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View Diary: "War is constant noise": Russian WWII vets tell their stories (53 comments)

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  •  the question (12+ / 0-)

    is not, as you put it, "Could America really have defeated Hitler without the aid of Stalin?" It is, rather, "could Stalin have defeated Hitler without the aid of America?" And the answer is: he did.

    America didn't defeat Hitler. The USSR did. More than 80 percent of all German battlefield casualties were inflicted by the Red Army. The American contribution to the defeat of Hitler was, in the great scheme of things, small. It was also delayed. In no small part because Churchill kept coming up with excuses not to open a Second Front, as--bloody bastard that he was--he wanted as many fascists and communists to kill each other off as possible.

    Only Americans believe that "America" defeated Hitler. Like most of what is believed by most people in America, it's simply a myth.

    As for your question "was Afghanistan Russia's Vietnam?" many Russians think so. There is a book by two former Soviet military officers, The Afghan Syndrome, that argues that Soviet refusal to learn the lessons of Vietnam led to the Afghan calamity. Which the US could now repeat, if it's not careful.

    Thanks for bringing these stories to this site.

    •  Mother Russia as a weapon (7+ / 0-)

      The Russians used their country itself as a weapon.  They backed up toward Moscow as the Nazis invaded, inviting them in, beckoning them forward, stretching out the supply lines.  

      If I remember correctly, there were three invading armies.  The northernmost one was not mechanized but horsedrawn.  The middle and southern ones were mechanized and dependent on capturing Soviet fuel supplies.

      One huge bonus on the Russian side -- the Nazi invasion force had NOT realized or planned for the difference in the railroad gauge between Germany and USSR.  All Nazi supplies moving east had to be moved to railroad cars that fit the USSR gauge, either by moving supplies from Western guage to Eastern gauge cars by hand or by lifting the Western cars off their trucks and moving them on to Eastern gauge trucks.  This gave the USSR time, during which them moved East themselves, destroying all shelter and food that the Nazi's could use.  The USSR removed machinery from factories and put them on trains heading to Siberia.  They continued production of rifles and who knows what all else while the trains were moving east.

      And then came the Russian winter.

      I once spoke with an Austrian man who had been forced into the Nazi army and had served on the Russian front.  It is a miracle to me that he survived.

    •  Battle of Britain... (8+ / 0-)

      Hitler wanted to wrap things up in the West and then have a one front war against Russia... things would have gone differently if he had knocked Britain out of the war first... Russia was always his main goal.

      And The 3rd Reich would have had little chance at defeating Russia if Stalin had not purged his officer corps not long before the war... The Russian army was very poor initially as proved in the war with Finland. If that trial run had not happened the Russians would not have had a wake up call to fix things and they would have been even more unprepared and weaker when Hitler invaded.

      The fallback by the Russians was not a clever strategic retreat, at least not at first... Stalin was dead set against retreat in the early stages which is why the huge Soviet armies were encircled and forced to surrender en-masse in the early part of the invasion. Later the Russians had to adapt in order to survive and then the wholesale destruction or evacuation of anything that could help the Germans was put into place and eventually those efforts bought them time to replace the lost supplies and equipment and rebuild their armies.

      And still they relied on enormous amounts of US aid via the Murmansk convoys. Without that they might have not succeeded. Add to that the allied bombing of Germany complicated the 3rd Reich's war effort. While true that they increased war production output in spite of the bombing that overlooks the huge amount of manpower and effort to defend against the air raids, and then to rebuild. A lot of production went into that and the more labor and materials that was tied up in the West before D DAY and after meant less for the Eastern Front.

