*The Second World Wars*

by on October 22, 2017 at 12:56 am in Books, History, Political Science | Permalink

The subtitle is How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, and the author is Victor Davis Hanson.  I loved this book, even though before I started I felt I didn’t want to read yet another tract on WWII.  Most of the focus is on the logistics and management side:

By 1944, the U.S. Navy was larger than the combined fleets of all the other major powers.

At the start of the War, the United States accounted for about 55-60 percent of world oil output.

The U.S. soldier was treated for psychiatric disorders at a rate ten times that of German troops.  The average hospital stay for an American soldier was 117 days and 36 percent were not returned to the front.  Supplies for a typical American soldier exceeded 80 pounds per day.

The German army killed about 1.5 GIs for every German soldier lost.

The highest American fatality rate was in the Pacific, at 4 percent, still a remarkably low rate for the war as a whole.  America did so well because of high gdp and remarkably efficient supply lines and equipment and air and naval support.

Poland alone lost more citizens than all of the Western European nations, Britain, and the U.S. combined.

WWII took place in a strange technological window when weapons had advanced much more rapidly than protective body armor.  That is one reason why casualties from the fighting were so high.  The war is also unusual for having had so many battles and fronts where the victor gave up more lives than the loser, including of course the war as a whole.

Hanson considers the American submarine offensive against Japan as perhaps the most “cost-efficient” offensive from the war.

“No navy in military history had started a war so all-powerful as the Japanese and ended it so utterly ruined and in such a brief period of time…”

Strongly recommended, a shoo-in for the top tier of the year’s best non-fiction list, the writing is gripping too.

Here is a HistoryNet review: “utterly original.”  Here is Matthew Continetti at NR: “Masterful.”

1 Thor October 22, 2017 at 1:17 am

He’s a fascinating historian (agree or not, his “seasonal/farmer theory of Greek warfare is novel).

Bonus WWII factoid: artillery, not infantry, killed soldiers on the Western front. Especially artillery fired into trees, in massive salvoes. The splintering wood fibres did the killing.

Reply

2 wait till you learn about the prequel October 22, 2017 at 2:53 am

“Western front”?

Reply

3 Peter Akuleyev October 22, 2017 at 6:16 am

That was even more true of WWI than WWII. If you read eyewitness accounts of the Western Front in World War I, such as Ernst Jünger, you get the impression that most of the war just consisted of people in trenches being killed or maimed by artillery shells. It was a peculiarly dehumanizing war in that respect.

Reply

4 Dahlgren October 22, 2017 at 9:09 am

The WW II European “Western Front” was a sideshow to the Russian Front… where the Nazis were really defeated.

WW I & WW II were merely phases of the same overall war. That ‘war’ was optional for US politicians.

US Government spent over 6 Trillion Dollars fighting WW II (in 2016 Dollar equivalent)

Reply

5 mm October 22, 2017 at 6:52 pm

only part true- w/o the contribution of the western front (&the related air campaign) the Germans would have almost certainly broke the Soviet Union. Just the thousands of 88mm dual purpose guns diverted to protect the fatherland saved the Soviets thousands of tanks. The allied air campaign not only crippled the luftwaffe & the German oil industry, it severely damaged the German war effort- let alone the numerous divisions arrayed on the western front.

Reply

6 mm October 22, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Not to mention lend lease- the “West” supplied 22,800 armored vehicles to Russia (approx the sum total made by Germany during the war)as well as almost 15,000 aircraft-furthermore the Red Army depended on US 4×4 trucks for mobility (USA gave >500,000 vehicles-the Russians only made about 340,000) & US foodstuff to feed their Army. Soviet aviation fuel was essentially non-existent & theUS supplied virtually all the high quality aviation fuel the Soviets used.

7 byomtov October 22, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Yes. There is a story about US support of Russia in WWII.

At some point a US general was talking to the Russians about the materiel (military spelling, for some reason) being supplied.

“Yes,” says the Russian, “US uniforms, Russian bodies.”

8 Peter Ozug October 22, 2017 at 11:43 pm

“Britain gave time, America material, and Russia blood.”

Can’t we all be proud of our part? Giving Russia or America their due doesn’t detract anything from what the other did.

9 John Smith October 23, 2017 at 11:56 am

Whats obnoxious about byomtov’s story, is that it was going to be Russion bodies either way. The US “uniforms” kept a great many more of those bodies alive.

Here’s a cute saying: no good deed goes unpunished.

10 Mm October 23, 2017 at 12:09 pm

W/o US help there would have been many more Russian bodies & a German victory. The victory required both the USA & USSR

11 Ray Lopez October 22, 2017 at 1:37 pm

And in WWI most soldiers were rotated out of the trenches after a few days and at most a week. The idea they lived in trenches for years is fiction.
Also the idea the Russia won the war by themselves, without the need for Lend-Lease or a second front (keep in mind the crucial battle of Kursk was fought a few days after the Allied Italy landings: (Wikipedia) “On the evening of 12 July, Hitler summoned Kluge and Manstein to his headquarters at Rastenburg in East Prussia.[274] Two days earlier, the Western Allies had invaded Sicily. The threat of further Allied landings in Italy or along southern France made Hitler believe it was essential to move forces from Kursk to Italy and to discontinue the offensive”) is Soviet historian nonsense. The Russians did the bulk of ‘heavy lifting’ to win the war, but they did not win the war themselves. A similar false story is told by Greeks about WWII: according to them Hitler’s Battle of Crete was so disruptive that the time it took to conquer Crete delayed the Germans in their invasion of Moscow enough that winter was able to immobilize the German army and hence indirectly the Greeks won the war. Ludicrous but widely believed.

Reply

12 Dahlgren October 22, 2017 at 4:27 pm

… maybe someday some historian will write a book about WWI/II ?

WW I troops were not rotated from frontline trenches to rest at St Tropez or Baden-Baden — they were moved briefly to other areas slightly to the rear

There were no net troop withdrawals from Kursk to Italy. Rommel’s original Italy-defense plan did call for pulling 6 Panzer Divisions from the Russian Front — but only the Leibstandarte Division was ordered to Italy… and it was quickly replaced by another Panzer Division. Nobody said the Russians beat the Germans alone, but most Americans are unaware of Russia’s dominant role in the fighting.

Reply

13 Ray Lopez October 22, 2017 at 7:54 pm

@Dahlgren- thanks, I think your last sentence is debatable. Some Russian/Soviet historians do claim that even if the Germans took Moscow they would have been beaten by the Russians alone, without Allied help, and “most” Americans are ignorant of a number of thing, WWII being the least of it. A good armchair war historian seems to be Richard Overy.

14 middyfeek October 23, 2017 at 8:51 am

I wouldn’t call the Crete matter ludicrous. The Greeks might overstate it to puff themselves up but I believe it’s a fact that Operation Barbarossa was supposed to begin a month before it did. Given that extra month in the late fall of 41 who can say that the Wehrmacht wouldn’t have driven Stalin and the rest of his monkeys to the Asian side of the Urals.
We can only conjecture where that might have led.

Reply

15 Massimo October 23, 2017 at 1:48 pm

@dahlgren I do not agree. The invasion probably changed a bit the outcome of Kursk. After Prokhorovka Von Manstein wanted to press the tactical advantage and keep fighting, but Hitler uncharacteristically told him to stop, and I read that some generals diary stated that the main reason was the situation in the Mediterranean. If it would have made a difference in the battle, I do not know, but of course I tend to give great credit to Von Manstein. What I think it would not have changed is the war, though. I believe that Russian blood alone (just as American industrial power alone) would have won the war. In 1942, the Soviets produced 7 times more tanks than the Germans, after having had to move at least two major production lines behind the Urals the previous year (I understand that the only tank factory they did not move was the tractor works in Stalingrad, focused on the t34). And they were better tanks than the Germans too, at least until the Tiger appeared and they fixed the initial mechanical problems with the Panther. Land-lease was useful, mainly for raw material, much less for equipments. Tanks were very inadequate (Valentines, Matildas, Stuarts, Lees), while the trucks helped significantly the motorization of the rifle divisions.

