World War 2

ReasonTV Replay: How Pearl Harbor—and December 1941—Made America a Global Power

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72 years ago today Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor, launching the United States into World War II. As Craig Shirley argued during a 2011 ReasonTV interview, not only did the attack push America into the war, but it steered U.S. foreign policy away from its long history of non-interventionism. 

Here is the original text from the Dec. 7, 2011 interview: 

The bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941 killed over 2,400 Americans and led directly to the entry of the United States into World War II.

In his powerful, thickly researched new book, December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World, Craig Shirley chronicles the day-by-day shifts in American culture, politics, and national identity through that horrible month. Before December, Shirley tells Reason's Nick Gillespie, a solid majority opposed entry into World War II and the "eminently respectable" America First movement was poised to help select the next president of the United States. Non-interventionism was so universal that Franklin Roosevelt himself had campaigned for his third term as president on a promise to keep "American boys" out of European wars.

By the start of 1942, says Shirley, the long tradition of isolationism was over, never to be seen again. The nation that had rejected the League of Nations after World War I helped create the United Nations and America quickly became not simply a global economic, political, and military power but the dominant player on the globe.

The author of many books, including two biographies of Ronald Reagan and a forthcoming book on Newt Gingrich, Shirley talks with Reason's Nick Gillespie about what was gained—and lost—in the historical hinge point that was December 1941.

Approximately 8 minutes.

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  1. Japanese were stupid. They should have left US alone, and attacked Soviet Union in the East. They’d still lose, but they would have tied up Siberian divisions. Then all the famous battles (Stalingrad, etc) potentially would have turned out differently.

    1. They already had plenty of battles with the Soviets, and one could easily argue that that is where WWII actually started. Hitler wanted them to attack the Soviets again too, but his allies had this nasty habit of attacking stuff Hitler did not want them to mess with.

      1. Yes, they attacked and got destroyed in Khalin Gol incident. From the global strategic perspective, it would have been better to keep attacking and losing, but keeping those forces occupied until Germans forced Soviets into some sort or peace deal.

        From local Japanese perspective, i guess they wanted Philippines?

        1. Part of their calculus was getting fuel, and they were not going to get it by getting whipped by Stalin. They wanted the US fleet out of the way so they could get to coal mines and oil supplies within reach of the Pacific.

          The Philippines was interesting, since MacArthur let half of the US Army Air Corps fleet of the Pacific get destroyed AFTER he knew Pearl Harbor was under attack. IIRC, all of the Japanese planes that attacked there were Navy aircraft stationed in Formosa.

          1. Meh, there’s little MacArthur could have done to save the US Army Air Corps. He couldn’t just order the Air Corp to fly away and completely give up any pretense of air defense.

  2. Shirley is full of shit comparing the civil rights environment after 9-11 to the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

    1. Right? Amazing how despite being a fascist and a war criminal Bush never attempted to impose martial law or round up Muslim-Americans, in contrast to progressive icon FDR.

      1. In 1941 there were numerous States that did not allow marriage between Whites and East Asians (some more specific about which Asians), which certainly did not help with any sort of coming together.

        1. Hey, do you comment on Slashdot with this handle? If so I modded up one of your comments today.

        2. Thanks for dropping that factoid. I ended up reading the wiki on miscegenation. It is interesting that a handful of States never enacted such legislation.

  3. Dude that happened like a zillion years ago. Get ovewr it altready lol.

    http://www.Anon-VPN.com

    1. Too soon, man.

  4. OT: To whoever posted that nasi goreng recipe the other day, thank you! Just made it for the wife tonight and we both loved it.

    1. All I got out of that is that you love that Nazi Goering.

      1. Not surprising since the Sawastika is quite prevalent in Indonesia.

        See what I did there? I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waiter.

  5. Reading this book, and it’s just getting to the part about the conspiracy theories concerning the Pearl Harbor attack.

    The part of the book that discusses “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was most interesting; as it turns out, most of “The Protocols” were originally written about Emperor Napoleon III by a patriotic French man. Over the years, it got twisted into an anti-Jewish pamphlet by plagiarists.

    He also discusses Stalin’s show-trials, and why so many people believed they were genuine.
    He hasn’t done it yet, but I’m expecting the author to

    1. I’m expecting the author to tie “the Protocols” to the America Firsters.

    2. A lot of people in Soviet Union believed the trials were legit because they believed that ‘the government for the people’ could do no wrong. Sound familiar?

