Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by WalkerBulldog, Jan 18, 2009.
Point taken. I will now take my leave of this topic.
Well, I'm talking about the initial phase of an invasion.
You were caught by surprise on Dec 7th 1940 in Pearl Harbor despite early warnings of an imminent japanese attack, and that was a naval base.
Would it be different if a city on the continental US was attacked?
I think you can compare such a siuation to the invasion of Soviet Union.
Disbelief, chaos, panic and a large number of casualities would also be the case here.
However, like Russia the US is a large country. The invasion force will run out of steam when the supply lines are stretched and the invading troops are dispersed over a large area.
You will retreat like the russians did, move your population and factories out of reach to the enemy and start fighting back.
If we imagine a full scale occupation of the continental US we can figure out some numbers:
The population of Norway was 2,96 million in 1940.
At the end of the war the Germans had 365 000 troops in Norway, that gives one German soldier to eight Norwegian civilians.
I don't know the size of the US population in 1940, but let's take 200 million as an example.
That would require an occupational force of 25 million foreign troops to control your country.
No nation on earth have that many troops to occupy another country, and shipping them and their supplies overseas would an impossible task.
I guess you can feel pretty safe over there...
The warnings of Japanese attack all tended to indicate it would come in either the Philippines or Asia. But yes, the attack was a surprise. It wasn't just on a naval base; bombs fell on air fields, barracks, and even on the City of Honolulu, where errant AA shells, some as large as 5", also landed.
So what is your question or point?
Of course, there would be confusion, chaos, plenty of casualties. Historically that has happened in every country that has experienced large scale invasions. Why would it be any different in the US?
Because of the geographic factors, I tend to believe any invaders would find it difficult to move beyond the immediate beachhead unless the invasion was very, very well planned and prepared, and the attackers experienced extremely good fortune. For that reason, I find it unlikely that an invasion of the US would involve large scale civilian evacuations, long campaigns, or long retreats or advances.
The population of the US in 1941 was around 133 million.
But what makes you think that one Axis soldier for every eight Americans would be sufficient to control the country?
There were a number of factors that were different between Norway and the US: for example, the US had a much larger navy than Germany, a large Army, and a modern air force. Just getting to the US coast and getting troops ashore might cost a million or more German lives even if it were possible. And the US is much larger than Norway with many more large cities, so it might take a ratio of 3:1. 2:1 or even 1:1, for the Germans to win and maintain complete control.
Or it might be impossible, no matter how many soldiers they had.
Of course, most American (at least those in the continental US) felt reasonably safe during WW II, although the Axis did manage to shell and bomb the West Coast on several occasions, and lay mines in the sea approaches to the East Coast. The geography that ensured relative immunity from invasion or large scale attack was the reason Americans in the first half of the last century believed in minding their own business (isolationism). But the political philosophy of isolationism did not mean that Americans wouldn't fight to defend themselves (and, in fact, the entire Western Hemisphere).
As I guess I didn't make clear, this is one of my primary reasons for asking the question to this group. We did feel safe. If somehow, by whatever means, we would have sustained a significant amount of damage that feeling of safety would be gone and that would have had repercussions, either positive or negative, but repercussions nonetheless.
I never said or even implied that we would have rolled over, but still feel that we as a country would not be as eager to bomb other countries back to the stone age today, so to speak, if our fathers (or for the older members yourselves) would have witnessed first hand our own cities in ruins.
Sorry to get the xenophobia riled up, I didn't mean this as an insult to America, as some of you thought. I guess I'll leave these types of debates to face to face in the future, since so many of you got your panties in a bunch by any implication that America could somehow be politically less willing to wage war than it is today.
I must respectfully disagree with this position. When the rebel Pauncho Villa attacked the little town of Columbus, we not only killed between 75 and 100 of the invaders "on the spot", we hanged those we captured post-battle without trial. Then the most "pacific" President we had in the White House probably since Buchannan launched a multi thousand man expeditionary force 400 miles into Mexico in pursuit. It was a failure all things considered, since we never caught Villa, but our "ire" was raised and we went for it. When the Alueutian Islands were invaded, we not only attacked them and eventually killed or expelled the Japanese, we did so with "blood in our eye" when it might have been more prudent to just let them freeze to death in place with time.
Americans don't take kindly to being "bombed, attacked, or even threatened" on our home soil. Never have, probably never will. If the bombing of a relatively remote (to most American minds) at the time Naval base united the citizens as it did, I cannot imagine a more massive attack on our home soil would do less. Bombing has (much to the dismay of bombing proponents) NEVER broken the will of the opponent. At least NOT until the atomics were deployed. All significant damage does to the populace is unite them in the desire for retaliation. Witness both Britain and Germany of WW2, or Japan until Aug. of '45.
Would you assume Americans are less stalwart than those nationalities? Since we are a nation of nations, and have some of every one of the nations of the world inside our borders we are less, rather than more likely to find horror and fear in attacks. We tend to forget our intra-national differences, and go after those who "piss in our Post-Toasties".
Even before the attack on Pearl, nearly 70% of the Gallup Poll of Nov. 1941 found that Amerians of voting age, male and female would prefer to go to war rather than allow Japan or the European Axis to become even more powerful. The isolationist movement had lost its luster, and was on the down-turn. They were still vocal, but a shrinking minority.