16 Alistair October 24, 2017 at 3:44 am

Thor,

Are you sure here? I understood that before the development of air burst fuses trees were ‘useful’ because they detonated shells at height, getting an better fragmentation pattern compared to a ground burst.

Also, I still think steel must do most of the killing. Large wood splinters could be lethal, but were not produced in great number compared to shell fragments. Small wood fragment secondaries are not dangerous over something like 10m, they decelerate rapidly and are poor at penetrating clothing.

Reply

17 Steve Sailer October 22, 2017 at 1:21 am

My vague impression is that America entered WWII with an extraordinarily widespread level of ability at fixing engines: motor vehicles had spread far wider in American during the 1920s than in Germany or Japan, and then Americans spent the 1930s keeping their old cars running. So America started the war with an unbelievable number of shade tree mechanics, which turned out extremely useful in a mechanized war. In contrast, the modern Japanese mechanics were at least as good as the Americans, but they couldn’t replace their losses at Midway and elsewhere because there wasn’t much depth to the spread of motor vehicles in Japan.

Reply

18 Millian October 22, 2017 at 7:10 am

I don’t really know what to say, except that the battle of Midway and other Pacific theatre conflicts were not primarily fought in cars.

Reply

19 The Anti-Gnostic October 22, 2017 at 8:14 am

Planes, ships, and tanks of the period all operated on piston-driven internal combustion engines. The mechanics of motive power for cars with tires instead of propellors or treads would still apply, so perhaps the US military had more “depth” in this area.

Reply

20 Scoop October 22, 2017 at 8:16 am

Agreed Midway was a poor battle to name in support of the theory (less than 3,100 Japanese killed so not that much cause to go to the bench) butt your comment does little to disprove the theory overall. Motors and mechanics are very similar from one device to the next (particularly than) so if you could fix a car you could fix a lot of stuff, from a rifle to (parts of) an aircraft carrier.

I would add another critique of the theory, though: it’s hard to gauge the relative depth national mechanical talent because we didn’t have to go anywhere near as deep into our bench as Japan or Germany. We lost a little over 400,000 soldiers, whereas Japan lost a little more than 2 million and Germany lost about 5 million .

Reply

21 Mark Thorson October 22, 2017 at 11:12 am

Not to disagree, but I think the point is Germany and Japan couldn’t replace those losses. The U.S. and Soviet Union could replace theirs. Stalin could afford to lose a million men, raise up a million more, and lose them too. He did that several times.

Of course, we have to give Stalin credit for winning the war with Germany. I’m not sure a government led by Trotsky, Bukharin, etc. could have won. Stalin recognized the threat early, and he created the gulag system in part to prepare for the war. Solzhenitsyn complains how so many lives were wasted in the gulag projects, and he’s correct that some of them like the White Sea Canal were largely useless. But he also complains about the construction of large numbers of empty buildings along the Trans-Siberian railroad. That’s where the Soviet defense industries were evacuated to when the war started. Within a matter of weeks, factories building engines, tanks, aircraft, and other critical infrastructure was moved hundreds of miles to the east, well out of range of the Germans. With the world’s largest steel plant at Magnitogorsk (Magnetic Mountain — a mountain of almost pure high-grade iron ore) and plenty of coal, they had everything they needed to build the weapons that crushed the Wehrmacht. In particular, the T-34 tank.

Reply

22 Ethan Bernard October 23, 2017 at 11:34 pm

“I’m not sure a government led by Trotsky, Bukharin, etc. could have won. Stalin recognized the threat early, and he created the gulag system in part to prepare for the war.”

Would those governments have purged the army of so many competant officers just before they were needed? Would those leaders have so gravely misunderstood Hitler that they disregarded intelligence of the upcoming attack?

23 Urso October 23, 2017 at 3:13 pm

The Japanese Navy was a mile wide and an inch deep. It may have been “only” 3,100 dead at Midway, but that included huge numbers of their best-trained pilots, mechanics, and carrier crewmen. Japan simply lacked the ability to replace those highly skilled sailors and airmen in a short period of time — or at all, once the USN submarine fleet completely shut down their ability to import petroleum.

Reply

24 mkt42 October 24, 2017 at 6:44 am

Pretty much correct, except that Midway wasn’t that deadly to the Japanese pilots. They lost all of the airplanes on those carriers, but the airmen didn’t go down with their ships but instead were mostly rescued. It was Guadalcanal and the subsequent Solomons Campaign that really drained the Japanese Navy of its best aircrews, and it was never able to replace them, quality-wise.

25 Attila Smith October 22, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Dear Millian, in general I disapprove of bad faith arguments, but yours is so funny that I not only excuse you but humbly beg for more!

Reply

26 A Truth Seeker October 22, 2017 at 8:13 am

According to Brazilian writer Erico Verissimo, Hitler challenged a people of mechanics to mechanized war.

Reply

27 peri October 22, 2017 at 11:45 am

A people of mechanics, and a people of potatoes.

Reply

28 Potato October 22, 2017 at 12:42 pm

The naval war in the pacific was primarily a war of production capability, logistics, and manpower replacement ability. Same is true of almost any modern war.

Japan could not replace its ships or pilots at a rate anywhere comparable to that of the US. We could train a pilot to be “good enough” in months and if he was killed in the first dogfight we could replace him and his plane. Japan could not. They knew this, and decided to throw their entire strategy into attempting to lure the US into a “decisive battle.” Horrible strategy. The way to defeat a democracy is by attrition. Their efforts in “decisive engagement” led them to wasting precious manpower and ships and planes that they could have no hope of replacing.

Not to mention the majority of their combat power was in China. Absolutely disastrous and stupid decision to attack the US.

Reply

29 Tummler October 22, 2017 at 1:04 pm

The Japanese “decisive battle” strategy was as much a product of their lack of fuel oil and logistics network to transport the fuel oil they had in conjunction with their terribly inefficient capital ships as it was their inability to replace losses. The Imperial Navy simply didn’t have enough to fuel for their capital ships for their sustained operations. As such, the Japanese knew they were facing a “use them or lose them” situation.

This problem wasn’t limited to the Japanese. The American navy had the same problem early in the pacific war. The older battleships that survived the the Pearl Harbor raid were too inefficient to be deployed in force away from Pearl Harbor, which contributed to the America’s extreme reliance on carrier-centric battle groups early in the island hopping campaign.

Reply

30 middyfeek October 23, 2017 at 9:00 am

My understanding of the average Japanese soldier is that they had little or no competence with the internal combustion engine.

And to try to denigrate the importance of the Battle of Midway is just flat out ridiculous. Before Midway Japan was on the offensive everywhere. After Midway they were on the offensive nowhere.

Reply

31 Alistair October 24, 2017 at 4:19 am

Steve,

Yes; this was a common contemporary observation. See Chester Wilmott. The US armed forces had an extraordinary level of mechanisation and this depended on having a large mechanically competent service population.

This enabled the massive western allied logistic advantage over the axis. It is hard to overstate just how much better the west was at moving stuff around.

Reply

32 prior_test3 October 22, 2017 at 1:23 am

‘The U.S. soldier was treated for psychiatric disorders at a rate ten times that of German troops.’ – Just spitballing, but the rate of German soldiers executed by their own commanders was likely considerably more than ten times higher than the rate of executions for American soldiers.

