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What if Japan attacked the USSR instead of the USA?

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by Bomber Harris, May 19, 2009.

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  1. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    You're going to have to back this one up with some numbers, steaming ranges, refueling, etc. I am pretty sure that the IJN had no significant at-sea refueling capabilities, at least not to the point of supporting an expedition like this.
     
  2. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Yes, show me references, etc, Wittman.
     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Gentlemen,

    When you lob post as I have seen above, with no supporting sources, expect them to dumped in the latrine. Either adequately support your suppostions or they will be gone.
     
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  4. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I don't mind a position taken contrary to my own, but sometimes they seem more "wishfull thinking" than possible alternatives. I'll have to do a little searching around, but I recall reading that even the "at sea refueling" of the fleet sent to attack Pearl Harbor was having difficulty re-fueling at sea, and Yamamoto informed Nagumo that if this was too difficult, he should split his force so that only the ships which had been re-fueled by the half way mark would continue on to the "launch area". And the giant ships of the IJN were so fuel inefficent (again I'll have to look it up), they would have had to be re-fueled three times to make it to the west coast of America. Getting around the Horn of South Armerica would have eaten all the fuel reserves in Japan for a "one way" trip.

    Doing that to go to another fuel starved, fuel importing Axis nation (or two), would be counter productive.
     
  5. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Nonsense!

    The US embargo was imposed on Japan because Japan had occupied the southern half of Indochina. The only logical reason for such a military occupation was to put Japan in a position to attack Malaya, Borneo, and the NEI. Japan, therefore, knowingly committed a deliberate act of war against the British and Dutch possessions in South East Asia. The US embargo did not "force Japan to attack the US"; Japan could have easily pulled it's troops out of Indochina and halted operations in China. This would have been enough to persuade the US to roll back the embargo. In fact, the only reason Japan was desperate for oil was so she could pursue her war of aggression against China. Without Japanese aggression, the oil embargo would have been meaningless.

    Not true. Japan was nowhere near as economically, industrially, or technologically advanced as the Soviet Union. Nor did the "Siberian Divisions" halt the German advance on Moscow; the German advance on Moscow ground to a halt because they lacked the logistical wherewithal to go any further. The "Siberian Divisions" did not even come in contact with the Germans until after the German advance had petered out.

    In any case, by the summer of 1941, when Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Japan was already well along in their preparations to attack the Southern Resources Area, and the Japanese realized that they was not powerful enough to both "strike south", and attack the Soviet Union. For that reason, from 1940 on, Japan's strict policy was to placate the Soviet Union, even at the cost of angering Germany.
     
  6. Totenkopf

    Totenkopf אוּרִיאֵל

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    This is a common misconception to new guys interested in the Pacific. People might get the impression that the pacific islands where the Japanese Empires main interest. But in reality it was far from that.

    The Slow steady advance by the Japanese was due to the many mountains of China which lead to Japanese NCOs,Veteran trainers and the average grunt having a butload of experience in hostile environments.

    What I meant my earlier post was simply that Japan wasnt ready to attack USSR. The over million men of the Kwangtung Army were simply largely untrained which was why many of them were there. A large amount of training camps had been placed there because of hostile conditions.

    If they did attack, any troops trained in Manchuko wouldnt have had much of a change of scenery. As looking on a map all of Manchuria is surrounded by a massive "U" of Russian territory.
     
  7. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Okay. Theoretically, when one nation is locked in a fight in the same land mass on two different fronts against two nations, that nation in most probability will lose.
    However, this does not apply to USSR against Japan.
    Since it's been pointed out already that the USSR were better prepared in terms of quality of troops, equipment, etc. against the Japanese in Manchuria, I'll just add one more thing to those who think the Japanese could provide enough of a distraction for USSR to enable Germany to win.
    Remember that the Japanese are already locked in a land war with China. Instead of distracting the Russians, an action in Manchuria would further distract the Japanese.
    As for the suggestion that the Japanese carriers reach the Med, well... I don't think that's a well thought out suggestion.
    If I were the Japanese, I wouldn't put my most valuable military assets half a world away in a place where they won't be available if a sudden threat emerges against the Home Islands.
    Additionally, the Japanese economy was already feeling the pinch of the embargo because of its actions in Indochina and China. Where would they scrape up fuel to sustain that voyage to Argentina and still retain enough fuel to maintain operations with the remaining ships in the Pacific?
    Oh, another thing. Attacking Russia means that the US gets its reinforcements in place to the Philippines and gives the US more time to further tool up.
    As pointed out in an earlier post, the bottom line is that the Japanese stands to get nothing if it takes on the USSR.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    And then there's the quesiton of how they move all that fuel. Imagine what happens if say in Mid Atlantic the British torpedo several tankers. Really embarasing for a fleet to run out of fuel in mid ocean.
     
