counterfactual would be if Hitler had permitted his Generals to retreat to a more defensible perimeter in the East, and more resources would have been available on the West.. But that went counter to the whole plan. It was a war of annihilation.

rickgthf
Senior Advisor

Re: Don't forget, in the lead up to WWII

Hitler spent the better part of two decades waging a domestic war against the communists in German.  In fact, the German industrialists & clergy sided with Hilter because of the communists.  His animosity completely colored his thinking about the Soviet Union & Stalin.  In the end, he let it overrule his strategic sense.

rickgthf
Senior Advisor

Re: Atomic power, not that close, ..

Jet engines yes but by that time they no longer the industrial or energy resources to make use of either.  The energy cost to refine enough U235 just wasn't available like it was to the US w/ the Tennesse Valley Authority and the industrial capacity to make jet planes was gone as well. 

sdholloway56
Senior Advisor

Re: Atomic power, not that close, ..

Somebody said that you know you're an old guy when you're obsessed with WWII history.

I'm interested in history, but not specifically that, so much.

Anyway, the Nazi regime was a pretty awesome military machine. It took 50% of the massive US GDP and super abundant resources for 4 years, and 20 M Russian deaths to defeat it (a very severe shorthand for everything else that was contributed).

The rockets, that became the heart of our space program. And our 1956 Nautilus sub was just a knockoff of their final super sub with a nuke propulsion system. 

But sure, in the final analysis there are some what ifs.

sdholloway56
Senior Advisor

Re: Atomic power, not that close, ..

50% of our GDP and 20 million directly involved in the war effort.

Vs. don't ask me to get a couple little pricks on my arm.