‘Poland alone lost more citizens than all of the Western European nations, Britain, and the U.S. combined.’ – This was not due to combat, this was due to explicitly genocidal action on the part of the Germans, and callously brutal treatment nearing genocide on the part of the Russians, Neither the Nazis nor the Soviets cared about how many Poles died, after all.

And to be a bit careful here – ‘By 1944, the U.S. Navy was larger than the combined fleets of all the other major powers.’ – one should note the vast numbers of craft like the LSTs and LCIs undoubtedly played a role in this. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landing_Craft_Infantry and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landing_Ship,_Tank

Reply

33 GHQ October 22, 2017 at 2:09 am

Number of ships/boats is one thing, tonnage is another. Tonnage is more relevant. In 1994 the USSR had a navy roughly four times the size of the USN—in terms of numbers of ships. That fact was used by the US (or by Cap Weinberger) to justify more naval construction. The Russians had lots of smaller ships. Smaller ships are very different from larger ships in terms of capabilities. Also must be considered in relation to mission (sea control vs, sea denial, etc.), basing options, etc. And do not scorn the likes of LSTs and LCIs. You need boots on the ground to take and control territory, and for that you need specialized smaller ships/boats/craft. Just saying.

Reply

34 prior_test3 October 22, 2017 at 2:26 am

I am not scorning them – one of my uncles commanded an LST during WWII. It is simply that the USN of WWII had a very different composition than typical, even by the standards of the USN in the 1920s or 1970s.

Reply

35 Tom Hynes October 24, 2017 at 7:42 pm

The US Army had more ships than the US Navy and more tonnage in World War II. http://www.usmm.org/armynavy.html

Reply

36 Mark Thorson October 22, 2017 at 11:21 am

I don’t know the numbers for comparison, but I think the rate of executions was much higher in the Red Army. As I recall, they executed about 300,000 soldiers for cowardice and desertion. That’s a staggering number. It prompted a Soviet general (I believe it was Zhukov) to say “It takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army”.

Reply

37 Busby October 22, 2017 at 11:42 am

The German Army personnel system emphasized unit cohesion. The typical division had a “home district” or station which provided the bulk of the manpower for that unit. Replacements were normally grouped into an organized march unit of company or battalion size and ideally would be integrated as a sort of plug and play into an existing unit. As much as practical, wounded soldiers were returned to their original unit.
In contrast, the US system treated soldiers as individual replacements. In part, this was because of a deliberate decision by Marshall to cap the number of infantry divisions at 100. American infantry regiments largely stayed in the line for the duration of the campaign, creating a requirement to keep the manning numbers up.
Psychiatric casualties weren’t ignored, but the post war Army, in spite of a good deal of learned experience, tended to hide the problems. Perhaps because it didn’t fit the story of how we won the war. John Huston’s documentary about the subject was deep sixed until the 80s. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_There_Be_Light_(1946_film)
Funny enough, IDF studies from the 1973 War, became a major topic of discussion in the late 1970s. So much so that the Army created an experiment, a new manning system called Cohort, where combat units of infantry and armor where raised, trained and deployed. The results were mixed (read this to see why http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a223529.pdf)
The Army still hasn’t figured out a way to merge the best features of the European model of unit manning with the strengths of the more American style.

Reply

38 Fazal Majid October 23, 2017 at 12:27 am

It probably helped that German soldiers were doped up on amphetamines:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/the-nazi-death-machine-hitler-s-drugged-soldiers-a-354606.html

Reply

39 Alistair October 24, 2017 at 4:21 am

And by 1944 the Royal Navy and Commonwealth navies are the only others still in existence. 🙂

(Ok – exaggeration for effect, but you get the idea)

Reply

40 ChrisA October 22, 2017 at 2:08 am

Once the US entered the war it was a foregone conclusion, the US was just too strong an economy to beat even with the very best tactics. The Allied commanders could have been morons (they were not generally speaking) and sheer weight of numbers and manufacturing capability would have beaten the Germans and the Japanese. What is strange is the decision of both the Germans and the Japanese in provoking the US tiger. Why didn’t the Japanese just stick to taking over the Indo-China area and the Germans stick to invading Russia. It would have been hard to see the US getting the political will to enter the war in those circumstances. Japan and Germany could have achieved all the lebensraum they wanted with this approach including for Germany the oil fields of Azerbaijan and for Japan the oil fields of Indonesia. Of course part of the answer is that both countries were led by psychotics, but there were plenty of practical men there in the leadership to at least advise.

Reply

41 Doug October 22, 2017 at 2:20 am

The prevailing theory in Japan circa 1941 was that Pearl Harbor would lead to a very limited war and the US would agree to a negotiated peace in 6 to 9 months.

Everyone in Imperial Japan was aware that prevailing against the US was impossible. But they thought some decisive battles could break America’s will to fight. They’d get the concessions they needed (mostly an end to the oil embargo) and refocus back on the main war.

Of course they underestimated how butt hurt Americans would be about all those dead sailors blown up in their sleep. Chalk it up to a cultural misunderstanding and typical Asiatic cruelty to individual life.

Reply

42 Bob October 22, 2017 at 1:40 pm

Japan’s Navy General Staff opposed the Pearl Harbor attack. Yamamoto wanted it and threatened to resign if it wasn’t implemented, as he believed it was the only chance for Japan. Yamamoto also wanted a formal declaration of war before the attack. Yamamoto knew that the attack would evoke a furious response, but he believed such a gamble was the only chance for Japan to win.

Reply

43 C October 23, 2017 at 12:52 pm

In going to war against the US Japan was presumably hoping for a repeat of the Russo Japanese war – with the US just getting sick of the fight and suing for peace on terms favorable to Japan. Doubtful in retrospect for any number of reasons but I’m sure it seemed plausible enough at the time.

This would seem also to be the case for Hitler’s crazy attack on the USSR. Germany had beaten the Russians 25 years before – why not again? And this time they were more or less fighting on a single front.

Now, Hitler declaring war on the US when Japan attacked. That I don’t understand.

Reply

44 Alistair October 24, 2017 at 4:24 am

That’s the Germans for you.

Tactics +5
Operations +10
Strategy -100

Reply

45 Doug October 22, 2017 at 2:22 am

And of course Hitler was just batshit crazy and honestly thought that Native Americans and Irish immigrants would form a serious fifth column to bring down the US from the inside.

Reply

46 wiki October 22, 2017 at 6:13 am

Let us not forget that Hitler declared war on the US right after Pearl Harbor, thus giving the US an excuse to focus on Europe first, despite the fact that all the attacks on US territory were from the Japanese.

Reply

47 GHQ October 22, 2017 at 2:25 am

They both wanted to prevent England and the USA from interfering with their plans. Which the Japanese correctly anticipated would happen. They gambled that they’d have initial successes and then the Americans would accept the new status quo (hence Yamamoto Isoroku’s famous quote). The Germans couldn’t figure out why the English and the deluded Americans couldn’t see that the real enemy was Russia and team up with Germany to crush Russia, Communism, International Jewry (and all the other things they didn’t like). The reason was that England was just a habitual trouble-maker and was being led by a loony drunk (Churchill), and America was being manipulated by Jews. That’s what J. Goebbels thought, anyway, according to his diaries.
I recommend Gobbels’ dairies, Alan Bullock’s Hitler and Stalin, and, about Japan’s leaders, Japan’s Longest Day, and Micheal Blaker’s Japan’s International Negotiating Style. About the US Navy in WW II, I recommend Samuel E. Morrison’s multi-volume history of the same, available at the International House in Roppongi (last time I looked anyway) and probably the better American research libraries.

