US and the Undeclared European War



  • Lets hear your opinion


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Had Hitler not declared war on the US soon after Pearl Harbor, I think that it would only have taken a few months for the US to declare war on Germany.  A war between Germany and the US became a near-certainty when Congress repealed most of the Neutrality Acts in mid-November 1941 because this created a situation in which US merchant ships were now legally free to transport war materials all the way to Britain, and in which the US Navy was legally free to escort them there.  This situation meant that Hitler would have to choose between two undesirable options for the use of his U-boat forces.

    One: Hitler could have allowed US convoys to sail unmolested to Britain.  This in effect would mean lifting the maritime siege of Britain, which was Germany’s most powerful strategic weapon against the UK.  An added problem is that trying to distinguish between US and non-US convoys would have been impossible to do with a 100% success rate, and accidents would inevitably have happened.

    Two: Hitler could have allowed unrestricted submarine warfare.  The result would have been the torpedoing of one US cargo ship after another, along with the sinking of various US naval vessels too.  How long would Congress and the American public have put up with a rising toll of US sailors (both merchant marine and Navy) being drowned by Nazi submarines without demanding a declaration of war against Germany?  Not long, I would imagine.

    It should be remembered that the primary focus of American isolationists wasn’t to keep the US out of any war whatsoever, it was to keep America out of foreign wars that didn’t concern her directly and that didn’t involve the US itself being attacked. A steady stream of newspaper reports about American boys and American ships being sent to the bottom of the Atlantic by German U-boats would sooner or later have brought public opinion to the breaking point.  This was actually seen on a limited scale in 1940 and 1941, as Congress chipped away at the Neutrality Acts and as Roosevelt found ways to bypass them (for instance by occupying Iceland and then allowing USN ships to escort cargo ships as far east as Iceland’s longitude).  A number of American ships ended up being topedoed, and in each case the rising level of public outrage enabled Roosevelt to raise by another notch the pressure against Germany.  So my guess is that, with the near-total repeal of the Neutrality Acts in November 1941, the US would have soon gone to war with Germany even if Japan hadn’t attacked Pearl Harbor


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Brilliant read (and answer) Marc. I had no idea America was that close to entering the war in Europe in 42.



  • The US was already waging war against germany without a declaration of war.

    They did not ship supplies, even food to germany but they had no issues selling stuff to the UK.
    They escorted supplies almost completely to the UK, including weapons.

    Cant really claim that the US was not actively engaged in the war against germany well before pearl harbour happened.
    Germany only made it official with their declaration of war and they did not engage in hostile actions with the US before they actualy declared war.

    BTW Marc,
    US was not legaly free to escort the convoys to the UK but then again you can violate international treaties as long as you are the victor of the war.
    Just because congress allows it does not mean that it is proper behaviour to attack someone without declaring war.
    Even japan was more honorable in that sense that they actualy declared war before they attacked, the papers where in a bit late but at least they had the intention to declare properly.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @ShadowHAwk:

    Cant really claim that the US was not actively engaged in the war against germany well before pearl harbour happened.

    My post above didn’t make that claim.  I was discussing the de jure situation that existed, not the de facto one.  Technically, the US was a neutral country from 1939 to late 1941, but in actuality it offered more and more help (of various kinds) to the Allied side as the war progressed, and by 1941 it was in an undeclared shooting war with Germany in the Atlantic.  Even the Neutrality Acts (at one point in their convoluted evolution, since they were repeatedly amended) weren’t all that neutral: the cash-and-carry provision, for example, allowed foreign belligerents to buy weapons in the US as long as they paid cash and carried them away on their own ships.  This in effect heavily favoured the Allied side because Britain and (while she was still in the war) France controlled the Atlantic to such a degree that no German or Italian merchant ship could hope to reach America and return safely to Europe.


