The U. S. was put into World war II with the most humiliating military defeat in its history. -The Americans wanted to attack Japan first for payback. -In the ABC-1 agreement with Britain, Washington adopted the strategy of getting Germany first. -If America attacked Japan, Hitler would defeat the Allies. -The get Germany first strategy was the foundation on which all American military strategy was built. -It encountered criticism from Americans who wanted to attack Japan. -Protests were also done by American commanders in the Pacific and by Chinese and Australian allies. -FDR resisted these pressures.
The Allies Trade Space for Time -The Allies had the great mass of the world’s population on their side. -The U. S. was the mightiest military power on earth – potentially. -Wars are won with bullets, not blueprints. -America came close to losing the war to the well-armed aggressors before it could begin to throw its full weight onto the scales. -Time was the most needed munition. -Expense was no limitation. -The problem confronting America was to retool itself for all-out war production, while praying that the dictators would not crush their adversaries who still remained – notably Britain and the Soviet Union.
-Haste was imperative because the German scientists might turn up with unbeatable secret weapons, including rocket bombs and atomic arms. -America’s task was more complex and back-breaking than during World War I. -It had to feed, clothe, and arm itself, as well as transport its forces to regions as far separated as Britain and Burma. -It had to send a vast amount of food an munitions to its allies, who stretched from the USSR to Australia. The Shock of War -National unity was no worry, thanks to the blow by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.
-American Communists denounced the Anglo-French imperialist war before Hitler attacked Stalin in 1941, but they now called for an unmitigated assault on the Axis powers. -The handful of pro-Hitlerites in the U. S. melted away, while millions of Italian Americans and German Americans supported the nation’s war program. -In contrast to World War I, when the patriotism of millions of immigrants was questioned, World War II speeded the assimilation of many ethnic groups into American society.
Immigration had been choked off for almost two decades before 1941, and America’s ethnic communities were not composed of settled members, whose votes were crucial to the Democratic party. -There was virtually no government witch-hunting of minority groups, as had happened in World War I. -An exception was the plight of many Japanese Americans, concentrated on the Pacific Coast. -The Washington top command, fearing that they might act as saboteurs for Japan in case of invasion, herded them together in concentration camps, though most were American-born U. S. citizens.
This precaution was unnecessary and unfair, as the loyalty and combat record of Japanese Americans were admirable. -A wave of post-Pearl Harbor hysteria, backed by the long historical swell of anti-Japanese prejudice on the West Coast, robbed many Americans of their good sense and sense of justice. -The internment camps deprived Japanese Americans of dignity and basic rights; the internees also lost a lot of money in property and foregone earnings. -The wartime Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Japanese relocation in Korematsu v. U. S. -In 1988, the U. S.
Stalin was determined to be in on the kill, lest he lose a voice in the final division of Japan’s holdings. -Resisting Japanese, though facing atomization, still did not surrender. -American aviators, on August 9, dropped a second atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki. -The explosion took a toll of 80,000 people killed or missing. -The Japanese nation could endure no more. -On August 10, 1945, Tokyo sued for peace on one condition: that Hirohito, the Son of Heaven, be allowed to remain on his throne as emperor. -Despite their unconditional surrender policy, the Allies accepted this condition on August 14, 1945.
The Japanese, though losing face, were able to save both their exalted ruler and what was left of their native land. -The formal end came, with force, on September 2, 1945. -Official surrender ceremonies were conducted by General MacArthur on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. -At the same time, Americans at home celebrated V-J Day – Victory in Japan Day – after the most horrible war in history had ended in atomic clouds. The Allies Triumphant -World War II proved to be very costly. -American forces suffered 1 million casualties, about 1/3 of which were deaths.
Compared with other wars, the proportion killed by wounds and disease was reduced, owing in part to the use of blood plasma and miracle drugs, notably penicillin. -Heavy though American losses were, the Soviet allies suffered casualties many times greater – 20 million people killed. -America was fortunate in emerging with its mainland virtually unscathed. -Two Japanese submarines, using shells and bombers, had attacked the California and Oregon coast, and a few balloons, incendiary, had drifted across the Pacific. -Much of the rest of the world was destroyed and destitute.