      The Russians heard only the information that Stalin wanted them to hear... the extent of assistance from the other allies, the efforts on other fronts by the allies were mostly unknown or downplayed... perhaps matching lack of awareness of the Russians part in the war among the average American. And most of all they did not hear about how Stalin's ineptitude and suppression led to the initial failures of the Red Army and the horrific losses and destruction in Russia.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Fri Oct 09, 2009 at 04:43:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  with respect, (5+ / 0-)

        Allied bombing didn't do shit, except kill a lot of civilians. That was the conclusion of the US' own strategic bombing survey, conducted after the war. Which also concluded that the nuclear weapons dropped on Japan speeded up the end of that theater of the war by about 10 days. Exploding another American myth, that Truman "had" to drop the bombs. See, as an example, the interview with John Kenneth Galbraith in Terkel's The Good War.

        And there is no evidence that the USSR would not have succeeded absent the supplies that came in through Murmansk.

        •  A naval blockade of Japan (4+ / 0-)

          would have served the purpose. No invasion was necessary. We would have been saved the shame of being the only nation ever to have actually used a nuclear weapon.

        •  Could the Russians have won without... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          adrianrf, morbie5

          the $11 billion worth of petroleum and equipment that was provided by us through lend-lease? Possibly, but you can't deny that it helped them win.

          As for the Allies not achieving shit, tell that to everyone who lost loved ones on D-Day or during the Battle of the Bulge.

          PS: The Russians entry into the war was also "delayed." Like us, they didn't enter the war out of the goodness of their hearts. They fought because Hitler invaded Russia (Operation Barbarossa - June 22, 1941), in violation of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non Aggression Pact signed in 1939.

          No, America didn't single-handedly win the war. To claim we did is pure ignorance, but it is equally ignorant to claim that we contributed nothing to the allied victory.

          Blackadder: They're upset, Sir, because they are so poor that they are forced to have children merely to provide a cheap alternative to turkey at Christmas.

          by AuroraDawn on Fri Oct 09, 2009 at 05:34:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  i said (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            it was Allied bombing that "didn't do shit" . . . except kill civilians. And that's a fact. Confirmed, as I said, by the US' own strategic bombing survey group.

            The Polish army "lost loved ones" too. Are you going to claim that because of that the Poles too "won" WWII?

            More than 80% of all German battlefield casualties were inflicted by the Red Army. Yes, the US contributed to the defeat of the Nazis, but it was largely the USSR that "won" the European theater of WWII. If that is an uncomfortable or inconvenient truth for you, I'm sorry.

            •  No, when phrased in this way... (3+ / 0-)
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              blueness, adrianrf, IreGyre

              More than 80% of all German battlefield casualties were inflicted by the Red Army. Yes, the US contributed to the defeat of the Nazis, but it was largely the USSR that "won" the European theater of WWII.

              I have no problem with your argument. I just consider it extremely simplistic to suggest that one country, all on their own, without help from anyone, somehow "won" WWII. No one is going to dispute that the USSR caused and incurred the most casualties, but they didn't win the war all by themselves. It was a combined effort.

              As for the Poles, did Poland "win" the war? No, but partisan groups and Poles fighting with the allies did make contributions. Their contributions may be viewed by you as small, but they were made, and should be acknowledged.

              My point was that instead of making this a macabre contest over who "won" WWII, and whose sacrifices are somehow more worthy of recognition, we should simply acknowledge the sacrifices made by all involved.

              Blackadder: They're upset, Sir, because they are so poor that they are forced to have children merely to provide a cheap alternative to turkey at Christmas.

              by AuroraDawn on Fri Oct 09, 2009 at 07:57:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I should probably further clarify one point... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I have never believed that Americans "won" WWII. It has always been my view that America simply contributed to an Allied victory. We were, in otherwords, one part of a larger effort. That many Americans feel the need to descibe the Allied victory as a purely American victory is, for the reasons you have pointed out, inaccurate and an insult to soldiers from other Allied nations, and the Russians in particular.