  9. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    This is not an accurate statement.

    The Japanese Empire was interested n territorial expansion....PERIOD.

    While Japan was competing for territory with Imperial Russia (and later the Soviet Union) in northern Asia, China, southwest Asia, and the Pacific islands, including Australia, were also matters of intense interest for Japanese imperialists. In fact, John Dower, in "War Without Mercy", devotes an entire chapter to the Japanese cultural infatuation with what the Japanese called the "Great South Seas". This became, for the Japanese, an almost mythical region of hope and perceived prosperity, analogous to the American West. Japanese immigrants began colonizing the Pacific Islands around the turn of the 20th. century, and by 1940, virtually every major island in the Pacific had Japanese business communities, including Hawaii, the Philippines, Borneo, New Guinea, Indonesia. The Japanese national interest in the Pacific Islands was encouraged by the Japanese government which subsidized Japanese companies doing business in the Pacific area and provided incentives for Japanese citizens to emigrate to the region

    Much of the Japanese "South Seas" concept was illusory, but the myth of wealth, comfort, and an easy life persisted among Japanese, whereas the general perception of Manchuria and Siberia remained one of hardship and privation. It would be fair to say that the "Great South Seas" were attractive for their own attributes, while Manchuria and Siberia were of interest mainly because the Russians obviously wanted those regions.

    This is absolutely true.

    And this is the major reason Japan had no intention, and indeed, no capability, of entering into a war against the Soviet Union in 1941. In addition, Japan had already made the decision to "strike South" toward what Japan called the "Southern Resources Area", and the Japanese leadership was well aware that Japanese military resources would be stretched paper thin as it was. Simply put, Japan did not have the troops, aircraft, and logistical support to open up another front in a war that was draining the country dry.

    The Japanese economy was placed on a war footing in 1937, and rationing of food, fuel, and consumer products began in 1939. To take on another major enemy such as the Soviet Union would have been suicidal and even the Japanese Army recognized this. The most important factor was that there appeared to be absolutely no prospect of a "short" war against the Soviet Union in the Far East, especially after the Nomonhan incident in 1939.

    Again, these comments are pertinent.

    Japan gains nothing by sending a fleet to the Med and exposes the Home Islands to potential attack by the US Navy, something the Japanese would never do.

    Japan, in 1941, could probably find the fuel to send a carrier task force to the Med, but why would they? It would cripple the IJN in the Pacific, the one theater Japan cared about, and would do nothing to further Japanese expansion which was the purpose of all Imperial Japanese military activities. In December, 1941, the IJN struggled to place a carrier fleet off Hawaii, 3,800 miles from Japan; the IJN required 8 fleet oilers to support the Hawaiian operation. Buenos Aries in Argentina is 15,000 miles distant and the Med another 5,000 miles beyond that with a hostile navy controlling the Atlantic, and no friendly ports for replenishment and repair for at least 15,000 miles. No one who understands the realities of naval operations would suggest such an absurd mission for no practical gain.

    This is the decisive factor.

    Japan might scrape up enough fuel for a carrier task force, though it makes no sense to do so, but it cannot possibly move that much fuel to ensure that it is where the carrier task force needs it when it needs it. The IJN required 8 fleet oilers to support the Pearl Harbor attack force on a mission to hit a target 3,800 miles distant; it would need more than 40 fleet oilers to sustain strikes over a 20,0000 mile distance. The IJN didn't have anywhere near 40 fleet oilers in 1941. And even if it did, it certainly isn't going to send them off on a fool's errand and leave the Japanese fleet in the Pacific immobile for lack of fuel.
     