America alone was untouched and health – oiled and muscled, standing astride the world’s ruined landscape. -This complex conflict was the best-fought war in America’s history. -Though unprepared for it at the outset, the nation was better prepared than for the others, partly because it had begun to buckle on its armor about a year and a half before the war officially began. -It was fighting German submarines in the Atlantic months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. -In the end, the U. S. showed itself to be resourceful, tough, adaptable – about to accommodate itself to the tactics of an enemy who was relentless and ruthless.
-merican military leadership proved to be of the highest order. -A new crop of war heroes emerged in generals like Eisenhower, MacArthur, and Marshall (chief of staff) and in admirals like Nimitz and Spruance. -FDR and Churchill collaborated closely in planning strategy. -Industrial leaders were no less skilled, for marvels of production were performed almost daily. -Assembly lines proved as important as battle lines, and victory went again to the side with the most factories. -The enemy was almost smothered by bayonets, bullets, bazookas, and bombs.
Hitler and his Axis co-conspirators had chosen to make the war with machines, and the Yankees could ask for nothing better. -They demonstrated again, as they had in World War I, that the American way of war was simply more – more men, more weapons, more machines, more technology, and more money than any enemy could hope to match. -From 1940-1945, the output of American factories was amazing. -Hermann Goering, a Nazi leader, said Americans can’t build planes – only electric iceboxes and razor blades. -Democracy had given its answer, as the dictators, despite long preparation, were overthrown and discredited.
It is true that an unusual amount of direct control was exercised over the individual by the Washington authorities during the war emergency. -The American people preserved their liberties without serious impairment. Makers of America – The Japanese -In 1853, the American commodore Matthew Perry sailed 4 gunboats into Jana’s Uraga Bay and demanded that the nation open itself to diplomatic and commercial exchange with the United States. -As Japan rapidly modernized, its citizens increasingly took ship for America. -Between 1885 and 1924, 200,000 Japanese migrated to Hawaii, and around 180,000 more ventured to the U. S. mainland. -Women as well as men migrated. -The Japanese government, wanting to avoid the problems of an itinerant bachelor society that it observed among the Chinese in the Unites States, actively promoted women’s migration. -Like many Chinese and European immigrants, most Japanese who came to America expected to stay only temporarily. -From such humble beginnings, many Japanese – particularly those on the Pacific Coast – quickly moved into farming. -The very success of the Japanese proved a lightning rod for trouble.
On the West Coast, Japanese immigrants had long endured racist barbs and social segregation. -Legally barred from becoming citizens, Japanese immigrants became more determined than ever that their American-born children would reap the full benefits of their birthright. Varying Viewpoints – The Atomic Bombs: Were They Justified? -No episode of the World War II era has provoked sharper controversy than the atomic bombings of Japan in August 1945. -Lingering moral misgivings about the nuclear incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have long threatened to tarnish America’s crown of military victory.
Richard Rhode’s history of the making of the atomic bomb emphasizes that the Anglo-American atomic project began as a race against the Germans, who were known to be actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program. -Both British and American planners believed that the bomb, if successful, would be not just another weapon, but the ultimate instrument of destruction that would deliver victory into the hands of whoever possessed it. -It is true that American intelligence sources in the early summer of 1945 reported that some Japanese statesmen were trying to enlist the still-neutral Russians’ good offices to negotiate a surrender.
It was unclear whether those initiatives had the full backing of the Japanese government. -Studies by Martin J. Sherwin, Barton J. Bernstein, and McGeorge Bundy have shown that few policymakers at the time asked if the use of the atomic bombs could have been avoided. -Doubt and remorse about the atomic conclusion of World War II plagued the American conscience ever since. -Less often remarked on are the deaths of four times more Japanese noncombatants than died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the conventional fire-bombing of five dozen Japanese cities.