              Blackadder: They're upset, Sir, because they are so poor that they are forced to have children merely to provide a cheap alternative to turkey at Christmas.

              by AuroraDawn on Fri Oct 09, 2009 at 08:18:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Another overlooked factor: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Stalin had to keep large numbers of troops in the Far East to hold borders against Japan. He could probably have done it with fewer troops. It was only when Moscow was directly threatened by the German invasion that troops from Siberia were finally moved west and were key to the midwinter counter attack that stopped the Germans and began the push-back.

                But throughout the war Stalin kept a large  force in the East but not enough to launch an overwhelming offensive there. People forget that there was hostilities there BEFORE war broke out with the German invasion...

                ..the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact of April 1941. The Neutrality Pact freed up forces from the border incidents and enabled the Soviets to concentrate on their war with Germany, and the Japanese to concentrate on their southern expansion into Asia and the Pacific Ocean

                . Stalin also had intelligence that the Japanese were not planning any more offensives in Mongolia and Siberia allowed them the flexibility and increased confidence to focus on the West than otherwise would have been the case. But Stalin did not entirely trust his intelligence or the Japanese and felt he still had to keep and later add to the major resources tied up in the East.

                However, with success at Stalingrad, the Soviet attitude to Japan changed, both publicly, with Stalin making speeches denouncing Japan, and "privately", with the Soviets building up forces and supplies in the Far East.

                From 1943 to 1945 Stalin was increasingly able to maintain and add to Russian strength in the Russian Far East and that was due in part to the additional help the Allies sent to Russia and indirectly by the resources that Germany had to redirect in the other direction. Without that Stalin would have been hard pressed to keep and supply the forces he thought adequate in the East and successfully counter attack the Germans in the West.

                The Allies needed each other and without the full participation and support of each the outcome likely would have been very different.

                Another note...

                The arguments over the dropping of the Atom bombs that demonize the US totally over looks other views even from Japanese who were privy to the debate at the highest levels in Japan and the political realities there at the time.

                The "one condition" faction, led by Togo, seized on the bombing as decisive justification of surrender. Kōichi Kido, one of Emperor Hirohito's closest advisers, stated: "We of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war." Hisatsune Sakomizu, the chief Cabinet secretary in 1945, called the bombing "a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war."[40]

                And the Russian factor there is important too.

                The Japanese attempted to negotiate with the Russians. A new Japanese prime minister and cabinet was sworn in in May 1945:

                In keeping with the custom of a new government declaring its purposes, following the May meetings the Army staff produced a document, "The Fundamental Policy to Be Followed Henceforth in the Conduct of the War," which stated that the Japanese people would fight to extinction rather than surrender. This policy was adopted by the Big Six on June 6. (Tōgō opposed it, while all the other Big Six supported it.)[32] Documents submitted by Suzuki at the same meeting suggested that, in the diplomatic overtures to the USSR, Japan adopt the following approach:

                   It should be clearly made known to Russia that she owes her victory over Germany to Japan, since we remained neutral, and that it would be to the advantage of the Soviets to help Japan maintain her international position, since they have the United States as an enemy in the future.

                But Stalin played for time and did not seriously negotiate with them since he was sure of substantial gains by invading Japanese held areas later in 1945.

                As agreed at Yalta, the Soviet Union had intervened in the war with Japan within three months of the German surrender, and they were therefore entitled to the territories of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands and also to preeminent interests over Port Arthur and Dalian, with its strategic rail connections. The territories on the Asian mainland were subsequently transferred to the full control of the People's Republic of China in 1955; the other possessions are still administered by the Soviet Union's successor state, Russia.

                Though the north of the Korean peninsula was under Soviet control, the logistic machine driving the invasion forces had given out before the entire peninsula could be seized. With the American landing at Incheon — some time before the Red Army could have remobilized and secured the entire peninsula — Korea was effectively divided. This was a precursor to the Korean War five years later.