  10. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    Japanese operational planning was revised in 1934: the opening round of a hypothetical war with the USSR was contemplated in the neighborhood of the Manchurian frontiers. In 1934 the Soviet Tupolev TB-3 (ANT-6) four-engined "Super Heavy Bomber", reportedly capable of striking the Japanese home islands, was deployed in the Maritime province of Siberia (the first direct threat to the Japanese islands). In view of this situation the Japanese Army Staff effected radical changes in its operational planning for eventual hostilities with the Soviet Union:
    1. From a mobilizable force of 30 fully equipped ground divisions, some 24 were earmarked for commitment to operations against the USSR.
    2. Great importance was to be attached to air operations from the very outset of war.
    3. Japan should seek to wage battle on Soviet soil from the beginning of hostilities.
    4. The primary axis of offensive operations should be eastward, from Manchuria.
    5. Submarine bases and bomber aircraft sites aimed at Japan must be wiped out at the beginning.
    6. After the success of eastward operations, forces should be deployed for an offensive northward, the objective being the Lake Baikal district.
    The idea of launching an eastern offensive was first conceived at the time of the new plan of 1934. Three years later Japanese operational planning was again revised:
    1. At the outbreak of a war, the forces stationed in Manchuria will mount an offensive against the Soviet Union; reinforcements thereafter dispatched from homeland will join in the attack. This plan differed from its predecessor, which had called for an offensive only after the reinforcements had arrived in Manchuria.
    2. After successfully concluding the eastern offensive, Japanese forces should not immediately drive toward the Lake Baikal region, but should instead consolidate along the Hsingan Mountains Range and prepare for subsequent operations.
    3. Operational planning must attach prime importance to actions against both China and the Soviet Union.
    In devising operational plans against the USSR, the hypothetical movements of the Soviet Far Eastern Army were a major consideration. The Japanese Army General Staff made the following estimate of the situation: the Soviets could be expected to commit 55-60 divisions to the Far Eastern Operations. They would launch simultaneous, converging offensives from the east, north and west of Manchuria. The enemy would strive to cut off communications between the Japanese homeland and the Asiatic continent. If a war broke out with the Soviet Union, the most important problem would arise: how to terminate the hostilities? The Army General Staff feared that the Russian territory was so boundless that Japan would be unable to deal a finishing blow to the enemy.
    Within the Army, the prevailing and expert opinion concerning the solution to this trouble was to employ subversion; in other words the Army therefore placed as much importance upon "political sabotage" as did upon field operations, in planning for hypothetical operations against the Soviet Union. These measures were designed to counter Soviet activities as well as to foster Japan's own strategic ends. The program was accelerated after Japanese troops reached the Soviet frontier subsequent to the Manchurian incident in 1931, and constituted a prime consideration of the Kantogun Intelligence Section.
    The idea was to use the White Russians, Koreans, Chinese, Mongols, Buriats and others living there. Important to anti-Stalinist and anti-Soviet doctrine was the knowledgeable defector General Lushkov of the NKVD, together with other Russian ex-Soviet officers then in the service of Japanese Army intelligence. Principally responsible for Mongol, Buriat and other North Asian agents was Lieutenant General Kanji Tsuneoka, for whom the Kantogun established the "Central Academy" in Kalgan, Mengjiang. Mongol saboteurs and agitators during the late 1920s and early 1930s provoked some disorder in the Western area of Outer Mongolia, suppressed by the Russian and Mongol authorities; this was possibly under his orders. He was a North Asian expert and studied in depth the issue of controlling Central Asia.
     