Reply

48 wiki October 22, 2017 at 6:15 am

For Japan all need to read 1941 by Eri Hotta, which emphasizes how US concessions prior to WW2 convinced the Japanese that the US would fold. Sounds a lot like how the Mideast and probably China view the US today.

Reply

49 Lanigram October 22, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Credible deterrence matters. Obama’s movable red line was an invitation.

Reply

50 Massimo October 22, 2017 at 2:26 am

The psychotic was actually FDR. He wanted a war with Germany, and when Hitler did not take the bait during the open but undeclared anti submarine warfare of 1940, he had only the Japanese to use as a vehicle to bring the Germans in. The first he cornered with the sanctions, and the second he brought onboard with Rainbow 5.

I am not excusing the atrocities of Hitler or Tojo, I am just saying that the US entered the war because its politicians wanted to. Just like the Civil War, there are not good and bad guys in WWII. Granted, the level of evil was not the same, but evil were they all.

Reply

51 Millian October 22, 2017 at 7:17 am

There are bad guys, like the people who did the Holocaust. Enough of this Trumpian moral relativism.

Reply

52 ladderff October 22, 2017 at 8:49 am

Million is right. USAF should have incinerated even more German and Japanese civilians. That’ll show em!

Your fanaticism is disgusting.

Reply

53 A Truth Seeker October 22, 2017 at 10:02 am

If the Japanase didn’t want to benfirebombed maybe they should not have invaded Korea, China, Indochina, attacked Pearl Harbor, sponsored death marches and rapes.

54 Alistair October 24, 2017 at 4:26 am

Things are really messed up when I’m forced to agree with truth seeker.

55 Anonymous October 22, 2017 at 9:48 am

“undeclared anti submarine warfare of 1940”

I think it is fairly conventional that a trading nation take exception with violent interference with trade.

How do you feel about the undeclared war on Somali pirates?

Reply

56 Massimo October 22, 2017 at 12:26 pm

The Germans were not attacking any ship with an American flag, even when there were moving massive quantities of war materiel to England. Even so, German submarines were openly attacked in the Atlantic by American destroyers and a few were sunk. They had strict orders not to respond even under attack. In one occasion a German captain, after 4 hours immersed and subjected to depth charges, reacted and sunk the destroyer. FDR fire chat of the evening was all about the treacherous Germans attacking without reason. At that point most of American opinion had understood FDR obvious attempts to manipulate the facts, and followed the position of the American firsters.

What changed everything was Pearl Harbour. It is not clear if FDR had advance knowledge of the attack as some conspirational theorists say. The Americans broke the code used by the Japanese embassy in Washington, so they knew the Japanese were desperate. In particular they read a cable from the Foreign Minister to the embassy in the summer in which the Minister stated that the navy had only 24 months of oil and if they had not found the way to eliminate sanctions, war with the US would have been unavoidable. Of course the Japanese tried twice to make peace, the first by Konoe in May, the second in November with envoys of Tojo, but FDR refused to meet them, even if they agreed as a precondition to leave China (and in the first case all Asia). With all that info, FDR knew the Japanese were going to attack, and he counted on this, but he probably thought, very reasonably, that the attack would have been part of the assault on the Dutch colonies (where the oil was, Indonesia was the 4rth producer of oil in the world at that time), and they would have attacked the Philippines. The audacity and organization of the attack on Pearl stunned everybody. FDR was “pale and silent” in the evening, according to diaries of people in the cabinet, so very likely he was as surprised as the others by it. But there is no doubt whatsoever that Pearl was a desperate move by the Japanese forced on them by the stubbornness with which FDR refused to consider eliminating the sanctions, even when they already reached their stated objectives.

I repeat, nobody here wants to cover the crimes of the Germans or the Japanese, but the childish official version of the USA intervening to crush the evils of the world, as thought in school in the last 70 years is disgusting. FDR did not have reasons, if not personal and political, to join the war. Cynically, the best course of action for US interests would have been what Truman half-facetiously proposed after Barbarossa on the German-soviet war: to keep giving weapons and money to the part that was losing, whatever it was at any given moment, until the two empires annihilated each other for good.

Reply

57 dearieme October 22, 2017 at 12:55 pm

“the childish official version of the USA intervening to crush the evils of the world, as taught in school in the last 70 years, is disgusting”. Disgusting in its dishonesty, you mean? I suppose that’s true.

58 Anonymous October 22, 2017 at 1:08 pm

I don’t know why you think sinking trade, even if under a different flag, would not provoke a reaction.

If Iranians sank Panamanian tankers next week, and the US Navy responded, would you be surprised?

59 Massimo October 22, 2017 at 2:50 pm

The correct metaphor would be a major war between Russia and China, and the Americans start to move massive amount of war material to, say, the Chinese. On top of that, the American start to sink without provocation all the Russians subs around, even if they had never attacked American flagged ships bringing to China war material, which by the way, would be standard fare in war.

No, you cannot condone under traditional international law FDR actions.

60 Lanigram October 23, 2017 at 12:24 am

Massimo,
The “childish” version is taught less than it should be, they are more likely to get Howard Zinn and then years of teaching to the math and language arts exit exams with 3 scoops of PC.

FDR wanted to enter the war, but the American people did not, until Pearl Harbor.
Someone in Japan had a poor understanding of the very human capacity for revenge, or they were blinded by their own narratives.

You really should pull your head out.

61 Art Deco October 22, 2017 at 10:40 am

The psychotic was actually FDR.

If you want to persuade people to not listen to you on any matter, keep talking like this.

Reply

62 Massimo October 22, 2017 at 12:29 pm

See my previous post. But, please, be a good citizen and believe whatever they tell you at the statists school. Have a good two minutes of hate, today.

Reply

63 Careless October 22, 2017 at 1:33 pm

What does any of that have to do with FDR being “psychotic”?

Reply

64 Massimo October 22, 2017 at 2:24 pm

You are right, I should not have used that word. A psychosis is a perception of reality different from actual reality. It wasn’t the case of FDR, of course. I would also say that it wasn’t the case of Hitler or Stalin, in the case of the former at least until late ‘44. To be thinking of winning after Bagration and Falaise was indeed crazy. I apologize for using the war, my mistake was using the same word used in the post I was addressing.

Reply

65 wait till you learn about the prequel October 22, 2017 at 2:57 am

“Why didn’t the Japanese just stick to taking over the Indo-China area and the Germans stick to invading Russia.”

Said almost nobody ever. If you’re looking for a “Why didn’t the Germans just”, you’d wonder why they invaded Russia, having conquered western Europe relatively easily. It was Hitler’s crazy decision to invade Russia that cost him the war, not the entry of the US.

Reply

66 Massimo October 22, 2017 at 3:23 am

IMHO, both American awesome industrial capacity or Soviet awesome capacity of sacrifice would have won the war. Together, the axis had no chance whatsoever.

Personally, I think only one battle and one campaign could have changed the course of the war. The campaign is the battle of England, won, I propose, by Chamberlain, with the year he got. If the Germans had taken the British out of the war, maybe, just maybe, the blitz on Russia might have worked without the Americans getting in, although I do not give it more than a 30% chance.

The battle is the little-known battle of Janjil Gol, in the summer of ‘39, when Zhúkov thoroughly beat the Japanese in Mongolia. If the Japanese had won, maybe, just maybe, they would have declared against the Soviets in June ‘41, and the Siberian divisions that saved Moscow in December would have remained in Siberia. And maybe, with Moscow lost, a coup against Stalin and a quick armistice giving Hitler part of Belarus and Ukraine could have happened before Pearl.

Reply

67 Steve Sailer October 22, 2017 at 6:31 am

Right. That battle in Mongolia convinced the Japanese (in a rare moment of good sense) that they didn’t want to fight a land war in Siberia. Of course, Hitler paid no attention to this evidence that Soviets were still pretty tough after the purges.

