I think the US lost like half a million soldiers in WW2 and I was thinking maybe if we hadn’t invaded Europe or the Pacific Islands after Pearl Harbor and just beefed up our defenses instead we would have lost fewer people.
I mean there was no way Japan would have had the resources to successfully carry out a land invasion of the US. Seems like we just wanted a piece of the post-war spoils and international influence.
That’s not where the “underestimation” came into play.
It was around the idea that the peoples of the US could unify and work toward some national goal; more specifically, increase and develop a disciplined military force and convert a “luxury” economy onto a war-time footing in a very short time frame (w/i a year).
Thinking on this some more, I would actually go so far as to say that even in real history rather than the hypothetical alternative where we didn’t enter the war, but in the real version of events where we did…
We didn’t defeat Hitler. We helped the USSR defeat Hitler.
We defeated Japan with some help from China, but the USSR defeated Germany with some help from the US and UK.
I’m aware. The US, UK, and others certainly played a meaningful role in defeating Hitler. I’m not disputing that.
I’m disputing the notion that Hitler would have won if not for US involvement. Nah. Our involvement sped up the inevitable. Stalin was capable of defeating Hitler without us. It just would’ve taken longer and probably at a greater total loss of life. Especially counting the fact that a longer war would have meant a longer Holocaust.
One of the key aspects of the defeat of Hitler was forcing him to fight on two fronts. After the Western forces cut Germany off from resources available in the Rhineland and eastern France and prevented materiel to be imported from southern Axis powers, German resources were fixed and stretched thin.
Sure Stalin had more man power than Germany, but his equipment wasn’t to the same technological level and reliability of German equipment. And the majority of Stalin’s manpower were conscripts.
Add to that the political forces in play at the time: Stalin recognized that the Western Allies were very much anti-communist. His goals were to “win” the political battle of seizing the enemy’s capital first and have the leverage to create a buffer zone of sorts (what became “The Iron Curtain”) against Western military actions.
If that political pressure wasn’t there, I doubt that Stalin would’ve been all that interested in defeating Hitler. Keep in mind that they were originally allies until Hitler starting taking over lands in Western Russia. It wasn’t until Stalin “joined” with the Allied Forces that he agreed to commit to defeating Hitler (and not just reclaim lost land).
Bottom line is that both Soviet and Western Forces were required to bring the European Theater of operations to a quicker close. However, the Western forces needed US intervention to be successful; and without that, Germany could’ve had a single front war against Stalin; and a defensive stance would’ve been very difficult to overcome in that instance.
In December of 1941 it was pretty clear that the US was going to enter the war soon. When that happened, Japan knew that the US would not want to cede control of the Pacific to Japan. In addition to the strategic need for control (or allied control) in the Pacific, the US did not want to abandon their imperialism efforts there. By allowing Japan to control the territory they had captured, the US would be giving up much of the interest they had developed in the Pacific. The Japanese figured that a quick strike against the majority of the US Pacific fleet would give Japan enough time to solidify their hold in the Pacific and prevent the US from reclaiming what had been captured. However, Japan was unable to sink either of the Pacific assigned aircraft carriers that were supposed to be in port at the time and underestimated how quickly the damaged fleet would be repaired and how quickly the US could grow their navy. While the attack of Pearl Harbor can be seen as a complete victory for Japan, it was really the beginning of the end of the war in the Pacific.