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« The Cheela Mourn | Main | Blogspot Watch »

Congress Concerned About Diversion From War On Japan

December 12, 1941

WASHINGTON DC (Routers) Despite yesterday's declaration of war against the US by the German government, some in Congress are concerned about becoming embroiled in a war in Europe, when we are apparently so ill prepared to defeat the duplicitous Japanese, who only five days ago attacked and decimated our Pacific fleet in Hawaii without warning.

Many fear that the US, still mired in the deep economic depression of the past decade, lacks the resources to take on separate foes on three separate continents and two oceans, particularly when it seems so unnecessary, and a diversion from our true enemy.

A former State Department analyst put it in perspective. "It was Japan that attacked Pearl Harbor on Sunday, not Germany. We don't have positive knowledge that the Germans deliberately attacked the Greer last September, and if they did, is that sufficient to risk our Pacific war effort with our more immediate enemy, the Japanese? After all, they didn't sink her. And if it's cause for war now, why not on September 4th?"

Many independent military analysts agree that America is ill prepared to fight a war against Japan, let alone one on multiple fronts. The nation's aircraft are outdated by those of the enemy, our navy was inadequate to the task even before the loss of so many ships and brave sailors in the Pacific fleet on Sunday, and the armed forces are severely understaffed. Just to gear up to wage war on Japan will require massive rearmament and recruiting of personnel.

Roosevelt Administration officials, however, scoffed at the notion.

A high-ranking undersecretary at the Department of War said that, "America is quite capable of fighting all of our enemies as needed. The factories are already gearing up, and the American people have our full support. Enlistment has never been higher."

"It's ludicrous to think that we could ignore a government that has declared us our enemy, and simply wait until he's become even more powerful to take him on, as we'll have to do inevitably. This talk of 'containment' of Hitler by the Russians is whistling past the graveyard. We must engage him now, and force him into a multiple-front war. We can afford it--he cannot."

But one high-ranking Senator who oversees the War Department, who wished to remain nameless, pointed out that "...yes, they're allies of Japan, but Germany is no real threat to us. They have their hands full with the Soviet army right now, and this declaration is simply bluster on their part. Indeed, the President's precipitate action in declaring open fire on all German and Italian vessels yesterday has unnecessarily widened this war, perhaps far beyond our present capabilities to wage it."

Off the record, a former War Department analyst put it best:

"Until we've got Tojo's head on a platter, this war won't be over. Anything that distracts us from that is a victory for the attackers of December 7th."

(Copyright 2002 by Rand Simberg)

Posted by Rand Simberg at September 23, 2002 10:55 PM
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Beautifully done!

Posted by Kathy K at September 24, 2002 06:56 AM

Actually, that was the position of the US Navy, not the State Department. It hampered efforts at amphibious landings in the ETO throughout the war Together with the failure to convoy in the Atlantic and the dud torpedoes used in the Pacific the Navy got off to a very poor start, Midway notwithstanding.

Posted by Richard A. Heddleson at September 24, 2002 07:41 AM

FWIW, while the America-Firsters had the good grace to pipe down after December 7th, there WERE elements of it that pretty much argued exactly what your parody lays out. They were echoed by some elements of the Republican party, especially the anti-FDR wing, embodied in McCormick of Chicago.

I'd also expect lots of vituperation from the paleo-conservative folks (e.g., for this.

Posted by Dean at September 24, 2002 07:42 AM

Actually, the United States DID find it necessary to make hard choices in the area of resource allocation in the days after Hitler's declaration of war on us. The Allies made a conscious decision to give priority to the defeat of Germany, and that meant the Pacific theatre had to settle for whatever was left. Guadalcanal was done on a shoestring (Aug 42 to Feb 43) and the big drives against Japan took many months to mount. We should also bear in mind that the Soviet Union was taking the brunt of the war with Germany for quite a long time. I'm sorry to remind you of this, but resources are indeed finite, whether we wish them to be or not.

Posted by Joe at September 24, 2002 04:12 PM

No one claimed that resources aren't finite. The issue is whether they are adequate to fight two fronts at once (i.e., can we walk and chew gum at the same time). We are a much wealthier nation now than we were then, yet somehow we did manage to fight a global war. Taking down Iraq has been estimated to cost about a percent of the GDP, even under worst-case scenarios.

Posted by Rand Simberg at September 24, 2002 04:40 PM

Excellent..I'm linking it tonight...

Posted by John Hawkins at September 24, 2002 04:47 PM

Iraq is no Germany, despite Saddam's resemblance to Adolf. And what's the other front? Afghanistan is a mopping up operation. Hunting for Al Qaeda operatives outside Afghanistan won't be done by troops.