The Axis failed to coordinate on how to conquer Eurasia from opposite ends: in 1941 the Germans tried the north route against the Soviets and the Japanese tried the south route against the empires of the Chinese, French, Dutch, and British, while leaving the Soviets alone. Basic strategy suggests they should have gotten together and picked one common focus — north or south — but they didn’t.

Reply

68 A Truth Seeker October 22, 2017 at 8:39 am

The Mongolians and the Filipinos are the only Asians are trust.

69 Massimo October 22, 2017 at 12:48 pm

The axis was never so solid as it is described. The Japanese felt deeply betrayed by the Molotov-Ribbentop pact, we know it by the info Sorge conveyed to Moscow, and that fact plus Janjil Gol was the major reason why the attack North, favored by the Imperial Army was superseded by the attack South, favored by the Navy. In turn, the Germans felt betrayed when the Japanese did not open the second front with the Soviet in Siberia.

So, the obvious question is why the Germans declared against the American after Pearl. In school you probably read that it was because Hitler was mad. Far from it, Hitler absolutely did not want a war with the US and resisted Raedler’s pleas for the entire ‘40-‘41 period. It was when Rainbow 5 was leaked (very likely by FDR himself), together with “the destroyer war”, that he realized the Americans were going to intervene, it was not a question of if, but when. At that point he gave free hands to the sub fleet, that enjoyed its greatest and most fondly remembered period until the beginning of ‘43, when the light carriers escorting the convoys made the branch of submariners the deadliest in the war, with 80% dead by the end (best book about it imo, Iron coffins).

70 Peter Akuleyev October 22, 2017 at 4:37 am

„It was Hitler’s crazy decision to invade Russia that cost him the war, not the entry of the US.“

No. The whole point of the war, from Hitler‘s POV, was to turn the Slavic lands east of Germany into German colonies. The Western Front was a sideshow to get France and the UK out of the way. It was the German military’s crazy decision to support Hitler‘s ambitions that was the problem.

Reply

71 M October 22, 2017 at 9:04 am

Soviet-Nazi alliance is highly inexplicable from this perspective (if such was obvious to all, why ally with Nazi Germany at all?).

Reply

72 A Truth Seeker October 22, 2017 at 10:01 am

“if such was obvious to all, why ally with Nazi Germany at all?”
Because otherwise Nazi Germany could begin with the Soviet Union and bet the West would be happy seeing the Nazis destroy Bolshevist Russia. This way, Stalin could concentrate in crushing the Poles and trying to conquer Finland and build his strenght and wait Hilter united the whole world against him.
Letting the French and the English distract the Germans was Stalin’s plan. Thanks to that, the Soviet Union only benefitted frommHitler’s almost undivided attention for half a year, before the Americans entered the war.

73 Mark Thorson October 22, 2017 at 11:32 am

Hitler was determined not to fight a two-front war like WW1. The non-aggression pact gave him the freedom to conquer France, who declared war on Germany following the invasion of Poland. But his ambition was always to topple the Soviet government. He hated Marxist-Leninist Communism, and he was committed to destroying it.

For Stalin, the pact bought him another year to prepare for war, which he desperately needed. It also ensured the western powers would be on his side during the coming war. That might not have been the case if Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in 1939 or 1940, but it was the case in 1941.

74 mm October 22, 2017 at 7:10 pm

Both sides planned to stab the other partner in the back- Stalin thought the Wehrmacht would get bogged down in France (ala 1914-1918) and after being suitably weakened the Red Army would roll into eastern europe & germany w/o a problem. That is why the Red army was positioned so far forward in 1941-too far forward to handle an attack. It is also why the Soviets supplied so many critically needed supplies to Germany in 1940-they wanted the German’s to beat their heads against the West. Hitler’s plans are known to all.

75 Doug October 22, 2017 at 12:08 pm

It’s clear that was the Nazis’ strategy *after* the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact broke down. It’s not clear that was always there intention. Particularly prior to 1939. The Strasserite wing of the party viewed the USSR as the Third Reich’s greatest natural ally.

Reply

76 Peter Akuleyev October 22, 2017 at 3:09 pm

Hitler was pretty explicit in Mein Kampf that conquering Lebensraum in the East was the only way he could see Germany surviving in a world of great powers. He was one of those guys who pretty much did what he said he would do.

77 A Truth Seeker October 22, 2017 at 3:46 pm

As famous Soviet Communist leader Bukharin remarked, wih the Germans intending to throw the Soviets at Siberia and the Japanese trying to drive the Jpanese out Siberia, the Soviets woukd have to pile up inside a Magnitogorsk blast furnace.

78 The Anti-Gnostic October 22, 2017 at 8:24 am

“Of course part of the answer is that both countries were led by psychotics, but there were plenty of practical men there in the leadership to at least advise.”

Yes. If Hitler had just stopped with recapturing territory lost in World War I, he’d probably have resigned in 1958 and we’d see pictures of his retirement chalet in Life magazine. But he didn’t because he was a megalomaniac, and if he hadn’t been a megalomaniac he wouldn’t have clawed and bit his way to Chancellor.

Reply

79 Art Deco October 22, 2017 at 4:29 pm

and if he hadn’t been a megalomaniac he wouldn’t have clawed and bit his way to Chancellor.

He didn’t claw or bite. The chancellor’s office was handed to him and the German political class in 1933 folded like a cheap tent. Prior to 1930, Hitler et al was an abrasive nuisance to the German body politic. Wretched economic mismanagement created an opening for him.

Reply

80 A Truth Seeker October 22, 2017 at 8:42 am

“Of course part of the answer is that both countries were led by psychotics, but there were plenty of practical men there in the leadership to at least advise.”
The Japanese are criminally mad.

Reply

81 mulp October 22, 2017 at 4:13 pm

“Once the US entered the war it was a foregone conclusion, the US was just too strong an economy to beat even with the very best tactics.”

And the failures since 2001 are foregone conclusions because, since 1980, Reaganomics of tax cutting have made the US economy weaker and more fragile with each passing year?

Taxes had been rising every year on both corporations and workers in the 30s and those increases only got faster during the war.

The weakness of the US by the 90s made it totally rational for bin Laden to target the US with the 1993 WTC attack, attacks on US government outposts in Africa, on the US military in Europe, and the again on the WTC plus DC, totally unlike the irrational Axis powers.

Perhaps the Axis leaders misread the Trump-Bannon America Firsters of the 20s and 30s. Trade was great in the 20s because the US ran a huge surplus, but when it moved to balance and then deficit in the late 20s and early 30s, trade had to be blocked. (FDR turned the trade deficit into a surplus by the end of the 30s by government subsidies on exports. Ex-Im bank is a legacy of those export subsidies.)

But the most important point is the Axis Powers never imagined Congress would overwhelmingly pass a law that ended with

“…and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.”

The Congress voted for tax cuts, which means fewer resources for things like fighting wars, in 2001 and 2002, 2003, 2004,… while declaring war that was sold as being easy, or in the second case, generating a profit from the spills of war.

Can anyone imagine Trump signing a bill into law that ends

“…and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.”

That was the second law in three days with that final clause (Dec 8th and 11th, 1941.)

If North Korea hits a US territory, say the economic zone of Guam, with a nuke with the result being damage to electronic equipment but no loss or life nor injury or physical property to the US, what would Trump call for from Congress?

What would the GOP write as a law?

Would it include “and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.”?

No law since the 40s has come close to “and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.”

That’s why no conflict has ended successfully since.