      1. Malkavian|12.7.13 @ 10:32PM|#
        “A lot of people in Soviet Union believed the trials were legit”…

        I have no idea if that’s true and neither do you or anyone else.

        1. Well, i asked my grandmother. True, small sample, but i doubt her circle was unique. I guess i should modify “a lot” to “some”. That should clear it up nicely.

    3. If you are hunting modern conspiracy theorists with incredible credentials, look no farther than Judge Andrew Napolitano who says FDR knew the Imperial Navy was on its way, but he let them attack unopposed as a back door way to go to war with Germany.
      http://video.foxnews.com/v/924535811001/
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiXup3fWX7w

      1. My history professor in college back in the early 90s believed this.

        1. I believe it. Almost all other bases in the Pacific were on high alert except Pearl. The Germans had recently been caught running spy rings with sabotage as their primary goal. They were successful in blowing up munition factories and also the harbor in NY called Black Tom. There were so many German-Americans with divided loyalty that were suspect in their support that public opinion about the Germans was divided. He needed a reason. Pearl was it.

      2. Austrian Anarchy|12.7.13 @ 10:38PM|#
        “If you are hunting modern conspiracy theorists with incredible credentials, look no farther than Judge Andrew Napolitano who says FDR knew the Imperial Navy was on its way, but he let them attack unopposed as a back door way to go to war with Germany.”

        FDR was an unprincipled POS, but the claim that he somehow ’caused’ or consciously ‘encouraged’ the attack on Pearl Harbor has yet to be backed by anything other than fantasy.
        Everyone in the US military knew Japan was going to do ‘something’ and they were going to do it ‘soon’. Goody.

        1. Sevo, that’s how I always took it – and continue.

        2. Agreed. There’s no evidence that FDR new anything more than any high level member of Congress or the military knew. Everyone, half expected a Japanese attack, but no one knew when, where and if.

      3. You can debunk the “FDR invited Pearl Harbor” theory easily. FDR was well known for wanting to go to war with Germany and not particularly caring about Japan. A Japanese attack could not reasonably be believed to force the US’s hand in Europe. The treaty between Germany and Japan was defensive only; Hitler was not obligated to declare war on the US after Pearl Harbor. Had Hitler chosen to he might have been able to freeze the US out of direct involvement in Europe by condemning the Japanese attack, maybe going so far as to declare war themselves. As it was neither country really aided the other during the war.

        FDR had the military deployed in preparation for war in Europe; the events of Pearl Harbor forced a reallocation that weakened this position. It’s clear that he wanted war, but it’s madness to think that he wanted to bring it about in the way that happened.

        1. Exactly. If FDR had known about the specific, actual location and date of the attack, instead of the knowledge that the Japanese would make some kind of move sometime soon, then why on Earth would he not warn the naval base and thus start the Pacific War off by neatly luring the premier elements of the IJN into a neat little trap, much the way the naval cryptographers would later do in the battle of Midway?

          Because if he knew it was coming, he gets the casus belli he wanted with a victory just as much as he would with a defeat.

          I mean, the only reason Pearl Harbor was not disastrous in the long run was that the battleships were docked. The BBs and CVs took alternating turns working up at sea and tied to the dock. If the Japanese had attacked another time, then the only capital ships left in the Navy would have been the ones about to be rendered much less useful in fleet actions. If the carriers had burned at Pearl, and not the battleships, then the US Navy might have been forced back on the strategic defensive for years. The war would have gone on much longer.

          1. Washington’s most egregious failure with regard to the forces in Hawaii was in neglecting to pass on vital intelligence information to Kimmel and Short. Because the Washington high command no longer gave the highest priority to Pearl Harbor as a possible Japanese target, and (according to Beach) because Washington feared compromising the source of its intelligence intercepts, known as “Magic,” Washington failed to supply the Hawaii commanders with the intelligence that would have sufficiently alerted them to the strong likelihood of an impending attack.

        2. “and not particularly caring about Japan”

          It appears it isn’t quite that simple….he was definitely concerned with Japan.

        3. My memory of WWII is rusty but if I recall correctly, the U.S. did want to get involved in the East because they feared the Soviets descending down on Japan. Rationally and naturally, they didn’t want the Soviets getting an edge in the region.