  11. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    The main objective of the Imperial Army would be to build up to the strength necessary to occupy all the Maritime Province and Sakhalin Island, while at same time securing Manchuria and occupying exterior Mongolia and the Lake Baikal. Other probable objectives added to the basic war plan were a possible invasion of Irkutsk-Krasnoyarsk (East-Central Siberia), and/or an incursion to occupy Central Asia mainland.
    After this secret conference, Imperial Headquarters ordered the implementation of the revised policy toward the Soviet Union by commencing large scale reinforcements of the Kantogun. To keep the true reasons secret, the build-up was called the "Special Manoeuvers of Kantogun" or "Kantokuen" for short. The 400,600 troops of the Kantogun suddenly rose to over 700,000 and some billion Yen in military funds were allocated. These manoeuvres prepared the use of force against Soviet Union, based upon the prospect that the Russo-German war might rapidly take a favorable turn for Germany. In the event that force was used against the USSR, the new operational plan of 1939 was scheduled to go into effect, whereby simultaneous offensives were to be mounted north and east from Manchuria. Additionally the new plan included landings in Soviet Far East islands and coastal areas, and land operations in Outer Mongolia. Japan also had in Manchuria 150,000 to 200,000 troops.
    The Imperial Army anticipated the German offensive to commence in 1941-42. The Russians had to transfer several divisions from the Far East to European sectors, but the USSR would never leave Siberia defenseless, even if the war with Germany turned badly for her. It was thought to be almost beyond the realm of possibility for the Soviet Union to participate in a war between Japan and United States, of her own accord, thereby having to wage two-front operations. Certain reports mentioned the sending of 20 or 30 divisions to the European battlefront.
    Although the Kantogun had been reinforced, the Russo-German War for which the Japanese Army had held such great expectations might not turn out favorably for Germany, despite Hitler's boasts. A serious problem consequently demanded response: how could the expanded Kantogun pull through the rigorous cold of a Manchurian or Siberian winter? Military materiel was geared to hypothetical mobile operations against the Soviet Union, characterized by light weapons, large scale logistical systems, light armored groups and many horses. If after the southern operations are underway, the Soviet Army appeared to be mounting an invasion of Manchuria, requisite forces could be diverted there in ample time.
    As defensive measures against any Soviet counteroffensive, Japan had the primary goal of knocking out the Soviet Far Eastern Air Forces, as necessary to protect Manchuria and Japan. The Kantogun laid plans for a border defense system in 1934, but construction work did not begin until 1935. To begin with, to 1938 only four zones were fortified in East Manchuria, plus three in the north and one in the west.
     
  12. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    It would be appropriate to cite an authority for the foregoing information.

    I believe that the 1934 Imperial Army plan was based on hypothetical staff studies of the situation and never reflected any realistic war plans or political policy adopted by the Japanese government as a whole. In any case, the 1934 staff recommendations were certainly overtaken by events in 1937 (the outbreak of full scale warfare with China) and the results Nomonhan war with the Soviet Union in 1939, not to mention rising tensions i the Pacific with the US and Britain.

    Again, it would be appropriate for you to cite the source of this information.

    Particularly the part about the Japanese Army "anticipating" the German attack on the Soviet Union.

    The Japanese objectives listed in this passage seem more wishful thinking than realistic goals, especially in view of the severe thrashing that the Japanese Army had experienced at the hands of Soviet forces in the summer of 1939. These were certainly highly optimistic Japanese military staffers if they actually entertained any hope of achieving these objectives in view of the military and political realities of 1941.
     
  13. Wittman

    Wittman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Let us not delude ourselves with credible or less credible sources here. We all know more or less how WW2 went. If one wants exact figure on exact subject in exact point in time most of sources available - are not credible. The only thing that might be credible is scanned verision of official German/Bristih/Japan/US documents - signed, dated and stamped. Period. If somebody writes a book, it may not be credible, if somebody makes documentray or video - it may not be credible but mere propaganda, you never know. So in future, only official PDF state documents please (with english translation):).

    Ahem, in 8th century there was Carlo the Great - ruler of Europe. In 19th century Bismarck unified Germany. In 1914 WW1 started. In 1918 WW1 ended. And then, there are the Nazis.........sorry what part you don't know ?

    Yeah, I see reference after each sentence on this forum. And credible references they usually are :D. All facts, which I have said are true. I might interpret them otherwise than you, but that is democracy.