Posted by Joanne Jacobs at September 25, 2002 02:06 AM

Excellent! I'm forwarding it to Al Gore.

Posted by Stephen Rittenberg at September 25, 2002 07:52 AM

Ms Jacobs,

Did you miss almost President Al Gore's speech? "I believe we should focus our efforts first and foremost against those who attacked us on September 11th and have thus far gotten away with it...The fact that we don't know where they are should not cause us to focus instead on some other enemy whose location may be easier to identify. Nevertheless, President Bush is telling us that the most urgent requirement of the moment - right now - is not to redouble our efforts against Al Qaeda, not to stabilize the nation of Afghanistan after driving his host government from power, but instead to shift our focus and concentrate on immediately launching a new war against Saddam Hussein." See Rev. Sensing's full fisking here.

Posted by Richard A. Heddleson at September 25, 2002 11:18 AM

Actually, I have to agree with Richard and Joe. The analogy is not good because in WWII there was a lot of controversy on which front to concentrate men and material on. The country overwhelmingly wanted "Pacific First," but FDR rightly saw the primary threat to America from Hitler and pursued "Europe First." Througout the war many critics of the President lamented that the Pacific was the "forgotten front" especially in regards to support to MacArthur who had many political allies in the GOP.

And let's not forget that Hitler did declare war on the US. If he had not done so, it is highly unlikely FDR could have convinced Congress to declare war on Germany even despite the sinking of the Reuben James and other actions taken by Hitler before December 7, 1941.

So attempting satire on Gore's comments by invoking a non-existent debate in WWII that would echo Gore's fails precisely because the debate DID exist.

I personally feel we should attack Iraq, but the US armed forces are coming under strain for resources. We may be richer than in WWII, but the war budget took up like 60-80% of the government's finances. They are not getting that same level of support there.

It is not just Afghanistan. We have forces in SE Asia hunting for Al Qaeda there. We have major troop commitments in Bosnia and Kosovo. We have many, many Reserve units activated. We are moving Special Forces into Djibouti to open an African front. We now sent troops to the Ivory Coast for an entirely unrelated crisis in evacuating Americans in that country. All of this is in addition to our normal commitments in NATO, Japan and South Korea.

Let's not kid ourselves that we're being spread thin.

Posted by Chris Durnell at September 25, 2002 12:26 PM

All pointless nostalgia. History doesn't repeat itself.

Posted by Wise man at September 25, 2002 12:53 PM

Actually World War II defense budgets were 50% of America total output. This is how we built 100,000 war planes in the course of just under 4 years, and supplied both Britain and the Soviet Union simultaneously. Today's outlays are in the region of 3% of GDP. Taking care of Saddam will require at most $50B in direct incremental costs, or 0.5% of GDP.

Posted by Anonymous Coward at September 25, 2002 01:15 PM

WE should spend a lot more on defense then the niggardly 3% .

We face strong potential forces (China ,N Korea ,Whacky Islanists) and a lot of americans are clueless....
I say raise it to 10% and fight to win .
Cheers NeilV

Posted by NeilVanEerde at September 25, 2002 05:21 PM

sic Islamists

Posted by NeilVanEerde at September 25, 2002 05:23 PM

Interesting how this has turned into a financial discussion. Let's see, the Saudis are threatening $100 per barrell for oil. We will have to empty the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to prevent that from happening, or at least having a devastating domestic impact. Once we're done, we refill the the SPR with Iraqi oil as a reparation and use the revenue from the oil to pay for the occupation, reconstruction and democratization efforts (on a fully absorbed basis). Sounds like a near breakeven to me abhorent as that may be to government employees. But we've got our first MBA President. Maybe he can swing it.

Much more serious in the limited resource area is trained personnel to fight these conflicts. Ignore the money for a moment, we can afford it if we want to; it takes a long time to train the personnel and hone the coordination of the teams that are soon to amaze the Iraqis and us. The previous eight years were not exactly boom times for American military families, mentally or financially. I suspect the blue line is getting as thin as the red and that is part of the reason we have had to wait to go into Iraq 4Q02/1Q03 instead of a year earlier when it would have been politically easier is the limited appropriate manpower available.

And then there is the intelligence establishment that has been eviscerated for the last 3 decades from Church to Deutch that must be rebuilt from too close to scratch.

Our greatest assets are human and we have squandered them, particularly parlously over the last decade. But now the drums begin to roll my boys the drums begin to roll...

Posted by Richard A. Heddleson at September 25, 2002 05:44 PM

I read a post which stated that the efforts in Iraq to-date have cost America something on the order of... (wait for it!)

... 57 minutes of America's Gross Domestic Product!

I believe its worth that! Put me down for MORE, for I shall give to this worthy cause!

Posted by Sharpshooter at September 11, 2003 07:35 AM

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