      1. The Japs are inside the house! The Japs are coming from inside the house!

    4. “He also discusses Stalin’s show-trials, and why so many people believed they were genuine.”

      I have no doubt that’s probably true, but it baffles me. The trials were infamously show-trials and the concept wasn’t new. There’s a reason that the US required defendants to have their own lawyers and be tried by a jury of their peers.

      1. People believe all sorts silly propaganda. Soviet show trials are one example. Another would be that terrorists are somehow special criminals and don’t deserve the requirements you listed. Or don’t even need to be tried at all, just kept locked up forever.

        All you have to do is expand the definition of terrorism. In Soviet Union, it included economic terrorism (famous kulaks and wreckers). You know, there are leftists out there who call for just that. And once you get that, presto! Just add an agent in a trench coat and a black limo, and you got yourself Soviet show trials right here in good ol’ Land of the Free. We are really not that far off now.

  6. Anybody remember a little libertarian magazine? It was pocket sized and named Daily something and edited by Jon or Jason somebody.

    1. I do Warrren! It was Freedom Daily and came from Jacob Hornberger’s Future of Freedom Foundation.

      I guess these other jerks didn’t care enough to help you!

  7. Strange idea, considering FDR’s plan during the war, long after Pearl Harbor, was to withdraw from Europe and Japan within two years of victory over the Axis powers. He trusted Stalin to work with the UK to bring about democracy and peace in Europe, and expected Nationalist China to keep East Asia under control after withdrawal.

    Had Stalin not foolishly started rigging elections and oppressing anti-Communists in Eastern Europe before Truman had completed the withdrawals, and had Mao waited a couple of years before exposing the Nationalists as a paper tiger, you would have had your precious isolation.

    1. That “paper tiger” would have been fighting a lot longer if they were not the only side that had their supplies cut off. Well, that is not exactly fair, their fuel supplies were shipped to Formosa because they would not follow the US edict and include Communists in their government.

      And Mao was using plenty of US provided supplies. Odd how that stuff works out that way.

    2. Not that strange if you think about that era. UK was still a global empire, and Stalin was not really a warmonger. When you say ‘rigging elections in Eastern Europe’ , you gotta realize that for men in power at the time, there was no such thing as “Eastern Europe”, or Finland for that matter. Those were all either direct provinces of Russian Empire, or protectorates. Stalin wanted to rebuild Russian Empire he grew up in, and that got destroyed by internationalist Communists like Trotsky. Those guys were warmongers, and Stalin did not go nicely on their asses for destroying his empire.

      1. Stalin was not really a warmonger.

        Dialing 1-800-BULLSHIT

        1. Did he start a World War III that i slept through? Trotsky would.

          1. He started World War II, with the Nazis…

            1. Hmm? He tried to cozy up to Nazis as much as he could to avoid war in the short term, and get Poland to be the meat shield when things eventually went down. That said, there’s some merit to the argument that he would have attacked eventually as a preventive strike – Hitler was just too dangerous.

              1. Does the Molotov?Ribbentrop Pact and the Partition of Poland mean nothing to you?

                1. Yep. That’s cozying up to Nazis.

                  1. Malkavian, the Poles themselves count for nothing, then?

                    Could one deliberately adopt a more perverse perspective?

                  2. “Stalin was not really a warmonger.”

                    In addition to The “Molotov?Ribbentrop Pact and the Partition of Poland” there were the:
                    Sino-Soviet war in 1929 and the
                    Winter War (Russia-Finland) in 1939.

                    It’s just ridiculous to claim that Stalin was not a warmonger.

                    1. Really? A Chinese warlord takes over Soviet railroad station, Soviets push him back, few people die in the scuffle? That’s your example?

                      Winter War was done to prevent Finns from doing what they did during WWII. Their little stunt caused over a million deaths. Preventing that was the entire point of Finnish existence – always has been. This is why Finland is an independent country, and a deadbeat Swedish province. Sweden was the enemy back in the ages, but by WWII it was Germany again.

                      Yes, i’m mad at Stalin for Winter War. Mad for not finishing off the Finns decisively and getting them on real non-aggression pact. It was a costly failure indeed.

              2. Malkavian|12.8.13 @ 12:11AM|#
                “Hmm? He tried to cozy up to Nazis as much as he could to avoid war in the short term, and get Poland to be the meat shield when things eventually went down.”