One thing you will learn if you continue posting on this forum, and specifically on the what-if sub-forum, is that you must be clear and precise in both your proposition and your questions, otherwise you will become mired in misunderstandings and discussion/debate without any agreed upon definitions, a sure recipe for chaos.
Another thing is that the proposed alternate history must be one that could reasonably be expected to have occurred, but for some minor turn of fate or a decision that was made differently. You proposition clearly did not fall into this category as it was completely impossible without major, far-reaching changes in the world that would have had so many repercussions as to render the required historical context unrecognizable.
The owner/moderators of this board have established certain rules for the posing of what-ifs which attempt to avoid these problems; it would be well if you read and adhered to them in he future.
You are, of course, entitled to whatever personal "feeling" or opinion you wish, but if you express that opinion on this forum, particularly without presenting any factual historical data to support it, be prepared for the members of this board to counter by expressing their opinions. Since many of the members of this forum are accomplished amateur or professional historians and very knowledgable regarding WW II, those opinions are likely to be contrary to yours and very well argued.
You mentioned the "war weariness" of the American public and the near economic bankruptcy of the US, but when challenged on those points, never elaborated nor presented factual data to support your argument. Do you expect us to simply accept your assertions, especially when they are highly questionable?
Don't make the mistake of confusing xenophobia with disagreement on other grounds. My opinion is that you are just not as well informed as you should be regarding the attitude and morale of the American public during and immediately after WW II, nor the morale and attitudes of other cultures and societies throughout the WW II period. There is very little factual data which actually supports your opinion.
I'm afraid I still hold to my opinion of your discussion; I think your discussion was superficial and far too simplistic. You need to also study the differences between current situations and historical events, not just the parallels. And take a good look at the realities of economics, both in the US and Germany.
This is what I mean by targetting would have been hard:
California Becomes a Giant Movie Set
Entire aircraft factory hidden from Japanese « Secret Scotland
And this thread on the subject too.
I agree fully with you
That is exactly correct. Hitler advocated lebensraum; that Germany and the German people needed more space. This space was always to come from Eastern Europe. Also, at the time of Barbarossa, in Hitler's mind this was a one front war. Taking France was always part of the plan on order to protect the rear flank when the invasion of the Soviet Union began. Hitler had driven the British back across the channel and expected that they would not fight a war and would sign a treaty with Germany. Hitler always wanted to destroy Russia as he saw it as the land of the Jews and the Bolsheviks.
I just wanted to add a last bit of info to the discussion. To those that disparaged my professor for his indulgence in our discussion of the subject, here is his biography that I perhaps should have included in the first place to estabish his bonafides as not just some liberal arts prof at the U of Md:
Jon Sumida is the author of three monographs [In Defence of Naval Supremacy: Finance, Technology, and British Naval Policy, 1889-1914 (1989/pb 1993), Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered (1997/pb 1998), and Decoding Clausewitz: A New Approach to On War (2008)], and editor of a volume of historical documents [The Pollen Papers: The Privately Circulated Printed Works of Arthur Hungerford Pollen 1901-1916 (1983)]. He has published twenty-five major articles, four of which have won prizes (three Moncado Prizes from the Society of Military History, and Naval History Author of the Year from the U.S. Naval Institute). Sumida has received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Center, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and Churchill College, Cambridge University. He was Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Military Strategy and Operations at the National War College (2000), program chair of the Society for Military History Annual Meeting (2004), chair of the Department of the Army Historical Advisory Committee (2003-6), and Major General Matthew C. Horner Chair of Military Theory at the U. S. Marine Corps University (2004-6). Sumida currently is a visiting lecturer at the U. S. Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting, Quantico, Virginia, and an Associate Professor in the Department of History, University of Maryland, College Park. In April, 2007, the United States Army awarded Sumida the 'Outstanding Civilian Service' medal. He is at work on a monograph: The Quest for Reach: The Development of British Long-Range Gunnery and the Battle of Jutland and an anthology of articles (with Dr. Nicholas Lambert), The Structure of Naval Transformation in the Age of Fisher.
Impressive credentials, though judging from his published volumes, heavy on British naval history from the early part of the Twentieth century.
It still doesn't explain why you apparently believe that;
1. The Axis was even remotely capable of inflicting significant damage on the mainland of the United States during WW II.
2. That the American public was suffering an excessive level of "war-weariness" in the latter stages of WW II.
3. That the United States was "almost bankrupt" in 1944-45.
4. That Germany could have, with any likelihood of inflicting significant damage, attacked the US East Coast with missile-armed submarines during WW II.
5. Why the current US reluctance to support military operations in the Mid-east would have any relation to the American public's attitudes toward WW II.
Rather than being treated to your professor's CV, which frankly is of little interest, I like to know why you apparently hold the beliefs enumerated above.
Just did a rescan of this thread and it's not at all clear to me just what your professors view is on this topic. Even if he stated something along the lines of what you've said so teachers will choose a position that can be attacked and see if their students have the knowledge and independence to do so.
New England was against the war from the start, the attacks on the USA mainland by the British only reinforced a viewpoint they already held.
That seams to be counter to what I remember reading.
Just did a bit of research on it. Apparently I remembered wrong. There was quite a bit of opposition in New England. One effect of the war seams to have been the destruction of the Federalist party who's stronghold was New England.