Playing at history
Captured by Americans
by sputum [Subscribe]
Mon Jun 26, 2006 at 05:54:07 PM PDT
Listening to Bill Mahr deride United States leadership about war, I heard him state that the 20th century World Wars were "necessary". Perhaps.
It takes very little imagination to twist history slightly and remove any involvement of the United States from major war in the 20th century. Of course if history is changed in the slightest, a whole series of unforeseen consequences begin, but I will assume that none of these would be worse than the actual history.
WWI began over the assassination of a royal heir, in an unstable European environment created over the previous forty years, then rapidly became a savage stalemate in northern France and Belgium. Ignorant Generals persisted with a casualty producing strategy of artillery barrages and mass human charges against entrenched machine guns. With truly lethal tanks and airplanes too far in the future to make an impact, without United States involvement (with 53,400 killed) it is very likely one side or the other would have sued for peace and everyone would have gratefully gone home.
Or not. Too many people have an incomplete knowledge of history. After the 1918 Michael offensive, it was likely that the two sides would have staggered into a stalemate lasting into 1919 or 20. After the Nivelle mutinies, which nearly saw the French Army collapse in the field, the French couldn't attack, but wouldn't surrender. Turkey was also likely to collapse after the successful offensive from Arabia and up the Levant.
Germany had also held off the British in East Africa. What is most likely, is that colonies would have been traded and the internally weak Germany would have collapsed into revolution. The American Army forced a surrender to a Germany unlikely to accept one without it.
If the United States had shown patience and kept their ships out of harms way, this was the probable outcome. Russia would still have been drained over the fighting which paved the way for their revolution, but this would hardly have affected the United States. The largest impact of no clear winner would be the lack of the brutal restitution imposed on Germany, creating the environment necessary for the rise of Adolph Hitler to power. No Hitler, no European WWII.
But the fact was that Hitler came at the end of a violent process of political change, which led to rioting in the streets and armed mobs. Hitler didn't come from air, he came out of a right wing political structure backed by the army and police. It easily could have been any number of rightwingers. Or there could have been a full-blown civil war between the right and the left. The potential was certainly there.
A revolutiionary Russia was an aggressive promoter of exporting it's ideology as well.
The European WWII quickly enveloped France, Austria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia because France lacked any resolve in stopping Hitler's invasion of the Rheinland. Hitler's army and political position so weak in comparison to France's that any resistance at all would have toppled Hitler's regime. Britain probably could not have reacted to topple Hitler's regime before they were strong, but nevertheless were safe from an invasion as Germany lacked the naval capability and logistics to move an army across the channel for a successful campaign. But for vengeful reactions on both Britain's and Germany's parts in the air bombing campaign, it is very likely that Britain's remaining air defenses would have been crushed and they also would have surrendered.
Again, this is a gross simplificiation of what happened. France was politically weak and divided, with a great deal of support for the fascists. There was no political will to stop Hitler. Once Churchill became prime minister, a deal labour forced on the government, surrender was unlikely. Britain had three massive colonies, India, Canada and Australia, which all ultimately suppled forces to them in Europe
Without possibility of a second front in Europe, Stalin would have been on his own against the ruthless Nazis. Once mobilized, Russia had the manpower and natural resources to outlast Germany. Germany was rapidly trying to perfect their rockets or invent a nuclear bomb, but it would be unlikely that a rocket would be perfected that could deliver the payload required for a nuclear bomb (early bombs were 9 to 10 thousand pounds), and neither side possessed a heavy bomber. It also would be unlikely that Germany could produce enough nuclear bombs to have changed the outcome, as Stalin would be unlikely to surrender regardless of the loss of life.
All of this came late in the war. Germany was unlikely to develop an atomic bomb because the talent had gone to the US and UK, being Jews and all. Russia nearly collapsed. Without the Arctic convoys, Russia couldn't have fed their troops or mechanized their army. Stalin reportedly wanted to make a deal in 1943, but the German territorial demands were excesive. Again, it was US industrial production which provided the cushion for both the UK and Russia.