                Not a bad try at spin.
                You’re ignoring the Finn war prior to the war on Poland which was his and Hitlers.
                Yes, he avoided war wherever he thought there was any chance of losing until it was forced on him, and then he devoted his best efforts at losing it until someone whacked him upside the head.
                He wasn’t a “war monger” in the model of Hitler simply because he was a paranoiac who had no faith in anyone, let alone his military.

                1. Finland used to be Russian. He wanted it back.

                  And yes, i agree with the rest. Yes, he hated the military and was responsible for the initial defeats. And i count him as a non-warmonger precisely because he just wanted his old lair back, but had no suicidal ambitions outside.

                  1. Malkavian|12.8.13 @ 12:22AM|#
                    “Finland used to be Russian. He wanted it back.”
                    Yeah, and Poland used to be…

                    “And yes, i agree with the rest. Yes, he hated the military and was responsible for the initial defeats. And i count him as a non-warmonger precisely because he just wanted his old lair back, but had no suicidal ambitions outside.”
                    Bullshit. Did you see what happened to Eastern Europe post WWII? And do you still claim he had no designs on increasing the area of the Soviet Empire?
                    Could I interest you on the north anchorage of that bridge over there at a very attractive price?

                    1. He had designs on expanding Soviet influence around the world, yes. Every Great Power does this, but usually through non-invasion methods. There’s a difference between supplying aid and advisers to your preferred side (including rigging elections), and outright invasion.

                  2. And they didn’t want to be Russian. Ergo, warmonger.

                    1. “And they didn’t want to be Russian. Ergo, warmonger.”

                      THIS

                    2. Um, that’s not how it works. People do not all think alike. There were quite a number of pro-Russian Romanians. Actually, there were enough of them for the invasion not to be needed in the first place. That’s what influence is all about – you have enough people on your side so they take over. Is it nasty? Yes. But war? Nope.

                    3. I was talking about the Finns in the Winter War. My Romanian arguments are threaded downstream.

              3. He tried to cozy up to Nazis as much as he could to avoid war in the short term

                Not only that, but he refused to accept that the Germans were really invading Russia for at least a week after the initial attack.

                1. That too.

          2. Korea doesn’t start without him giving Kim permission to invade, so there’s that. Also the whole Cold War could be fairly called World War III depending on how you view things.

            1. And let’s not forget the Finns…

            2. Cold War was just international politics.

              Korean invasion was done under the contract from United States, as part of the war against Japan. To not do so would be a violation of a treaty.

              Duchy of Finland was a Russian territory for a very long time, acquired by Russian Empire in a war with Sweden.

              1. Claims of sovereignty do not absolve one of warmongering!

                Stalin was a ruthless, warmongering son of a bitch, whose only relative disadvantage in that respect stemmed from his proclivity for making war on his “own people.”

                1. Korea was occupied by Empire of Japan at that point. Whatever claims of sovereignty it used to have, Japanese violated them pretty thoroughly.

                  And yes, he was ruthless, and his political actions are comparable to war crimes.

                  1. Malkavian|12.8.13 @ 12:27AM|#
                    “Korea was occupied by Empire of Japan at that point.”
                    At what point?

                    1. Malkavian|12.8.13 @ 12:40AM|#
                      “1945”

                      I thought you were making a point. Sorry.

                  2. Korea was occupied by the Republic of Korea at that point, you Stalinist fool. Have you heard of the Korean War, by chance?

                    1. Korean war took place between North Korea and South Korea? Soviet Union supplied aid, but wasn’t officially involved. Chinese did get involved as i recall. You may be confusing Chinese with Russians.

                    2. Tell you what, learn some history then come on back. You are beneath everyone here.

                      I’ll give you a free hint: Kim was Stalin’s puppet. He doesn’t invade without backing and permission from Moscow.

                    3. Yes, he was backed by Stalin. And yes, he wanted an invasion and needed an approval. So?

                      Sigh. Ok, enough with nitpicking. I hate pulling a Bo here. Can you please give me your definition of warmongering? I define it as engaging in offensive war.

                      Can you please give me a number of Soviet divisions (and date) deployed by Stalin outside of the boundaries of old Russian Empire? Excluding WWII of course.

                      North Korea did have some Soviet forces, most notably Air Force and AA support, but it was not in any official capacity an invasion force.