    Ahem, interesting thinking we have here. British are allowed to conquer and enslave half the globe, US slaughtered it's entire Indian domestic population and expands all the way to Peral Harbour, but Japan cannot attack IndoChina ? Did Japan attack US ? NO, it attacked IndoChina. Did US provoke Japan into war ? Yes, it cut-off it's oil supply. Sorry if rude facts offend you, may be my wishful thinking after all :rolleyes:.

    Economically and generally technologically they were. They build Yamato after all. They did not have T34s and IL" planes I'll grant you that but they had far stronger Navy that could isolate Russia from US LL under presumption that US doesn't enter war. And they had enough to keep Soviets busy. Not occupy but keep them bussy to relieve the Germans.

    Soviets lost almost all they had on Vyazma and Mozaisk defensive belts thanks to Stalins insistance on maning them to the end and you are saying here they staged counter attacks and repel Guderian&Co. with remaining scarecrows that were retreating all the way from Poland for 5 months, without reinforcements from Siberia ? Please...

    This is mostly true. But Stalin's reinforcements made the difference and reversed the trend.

    references, references...
     
  14. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Wittman,

    I am not some member making posts directed at you. Being a smartass with the administrator is not a good way to get started here.

    You are an unknown quantity, offering opinion on subjects that have been discussed ad nauseum here and providing a differing outcome based on unknown data.

    The members you commented on have shown themselves to be able to provide sources when asked, plus they have not posted factually incorrect information, as you have done.
     
  15. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Okay, you've been called on your sources so now you want to play games and claim that only primary documents are acceptable. That's bovine fecal matter, pure and simple. Books written by well-known historians which are heavily foot-noted, and with extensive primary source materials noted, are more than acceptable, and sometimes preferable to primary materials. If you are basing your opinions on such documents, it's only fair to mention them so other members can check the citations and see that they are in context and accurate. If you are basing your opinions on texts by lesser known authors, or by revisionist historians, we'd like to know that, as well. primary documentation is fine, but it doesn't count until you cite it.

    Trying to be cute won't cut it; the part that isn't known, and doesn't seem to tally with generally accepted history, is the opinion you've posted. No one's saying your opinion is wrong, but we'd like to know on what authorities it is based, so we can judge for ourselves.

    If you want to be a member of this forum whose opinion is at least respected, if not generally agreed with, it's obligatory to cite the sources on which you base your opinions when such is requested. Either that, or establish that you are published and reputable historian. You might present some interesting new facts and interpretations, but unless we know where they came from they won't be accepted.

    Such sophistry is not becoming.

    Because Britain behaved abominably in the 17th. and 18th. centuries and the US abused (not slaughtered) "it's entire Indian population" in the 19th. century, does not justify Japan brutally subjugating half of Asia in the 20th. century. No country is required, either legally or morally, to continue doing business as usual with a country that is acting contrary to it's own interests and the interests of a dozen other countries. The economic sanctions imposed on Japan was not an act of war. Nor was Japan left without reasonable and peaceful options to avoid a war. Japan chose to occupy Indochina in preparation for making aggressive war upon Britain, the US, and the NEI, just as it was then doing against China. Japan can hardly complain because those countries saw through it's deception and chose not to assist it in attacking them.

    The answer to the question; did Japan attack the US, is unequivocally, YES! Only someone totally ignorant of the events of the 1920's and 1930's would think otherwise.

    Yamato was big, but hardly a technological marvel. It was neither cutting edge technology, nor particularly effective as a warship. The Japanese Navy had no chance of isolating the Soviet Union from lend-lease aid. As it turned out, Japan didn't even try, which resulted in about half of all Lend-lease assistance to the Soviet Union during WW II passing through Japanese waters. However, had it been necessary, most of that aid could have been routed through the Persian Gulf corridor and the North Atlantic/Arctic route.

    Japanese industry and the Japanese economy were far behind the Soviet Union in organization, infrastructure, and industrial technology. Japan could mass produce neither sufficient aircraft nor ground weapons to compete with the Soviet Union's ground forces, which was the real issue in any Japanese-USSR confrontation.