Reply

82 Fazal Majid October 23, 2017 at 12:34 am

The Japanese had no choice, the US oil embargo forced them to make a grab for the Malayan oilfields.
Here is an official assessment by a US military historian:
http://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/pdffiles/PUB905.pdf

Reply

83 JWatts October 23, 2017 at 2:58 pm

“The Japanese had no choice,…”

Well they could have stopped the war in Asia. That seems like an obvious choice.

Reply

84 Alistair October 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

Noooo…. Asians can’t be expected to make moral choices and refrain from aggression. In Fazal’s world, only white people have moral agency.

Reply

85 middyfeek October 23, 2017 at 9:05 am

It may be a foregone conclusion now, it damn sure wasn’t a foregone conclusion in 1942.

Reply

86 Massimo October 22, 2017 at 2:17 am

As an avid war-gamer (mostly Squad Leader family, of Avalon) in high-school and college, I’ll concur with the assessment of the average American soldier, it usually had the same “moral” standing of an Italian and less than a French.

Another interesting point (I think), similar to the American Navy reference: at the beginning of Barbarossa, the Soviets had more tanks than the rest of the world combined, and they were excellent tanks, t-26s vs pzI (“Krupp sport cars”) and PzII or Pz 35-38 (t)s and the few pzIIIs and IVs vs T-34s and KV1s and 2s. The length of the war on the eastern front is a testament to the resilience of the German soldier.

Thanks for the tip, I will buy the book immediately.

Reply

87 Peter Akuleyev October 22, 2017 at 6:12 am

I have to say Tyler is not making a terrific case for this book. None of these factoids are new or particularly insightful to anyone who is relatively well-versed in World War II. Based on Hanson’s previous work, I suspect the book probably is excellent, but Tyler is simply not that well versed in recent scholarship, particularly Tooze, whose “Wages of Destruction” is still the best overview of the material and economic drivers of World War II.

Reply

88 Steve Sailer October 22, 2017 at 6:37 am

That the U.S. was fighting a war of logistics was the theme of numerous Life Magazine covers during WWII featuring belching smokestacks and vast armadas of ships and planes.

Reply

89 mkt42 October 24, 2017 at 7:52 am

Correct, and the reviews that Tyler links to also do not give concrete evidence for the excellence of the book. Which is not to say that I doubt their accuracy of their evaluations; I might give the book a try. But I’m not seeing new insights being quoted or cited.

Tyler seems to be especially interested in the logistics and management of the war. But from the reviews, those do not seem to be the main focus of Hanson’s book. Tyler might want to take a look at these books (if he hasn’t already):

Paul Kennedy’s “Engineers of Victory” about the engineering and industrial efforts that were one of the keys to Allied victory.
https://www.amazon.com/Engineers-Victory-Problem-Solvers-Turned-ebook/dp/B004J4WNMG

Stephen Budiansky’s “Blackett’s War” about how operations research was used to great effectiveness in the campaign against the U-Boats. WW II pretty much saw the invention of operations research.
https://www.amazon.com/Blacketts-War-Defeated-U-Boats-Brought/dp/0307743632

Jim Lacey’s “Keep From All Thoughtful Men: How US Economists Won World War II” which despite the title doesn’t feature economists nor economics as much as one might expect (except for Simon Kuznets); instead the book is really more about planning for the upcoming war, especially industrial planning, which the US was apparently doing very little of, including and especially the army, until some government bureaucrats including economists pretty much started doing the planning themselves because the generals weren’t doing it.

Operations research was also developed to help plan the Allied strategic bombing campaign against the Axis, but I don’t know if there’s a book that concentrates on that aspect of the air campaign. IIRC Milton Friedman and George Stigler may’ve done work there. Abraham Wald famously did, noting the importance of truncated data when analyzing damage to returning combat aircraft. (This article attempts to debunk the legend, but at the end the author is forced to admit that it actually happened.
http://www.ams.org/samplings/feature-column/fc-2016-06)

And one of the best parts of Errol Morris’s infamous documentary that consists entirely of an interview of Robert S. McNamara, “The Fog of War”, is when McNamara talks about one of his first projects during WW II. He talked with various air force generals about the strategic bombing campaign, and found that only Curtis LeMay had the right idea and the right “metrics”: instead of counting how many tons of bombs got dropped and how many enemy fighters got shot down and how many planes aborted etc etc., LeMay focused on only two things: how much damage his bombers were doing to the targets, and how many of his bombers were getting shot down or damaged. As long as the former exceeded the latter, then his goals were being accomplished.

Reply

90 rayward October 22, 2017 at 7:02 am

I have always been fascinated by the war in the air. Here is a list of WWII flying aces: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_II_flying_aces If one were to read this list alone one might conclude that Germany won the war. At the top of the list is Erich Hartmann with 352 kills. One must go all the way down to Richard Bong with 40 kills to find the first American on the list. Not far down is David McCampbell with 34 kills. McCampbell was a Navy pilot (a graduate of the Naval Academy), who had more kills than any Navy pilot, ever. In one 90 minute dog fight, he had 9 kills. Think about that: 9 kills in 90 minutes, and consider how many enemy aircraft in the area he didn’t kill.

I was born shortly after the end of the war, so almost all the men I knew as a child had been in the war and were war heroes – war heroes were as common as, well, fathers and sons and brothers. General Kelly divided Americans between honorable Americans who served and, by implication, dishonorable Americans who didn’t. Ironically, I never had the impression when I was growing up that men who didn’t serve in WWII were dishonorable even though I was surrounded by so many who did serve and carried the scars from the war (a lost arm, what was known then as “shell shock”, a visible bullet hole, etc.). Indeed, I met Captain McCampbell many times, as he was my mother’s childhood and lifelong friend. I knew he had been in the war but most men I knew had been in the war, and I had no idea of his heroics or that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor. I have a photo of him with my parents and several of their friends taken on the carrier he commanded after the war. One would never guess that this mild-mannered, handsome man accomplished what he had accomplished.

War heroes were like that then: they had performed their duty, nothing more, nothing less. I knew my late father-in-law had been in the war, but he never talked about it and I knew not to ask. He never wore short pants. One day at the beach he wore a bathing suit, and I understood why: he had a large hole in his leg, his scar from having been a belly gunner on an American bomber in Europe. Almost every family I knew experienced some loss during the war, including my own: my only uncle died in France in October 1944 as the allied troops made their way across France to Berlin. Although not considered a casualty of the Battle of the Bulge (the final German offensive against the oncoming allied troops considered to have begun in December 1944), my grandmother considered her son’s death as part of the ultimate defeat of Hitler and the Germans. He was a war hero, among so many.

Reply

91 derek October 22, 2017 at 10:08 am

In the Pacific war the US pilots that were successful were brought back to the US to train the next wave of pilots. In Japan the successful pilots were sent out until they were killed. The Japanese had an advantage in aircraft technology for a while, but the US had the advantage in tactics and quality of pilots.

Reply

92 Alistair October 24, 2017 at 6:03 am

+1. Exactly.

German fighter pilot air-to-ait kill distribution had a lower mean than allied. But a longer tail.

Reply

93 Massimo October 24, 2017 at 5:18 pm

Germans did not have the time to train properly after 1942. Therefore it was a sink-or-swim training, with the best trainers around (German fighter aces), but in real war. The guys that made 4-5 kills often kept going and got to many tens of killings. The guys that were shot down the first sortie brought down the average.

The history of Jag26 (Adolf Gallant old unit) is typical. During the Battle of England they were overall much better than the the Brits, but they had many losses of trained pilots. The rest of the war they were a mix of young guys with a two weeks expected survival time, and aces so good that they were virtually impossible to bring down, at least until ‘44, when every time they tried to patrol they were swarmed by 5-8 times more Thunderbolts, Mustangs and Spitfires (also, more interception of bomber formations, in which flying skills were less relevant than in dogfights). Still, a large percentage survived the war.