                    4. Oh, and Soviet pilots would have been severely punished if they engaged in offensive operations. The reality was, United Nations bombers were turning North Korea into a moonscape. Neither Koreans nor Chinese knew how to fly a plane, and couldn’t stop it. Russians were the only ones who did. So they would go out, destroy the bombers and come back. Some mighty invasion strategy, lol!

                    5. Can you please give me a number of Soviet divisions (and date) deployed by Stalin outside of the boundaries of old Russian Empire?

                      LOL

                      Stalin waging war on an independent Poland is ok because that’s the old Russian Empire? So it doesn’t count as warmongering?

                      And if I measure my dick from my taint, it’s a hell of a lot bigger.

                    6. I said, excluding WWII… if Stalin didn’t move on half the Poland, Germans would have gotten all. Allies were nowhere to be found.

                    7. The Western Allies declared war on Germany when the Nazis — and days later, the Soviets — invaded Poland. Moreover, there was no justification for carving up the country with Hitler, regardless of the Western response.

                      You are defending one of the most vile human beings to have ever led a nation, and doing a terrible job of it: Stalin was not justified in attempting to reclaim former Imperial possessions, and even if he had been, he still would have been a warmonger for doing so!

                      I am finished with this nonsense.

                    8. And where were the Allied armies? No justification? Are you serious? Without support, if Hitler attacked USSR in 1939, USSR would have been destroyed! Stalin’s purges would have a lot to do with that, but besides leadership talent depletion, Soviet industry didn’t have have enough capacity to keep up with Germany until early 40’s. Without necessary industrial production, Germany would have won the war in the east. So you had to do whatever you can to delay the war.

                      I’m not defending Stalin – he bears much of the blame for the course of events during that time. But just because he was evil, doesn’t mean he also wanted to conquer the world. All i’m trying to do is to explain why FDR thought it would be OK for Great Britain and USSR to tend to their respective spheres of influence. It seems bizarre to us now, in a new era, but to people growing up in the early 20th century, those divisions were not unreasonable.

                    9. “Soviet industry didn’t have have enough capacity to keep up with Germany until early 40’s.”

                      So all those hundreds of millions of tons of war material the US sent to Stalin weren’t necessary for them to sustain military efforts against Nazi Germany ?

                      Who knew ?

                      Yes, you are defending Stalin and the Soviet Union. You’re just trying to do it subtlety.

                      I haven’t been around Reason very long. I have noticed that that sort of BS doesn’t go over very well around here.

                      I like this place.

                    10. Hmm? I did mention lend lease elsewhere. It started in 1941. And yes, i did mention they were important.

                    11. And where were the Allied armies? No justification? Are you serious? Without support, if Hitler attacked USSR in 1939, USSR would have been destroyed! Stalin’s purges would have a lot to do with that, but besides leadership talent depletion, Soviet industry didn’t have have enough capacity to keep up with Germany until early 40’s. Without necessary industrial production, Germany would have won the war in the east. So you had to do whatever you can to delay the war.

                      I’m not defending Stalin – he bears much of the blame for the course of events during that time. But just because he was evil, doesn’t mean he also wanted to conquer the world. All i’m trying to do is to explain why FDR thought it would be OK for Great Britain and USSR to tend to their respective spheres of influence. It seems bizarre to us now, in a new era, but to people growing up in the early 20th century, those divisions were not unreasonable.

                    12. “I said, excluding WWII…”

                      Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

                    13. I asked Fluffy this question, but i’d like to know your opinion as well. What should have Stalin done just prior to the beginning of Operation Barbarossa?

                    14. “excluding WWII.”

                      LOL…If Pol Pot had not killed millions of his own countrymen he would be known as the “George Washington” of Cambodia.

                    15. So… you believe USSR should have let Germany take over everything? Great idea! That GeneralPlan Ost sounded fun.

              2. Korean invasion was done under the contract from United States, as part of the war against Japan.

                The US had been begging and cajoling the Soviets to declare war on Japan for years – the Soviets always said that they would do so within a few months of the end of War in Europe – and they did.

                That’s hardly an example of war mongering.

        2. Even drunk I know better Cyto. Stalin was a monster, but it was Trotsky that wanted international revolution.

          1. juris imprudent|12.8.13 @ 12:03AM|#
            “Even drunk I know better Cyto. Stalin was a monster, but it was Trotsky that wanted international revolution.”