  • Customizer

    Good posts. With Roosevelt as president I think war with Germany was always an eventuality. However, I think with a different president the war with Germany would be delayed significantly and the PTO might have been a very different war for the US altogether.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @toblerone77:

    With Roosevelt as president I think war with Germany was always an eventuality. However, I think with a different president the war with Germany would be delayed significantly and the PTO might have been a very different war for the US altogether.

    Here’s a thought: Can you imagine what course WWII might have taken if the American President, the British Prime Minister and the Soviet leader at the time of the Battle of Britain had respectively been Alf Landon, the Earl of Halifax and Leon Trotsky?


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    I had never heard of Alf Landan. Looked him up: had no idea the 36 election was such a landslide. Could not see anything about his policies though. Says he was a moderate, whatever that means.



  • @toblerone77:

    Good posts. With Roosevelt as president I think war with Germany was always an eventuality. However, I think with a different president the war with Germany would be delayed significantly and the PTO might have been a very different war for the US altogether.

    With Roosevelt as president I think war with Germany was always an eventuality

    Agreed.

    However, I think with a different president the war with Germany would be delayed significantly

    With a different president, the war with Germany need not have happened at all. It would not have happened with a moderate or conservative president.



  • @KurtGodel7:

    With a different president, the war with Germany need not have happened at all. It would not have happened with a moderate or conservative president.

    Now, that is pure speculation, man.

    How could a great power like USA 1940 not take part in a world wide conflict about world domination and survival ?
    Even with Alf Landan as president.
    Would there be no war against terror if Obama was President during 911 and not Bush ?

    In the 1930s the War Department of the US had the notorious color plans.
    Green for a war against Mexico.
    Black for a war against Germany
    Orange for a war against Japan.
    Red for a war against Britain.

    Since may 1939, the Rainbow plans had been prepared by the Joint Army and Navy Board. This would have happened no matter if Roosevelt or Landan or somebody else was President.

    I guess the only thing that could have delayed a US entry, was if Japan ignored the Pacific and attacked Russia only, and Germany ignored Britain and attacked Russia only. But of course the Great Powers USA, Britain and France could never accept this kind of new world order, so sooner or later USA would have to enter the war, at least for survival as a nation.



  • @Narvik:

    Now, that is pure speculation, man.

    How could a great power like USA 1940 not take part in a world wide conflict about world domination and survival ?
    Even with Alf Landan as president.
    Would there be no war against terror if Obama was President during 911 and not Bush ?

    In the 1930s the War Department of the US had the notorious color plans.
    Green for a war against Mexico.
    Black for a war against Germany
    Orange for a war against Japan.
    Red for a war against Britain.

    Since may 1939, the Rainbow plans had been prepared by the Joint Army and Navy Board. This would have happened no matter if Roosevelt or Landan or somebody else was President.

    I guess the only thing that could have delayed a US entry, was if Japan ignored the Pacific and attacked Russia only, and Germany ignored Britain and attacked Russia only. But of course the Great Powers USA, Britain and France could never accept this kind of new world order, so sooner or later USA would have to enter the war, at least for survival as a nation.

    How could a great power like USA 1940 not take part in a world wide conflict about world domination and survival ?
    Even with Alf Landan as president.

    Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Hitler declared war on the U.S. His thought was that a state of war would allow Germany a better opportunity to sink the large numbers of American transports ferrying weapons to the Soviet Union and Britain. He thought those weapons might have made the difference between victory and defeat in the planned anti-Soviet summer offensive of '42. He also believed, probably correctly, that FDR would eventually get his wish of going to war against Germany.

    I can hardly claim to be an expert on Alf Landon. But for the sake of argument, let’s suppose he was a sort of “go with the flow” politician. By that I mean a politician who isn’t afraid to hit back against an attacker, but who has no ambition to initiate aggression against any foreign nation. If he was like that, war between Germany and the U.S. wouldn’t have been inevitable; and Hitler wouldn’t have had any reason for believing it was inevitable. The U.S. would most likely have provided help to the Allies; but restraint on the part of both Hitler and Landon would have prevented that aid from degenerating into outright war.