                What that means is: if the bombs had not been dropped the Soviet attack on the Japanese in the far east would have happened within days anyway (they may have moved up the invasion date slightly but the combined attack happened as soon as the final army groups were in position and the Japanese would have fought far longer and the Soviets would have had time to occupy all of Korea and been in a position overall to demand co-occupation of the Japanese home Islands. Either way the post war history would be totally different. My own father was assigned to a unit that was to be deployed in the planned invasion of the home Islands. I would probably not be here even if he had lived since his later life would have diverged along with that of millions of others.

                Think it through. The US did not want too much Russian involvement in the East post war. The war came to an abrupt end saving a staggering number of lives. Every day the war dragged on meant an additional death toll 10-days to 2 weeks of the average death rate in the Pacific war equaled the total dead in just the 2 bombs and that does not include the far huger losses from conventional bombing. Civilians and Soldiers were dying in labor camps, in direct combat and from disease that raged unchecked in many areas and deaths every other war related reasons. A shorter war meant millions fewer dead. The war would have staggered on for 2 months at least and maybe longer.

                The main Allied thinking about Russia was what would happen post war within their occupation zones? In the end the concerns were more than born out and it is fortunate for Japan and the World that the Russians did not have effective control of half of Japan postwar. Japan's post war economic miracle was jump-started by being used as the staging area and supply source for the UN troops in Korea during the Korean War. Without South Korea and a resurgent Japan the world would be vastly different than it is now. Without Japan going the way it has we would not be typing out these words in the way we are and probably we would not even be around to do it.

                Different people would inhabit the world but it would arguably not have advanced as far as it has in IT without Japan being able to be the innovative and productive powerhouse that it has been as well as South Korea. Both of which along with Taiwan have been experiments that served to change the approach the People's Republic of China has taken. And all due to how the war ended in the Pacific.

                Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

                by IreGyre on Sat Oct 10, 2009 at 03:50:35 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thank you for that additional information... (0+ / 0-)

                  You present a fascinating argument. I knew that Russia had a long and complicated history with both China and Japan. Having fought a disastrous war at the turn of the century with Japan. I was not aware of the role Russian-Japanese relations played during WWII and post-war. Very interesting.

                  Not only would the post-war period have been very different in the East, had the Americans not been involved. Imagine what life would have been like in the West if, instead of the US/UK/Canada liberating France, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc., Russia had liberated those countries. One wonders if they wouldn't have spent several decades as part of the Soviet Bloc right along with Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and East Germany.

                  Blackadder: They're upset, Sir, because they are so poor that they are forced to have children merely to provide a cheap alternative to turkey at Christmas.

                  by AuroraDawn on Sat Oct 10, 2009 at 01:27:25 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            • was Allied bombing that "didn't do shit"... (0+ / 0-)

              As I said, it tied up significant Axis resources, human and material that could have been used to support the eastern front. The Strategic bombing survey group... was trying to see if they had succeeded on their own terms... and they found that they did not. BUT, that survey and it's conclusions were faulty. Measuring just output of war production and the conclusion would be that it failed... read my comment again... the amount of the total activity and manpower tied up in air defense, prison camps, rebuilding infrastructure and production facilities was substantial. Every activity directed West and internally took capability away from the Eastern Front which weakened their capability there.

              The Russians ramped up war production and capability and so did the Nazis but as successful as they were doing that in spite of the Allied Bombing campaign it was not enough to match the Russian war economy. Why? Size of population and raw materials was important but consider this: while the Russian war industries were free from constant attacks the Germans were not, While the Russians got substantial supplies from outside the Germans had to get everything from within the borders they controlled which was constantly hamstrung and delayed by the bombing. When the Romanian oil fields got bombed their fuel supplies were badly hit at a crucial time in the war. To say that none of this made any difference is to ignore additional information overlooked, downplayed or left out by some sources. Relying on Russian history books or authors who seem exclusively tied to that part of the narrative is as faulty as reading an American-centric version of the war.

              Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

              by IreGyre on Sat Oct 10, 2009 at 01:51:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  True, Truman didn't "have" to drop the... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RumsfeldResign, IreGyre

          Exploding another American myth, that Truman "had" to drop the bombs.

          bomb. However, the US had already lost enough people and no one wanted to lose 100,000 or more troops invading mainland Japan. Lets no forget that the Japanese didn't surrender after the first bomb was dropped; it took two bombs!