Once the Nazi regime fell, Britain and France probably would have survived the war significantly weakened by the loss of foreign colonies. The lack of a West Germany would not have impacted the United States in any manner, other than a base for the cold war, also unnecessary as Stalin and his successors would not have viewed the United States as a threat.
Which is it? Surrender or survival. Why wouldn't Stalin view the rich, powerful US as a threat? West Germany provided millions of pounds of chemicals for US industry after WWII per year, including pharmacuticals. It served as a major market for US goods. It allowed the US a window into the east becauseRussia was still an aggressive power.
WWII in the Pacific was a much different war. Japan's territorial conquests were aimed at China (Manchuria), and France's and Britain's colonies, recognizing Britain's occupation with the war in Europe. With half of Japan's army engaged in China, the United States imposed an oil embargo on Japan which as we discovered was an unacceptable circumstance, which provoked a desperation attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor and drawing us into the war.
Actually, the Japanese had seen the US as their main rivals since 1922 and the Washington Treaty. China was a long standing ally of the US. We supported their government and gave them aid, which included military training.
The United States could have sat this one out without putting the embargo in place, however a bitter pill it would have been. Recognizing that Britain and France were unable to defend their Pacific colonies and having to give them up would have been nothing more than for-sidedness based on history. It certainly isn't clear how things would have shaken out, as China wouldn't have been able to mobilize the way Russia did, but perhaps when Russia collapsed the Nazis they would have turned against Japan, as they also claim Manchuria?
Uh, the Japanese would have controlled vast natural resources which the US needed, like rubber. And the Russians did turn on Japan.
Here again, without Hitler's rise to power the European WWII would not have existed and Britain and France could have dealt with Japan without involvement from the United States (with 291,500 killed in Europe and the Pacific).
Really? The British barely held on to India as it was. They faced an open rebellion in 1942, the Quit India campaign
The Korean War? 33,700 killed, and for what? No one knows any reason for this one.
Uh, because South Korea was attacked by the North is the reason for the Korean war.
Where in all of this would have been Ho Chi Mihn? The United States didn't like Ho because of his shoulder rubbing with communism in Europe, but Ho approached President Roosevelt for support and modeled a constitution after that of the United States. Roosevelt opposed any colonialism in the Pacific which put him at odds with Churchill, and unfortunately Roosevelt died leaving an ambiguous President Truman to let Churchill have his way. Granted, Ho would have to have beaten two other political parties to install a democracy in Vietnam, but standing by and then funding France's effort in installing a puppet government and hauling out the natural resources was only the way to get sucked into another 58,200 dead.
No, it was the labor government of Clement Atlee which perpetuated the colonial regimes after WWII. After the Red Fort trials of 1946, they were forced into negotiations to leave India, but still launched a 12 year colonial war in Malaya and by the UK 1953 was fighting a brutal war in Kenya.
Truman was afraid of the influence of Mao and the Chinese communists on Vietnam, which is why he allowed the French back into Indochina.
Since no United States involvement in WWII would by default mean that the United States would not have developed a nuclear weapon, it may very well have been that nuclear weapons were not developed at all. It seems logical that without nuclear weapons, world policy would have remained regional, where "you stay out of my yard and I'll stay out of yours" would have eliminated the cold war.
Uh, there was already a great deal of academic development towards an atomic bomb, the war just sped up development of nuclear weapons. Most of the major powers had a nuclear development program.
A weakened Britain and France doesn't appear to have a downside, viewing the mayhem caused by colonial territorial division in both Africa and the Middle East. Arbitrarily drawing a country's borders without regards to the tribal implications has proven to be a recipe for genocide and war. A prime example is Kuwait, carved out of Iraq and always disputed territory, the without British backing the takeover and subsequent 1991 conflict would never have happened.
A weakened Britain and France is what led to the colonial wars of the postwar era. Their inability to control their colonies led to war.
Need I go on?
posted by Steve @ 12:18:00 AM