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The Second World War in US History & Memory

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  • The Second World War in US History & Memory

    Hi

    Hope this is of some interest:-

    With the advantage of historical hindsight, its obvious that WW2 dramatically transformed the United States. Equally obvious by now is that most Americans at the time grossly misunderstood those transformations. One of the major reasons that they failed to comprehend what had actually occurred is that their memory of the war diverged sharply from the historical reality
    http://vi.uh.edu/pages/buzzmat/DH%20...0II/stoler.pdf

    Regards

    Andy H
    "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

    "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

  • #2
    I've always respected Mark Stoler's work. Good read.
    "The legitimate object of war is a more perfect peace." General William T. Sherman , 20 July 1865

    Comment


    • #3
      "Similarly they saw themselves as the saviours of the Soviet armed forces, which, while clearly courageous, could hardly have succeeded in defending their homeland without the valiant Americans.
      Here, we have the REAL genesis of the cold war, and the unecessary and stupid Nuke Arms Race.

      I often wonder what it was in the character of the american military and homefront that lead to such thoughts?

      The course of WW2 in europe was already set on the path to allied victory prior to American involvement.

      Europe, however, did have need of american material, but the US also needed someone to fight the Germans full on for three years in a manner that they themselves seemed reluctant to do.

      I often wonder how different post war europe would have been had FDR survived. would his influence have defused the cold war? FDR was very willing to give the russian people thier just due for making "Overlord" possible, and for saving americans from russian scale casualties. What would a war result like that have done to post-war american overexuberance?

      This was a good article. thnx for the post Mr.H
      My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

      Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
      GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
      Lincoln-Douglas Debates

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      • #4
        I might clarify too that without the cold War, we would not have the space Race, or the continued development of the computer age and the silicone chip.

        War is always the great accelorator of technological achievement.
        My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

        Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
        GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
        Lincoln-Douglas Debates

        Comment


        • #5
          The reoccurring theme seems to be "ignorant" and "arrogant".
          I notice the author steers very clear of wealth that the US invested in rebuilding Europe after the war. Or the amount of money pumped into every community the American armed forces maintained a base in since the end of WWII. .
          That by the way, was the main complaint of the mayors of each of the German cities we had bases in when the US downsized our bases during the run up to the Iraq War. He doesn't mention the Berlin Airlift. Nor does he mention the security forces that Western Europe has taken full advantage of since the end of WWII, or the fact that this has been the longest stretch of peaceful coexistence Europe has experienced since, well, forever.
          Also ignored is how the battlefields of WWII in the Western Front differed from the battlefields of the Eastern Front during WWII.
          During WWI the Western Front was dense, filled with literally millions of men facing each other in trenches that stretched across the continent from Switzerland to the English Channel, the British, French and Germans all suffered greater casualties across the Western Front because of the way the war was fought in the Western Front during WWII, where fox holes holding two or three men replaced trenches of WWI with men packed in like sardines.
          Not only were American casualties lower in WWII then what the Russians experienced, the same was true of Canadian and British losses during WWII compared Russia. Perhaps two other factors could explain this,
          1. Germany invaded Russia with a very large force and sent a lot more reinforcements.
          2. The battlefields themselves were much different than the Western Front or in North Africa. More combatants fighting for the same ground usually means a lot more casualties.
          I know that sounds crazy, but it is simple math. The entire number of soldiers that faced each other in the Western Front of WWII were fewer than the Eastern Fronts.
          That was not a problem created by the USA, nor was it our responsibility to prevent the rise of Nazi Germany. There was after all a lot of other things occurring during the 1930s besides the threat of Fascism. Russia was trading with Hitler, Stalin was a co-conspirator with Hitler, not lifting a finger to give aid to any Western European nation while Nazi armies were routing one army after another, yet the author only blames the US for not getting into the fray sooner.
          Does that not sound a bit myopic?
          After all, Russia would not have to build a navy to send its soldiers to help in 1939, the US would. Little credit is allowed for the fact that we had to move an army across the Atlantic, an army that did not exist in 1939 or 1940, or 1941, in fact we did not have the machinery of war nor the man power needed until late 1943 and then we were engaged in the Pacific and the North Africa.
          We (the Allieds) had to stall the Nazis until the machines could be assembled, even Stalin agreed with that fundamental truth. He knew it was unrealistic for the Allied forces to engage the German forces in Western Europe until there was a overwhelming supply of material and men in Britain that could mount a cross channel amphibious invasion. It would have been just as disastrous for Russia had the Allies attempted an invasion and failed.
          The author also seems to give the USSR a clean slate on any responsibility for the Cold War. Perhaps he does not remember the Berlin Wall, or the struggles of those people whose countries were ruled by the USSR.
          Europe has enjoyed the longest peace in its history since the end of WWII. There maybe some people who would now, 24 years after the end of the Cold War and the end of USSR occupation of half of Europe, look back and think,'we didn't need the US after all",
          Where were those people 24 years ago?
          Why did Britain end its peace time draft in 1960? Would that have happened without the security provided by large US bases spread across Europe?
          Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Drusus Nero View Post
            Here, we have the REAL genesis of the cold war, and the unecessary and stupid Nuke Arms Race.