          •  Again, a false dichotomy, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ybruti, adrianrf

            it wasn't either invade or nuke. A blockade, like a siege, would have starved the Japanese into submission, and relatively quickly.

            •  Doubtful, they would have starved to... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              IreGyre, Azazello

              death before surrendering.

              And you can't be sure we would have been able to conduct an effective blockade or siege.

            •  in 2 weeks? no (0+ / 0-)

              Japanese own evaluation of the situation warned that by the end of the year they would lose the ability to continue the war or end it on terms they found acceptable. August to Dec... 4-5 months...

              The daily average death rate in the Pacific theater was equivalent to a Hiroshima and a Nagasaki EVERY 10 to 14 days... and that average is for the whole war... death due to all war related causes was increasing at the time so every day the war lasted meant ever greater numbers of deaths.

              Philippine justice Delfin Jaranilla, member of the Tokyo tribunal, wrote in his judgment:

                 "If a means is justified by an end, the use of the atomic bomb was justified for it brought Japan to her knees and ended the horrible war. If the war had gone longer, without the use of the atomic bomb, how many thousands and thousands of helpless men, women and children would have needlessly died and suffer ...?"

              Invading the home islands or just starving them into submission would have meant even greater numbers of deaths including even more large scale bombing of the remaining areas of all the major cities. The loss of life in Japan and elsewhere is nothing to disregard since they would have dwarfed the Atom bomb deaths by at least a factor of 10 or 20.

              There are very large numbers of people alive in the world today in China, Indonesia, Indo-China, Japan, Korea and all over the Pacific theater, both war survivors and their descendants who would not be with us if the 2 bombs had not been dropped. The trade off of a longer war meant that a large number of those who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have died later in the massive conventional bombing that would have followed either a pre-invasion campaign or as part of a total blockade of Japan which would still have had mass kamikaze attacks on the blockading fleets over a period of months. All while huge numbers of people would have been dying every day in every country still fighting the Japanese. A bitter trade: 110,000 immediate deaths in the two cities (plus up to 90,000 over the next few months and then up till the present day for a total of 200,000) versus 10 million or more deaths stretched out over several more months at least...

              "The intercepts of Japanese Imperial Army and Navy messages disclosed without exception that Japan's armed forces were determined to fight a final Armageddon battle in the homeland against an Allied invasion. The Japanese called this strategy Ketsu Go (Operation Decisive). It was founded on the premise that American morale was brittle and could be shattered by heavy losses in the initial invasion. American politicians would then gladly negotiate an end to the war far more generous than unconditional surrender."[29]

              The US had their recent experiences in Okinawa and the earlier Pacific Island assaults coloring their projections plus their reading of coded Japanese messages and monitoring Japanese radio propaganda. And the Japanese had a good look at the final defeat of Germany and the surrender terms and occupation. Something that they wished to avoid at all costs. The bombs changed everything.

              Those who say the Allies (principally the USA) should have just blockaded the home Islands and just waited the Japanese out for a few months would be as immoral as Stalin halting the Red Army outside of Warsaw and waiting for the Ghetto uprising to run it's course content for others to die instead of Russians, even if it could have brought a quicker end to the war against Germany. Americans who could have said "See, we are saving American lives" in the Pacific would have been standing by while staggering loss of life continued all over Asia... And any real understanding of the Japanese policies and traditions plus the planning for total resistance at all costs shows that is what would have happened. With or without a continued conventional bombing campaign over Japan the loss of life there and everywhere else would have continued unabated.