    Japan’s situation is different. Prior to Pearl Harbor, there were two schools of thought within the Japanese government. One school held that Japan should expand south, to places like the Dutch East Indies and Borneo. The other school felt Japan should expand to the north, at the expense of the Soviet Union.

    The FDR administration wanted the former school to win the debate. It also wanted to promote the belief that, if Japan went to war against the colonial Dutch, it would also have to go to war against the U.S. (It was a little unclear why the U.S. would go to war to protect the Dutch colonial possessions, when it didn’t go to war to oppose the conquest of the Netherlands itself. But that’s neither here nor there.)

    In order to encourage the Japanese to head south (and thereby to protect the Soviet Union from a second front), the FDR administration initiated eight separate provocations against Japan. One of them was the well-known oil embargo. Another was “pop up cruises.” These involved American warships repeatedly and deliberately violating Japanese territorial waters. The emotional effect was about the same as would have been the case, had hostile foreign ships shown up off the coast of Los Angeles or New York City. Collectively, these eight provocations caused Japanese leaders to make a decision which was part rational, part emotional. A decision to focus on the south rather than the north. And a decision to attack the United States immediately; as opposed to conquering British and Dutch colonies without declaring war on the U.S. (One of the effects of the eight provocations was to convince many Japanese leaders that a state of war between the U.S. and Japan was inevitable.)

    The reason I mention all this is because the eight provocations are a fairly FDR-specific thing. They’re not the sort of thing that (for example) Calvin Coolidge or Herbert Hoover would have done. I very much doubt they’re the sort of thing Alf Landon would have done; though again I can hardly claim to be an expert on Landon. In the absence of these provocations, the Japanese would likely either have turned north against the Soviet Union, or else would have gone south without attacking the United States.

    In the postwar world FDR and Churchill created, the Soviet empire stretched from the Bering Sea in the east all the way to the very heart of Germany in the west. By the late '40s, the democracies could not hope to defend Western Europe in any kind of conventional war; and would have had to immediately resort to nuclear weapons in the event of a Soviet invasion. This situation was not optimal from the American point of view, especially given the fact that the stated long-term goal of Soviet foreign policy was world conquest.

    Suppose instead that the Axis nations had achieved their objectives. Hitler would have conquered all the Soviet Union west of the Urals. Germany would be at peace with the remainder of the Soviet Union and with Britain. Japan would have seized the islands of the South Pacific, as well as the eastern portion of China. In this scenario, the Old World would have four major powers: Germany, Japan, Britain, and (to a lesser degree) the Soviet Union. In a world like that, America could play these powers off against each other, as best served American interests. This scenario would give America far more opportunities to exert influence, than would a world dominated mostly by the Soviet superpower and by communist China.

    Far from being helpful to American interests, the Soviet victory in WWII was very damaging. FDR was driven to take the actions he did because of ideology, not because he was working to promote the nation’s best interests. If we assume that Landon would have placed American interests above the dictates of a radical Left ideology, it becomes highly unlikely that he would have pursued a Soviet victory in WWII with the same enthusiasm that FDR did. Or even at all, for that matter.



  • Far from being helpful to American interests, the Soviet victory in WWII was very damaging. FDR was driven to take the actions he did because of ideology, not because he was working to promote the nation’s best interests. If we assume that Landon would have placed American interests above the dictates of a radical Left ideology, it becomes highly unlikely that he would have pursued a Soviet victory in WWII with the same enthusiasm that FDR did. Or even at all, for that matter.

    Well yes it was far from helpfull but they did not know that at the start up till about 46-47 russia and US/UK where big buddies. The US did not predict that this would change where germany was seen as a treat to be dealth with.
    Sorry but the US came out of the WW2 a lot stronger and helping others was in their best intrest the countries in europe had big debts with the US as well writing them off would not be a small thing. And having no competition to speak of is also not that bad for a global super power. What would have happened if the USSR and the US stayed friends that would have been verry good for the US.


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