            I often wonder what it was in the character of the american military and homefront that lead to such thoughts?

            The course of WW2 in europe was already set on the path to allied victory prior to American involvement.

            Europe, however, did have need of american material, but the US also needed someone to fight the Germans full on for three years in a manner that they themselves seemed reluctant to do.

            I often wonder how different post war europe would have been had FDR survived. would his influence have defused the cold war? FDR was very willing to give the russian people thier just due for making "Overlord" possible, and for saving americans from russian scale casualties. What would a war result like that have done to post-war american overexuberance?

            This was a good article. thnx for the post Mr.H
            Er - Stalin ?
            "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
            Samuel Johnson.

            Comment


            • #7
              FDR and Stalin got on just fine.

              Harry Truman was another story.

              He was full of good old missouri language and straight talk. just what was needed to ignite tensions that had been largely put to rest by FDR and churchill. The famous division of Europe between churchill and stalin on a single piece of paper is the sort of agreement stalin like, favourable comensurate with the effort put in by the soviets.

              One has to look at it from a soviet perspective. In their eyes, they had saved Europe. And what did they get for their troubles? mistrust and propaganda. Stalin made no secret of the fact that the immediate postwar situation was not to his likeing at all. You only have to look at his dismissive treatment of the london Poles to see what was on his mind. He was a power broker, and if you didn't bring power cards to the conference table, he didn't take the negotiations very seriously. The Poles were dismissed based partly on these grounds, and others I'll go into when I get around to posting about the "Halt Order" before Warsaw.

              A little FDR concilliation might have paid big dividends. Instead, the Free World had "straight talking" Harry. Not the best of situations for delicate postwar talks.

              Truman was an unknown as well. Stalin and churchill had been talking to eachother for years by then. but Britain was very much the jumior power in Stalin's eyes. Stalin was impressed by POWER, not straight talking language or posturing.
              My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

              Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
              GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
              Lincoln-Douglas Debates

              Comment


              • #8
                Stalin was impressed by POWER, not straight talking language or posturing.
                But you still ask why the arms race when you seem to know the answer.
                "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Mr. Dzugashvili was a snake.
                  Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
                  Hyperwar, Whats New
                  World War II Resources
                  The best place in the world to "work".

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                  • #10
                    Rather disappointing.

                    It's a paper with a thesis. Nothing wrong with that, but then you have to support the thesis with evidence and arguments.

                    No doubt that the US memory as to WWII overplayed the US role. No doubt about the trends concerning society (save that the change was already going on, it was only accelerated by wars, and by WWI to start with, before WWII).

                    But what about the wrong "lesson" learned in the 30s? It is dismissed curtly as this:
                    "...belief... that megalomaniacal tyrants who desired to conquer and enslave the world truly existed"
                    The author does not even need to state that such a lesson is wrong. It's obvious it is - if couched in these terms.
                    This is so simplistic that it seems to be disingenuous.

                    Sure, the WWII Axis had no plan to conquer the whole world. Nor, had they had such a plan, would they have succeeded. It takes a great leap of fantasy to imagine the swastika or the rising sun flags flying over Washington.

                    But imagine the USA remain isolationist. And that the UK and SU fail, the former becoming Axis-friendly and the other being dismantled. The USA remain secure in their isolationist position. The Axis has not conquered all of the world.
                    But what does the world look like?