              10 days to 2 weeks and more deaths than the 2 bombs combined would have occurred regardless and as starvation and war and disease took their toll over the succeeding months. Gaining substantially fewer deaths overall is more moral regardless of the horror of mass deaths in 2 cities over several days. A terrible price and yet one that avoided a much larger horror. Every wrongful death is a death that should be prevented if possible...but 10 million or more deaths is much worse than 110,000. How a smaller number might die does not counter balance a much greater number dying over a longer period. Nuclear deaths are no different from non nuclear deaths in the end. And any means that yields fewer deaths by a large margin, no matter how horribly the smaller number die may be the only choice to make.

              I don't know what were the calculations at the time  on the minimum number of deaths that might be saved by shortening the war using the bomb. It's worth repeating that The US knew from intercepted messages that the Japanese felt they could keep fighting till the end of the year. Perhaps Americans were only focusing on preventing more US deaths. But at the time they were also digesting the facts of the final months and aftermath of the European part of the war and the staggering impact that every single day of war had on ordinary people and had to be aware that every day the Pacific war dragged on the death toll would get even worse.

              Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

              by IreGyre on Sat Oct 10, 2009 at 04:58:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  these endless posts (0+ / 0-)

                of yours are all very interesting, but they're fantasy, based on a provenly false premise. As I originally stated, and as you blithely ignore, the survey group concluded that the bombs foreshortened the war by roughly 10 days. This is borne out by subsequent reviews of internal Japanese decision-making, such as Bergamini's.

                My father, who was in the South Pacific at the time, concluded, correctly, that the post-war justification for the crime, that it "saved the lives of a million Americans," a canard that has since entered the American mind as truth, was willful craven mendacity. It infuriated him that US decision-makers used supposed concern for the lives of himself and his fellow soldiers and sailors as justification for the frying of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For, in more than three years in the South Pacific, he had seen, on a daily basis, just how much concern US decision-makers really had for those lives. That is, none.

                •  It saved the lives of millions of Asians (0+ / 0-)

                  including many more Japanese than died in the two cities. And the "provenly false premises" you allude to are neither false and neither are yours as sure as you imagine. Only ignoring the facts that that were available to the decision makers at the time and the facts that came out later and ignoring the postwar politics that colored the survey group allows you keep your views as they are.

                  Far more people were dying and would have died elsewhere that were NOT Americans and the war would not have been over 10 days later without them. That is wishful thinking at the very least and a dangerous gamble that the US could not risk.  Forget the Saving American lives argument that was made at the time and later. True or not it does not invalidate the very real deaths that were happening all over Asia every single day. ANY delay in ending the war was the greater evil for all concerned whether they really focused on that or not.

                  I do not trade one set of demonizations for another. You are wedded to one set that chooses to put all US choices in the worst possible light and absolves anyone else of blame. Even Japanese are divided on this subject. Most Japanese have been able to buy into a nearly total victim-hood scenario due to the bombs, a scenario that allows them to avoid acknowledging the militarism that dominated their politics for 40 years and the war crimes that were committed by Japan. But even in Japan there are some who buck this PC trend and pay the price but they are closer to a balanced view.

                  On 30 June 2007, Japan's defense minister Fumio Kyuma said the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan by the United States during World War II was an inevitable way to end the war. Kyuma said "I now have come to accept in my mind that in order to end the war, it could not be helped (Shikata ga nai) that an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and that countless numbers of people suffered great tragedy." Kyuma, who is from Nagasaki, said the bombing caused great suffering in the city, but he does not resent the U.S. because it prevented the Soviet Union from entering the war with Japan.[22] Nagasaki mayor Tomihisa Taue protested against Kyuma, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologized over Kyuma's remark to Hiroshima A-bomb survivors.[23]

                  In the wake of the outrage provoked by his statements, Kyuma had to resign on 3 July.[24] However, the comments of Kyuma were almost similar to those made by Emperor Hirohito when, in his first ever press conference given in Tokyo in 1975, he was asked what he thought of the bombing of Hiroshima. Hirohito then answered : "It's very regrettable that nuclear bombs were dropped and I feel sorry for the citizens of Hiroshima but it couldn't be helped (Shikata ga nai) because that happened in wartime."[25]

                  My father was in the South Pacific and in the occupation of Japan. He went to Hiroshima 6 weeks after the blast and saw the devastation up close with his own eyes. He did not glory in it or rationalize it. He did not hate the Japanese or conversely revile the US for making the choice that they did. But he understood.