    No, what I'm saying is that the German advance ground to a halt because, not because the Soviets denuded their defenses in Siberia, but because the Germans underestimated their logistical needs in the Soviet Union. Siberia was never left undefended and, as others have posted here, the Soviets never were so weak in Siberia that Japan would have seriously threatened their defenses in the East. If you feel otherwise, please feel free to document your arguments.

    The Soviet reinforcements from the Far East did not become involved in the Soviet counter-offensive until the German advance on Moscow had been stopped. The German offensive was dead in it's tracks before the "Siberian Divisions", as you call them, launched their attacks. There was no "trend" to reverse, unless you call the ground-down German divisions sitting moribund before Moscow a "trend".

    You were the one who asserted that the "Siberian Divisions" made all the difference in stopping the German offensive to take Moscow; you're obligated to prove it with your citations.
     
  16. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    I'll be happy to prove that it was far more a combination of German logistical and engineering incompetence combined with the fact they had advanced beyond reasonable supply range and simply Soviet numerical superiority that gave AGC such a beating in the first Soviet Winter offensive. One can add to this the Wehrmacht penchant for piecemeal committment of their reinforcements and the whole strategic and operational improvisation of their defense once the Soviets counter attacked that also contributed to the Soviet's success.
     
  17. British-Empire

    British-Empire Member

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    Best time for the Japanese to attack would have been either September 1941 or September 1942.
    They would have quickly taken the Maritime Provinces and Sakhalin Island but would have found it very hard going against the Soviets inland.
    On the coast naval power would have greatly assisted them and inland artillery and airpower would have been vital.
    Even with an attack in either year making little inland progress it would be enough to allow the Germans to either attack Moscow in 41 or to take the Caucasus in 42.
    More importantly it would mean America is not in the war but no doubt FDR would still supply the USSR.
     
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  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That's a lot of speculation. It's worth noteing that the US entry into the war has been discussed to some length and it's pretty clear that by mid 42 the US would have been in the war. The Japanese tying themselves up in Siberia prior to the US entry would be a problem from there view point as would attacking an ally of the US already in the war. In either case I don't see the Japanese attack haveing the effects you forcast especially in those time frames.
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Failure to site sources of obviously fallacious statements such as the one below are destroying any credibility you might have.
    There was no ruler of Europe in the 8th century. Karl der grosse was as close as it came and he fell well short.
    .
    Britain did not conquer or enslave anywhere near half the globe. Indeed an early British king is famouse for pointing out his inability to command a signficant portion of it.
    The US did mistreat many of the domestic Indians but again not the entire population by any means and certainly came no where near slaughering them all.
    As for expanding across the Pacific to Pearl Harbor what's the problem with that?
     
  20. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Perhaps, if you look at it only from the German perspective, but an awful lot of history has to change before that becomes true from the Japanese point of view.

    Historically, in September, 1941, Japan was preparing to attack Britain, the Netherlands, and the US in the Western Pacific, and frantically negotiating with the US in an attempt to get what it wanted without having to go to war with those countries. An attack on the Soviet Union at that point would demonstrate bad faith on the part of Japan and would make a war all but inevitable; exactly what Japan was trying to avoid.

    In September, 1942, Japan was coming off the huge naval defeat at Midway, and had just been shocked by the loss of initiative in the Pacific due to the US launching it's first offensive of the Pacific War. The Japanese IGHQ was just beginning to realize that the war with the US was not going to be short, nor end in negotiations, and that all of it's naval and airpower was going to be needed simply to defend the Home Islands. Not a good time to do something as stupid as attacking the Soviets.

    But, as I've pointed out, historically, the US was just two months short of being in the war in September, 1941, and a Japanese attack on the Soviet Union would have increased the likelihood of a US entry into the war against the Axis. Remember, US entry into the war was the final nail in the Axis' coffin.

    And in September, 1942, the US was not only in the war against the Axis, it had already inflicted severe defeats on Japan, launched an ultimately successful counter-offensive in the Pacific, and was just two months short of launching the invasion that would wrest control of North Africa from Germany.

    What historical factors would change to make a Japanese attack on the Soviet Union anything more than suicidal for Japan?
     
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