                    All of Europe, Asia and Africa are either directly under Axis control, or are territories and colonies of Axis allies, or of countries in the Axis sphere of supremacy (the aforementioned UK, France etc.).
                    South America probably also goes pro-Axis. Those countries have cultural, ideological and economic links with Europe, the Axis, and Axis allies (Spain and Portugal).
                    Mexico and Central America remain in the US sphere of influence.
                    Canada and Oceania might, just might, change sponsor and abandon an Axis-aligned Commonwealth to enter the US sphere. Or maybe not.

                    In other words, the USA probably still has the majority of the raw resources it needs within its own territory or sphere of influence. What it lacks - and any superfluous goods it might want - will come at very hefty prices from an unfriendly worldwide economic combine.
                    Most importantly, though, all of the huge markets and development possibilities in most of the world will be out of reach.

                    The USA will become a backwater, its economy stagnating and never recovering from the 1929 crash, its unemployment rates always high.

                    On the moral field, the outcome is even worse. Dictatorship, racism and conquest at gunpoint are the ascendant ideas; the opposite ideas are quaint, outdated, ineffective if not bankrupt. IOW, while you won't see the Japanese and German marines landing in California and New York, you might well see Fascism developing in the USA from within.

                    ---

                    In conclusion. Tyrants bent on conquering the whole world are not an issue, true. But hegemony on a sizable part of the world's economy - let alone a majority of it - is a threat to a mid- or large-sized power. It will be unavoidably downsized if someone else achieves this, possibly to the point of insignificance.
                    This is a lesson in power politics that did not begin in the 1930s. It's the history of British diplomacy over the centuries: don't let one power gain hegemony. It's the history of the Greek city-states' policies.

                    And even just a regional power upsetting the local balance may have far-flung effects in a wholly interconnected worldwide economy.
                    Michele

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I've yet to see a country that doesn't rate it's own contributions to WWII highly. The paper sounds like another "Who was most important in winning WWII?" thread.
                      Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
                      Hyperwar, Whats New
                      World War II Resources
                      The best place in the world to "work".

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by OpanaPointer View Post
                        I've yet to see a country that doesn't rate it's own contributions to WWII highly.
                        Hi OP

                        I don't disagree with your post above, but some people of whatever nationality you care to mention will always view their countries contribution through short-sighted lenses. Dismissing any 'fault or failure' as an abstraction and anything that contradicts their set in stone POV as revisionism at best or outright falsehoods and smears against their nation.

                        I don't doubt that if somebody started up a thread about which country produced the best mess kit in WW2, we'd have the same nationalistic fervour running as if we were talking about tanks, ships or planes.

                        One of the many elements that is still with us today and even readable by many of the views expressed on this forum, is the statement attributed to Senator J.W.Fulbright "arrogance of power" an arrogance that led Americans to equate their own interests with the universal values and thus to an unquestioning belief in the purity of their own motives. Victorian and Edwardian Britain was just the same in the C19 & C20's

                        Regards

                        Andy H
                        "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                        "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I don't think anything I said was in disagreement with what you said. I discussed WWII with some Filipinos who were glad to point out that the invasion of Luzon would have failed without guerrilla help ashore. I didn't argue the point.
                          Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
                          Hyperwar, Whats New
                          World War II Resources
                          The best place in the world to "work".

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            OK then I will start the contrition.
                            I accept the UK has overplayed its contribition to winning WW2.

                            Any others willing to say as much?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Andy H View Post
                              Hi OP

                              I don't disagree with your post above, but some people of whatever nationality you care to mention will always view their countries contribution through short-sighted lenses. Dismissing any 'fault or failure' as an abstraction and anything that contradicts their set in stone POV as revisionism at best or outright falsehoods and smears against their nation.

                              I don't doubt that if somebody started up a thread about which country produced the best mess kit in WW2, we'd have the same nationalistic fervour running as if we were talking about tanks, ships or planes.

                              One of the many elements that is still with us today and even readable by many of the views expressed on this forum, is the statement attributed to Senator J.W.Fulbright "arrogance of power" an arrogance that led Americans to equate their own interests with the universal values and thus to an unquestioning belief in the purity of their own motives. Victorian and Edwardian Britain was just the same in the C19 & C20's

                              Regards

                              Andy H
                              You can add the Romans in the 1st-4th centuries AD and the Chinese...well, just about always

                              Susie
                              Will no one tell me what she sings?--
                              Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
                              For old, unhappy, far-off things,
                              And battles long ago:
                              -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

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