            Not real sure about Stalin’s principles (assuming the paranoid twit ever had any), but Lenin was clear from the beginning that the Russian takeover was only a side issue to world domination.
            See Pipes: “The Russian Revolution”.

            1. The split between Stalin and Trotsky included a dispute between socialism in one country vs international revolution.

              It’s easy for us today to think that dispute was all bullshit and that it was only a matter of personal ambition. However, that idea is false.

              Slightly out there – it should be remembered that Trotsky was the commander of the Red Army in the late 1920s and could easily have deposed Stalin in a coup. In fact, in exile, Trotsky defended his not doing so.

              1. Trotsky was Jewish & because of wide spread anti-semitism in Russia. The Russian people and powerful members of the Soviet oligarchy would have never let a Jew rule. Trotsky never took over because he was never powerful enough to do so. He could have staged a coup on behalf of a fellow oligarch, but not never could have done so for himself. Even though he had a lot of power & support.

            2. In raw numbers, Stalin killed more people than Hitler.

      2. …”you gotta realize that for men in power at the time, there was no such thing as “Eastern Europe”, or Finland for that matter. Those were all either direct provinces of Russian Empire, or protectorates.”

        Yeah, like Hungary? Romanian?
        Do I ask where you read history?

        1. Yep. The reason Romania exists is because Russians defeated their Ottoman administrators. Likewise, so does Finland, except it had Swede administrators before. Actually, the only reason Romania came into being (from Russian perspective) was to allow Russian troops passage when fighting Ottomans. You severely misunderstand the role of the Russian Empire in the region.

          1. “Romania derives from the Latin romanus, meaning “citizen of Rome”.[14] The first known use of the appellation was by 16th-century Italian humanists travelling in Transylvania, Moldavia, and Wallachia”

            Now, you may claim the borders were defined by the Russian dictators, but that’s so much bullshit.

            1. Romania as a state did not become itself until Russians drove Ottomans out in 1877, and needed a legal way to keep the supplies moving. While Romanian culture may well be ancient, it has no bearing on the profound impact Russian Empire made in the region.

              1. We Americans have had a profound impact on Canada, and I am out of maple syrup, so…

                1. Do you seriously think that if in 1950 Canada became Communist, US wouldn’t intervene?

                  Hint: Bay of Pigs.

                  1. Do you seriously think that is relevant to my point?

                    1. Yep. If US launched full scale military assault on Canada, US would be warmongering. If they sent a bunch of Canadian drunks to fight in a half hearted rebellion, it’d be interfering in US national interest, but not warmongering. Still wrong though.

                    2. Why didn’t you announce in the beginning that you had your own special little definition of “warmongering” ?

                      I would have saved a lot of time.

          2. So because a previous group of unelected thugs once lorded it over the people in that area, it’s not warmongering for a different group of thugs of similar extraction to attempt to wrest control of not only the territory but also the lives of those people?

            1. In the case of Eastern Europe, it isn’t even obvious to me that the proffered justification of “similar extraction” applies in the first place.

              The Balkans are certainly a basket case because of issues like this…

            2. Well, technically, Romanians were fighting on the Russian side, but i don’t know about elections.

              Is it wrong for USSR to intervene in domestic policies of other countries? Yes. But for it to be warmongering, there needs to be an actual war, i think.

              1. 1956 and 1968 ring any bells?

                1. Stalin has been dead for quite some time. Yes, other Soviet leaders may have had other thoughts at later points, though again, closest we came to an actual offensive war was Missile Crisis. Yes, Soviet Union has been warmongering on occasion, i’d like to mention Afghanistan War as well.

                  1. The only reason Stalin didn’t make a play was because the US had a nuclear monopoly at the time he had a conventional advantage.

                    You have a laughably naive view of one of history’s most horrifyingly merciless men.

                    1. You contradict yourself. If Stalin was merciless, and a conqueror, why would he care about a few million lives of his countrymen? He was either not merciless, or not a conqueror.

                      We know he is merciless, having killed off a few million. We also know he hated military. I strongly doubt he was a conquering type. The only reason for him to be afraid would have been for US to win complete land war in Russia and capture him. Sorry say it, but do you know who else thought they could win a land war in Russia? It usually doesn’t go well.

                      And as for nukes, in the 1940’s they were good for making nice post cards pictures and not much else. Actually, they would have harmed American ground forces more than Soviet ones by disrupting logistics operations.

                      But really? 100k deaths a pop, and those were civilians in large cities? A prepared military unit would have done much better. This is the count for any decent sized conventional military operation. US didn’t have enough stockpile to make a difference.

                    2. “We know he is merciless, having killed off a few million.”

                      Closer to either side of a hundred million rather than “a few million”.

                      There were no nuke hardened bunkers at that time since nukes were new. Only one at the right place would have made ALL the difference.

                    3. Why not make a trillion, and a few puppies too. Where do you get those numbers? The max i heard was 30 million, and even that’s questionable. Official archives list about 3 million, plus 6 million for famine. Even if you inflate the off the record murders, the most realistic number is in the 10-20 million range.

                2. Don’t forget 1953.

    3. Nomination for silliest post other than shreek this evening:

      “Had Stalin not foolishly started rigging elections and oppressing anti-Communists in Eastern Europe before Truman had completed the withdrawals, and had Mao waited a couple of years before exposing the Nationalists as a paper tiger, you would have had your precious isolation.”

      Shorter Tulpa:
      Had Stalin been other than Stalin was, well history would be other than history is!
      Way to go Tulpa!

      1. Seconded.

        However, I am biased, as the above conversation aptly demonstrates…

    4. Strange idea, considering FDR’s plan during the war, long after Pearl Harbor, was to withdraw from Europe and Japan within two years of victory over the Axis powers.

      Why do you believe that from the same man that campaigned for president in 1940 on keeping the US out of another European conflict?

      Late WWII Nazi propaganda often featured a German loss as leading to a conflict between American-Jewish capitalism and Soviet Jewish socialism for world domination.

      The point being that even in WWII people saw the cold war as an inevitable world wide struggle.

      1. Churchill’s relative prescience, on this issue, should not be ignored.

  8. You know who else wanted to bomb the Americans?

    1. Miley Cyrus?

    2. Archduke von Pantsfan|12.7.13 @ 11:20PM|#
      “You know who else wanted to bomb the Americans?”

      Hitler did have hopes of doing so, and various aircraft designers offered proposals.
      Given the tech at the time, they were suicide missions unless they could land in Mexico. They never had a chance.

      1. The AmerikaBomber. It is one of the greatest ironies of the war that the only decent heavy bomber actually built in series by the Axis was the Piaggio P.108

  9. The obvious lesson we should draw from this is that we should go to war with the PRC over the Pinnacle Islands on behalf of Japan.

    1. Speaking of which, this sounds like a grand idea:

      South Korea was scheduled to make an announcement on Sunday amid anticipation that it will expand its air defence zone south into a zone newly declared by China that has spurred regional tensions.

      South Korea’s defence ministry said the announcement at 0500 GMT/Midnight ET would be about its Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), but declined to comment on the details.

  10. One of my favorite central planning stories is that soon after we entered the war, some bureaucracy in DC, deciding what civilian manufactured items needed to be sacrificed to the war effort, put out the order to cease production of typewriters. Shortly thereafter, they heard from the War Department, which of course needed thousands and thousands of them.

  11. Here is why Malkavian is completely wrong:

    His entire argument in this thread consists of the claim that since Stalin didn’t want to conquer the entire world, but only select parts of it, he “wasn’t a warmonger”.

    Unfortunately, by that definition only a handful of warmongers have ever lived. Hitler, Napoleon, Genghis Khan. That’s about it. Caesar had no desire to conquer Russia or China, so he wasn’t a warmonger. Cortes had no desire to conquer North America, so he wasn’t a warmonger. Qin Shi Huang wanted to wall off Mongolia instead of conquer it, so again – not a warmonger.

    Don’t you see how absurd that is?

    1. Ceasar took Romans to Britannia and conquered the place. That makes him a warmonger. A better analogy for former Russian provinces would have been Carausian Revolt. After centuries of Roman rule, Britannia declared independence from 286-296. Was Roman Emperor a warmonger for stamping out the revolt and returning the province into the Empire? Meh.

      A more familiar example would be US Civil War. I know some people on here hate Lincoln and what he did, but really, was he a warmonger for putting down southern rebellion? Again, i find it a weak charge, when all evidence is considered. Now, Teddy Roosevelt and the Philippines? Now we are talking!