                  You are free to keep your outrage for your own reasons and do not want to moderate it with a fuller picture. Some of the sources that you mention are also not entirely accurate and conveniently disregard information that at least partially invalidates them. I was not alive back then or involved in the decisions made and even now in hindsight with plenty of hindsight and revisionism there is still a lot of simplistic thinking and arbitrary conclusions on both sides of the argument.

                  The US is always bad, lets look for reasons that prove that... The US is always good, lets look for good excuses for any bad stuff... The Japanese were victims, lets look for evidence that backs that up... The Japanese were war criminals who deserved what they got so lets look for all the worst things we can find to paint the darkest picture... That's what everyone does about everybody... just substitute the names above... The truth is always in a hard to pin down area in an uncomfortable middle where there are not as many absolutes to cling to.

                  Every act good and bad is the product of cumulative events and thinking and limitations of fact and understanding. It is possible that if a genetic double of you with as much of your mindset as possible given this impossible hypothetical exercise... might have been a party to a decision like the one to go ahead and bomb as the US did. Or maybe not. It it easy to say no to a more immediate horror however abstract or not fully understood ... and less easy to defend why such an abominable act (and viewed more so in hindsight) is still the better, even more moral alternative to a larger, longer, diffuse and therefore less dramatically visible choice resulting in vastly more death and destruction. And why that choice might be by far the best is more easily denied with faulty quotes, and unquestioned views of "authoritative sources" who were not there but who have the luxury of being digital saints dispensing pass/fail judgments long after the fact.

                  Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

                  by IreGyre on Sat Oct 10, 2009 at 11:41:52 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Not wholly true. (6+ / 0-)

      Had the US not entered the war in Europe when it did, Hitler could have concentrated on nuclear weapon development.  He made an enormous mistake in declaring war on the US after the attack at Pearl Harbor.  He created a western front needlessly.

      Given the political situation, it would have been difficult for Roosevelt to offer as much help as he did to Great Britain and Russia, had the war declaration not been made.

      Germany had the same intel on the US that Japan had - Japan had hoped to consolidate its gains in the Pacific before the US had time to respond, then make peace.  Yamamoto knew he had six to ten months after Pearl Harbor to destroy US Navy capabilities before resource and industrial might took hold. He couldn't do it.

      Russia suffered mightily during the war, but most of its (military) losses occurred during 1941 and the early part of 1942 - after that, they gave better than they got.  And sadly, its losses during the early part of the war were a direct result of Stalin's officer purge of 1937-38 and the German penchant for foolishly disaffecting a populace that would have embraced them - the Ukrainians and the Georgians hated Stalin almost as much as Hitler did.

      It's a complex subject, WWII.

      When in doubt, tweak the freeqs.

      by wozzle on Fri Oct 09, 2009 at 04:54:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, it is (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kestrel228, adrianrf, Azazello

        I'm not waving a banner for Stalin, just pointing out that any fair assessment has to conclude that the Red Army certainly killed and disabled more German combatants than any other outfit involved in that mess.

        The nuclear issue is interesting. My understanding is that the key scientists intentionally led the German nuclear program into the weeds, because they were not about to deliver a nuclear weapon to Hitler. As William Irwin Thompson has pointed out, there is no little irony in the fact that German scientists would not deliver a nuke to a "madman" they were afraid would use it, but Allied scientists experienced no hesitation in delivering one to a presumably "sane" man, who actually did use it.

        Nice to see you around, wozzle.

      •  Stalin was Georgian. I always thought that he... (0+ / 0-)

        treated them (relatively) well.

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