Reply

94 Mark Thorson October 22, 2017 at 11:40 am

As a child, I lived in Europe from 1962 to 1965. My family travelled all over western Europe staying in campgrounds. I vividly remember the amputees I saw. That was very common in those days.

Reply

95 Alistair October 24, 2017 at 6:09 am

Hartmann and other German aces rack up their super scores on the Ostfront against Soviet ground attack aircraft. They usually died if held in the west.

They were also highly unusual. The average German pilot was inferior in skill and machine to his allied counterpart, especially late in the war.

As otherwise observed, the Allies pulled their aces back to training units rather than keeping them in operations. This was a much better use of their skills, especially when matched with allied industrial supremacy.

Reply

96 Massimo October 26, 2017 at 4:04 am

These generalizations are unfair to the memory of the best fighters in the history of aviation. This is the list of German aces in IIWW. Check the list of the aces in Jag 26. The unit spent the entire war in the western front, with a short exception of the third Gruppe (the only Gruppe with 109s instead of 190s) deployed in the jugoslavian and later Mediterranean theater for 3 months. Jag 26 and 2 were the only fighter forces available on the western front from ‘41 to late ‘43, from Spain to Holland. No more than 150 aircraft available at any given time. A large part of Galland special Schwalbe Gruppe in 1945 came from JG26. Those guys are among the finest heroes in the history of IIWW.

Reply

97 Massimo October 26, 2017 at 4:05 am
98 So Much For Subtlety October 22, 2017 at 7:10 am

The U.S. soldier was treated for psychiatric disorders at a rate ten times that of German troops.

The US Army also rejected enormous numbers of inductees for psychiatric reasons. Which strongly suggests that Freudian influence was even more damaging and counter-productive than the Nazi eugenic theories behind Nazi Germany.

The German army killed about 1.5 GIs for every German soldier lost.

Which has been well documented and discussed elsewhere especially by Trevor Dupuy.

Reply

99 A Truth Seeker October 22, 2017 at 8:38 am

Were Americans rejected by the Army because they cared too much about their moms?

Reply

100 Mark f October 22, 2017 at 8:56 am

That is how Ted Williams delayed his being drafted for a year . . .

Reply

101 Art Deco October 22, 2017 at 4:34 pm

WIlliams volunteered for Korea service.

Reply

102 msgkings October 23, 2017 at 2:03 am

Ted Williams was a legit war hero, completely independent from being one of the best baseball players in history. That dude was an American badass.

103 msgkings October 23, 2017 at 2:04 am

Forgot this, read the military service section. Williams was legit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Williams#Military_service

104 Art Deco October 22, 2017 at 10:38 am

The US Army also rejected enormous numbers of inductees for psychiatric reasons.

About 80% of the 1922 male birth cohort served in some branch of the armed forces. The other 20% encompasses every kind of disqualification and deferment. One sort of disqualification is low psychometric scores, a deficit distinct from psychiatric problems.

Reply

105 dearieme October 22, 2017 at 5:13 pm

“The German army killed about 1.5 GIs for every German soldier lost.” Given the huge advantage in artillery of the western allies, and their complete air supremacy, that just emphasises how much better the Germans were as soldiers.

Reply

106 derek October 22, 2017 at 8:40 pm

And weaponry. Their tanks, artillery and aircraft were very good, and the training for the military personnel was very good as well. Their weakness was at the top.

The results of either theatre were obvious and predictable only in retrospect.

Reply

107 Dr. D October 22, 2017 at 8:54 pm

Much of the disparity can be attributed to the fact that the Americans were usually engaged in offensive actions which usually result in higher casualties than for those on the defense.

Reply

108 Alistair October 24, 2017 at 6:14 am

Unfortunately, some of Dupuys numbers are questioned by recent historical analysis.

Dupuys was a great historian-analyst; but he seems to have slightly overstated the tactical supremacy of the Wehrmacht in his thesis.

I also think the 1.5 ratio is tactical only; it doesn’t include indirect fire deaths, control for defence advantage, and POW losses.

Reply

109 BenK October 22, 2017 at 7:45 am

Naval collapses in history… I wonder about the Armada, the siege of Constantinople?

Reply

110 JonFraz October 24, 2017 at 3:08 pm

The Aramada failed due almost entirely to bad weather. The fleet was unable to make port to pick up the Spanish infantry in the Low Countries which was to land in England and make quick work of things there. And it only got worse from there.
If you’re talking about 1453, Constantinople fell because the Turks had new-fangled cannons that blasted a hole in the city’s once-impregnable walls.

Reply

111 rayward October 22, 2017 at 8:04 am

The 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution is bringing out a treasure trove of books about the revolution and Soviet Russia, including a new book about Stalin by Stephen Kotkin (part of a three-volume set). This volume includes the years leading up to WWII and the war years and considers Stalin’s initial decision to sign a nonaggression pact with Germany (Stalin considered Britain a grater threat to the Soviet Union than Germany) and Hitler’s fateful decision to break the pact. But of greater significance is Stalin’s terrorization of his own people including those serving in his own government. How did he do it: “Kotkin’s most striking contribution, though, is to probe reasons Stalin encountered little opposition as he wrought mayhem on his nation. Careerism and bureaucratic incentives in the Soviet Union’s formidable apparatus of repression had something to do with it, Kotkin writes, but so too did the party’s monopoly on information and the public’s receptiveness to wild claims about the danger of subversion from within. Stalinism was, in this way, as much enabled from below as imposed from above.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/books/review/stephen-kotkin-stalin-biography.html

Reply

112 rayward October 22, 2017 at 10:56 am

I’m always amused by opinions on why Germany and Japan lost the war (e.g., they had okay pilots, the allies had better pilots). Of course, the reason they lost is because they were on suicide missions, two small countries against the world. Why did the German people and the Japanese people follow their leadership on suicide missions? For the same reason Russians followed Stalin in terrorizing their own people.

Reply

113 A Truth Seeker October 22, 2017 at 11:38 am

The Japanese wanted ro conquer the world and were motivated by extreme racism.

Reply

114 Mark Thorson October 22, 2017 at 1:15 pm

General Patton said there are only two rules in war. Don’t attack Russia, and don’t attack China.

Reply

115 A Truth Seeker October 22, 2017 at 2:27 pm

A third war rule is, “don’t attack Brazil”. Those who forget that rule, end up like the mad tyrant López: dead.

Reply

116 Lanigram October 23, 2017 at 12:44 am

If not for nazis on the run Brazil would have no beer at all.

117 A Truth Seeker October 23, 2017 at 2:11 am

It is nothing, alcohol is an evil that shoulf be illegal. Brazil has never been defteated in a war!

118 Alan Goldhammer October 22, 2017 at 2:03 pm

I’m absolutely stunned that nobody has mentioned Rick Atkinson’s superb three volume history of the American forces in the European theater. If one wants to see how the Army was shaped so that they could fight a two front war (Italy and then the Normandy invasion), this set is necessary reading. The foibles of all the officers, the logistic issues, etc. are all fully covered.

Reply

119 VD October 22, 2017 at 4:20 pm

They were not good books. They won prizes, but they were pop-history. Iir, Atkinson is a journalist, not a historian. And it shows.

Reply

120 Ali Choudhury October 23, 2017 at 5:29 am

I liked his Gulf War books, especially his portrait of Petraeus but the WW2 books were pretty turgid reads. Did not make it through the first one and I rarely give up on books.

Reply

121 Paul October 22, 2017 at 4:14 pm

I would of thought the German to American/Allied, 1.5, would of been greater. In as much it was Germans always engineering defensive positions. Also, considering German Army killed by close air, air bombardment, and enormously well supplied artillery. This means that the German Army recouped and surpassed its losses upon the American and Allied infantryman and front line tankers, at what, 2 to one? Three, five?