      As far as Eastern Europe goes just prior to the WWII, what exactly would you have Stalin do? You have options:

      1. 1. Defend Poland from Hitler. Without industry to speak of (that got competitive by 1942), and without lend lease? (1941). That was suicide. I’m not entirely certain that war could have been won, or even if it was, the destruction would have been unimaginable, much worse than it already was.

        2. Be nice to everybody and let Hitler take the entire Poland, Baltic States, and give Finns territory that the wanted so that both Finns and Germans would be about an hour’s drive from Leningrad, only the 2nd most advanced and industrialized city in the Soviet Union. Yes, great! Lets give more power, land, and resources to the Nazi Germany, and surrender them your second most important city in 24 hours from war’s start. Do you have any other brilliant foreign policy proposals i could read?

        3. Grab as much land as you can to deny to the Nazis, and keep the Finns away, while trying to avoid war when not ready.

        1. “Keep the Finns away”

          That’s a nice euphemism for invading a peaceful country, taking Karelia, and ethnically cleansing it.

          1. See my response below. Like i said, smallest violin and all that. But meh, it’s all water under the bridge now.

        2. Oh and speaking of Finns. I have the world’s smallest violin for their territorial claims in WWII. They closed off a blockade, not respecting their old territorial claims either, and starved and killed over a million civilians in my home town, while helping Germans killing over a million military. That’s one city! US, the entire country, lost like 500k in the entire war.

          They got away lucky. Sometimes when i’m in conspiracy mood, i think that Stalin was a Georgian who hated Russians (only partially true – he hated everybody), and this would be the prime evidence for it. If i was General Secretary at the time, i wouldn’t have let them get away with this by signing a nice little peace treaty. I’d have rolled them hard, like the Germans. But i suppose Stalin was focused on winning the war rather than petty revenge. Meh.

  12. Claiming Stalin wasn’t a warmonger is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read. Stalin choose to fight wars he could win. He had come extremely close to losing power at several points during WWII. When it looked like the USSR was doomed and the other oligarchs were losing confidence in his leadership. He wasn’t about to lose power over the largest territorial empire on the planet. So he could fight a losing war trying to conquer the entire planet.

  13. I find it unbelievable that americans (I assume most commenters in this thread are) project their US warmongering attitudes on USSR.

    Soviet and Russia culture, movies, books, songs consider war a horrible tragedy. Genghis Khan, War of 1812, Alexander Nevsky, (and modern WII). The pattern is that foreign power attacks, Russia suffers greatly, but eventually pushes back and repel the attacker.

    You won’t find movies, books glorifying Russia intervention in other countries. Compare that to US. US culture is of extreme military aggression (based on books, movies, actual history and government policy). US, being secure in their borders, can afford to full around abroad. Russia, being extremely difficult to defend, focuses on defense (that includes policy of having friendly countries (buffers 🙂 ) on their borders).

    Claiming Stalin wasn’t a warmonger is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read.

    http://mises.org/daily/6447/The-Soviet-Bogeyman

    Quoting from Rothbard: ” Soviets’ firm Marxian conviction that, since capitalist states are doomed anyway, it is foolhardy in the extreme to court or risk war. The Soviet policy has always been the defensive one of hanging on to what they have and waiting for the supposedly inevitable Marxian revolutions in the other countries of the world. Lenin’s adherence to that policy was only confirmed by the “socialism in one country” doctrine of Stalin and his successors.”

    1. Something tells me you’ve never talked to the RUSSIA STRONG!!1!!!!1! contingent. Their culture isn’t some glob of dolorous refinement.

      Not to mention, if they didn’t have a history of warmongering and expansion, just how did they get from the Urals to the Pacific?

      1. Trading, and you know, when Mongols/Tatars capture your family and sell them into slavery to the Turks, it’s considered polite to go get them back. When it happens enough, you sometimes decide to stay.

        That said, yes, Russia has had quite a few imperialist wars. But not much more than any European power. Less than US, but US is isolated.

      2. seguin: Something tells me you’ve never talked to the RUSSIA STRONG!!1!!!!1! contingent. Their culture isn’t some glob of dolorous refinement.

        That is why I specifically mentioned: Books, Movies, Songs. Individuals opinion can vary, but overall culture is defensive in spirit and expression. I can’t even recall a single movie, or a book, or a song glorifying war / conquest / foreign intervention

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