Reply

122 mulp October 22, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Unless the Congress of 1941 is the starting point for WWII, the Congress that passed two laws that were both short and ended with

“…and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.”

Passed 82-0 and 388-1, with Congress making good on that pledge with laws making sure all resources were committed with tax hikes, spending hikes, massive borrowing from American people, and direct government control of resources.

…then the history and analysis of the US and WWII and it’s aftermath misses the point.

In fact, Hanson declares Hitler failed to grasp it didn’t have a blue water navy nor bombing fleet like his adversaries in 1939, but no one other than Britain had a significant navy, definitely not the US, nor did the US have a bombing fleet.

Those came from committing all of the resources of the country of the United States. Hitler had spent almost a decade building a military, so the US catching in a few years up was logically absurd. France had been wiped out as an enemy, and the bombing of Britain and submarines cutting supply lines greatly weakened it’s capacity. Russia had been wasted by both Stalin himself and then Hitler’s invasion.

Free market capitalism didn’t bring about the end and results of WWII. It was big government central planning. Axis central planning was superior, but Germany lacked the resources the US added to the Allied side.

Reply

123 dearieme October 22, 2017 at 5:15 pm

“Axis central planning was superior”: really? Some historians seem to think it was chaotic.

Reply

124 Mark Thorson October 23, 2017 at 10:23 am

Albert Speer said that whatever advantage Nazi central planning may have had was wasted with rivalries, overlapping responsibilities, and needless duplication of resources.

Reply

125 TMC October 23, 2017 at 8:58 pm

“Free market capitalism didn’t bring about the end and results of WWII”

Well, someone had to pay for it.

Reply

126 Marvin Sussman October 22, 2017 at 7:45 pm

As a veteran of D-Day through Normandy, the Falaise counter-attack, France, Belgium, the Hurtgen Forest and the Bulge as a corporal in A-troop of the 4th Cav Squadron, I can attest to the ability of the German army. Their infantry organization, their better infantry weapons: higher-rate machine guns and sub-machine guns, accurate mortar fire. But mostly it was superb selection and preparation of defensive positions while retreating. They did not have our artillery or air but they knew how to use what they had. As a result, their mortar fire was accurate. Our artillery saved us. Our air superiority did its work at their rear. But without the Russians, we would have lost the war. Imagine the counter-factual if Stalin had not pursued the two five-year plans of the ‘320s
Britain gone, all of Asia in Axus hands, with the Max Plank Institute finishing an atomic bomb.

Reply

127 middyfeek October 23, 2017 at 9:17 am

Is it not true that the Wehrmacht never lost a battle where the opposing forces were anywhere near equal?

Reply

128 JWatts October 23, 2017 at 3:16 pm

“Is it not true that the Wehrmacht never lost a battle where the opposing forces were anywhere near equal?”

The Wehrmacht lost the Battle of the Bulge despite having nearly a 2 to 1 superiority in manpower at the start of the attack. 406K to 229K.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Bulge

Reply

129 Marvin Sussman October 23, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Of course the attacker has numerical superiority. That’s a requirement for an attack. The defender can only spread out and position reserves correctly, which our command did not do.
German forces always gave more punishment than they took – in every major battle I have read about.

Reply

130 Mark Thorson October 23, 2017 at 10:37 am

It should be mentioned that D-Day came more than a year after Stalingrad and the Battle of Kursk. Those were the turning points of the war in Europe. A memoir published about two years ago by a driver/pilot/bodyguard for Hitler, who was a very young man then and a very old man if he’s even still alive today said that Hitler told him in 1942 the war was lost.

Your service, for which I am humbly grateful, did help by pulling resources away from the eastern front. Stalin had been asking for a second front for years. The Dieppe raid in 1943 attempted to do that, and it was a disaster. But it helped educate the UK and US what an amphibious landing would really require. But without D-Day and the second front, the Soviet Union would still have defeated Germany. The difference is that the Communist nations would stretched all the way to the English channel. You helped save western Europe from that fate.

Reply

131 JWatts October 23, 2017 at 3:19 pm

” But without D-Day and the second front, the Soviet Union would still have defeated Germany. ”

Sure, but D-Day was only one component. The Battle of North Africa, the Italian campaign, a massive amount of lend lease, the Naval war and the Bombing campaign were all significant drags on German strength. The Germans could have won against either side alone.

Reply

132 Marvin Sussman October 23, 2017 at 3:46 pm

You have it exactly right. The purpose of the Allied invasion of Europe was ONLY to have a seat at the table.

i met French people who had talked to German officers in Paris in the spring of ’43 and were told in confidence that Germany had lost the war and, in their opinion, was fighting for best surrender terms.

Reply

133 Mark Bahner October 24, 2017 at 12:11 pm

“As a veteran of D-Day through Normandy, the Falaise counter-attack, France, Belgium, the Hurtgen Forest and the Bulge as a corporal in A-troop of the 4th Cav Squadron,…”

Wow! If you’ve never written or spoken with recording about your experiences, I think you should do so.

“But mostly it was superb selection and preparation of defensive positions while retreating.”

It seems like that would be a lot easier than invading. (Especially in the days before Google Earth.) I’m curious about mines. It seems like it would be very easy to plant mines at every step along the retreat. Were mines a big problem?

Reply

134 Marvin Sussman October 29, 2017 at 7:53 am

It comes down to available resources at the critical point. Who has the most? The attacker needs more than the defense at that point, especially if the defense has position and depth. The Germans would find a good position, consider the attackers choice of position, and then get the range on that position – before the attacker arrives.

Mine field require special troops. They are used strategically, not tactically.

I am writing but only on personal matters.

Reply

135 byomtov October 22, 2017 at 10:26 pm

Poland alone lost more citizens than all of the Western European nations, Britain, and the U.S. combined.

WTF? Does Hanson know that almost 10% of Polish citizens were Jews? Do you think that might have mattered? Does Hanson?

What I mean is this. There are lots of civilian casualties in war, as a matter of course. But when one side sets out to deliberately murder a substantial segment of the other’s citizenry, these kinds of comparisons lose their meaning.

Reply

136 anon October 23, 2017 at 2:14 am

Only half of the dead Polish were Jews.

Reply

137 Ricardo October 23, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Right, so a significantly disproportionate share that reduced the Jewish population of Poland from a little over 3 million to 30,000. “Only” isn’t the right word there.

Reply

138 Lanigram October 23, 2017 at 1:34 am

Victor Davis Hanson at Hillsdale College: Why World War II Matters

About North Korea, it’s China’s problem. Solution: expell all Chinese diplomats AND all Chinese students from US universities. When the children of Chinese elites get booted from Stanford then stuff will get done.

Reply

139 Lanigram October 23, 2017 at 1:37 am

And here is the missing link:

https://youtu.be/tQq-ORA4fHw

Reply

140 Ali Choudhury October 23, 2017 at 5:37 am

LOL. Is that a suggestion from Hanson? Sure, why not piss off and humiliate the future Chinese governing elite. I’m sure they wouldn’t hold a grudge.

Here is the War Nerd’s savage assault on him which raised a few chuckles when it was first posted.

http://exiledonline.com/the-war-nerd-vs-neocon-knucklehead-victor-davis-hanson-a-war-nerd-classic/

Reply

141 jorgensen October 25, 2017 at 12:27 pm

“No navy in military history had started a war so all-powerful as the Japanese and ended it so utterly ruined and in such a brief period of time…”

The Japanese knew in advance the turn around would come quickly once the American industrial capacity was mobilized:

“In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success.” – Isoroku Yamamoto

Midway was six months after Pearl Harbor.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: